Killer Kebab Spice Mix

The kebabs I cooked for my birthday dinner included an ingredient I’d never heard of: Aleppo pepper. I almost didn’t make the recipe because I was reluctant to buy another specialty spice (when you see the photos of my spice cabinet in a post tomorrow, you’ll understand why). I’m SO glad I tried Aleppo pepper, the kebab spice mix below, and the resulting lamb recipe. Trust me; this is worth the cabinet space.

Aleppo Pepper

The Aleppo pepper, also known as the Halaby, is named after the city of Aleppo, located along the Silk Road in northern Syria. (So romantic!) The peppers grow as pods that ripen to a gorgeous burgundy color. Then the pods are dried – often with some salt – de-seeded, and coarsely ground. (So pretty!)

The New York Times described the flavor as “sweetness, roundness and perfume of the best kind of sundried tomatoes, but with a substantial kick behind it.” I say it’s a wonderful complement to cumin, so you can imagine my delight. I’ve been sprinkling it into salad dressings made with homemade mayo, on top of sliced cucumbers, and in the Killer Kebab Spice Mix. I bought my Aleppo pepper at The Savory Spice Shop; it’s also available online from  Chicago-based The Savory Spice Shop and Penzeys.

Killer Kebab Spice Mix

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 2 tablespoons dried mint

  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo chilies

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons salt


Crush the dried oregano and mint with your fingers, with a mortar and pestle, or in a coffee grinder. You want it to be very fine, with no stabby leaves or stems.


Mix all the spices together and store in an air-tight jar.


This is excellent mixed into ground beef or lamb (2-3 teaspoons per pound) to form patties, meatballs, or sausage shapes that can be grilled, baked, or pan-fried. Or use as a dry rub for cubed meat, then skewer and grill.

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