What Kind of Chilies Are in My Kebab?

Kebabs have exploded in popularity, and for those of us who have discovered a good Doner Kebab, it’s not hard to see why. Whether you’re familiar with these types of kebabs or the grilled skewers of meat and veggies, there’s a lot of delicious options out there when you’re looking for the perfect kebab snack.

However, sometimes you may take a bit and be surprised by a burst of spice that you’re not used to tasting. When a sudden burst of unexpected heat floods your mouth and your senses, it’s not always a welcome experience.

On the other hand, some of us love the spice, and sometimes that extra bit of kick is the perfect compliment. There’s also the fact that many even Doner Kebab shops will have a special low heat chili pepper that are often included with the kebab. While this isn’t necessarily my favorite part of a good kebab, there are other kebab fans who love eating these treats.

Most Doner kebabs will have Lombardi Peppers, aka Tatil Biber, which are the pickled chili pepper that are most commonly paired with this style of kebab. These are mild by nature because they are pickled, however once you wander out of

doner kebab with chillies
Look at all those kebab toppings – including the famous Lombardi peppers. Original photo source – https://www.reddit.com/r/Doner/comments/7wkl8x/who_enjoys_chilli_peppers_with_their_doner_kebab/

What Are the Chilies You Get with a Kebab?

If we’re talking about the popular Doner Kebab where the chilies tend to be pickled and on the lower side of heat, then we’re talking about Lombardi peppers. Since most people in Western countries are more familiar with the modern Doner-style of kebab, chances are the chili peppers they’re familiar with are these. They are best known as Lombardi Peppers, and will be pickled before being served with actual kebabs.

The picture above shows what these chilis that come with kebabs so if those are the peppers you’re wondering about, you now have your answer as to which chilies come with kebabs.

You can even buy the seeds to grow your own if you like them so much, but remember to do the research you need to make sure you live in the right climate zone to grow these successfully in an outdoor garden…of course if you build your own greenhouse you can ignore this part but always better to do that bit of research before investing time and effort into a crop that just doesn’t want to grow in your part of the globe.

However, if you have a different style of kebab, one that is more regional, or one where the chilies are more thoroughly mixed in with the kebab itself, perhaps even in a chili kebab sauce, then it might be another type of chili.

This is much less common, but we will go over the other most common chilis that you might run into when eating other regional kebabs or variations of other types and styles of kebabs.

What Are Other Chilis That You Get with a Kebab?

There are a few chilis that come up when looking at what chilis are most common in kebab sauces or spice mixtures. Sometimes it’s impossible to know as many kebab chili sauces just label “chili peppers” as an ingredient without going into it further, but here are the 5 chili peppers or similar seasonings that you can expect to find in the spicier variations of kebabs or spicy kebab sauces.

  1. Aleppo Pepper: The Aleppo Pepper is named after the famed Syrian city, which has been a major city in the Middle East for many centuries at the point, and they are extremely popular and often used in Middle Eastern cuisine including in, you guessed it, kebabs! The Aleppo peppers are renowned both for having a pleasant moderate heat as well as having somewhat of a fruity flavor – especially for a chili. These are popular in Middle Eastern kebabs and can be served fresh with the kebabs, as a paste, or even dried.
  2. Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper is one of my favorites, and this versatile pepper can add a lot of heat to kebabs, and even if it’s not in full pepper form there’s a decent chance that this pepper is the type that can be found in a kebab sauce mixture. Cayenne can add a lot of heat in even small amounts, making it ideal for those kebab recipes calling for something a little bit spicier.
  3. Jalapeño Pepper: Jalapeños aren’t common in most kebabs, but if you are looking for a kebab shop around Mexico, there’s a good chance these local favorites will be the chili pepper of choice. Jalapenos are a very common addition to Mexican-style kebabs and can work because of the moderate heat level and distinctive taste. It might not be “traditional” but it is a viable local option you may very well run into.
  4. Serrano Pepper: Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeños and are often used in both Mexican cuisine, and in a surprising cousin, Southeast Asian cuisine. These can blend in with many traditional kebab flavors and might be fresh or dried when coming with a kebab. It’s more likely to be dried than in a spicy chili kebab sauce.
  5. Thai Chili: Thai chilies, also known as bird’s eye chilies, are very spicy and adds that unique SE Asia flavor found so often in Vietnamese, Thai, and other Southeast Asian cuisines. This type of chili adds a local flavor to the kebab which is going to make them much more popular in the SE region of Asia and gives a distinctive local twist to the classic kebab dishes that are finding increasing popularity there.

Kebab Chili Pepper Questions

What is kebab sauce made of?

There are always going to be a mixture of ingredients and this also depends on whether you’re talking about a spicy kebab sauce or the lighter “minty dairy” sauce. Since this article is associated with kebab chili peppers, it makes sense that we’re talking about heat in which case some common ingredients include: water, tomato, chilies and/or chili powder, onion, garlic, and other local spices (both hot and not).

What chillies do kebab shops use?

This will depend on region. Most will use Lombardi peppers, cayenne pepper, or chili powder – or some combination of the three. This can also vary immensely depending on region of the world and the specific style of kebab that is being eaten.

How long does kebab shop chili sauce last in the fridge?

This depends on the sauce and whether it’s homemade or sealed, but you are generally good for a night or two, but beyond three is sort of pushing it.

How can I make kebab shop chili sauce?

This depends on the type you want, but two recipes I’ve tried and am a big fan of are this one from Flawless Food and this one from Foodaciously. They both provide a great taste and good amount of spice.

Kebab Chillies – What’s the Verdict?

While having chilies in your kebab isn’t going to be that common, it’s good to know what the common ones are in case it tickles your fancy, and the often mild Lombardi Peppers are a pickled chili pepper that go very well with the classic kebab that you have likely come to know and love. Now that you know all the likely options you can compare the pictures to the spicy chilies that you are looking for and track down your favorites for home use!

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