This traditional Turkish menemen recipe is quick and easy to make with a few basic ingredients, and extra-delicious when served up with some good crusty bread.
Meet my new favorite way to eat eggs — menemen! ♡
We fell in love with this traditional Turkish egg scramble during our very first morning in Istanbul, and then promptly proceeded to order it literally every single day for the rest of our trip. We couldn’t get enough of it!
If you are new to this dish, as we were, it’s just a simple veggie sauté made with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and a subtle hint of spice, with a few eggs soft-scrambled on top. It is then whisked to the table while the dish is still hot and bubbly, and served with a side of crusty bread, which is meant to be dipped right in so that you can spread the menemen on top while it is still warm. And oh my word, together, the combo is downright delicious.
Pretty much every Turkish breakfast we were served in Istanbul offered various options for menemen — some with cheese (similar to feta), some with sausage, ham or pastrami, some with spinach, some with extra veggies, etc. So know that there are plenty of ways to customize this dish, if you would like! Barclay and I have grown to love just the basic recipe served with toasted bread and some (non-traditional, yet highly-recommended) slices of avocado on top. It’s nice and healthy, and super simple and satisfying. I’m certain you all are going to love it too.
So let’s make some menemen!
Some of the menemen we enjoyed during our trip to Istanbul!
To make traditional Turkish menemen, you will need the following ingredients:
Olive oil and butter: Both are traditionally used in this dish — olive oil to sauté the veggies, butter to stir into the tomato sauce to make it extra creamy. Although you are welcome to use only olive oil (or vegan butter) if you prefer not to cook with dairy.
Onion: A white or yellow onion will do! Or, we were also served this dish once made with green onions, which was also delicious.
Green pepper: We loved the slightly-spicy green peppers that were traditionally used in Turkey for this dish, but unfortunately they are not easy to find in the United States (or here in Spain). So as a substitute, you are welcome to use a large poblano or Anaheim pepper, which would be closest to the Turkish variety. Or you could also just use any color of traditional bell pepper too.
Tomatoes: It’s traditional to hand-grate fresh tomatoes for this recipe, which you are more than welcome to do when they are in season during the summertime. (In which case, you would need to grate or dice 1 pound of ripe tomatoes.) But to make this dish a bit more accessible year-round, I have written the recipe using a simple can of diced tomatoes, with their juices included.
Aleppo pepper, salt and pepper: I made this dish using traditional Aleppo pepper, which you can order online if it’s not available at your local grocery store. Or as a substitute, you are welcome to just use a combo of paprika and cayenne (or crushed red pepper flakes).
Eggs: I made this dish with four eggs, but feel free to use two or three if you would like a higher sauce-to-egg ratio.
Garnishes: Finally, you are welcome to top this dish with chopped parsley or chives, if you would like. I also love adding on some sliced avocado, which probably isn’t traditional, but it is delicious. It is also traditional to serve menemen with some good bread, which you can use to dip up the menemen and use it as a spread.
How To Make Menemen:
To make Turkish menemen, simply…
Sauté the veggies: Sauté some finely-diced onion and peppers in olive oil until softened.
Add tomatoes and seasonings: Add in the tomatoes, butter, Aleppo pepper, plus a generous pinch of salt and black pepper, and stir for a bit until the tomatoes are nice and hot.
Add the eggs: Crack the eggs directly onto the tomato mixture and let them cook for about a minute or so. Then use a spoon to break up the yolks and briefly stir the eggs into the tomato mixture. (I recommend only partially stirring in the eggs, so that they are nice and swirly on top.) Continue cooking until the eggs reach your desired level of doneness. Traditionally the eggs are cooked until just barely set, yet still soft, about 3 to 4 minutes total.
Serve. Serve immediately with your desired garnishes, along with a few slices of toasted bread to scoop up the menemen, and dive in!
There are all sorts of delicious ways that you can customize your menemen, if you would like. For example, feel free to…
Add garlic and/or extra herbs: We were told that garlic is also sometimes used in menemen, which I think would be delicious sautéed in with the onions. Feel free to also add in a pinch of dried oregano if you would like, and/or top the menemen with chopped fresh parsley.
Add cheese: Many of the places we visited in Istanbul also offered menemen options with different kinds of local cheeses. The version I loved best used a cheese similar to feta, which was stirred in with the eggs at the end of the recipe.
Add sausage: There was also a popular version made with sausage, which you could sauté in with the onions at the beginning of the recipe.
Use fresh tomatoes: As mentioned above, feel free to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned if they happen to be in season! You would need 1 pound of fresh tomatoes, grated or finely diced, in place of 1 can.
Sauté the veggies: Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
Add tomatoes and seasonings: Reduce heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, butter, Aleppo pepper, plus a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. Stir until evenly combined, then sauté for 2 more minutes, until the tomatoes are nice and hot.
Add the eggs: Crack the eggs on top of the tomato mixture. Let the eggs cook for about 1 minute. Then use a spoon to break the yolks and briefly stir the eggs into the tomato mixture. (I recommend only partially stirring in the eggs, so that they are nice and swirly on top.) Continue cooking until the eggs reach your desired level of doneness. (Traditionally the eggs are cooked until just barely set, yet still soft, about 3 to 4 minutes total.)
Serve. Serve immediately with your desired garnishes, along with some crusty sliced bread for dipping.
Green peppers: Since Turkish-style green peppers are difficult to find in the United States, I recommend using either a large green bell pepper, poblano pepper or Anaheim pepper (this one has slightly more heat) in its place.
Aleppo pepper substitute: If you do not have access to dried Aleppo pepper, you can just add 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus a pinch of either cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes. (And as always, feel free to use more/less Aleppo pepper or cayenne to taste, depending on how much heat you prefer.)