Arabian Food

Is Saudi Arabian Food Spicy?

Saudi Arabia’s cuisine offers a unique blend of flavors and aromas. If you love spicy food, you may be wondering – is Saudi Arabian food spicy?

An Overview of Saudi Arabian Cuisine

Saudi Arabian cuisine is part of the broader [Arab cuisine]. It uses many of the same spices and cooking techniques found across the Arab world. However, it also has distinctive elements that set it apart.

Some key features of traditional Saudi Arabian food include:

  • Heavy use of spices like [cumin], [turmeric], [cardamom], and [saffron]
  • Rice as a staple ingredient
  • Lamb, chicken, and camel meat widely used
  • Dates and nuts for sweetness
  • yogurt-based dishes
  • Flatbreads like khubz and pita

While Saudi cooking uses many spices, most of them are mild and tend to subtly enhance flavor rather than deliver heat. As a result, Saudi food has a moderate level of spiciness compared to other cuisines.

How Spicy is Saudi Food Compared to Other Cuisines?

To understand if Saudi food is spicy, it helps to compare it to other global cuisines known for their heat.

Indian Cuisine

Famous for its curries, [Indian food] is among the spiciest in the world. Dishes like vindaloo and phall curry use scorching hot peppers and chili powders.

On average, Indian cuisine uses spices rated around 50,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), over 200 times hotter than a jalapeño!

Mexican Cuisine

From tacos to enchiladas, [Mexican cuisine] also packs some serious spice. Many of their signature dishes get their heat from hot peppers like guajillo, habanero, and chipotle.

Mexican food averages around 5,000 to 8,000 SHU.

Saudi Arabian Cuisine

By comparison, traditional [Saudi Arabian food] is much milder. Most dishes range from just 1,000 to 3,000 SHU.

That’s about as spicy as a poblano or Anaheim chili pepper. Spicy for some palates but not intensely hot.

So while Saudi cooking uses many spices, most provide flavor over fire.

Why Isn’t Saudi Food Very Spicy?

There are a few reasons why traditional Saudi cuisine isn’t terribly hot and spicy:

  • Saudi cooking emphasizes subtle aromas and flavors over intensity.
  • The climate in most of Saudi isn’t suited for growing hot peppers.
  • Spicy hot dishes can be difficult to enjoy in Saudi Arabia’s desert heat.
  • Islamic dietary customs may have favored milder dishes.

However, that doesn’t mean Saudi food completely lacks spice and heat. Here are some examples of popular Saudi dishes with a touch of fire:



This classic Saudi rice dish is roasted meat (usually chicken, lamb, or beef) served over spices rice. It’s flavored with black pepper, cardamom, cumin, and a dash of red pepper for warmth.


Kabsa Spice Mix

Kabsa features similar spiced meat and rice but also includes spices like turmeric, cloves, and chili peppers for a bolder kick.


Muhammara is a hot pepper Walnut dip eaten with bread. The spiciness comes from Aleppo, ancho, or other mild red chili peppers.

So while not intensely spicy, Saudi Arabian cuisine does incorporate spices and peppers to add a touch of heat. The overall flavor profile tends to be more balanced and subtle.

How to Make Saudi Food Spicier

If you love fiery food, there are easy ways to turn up the heat when eating Saudi cuisine:

Add Hot Sauce

Dousing Saudi dishes with some [hot sauce] is an easy way to instantly amp up the spice level. Carry a small bottle of your favorite hot sauce to liven up milder food.

Use More Chilies

When cooking Saudi recipes at home, add extra chili peppers or chili powder to the mix. Jalapeños, serranos, or other hot peppers can quickly make a Saudi dish more flaming.

Indian-Style Spices

Swapping mild Saudi spices for hotter Indian versions can add some kick. Garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder, or curry powder will fire things up.


Stir in some North African [harissa], a blend of smoked chili peppers, garlic, cumin and olive oil. It works well added to soups, stews, and sauces.


Traditional Saudi Arabian cuisine is flavorful but mildly spicy compared to other global cuisines. Dishes emphasize aromatic spices over intense heat. However, the food can easily be spiced up by adding hot peppers, Indian spices, harissa, or hot sauce. So while not very hot by default, Saudi food can readily be adapted to satisfy spicy food lovers.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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