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Homemade red Pepper Paste – Biber Salçası

Summer is the time, where juicy, meaty, red peppers are turned into our flavour packed biber salçası, pepper paste  in southern Turkey. It is a fundamental ingredient in southern Turkish cuisine. In my hometown of Antakya, village women cook huge batches of freshly picked spicy and mild red peppers and spread them out on top of their cloth covered terraces to dry under the hot summer sun, until the peppers dehydrate and turn into this robust, flavour-packed condiment.  I am unable to sun dry my peppers as I live abroad, so I make my own version of red pepper paste at home, cooking them over stove top. It takes a bit of time to make but really is worth it. The homemade version is fragrant, delicious – not as intense as the commercial ones but packed with flavour; fantastic even spread over bread.  Add more chilies if you like it spicier, it also freezes well.

I use pepper paste in so many ways, in the way I use tomato paste; it adds  richess, enhances and adds depth of flavour to sauces, salads such as Spicy bulgur wheat salad, Kisir, marinades, dips such as Muhammara.

Here is how I make red pepper paste. It is also at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, signed copies available here

Makes 90ml/3fl oz pepper paste

3 long, large red peppers or bell peppers, cleaned, deseeded, cut into 4cmx4cm chunks
1 red chilli pepper, deseeded, finely chopped (use a few more if you like spicier)
240ml/8fl oz water
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Place peppers in a wide pan and add the water. Cook over a medium heat, stirring often for about 35 minutes or until the peppers are cooked – gently press down and turn around as you stir, they will start to break apart and soften and the liquid has almost evaporated. Turn the heat off and allow the peppers to cool.

Place the cooked peppers in a food processor and process until the mixture is almost a smooth purée (I like the texture of small bits of peppers in it). Return the puréed peppers to the pan. Season with salt and cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring continuously so the purée doesn’t burn and the juices will have evaporated. The purée will shrink half of its size and turn into a soft paste. Turn the heat off.

Spoon the paste into a small sterilized glass jar while still warm, top with olive oil and seal.  When cool, keep your prepared paste in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Afiyet Olsun.

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46 Responses to Homemade red Pepper Paste – Biber Salçası

  1. Judith Rosser-Davies April 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Thanks for the mention Ozlem! Tas Organic near Waterloo has a fabulous deli full of exciting Turkish ingredients, well worth a visit if you are a Turkish cooking fan. There are several Tas restaurants in London too – not that I need to go there now that our authentic Turkish cook has come back to the UK ;-))

  2. Anonymous April 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Ozlem, congratulations on your amazing blog! My foodie friends and I are so thrilled bout it. Your recipes are the best. I became a Turkish food lover after I attended your cooking class. I understand you’re very busy, but are there any chances of you writing a cook book soon? What a better way to pass your recipes to present and future generations. Thanks again for all the wealth of information you share with us.
    God Bless.

  3. Ozlem's Turkish Table April 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Thank you very much for the wonderful comment, it is great to connect with foodies and hear from you:)! It is my great pleasure to share the recipes from my homeland and it is my dream to get these healthy, delicious Turkish recipes in a cookbook, hope soon. Many thanks for your lovely comments and encouragement, much appreciated! Look forward to sharing more recipes and stories. Happy cooking, Ozlem

  4. Julia November 23, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    Hi Ozlem

    I've just found your blog, doing a Google search on something else! 🙂 We're Brits who live in Turkey (and write a blog about our life here) and love cooking Turkish food so I'm going to bookmark your site – every little helps when you're trying to impress Turkish friends!! 🙂

  5. Ozlem's Turkish Table December 9, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Merhaba Jay:)
    Many thanks for your comment and apologies for the late reply, as I missed earlier. Hope you enjoy the Turkish experience, I lived in Istanbul over 15 years and in Turkey for 30 years, has so much to offer. The red pepper paste is from the Southern Turkey origin though you should now be able to find in every good supermarket at home. It really adds a wonderful flavor to casseroles, meat marination and mezes. Enjoy, afiyet olsun!:)

  6. Joanne T Ferguson January 12, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    G’day! I was glad when I came across your wonderful website via Google. I plan to make your Biber Salcasi in a Borek recipe I want to try next week! Look forward to my follow up too!
    Thank you for inspiring me to do!

