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forkful of turkish spaghetti

Turkish spaghetti

  • Author: Amélie
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3 servings 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Turkish
  • Diet: Vegetarian


My father-in-law’s Turkish spaghetti recipe is super easy and absolutely delicious! His garlicky pepper & tomato sauce is one for the books. Add a big dollop of yogurt on the side to reach the height of Turkish comfort food.


  • 340g ripe tomatoes (¾ lb)
  • 115g bullhorn green pepper (¼ lb)
  • 2 big garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Turkish mild red pepper paste (tatlı biber salçası*), or use tomato paste
  • 55ml vegetable oil (¼ cup)
  • 55g butter (½ stick), diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Turkish dried thyme (kekik), or use ground thyme
  • ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt, and 1 tbsp more to salt the pasta water
  • 310g uncooked spaghetti (11 oz)
  • Turkish kaymaksız yogurt, to serve, or use full-fat plain Greek yogurt


  1. Boil the water. Fill a large pot with water and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. In the meantime, start the sauce. 


  2. Prepare the sauce. Stem the tomatoes by inserting the tip of a paring knife into the tomatoes and cutting around the stems. Pull the stems out and slice the tomatoes into big wedges. Place the wedges into a food processor. Deseed the green pepper, roughly chop it and add to the food processor. Peel the garlic cloves, halve them and add to the food processor. Add the paste and blend until the mixture is mostly smooth.  


  3. Cook the sauce. Heat the oil and butter in a deep pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, pour the sauce from the food processor into the pan. Add the cumin, thyme, black pepper and 2 tsp of fine sea salt. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Let the sauce come to a simmer and then cook for 10 min, stirring from time to time. Reduce the heat to very low once the 10 min have passed. 


  4. Cook the spaghetti while the sauce is simmering. Add 1 tbsp of salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta to the pot. If the spaghetti doesn’t fit in the pot, wait 30 seconds and then push the spaghetti into the water with a spoon. Cook the spaghetti, stirring occasionally, following the instructions written on the package. When the pasta is ready (still a bit firm in the center), reserve half a mug of cooking water by dipping a mug into the water (be careful). Then tip the spaghetti into a colander over the sink. 


  5. Combine. Add the drained spaghetti to the pan with the sauce. Toss until well combined and the sauce coats the pasta. It if looks a bit dry you can loosen the sauce with a splash of the reserved cooking water. For the tastiest result, serve the Turkish spaghetti still warm (but not burning hot), and, even if it sounds weird to you, with a big dollop of yogurt on the side. Come on, try it, the combination of the sauce with the tangy yogurt is amazing.


You can prepare the sauce in advance and keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the sauce in a large pan, covered with a lid, over low heat until the sauce is warm enough to toss in cooked and drained spaghetti. 

* If you buy Turkish red pepper paste, make sure that is written tatlı biber salcası on the label. If it says acı biber salcası then the paste will be spicy instead of mild. I usually buy salça from a brand called Öncü.


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 745

Keywords: simple pasta sauce recipe, summer pasta dishes, typical turkish food