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My menemen recipe is great for a Turkish-inspired flavor-packed breakfast. It is hearty and is utterly delicious. Menemen has been fueling people from dawn to dusk for generations in Turkey and, with a little love and know-how, can do exactly the same for you!
If you love your eggs in the morning, there’s a very high chance menemen is going to find its way onto your list of go-to breakfasts.
It brings heat, sweetness, saltiness, and earthy tones, laced with a whirlwind of different spices, to the tastebuds. Pair it with bread like Simit, Ekmek, or any other fresh bread or warm pita, and enjoy!
What is Traditional Menemen?
Menemen is a hugely popular way to start the day in Turkey. The dish traditionally consists of eggs, diced and/or grated tomato, Turkish peppers, and sometimes onions (debated, see the section below) cooked together with various spices like black pepper and oregano, most commonly served for breakfast with a side of fresh bread.
Named after its town of origin, Menemen in the İzmir province, menemen shares similarities to similar-style egg-based dishes found throughout North Africa, Levant, and the East Mediterranean, such as shakshuka, but also bears key characteristics that make it synonymous with Turkish cuisine.
Differences from Shakshuka – Both dishes often use the same, or very similar, ingredients, but the key difference comes when adding the eggs. With shakshuka, the eggs are added a bit later in the cooking process, cracked into little pockets made in the tomato sauce, to cook unbroken, like a sunny side-up egg.
When making menemen, the eggs are added earlier in the cooking process and mixed into the sauce, closer to the way you would cook scrambled eggs, as we demonstrate below.
Onions – The use of onions in menemen continues to be a fierce debate to this day. We have opted not to use onion in our recipe, but in no way claim that to be the traditional way to make menemen. You could try a version with and without onion and see which you like best.
Spices – Though not always common, herbs and spices such as thyme, cumin, and paprika, among others, can be added to the recipe to adjust the flavor and spice profile according to preference.
To make our hearty menemen recipe, you’ll need the following:
- Green Peppers (Turkish Peppers or Green Bell Peppers) – 2 cups diced Turkish peppers or green bell peppers (about 2 medium-large peppers)
- Butter – 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- Tomatoes – 8 tomatoes on the vine
- Eggs – 6 eggs
- Oregano – 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Paprika – 1/2 tsp paprika
- Sugar – pinch of sugar
- Salt – 1 tsp kosher salt (or more to taste); if using fine salt, use only 1/2 tsp salt, and then adjust to preference
- Pepper – 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh Herbs – fresh parsley (optional, to garnish the final dish)
- Cheese (optional, recommended for extra flavor) – 1/4 cup of shredded melting cheese (shredded kashkaval or low-moisture mozzarella) or a crumbly white cheese/feta cheese.
Step 1 – Dice the green peppers.
Step 2 – Peel the tomatoes (optional) and then grate them or finely dice them. You can use the tomatoes unpeeled if you’re in a hurry.
To peel the tomatoes, first score a small x on the bottom of each tomato (as shown below).
Add the tomatoes to a pot or a large heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Wait about 10 minutes, and then rinse them in cold water.
Then, peel the skin and remove the hard stem.
You can grate the tomatoes either using a box grater or the shredding disc on the food processor. You could also finely dice the tomatoes instead.
Step 3 – In a pan, over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter melts, add the diced peppers. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching that you don’t burn the butter.
Step 4 – Add the spices (salt, pepper, oregano, paprika) and toast them for 30 seconds.
Step 5 – Add the freshly grated tomatoes and pinch of sugar and cook until reduced, about 10 minutes.
Step 6 – Add the eggs. Break them, swirling them into the mixture. Put the lid on until the eggs are cooked, lifting and swirling from time to time, for about 5-6 minutes, more or less depending on your preference on how cooked you want the eggs. If you’re using cheese, add it a couple of minutes before the dish is ready, and cover the pan with a lid to help the cheese melt.
We’ve done our best to keep things traditionally Turkish, by serving our menemen straight out of the pan. In Turkey, a double-handled pan, called a sahan, is the go-to to make a big batch of menemen in.
Bread – Fresh bread is an absolute must for menemen. It gives you a crunchy base to compliment the soft menemen, and is ideal for mopping up that rich, hearty sauce.
Cheese – In Turkey, it is common to top menemen with kasseri (kaşar) cheese, a medium-hard cheese. If you can’t get your hands on this cheese, try a different type, such as low-moisture mozzarella, provolone, or even crumbly feta.
Fresh Herbs – We topped ours with parsley, and you can try various herbs like mint and even some chopped scallions.
Menemen Recipe Card
- 2 cups diced Turkish green peppers (or you can also use green bell peppers)
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 tomatoes on the vine
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt (or more to taste); if using fine salt use only 1/2 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- fresh parsley, optional, to garnish the final dish
- 1/4 cup of cheese (optional but recommended for extra flavor; can use kasseri (kaşar), low-moisture mozzarella, provolone, or even a crumbly white cheese or feta cheese)
- Chop the green peppers.
- Peel the tomatoes (optional) and then grate them or finely dice them (note 1).
- To a large pan, over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter melts, add the diced peppers. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching that you don’t burn the butter.
- Add the spices (salt, pepper, oregano, paprika) and toast them for 30 seconds.
- Add the freshly grated tomatoes and pinch of sugar and cook until reduced, about 10 minutes.
- Add the eggs. Break them, swirling them into the mixture. Put the lid on until the eggs are cooked, lifting and swirling from time to time, for about 5-6 minutes, more or less depending on your preference on how cooked you want the eggs. If you're using cheese, add it a couple of minutes before the dish is ready, and cover the pan with a lid to help the cheese melt.
Note 1: See article above for step-by-step on how to peel tomatoes.
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- Turkish Food: 24 Most Popular and Traditional Dishes You Simply Must Try
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