    • Ozlem Warren January 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      G’day to you too Joanne, many thanks for stopping by! So glad you will have a go at biber salcasi, I use it almost daily, adds so much flavor! look forward to hearing how it came out in your borek, many thanks!

  7. Joanne T Ferguson January 19, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    G’day! Thank you for inspiring me to make Borek with meat with your Biber Salcasi for the first time!

    Would HIGHLY recommend people make TRUE!

    Here’s a photo and what I wrote about this wonderful recipe too!

    • Ozlem Warren January 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      G’day to you too Joanne! Thank you so much for your kind note; i am over the moon that you tried the recipe and enjoyed it : ) I just visited your website, your borek looks delicious, so glad it inspired – thank you for taking the time to write!

  8. Cecilia April 6, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Merhaba, what’s the difference between moroccan harissa paste and biber salcasi?

    • Ozlem Warren April 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      Merhaba Cecilia,

      Harrissa usually has other ingredients like garlic, lemon and spices other than hot chillies in it. Turkish pepper paste, biber salcasi consists of the meaty, spicy red peppers, as well as a little salt to preserve. Hope you enjoy it! Ozlem

  9. Nishant July 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    Hello Ozlem,

    Thank you for the recipe. i have a question though. chillies and peppers always confuse me as there are so many kinds. can you please tell me the ones used in this recipie.

    i assume you are not talking of red capsicum (or bell pepper).

    Also, are you using green chillies here or red chillies.

    Sorry if im asking too much 🙂


    • Ozlem Warren July 16, 2014 at 9:26 am #

      Hello Nishant, not a problem at all, I am glad you asked – it is the combination of pointy red peppers (which tend to be sweet) and red chili peppers I use here, to get the flavor balance, I hope it helps and you enjoy it : ) If you like it spicier, you may add more red chilies if you like.

      • Nishant July 16, 2014 at 11:44 am #

        Thanks for the quick reply Ozlem. Btw, can you post a recipie for Adana Kebap. Chicken prefrable.

        One more question please. Many a times i find my meat dough for kebap’s to be soggy and watery (though i try and drain the water from the ingredients). Whats the best solution to this. I try and add some corn flour or bread crumbs but that changes the taste of the kebap altogether

        Thanks a Million again 🙂

  10. hfriday February 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    Hi Ozlem! I love turkish food and love your blog. I visit Istanbul frequently and in my last trip, I bought Biber Salcasi. And a big tub too! After going home, I realized that this may not be what most dishes use and wha I should have gotten was a sweet red pepper paste and not red chili paste. For example, which paste is used in Kisir? Some blogs use the sweet and some use spicy. Are the two interchangeable in recipes based on personal preference?

    Thank you!

    • Ozlem Warren February 6, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

      Merhaba, many thanks for stopping by and your kind words, so glad you’re enjoying my recipes here. Some folks prefer hot pepper paste some sweet – regular- pepper paste. You can use them both; if you like a spicier taste, you can always add red pepper flakes, they are indeed interchangable, based on your taste. Definitely enjoy that, as the pepper paste is packed with flavor – afiyet olsun!:)

  11. Connie Sevgi Tasmaz January 27, 2016 at 2:40 am #

    I watch my neighbor in Sarimsakli every summer make this..she sits a tray or two in the sun on the balcony. It takes around two weeks to make.

    • Ozlem Warren January 27, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

      It is a bit of a labor of love but so worth it, oh I miss home made biber salcasi at home!!:)

  12. Rosalind W January 17, 2022 at 11:44 am #

    Thank you for your red pepper paste recipe. How do I make it with a longer shelf life?

    • Ozlem Warren January 17, 2022 at 12:26 pm #

      Hi Rosalind, you are welcome. You can drizzle olive oil over the top of the jar to seal, with the salt it helps to keep well. You could also freeze the paste too. Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  13. Heidi December 15, 2023 at 6:03 am #

    Hi Ozlem. I am looking specifically for FERMENTED Turkish red pepper paste. Do you have a recipe for that too?

    • Ozlem Warren December 15, 2023 at 3:50 pm #

      Merhaba Heidi,

      We don’t tend to make fermented pepper paste, unfortunately I don’t have that one. Thank you for your note, Ozlem

  14. Ozlem Warren January 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks a million!

  15. Ozlem Warren May 19, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    thanks for the link!


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