Green Peruvian Sauce (Ají Amarillo Sauce)

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home". She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated".

Green Peruvian aji sauce

Green Peruvian aji sauce

Because we live in Peru, friends back home often ask us how to make Peruvian ají (chili) sauce. Spicy, addictive and a striking shade of green, this unique sauce or salsa is quick and easy to prepare. Traditionally served with rotisserie chicken and French fries, it is also delicious spooned over potatoes, fish or beef. Or serve this sauce as a dip with bread cubes, fresh veggies or potato chips.

Recipes for the sauce vary from region to region, and depending on the hot peppers you choose, it may also be yellow or orange in color. Two main ingredients in ají sauce are cilantro and hot chiles. In the United States, jalapeno peppers are easy to find and make a tasty sauce. In Peru, two common ingredients are the herb huacatay and the hot pepper ají amarillo (ají marisol). Authentic Peruvian ají sauce won't contain mayonnaise or lettuce.

Below you will find the following information:

  • Tips for making Peruvian ají sauce
  • Recipe: Green Peruvian ají sauce
  • Recipe: Yellow Peruvian ají sauce
  • Ocopa sauce variation
  • What huacatay is

Try these sauces with Crispy Homemade French Fries or Sweet Potato Fries for a special treat.

Enjoy! Or as we say in Peru...¡Provecho!

Tips for Making Peruvian Ají Sauce

  • If serving the sauce over potatoes, you may want to thin it with a little milk, cream or vegetable oil. To thicken a sauce, Peruvian cooks add one or two saltine crackers or a piece of dry bread before blending.
  • You can substitute 1/3 cup drained cottage cheese for the feta cheese or queso fresco.
  • Increase salt if using cottage cheese or queso fresco.
  • Peruvian ají sauce can vary from mild to spicy depending on the peppers you choose. If you'd like more heat, don't remove the veins or seeds from the peppers.
  • Any hot pepper can be used in place of jalapenos. Feel free to experiment with hot peppers from your garden and tell us about it in the comments section.
  • The optional peanut butter adds depth without overpowering the sauce and is a typical ingredient in some regions of Peru. Try ají sauce first without peanut butter and then with it. We like it best with the peanut butter.
  • Serve with a tall glass of cool Peruvian Chicha Morada for an authentic experience.
Green aji sauce and French fries

Green aji sauce and French fries

Green Aji Sauce

Prep timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

6 servings


  • 6 medium jalapeno peppers, seeds and veins removed
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and stems), packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) queso fresco, farmer's cheese or feta cheese (see tips above)
  • 2 teaspoons natural peanut butter (optional)


  1. Pour 2 tablespoons of neutral-flavored vegetable oil into a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sauté peppers, onion and garlic clove until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Pour into a blender container the sauteed vegetables, the remaining 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil, cilantro, salt, cheese and peanut butter (if using).
  4. Blend on high until thick and creamy, about one minute.
Saute veggies in oil.

Saute veggies in oil.

Add cilantro.

Add cilantro.

Add cheese and blend.

Add cheese and blend.

Yellow aji sauce and sweet potato fries

Yellow aji sauce and sweet potato fries

Yellow Peruvian Ají Sauce

Ají Marisol peppers (available as a paste in jars on Amazon) give this sauce its characteristic yellow color. In Peru, it is enjoyed with meat, chicken or french fries.

Aji amarillo makes yellow sauce

Aji amarillo makes yellow sauce


  • 3 ounces (80 grams) queso fresco (fresh cheese), farmer's cheese or feta
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 4 ají peppers (seeds & veins removed) or 1/4 cup ají amarillo paste
  • 4 small sprigs huacatay or 1/2 teaspoon huacatay paste
  • 4 Tablespoons (15 mL) vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon raw peanuts
  • salt, to taste


  1. Coarsely chop peppers, onion and garlic.
  2. Pour 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil into a medium skillet. Over medium heat, saute vegetables until soft.
  3. Scrape vegetables into a blender container. Add the remaining ingredients (including the rest of the vegetable oil) and blend for several minutes, until thick and creamy.
  4. Drizzle over steamed potatoes or serve with fries, beef or chicken.

Ocopa Sauce Variation

Add another tablespoon of peanuts and thin the sauce slightly with milk or cream. Pour ocopa sauce over slices of steamed potato and serve as an appetizer or a side with Tallarín Verde (Green Noodles).

Huacatay or Peruvian black mint

Huacatay or Peruvian black mint

What Is Huacatay?

  • Also called Peruvian black mint or Mexican marigold, huacatay is a South American marigold.
  • The leaves add a pungent flavor and incomparable depth to soups, stews, sauces and meat marinades.
  • Huacatay is also used as a home remedy for anything from the common cold to stomach aches.
  • Look for huacatay, or black mint paste, on Amazon.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can Peruvian Aji sauces be frozen?

Answer: I have never frozen the sauces. It’s possible they could separate when frozen. In Peruvian homes, sauces are eaten fresh. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.

Question: Can Peruvian aji sauces be made with mayo?

Answer: I have seen recipes that add mayonnaise to Peruvian aji sauces. I have tasted them and although they are delicious, it is not authentic. In Peru, mayonnaise is never added to aji sauce.


Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 27, 2017:

This is the first time I've heard of aji and huacatay. I will have to look for a Peruvian restaurant and try this or make one from this recipe.

Lena Durante from San Francisco Bay Area on May 02, 2017:

This sounds amazing. I can't wait to try it, both with and without the peanut butter.

Peter Yexley from UK on November 24, 2014:

Very inspiring and on my list to try.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 15, 2014:

Gmwilliams, I'm glad you're going to try Peruvian Aji sauce!

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 13, 2014:

Now, this is ONE recipe I am going to try. Muy delicioso!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on May 18, 2014:

Riel Hishon, thanks for coming by!

Riel Hishon on May 18, 2014:

Mmmm thank you! Looks delish!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 02, 2014:

Great choices here and I like the unique idea.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 06, 2013:

Rajan Jolly, this is a very popular recipe...hope you can try it sometime! Thanks for the votes and comment.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 05, 2013:

Looks wonderful and thanks for sharing these recipes.

Voted up and interesting.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 05, 2013:

Marion Langley, this is such a delicious and versatile sauce. I hope you can try it sometime! Thanks for coming by.

marion langley from The Study on July 05, 2013:

My husband and I are sauce people and this looks delish! Will try, Thanks for writing. :-)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 03, 2013:

GetitScene, Peruvian aji sauce is unique and so versatile. You can enjoy it with meat, potatoes or even bread. Enjoy and thanks for coming by!

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on July 03, 2013:

This really sounds delicious. It's going on the list of things to make.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 02, 2013:

platinumOwl4, I'm glad you enjoyed this article and learned something, too! Yes, Peruvian food is very addictive and especially this aji sauce. Thanks for coming by!

platinumOwl4 on June 02, 2013:

This Peruvian food is addictive. Plus I learned something about sweet potatoes that I never knew. great article, keep them coming.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on May 22, 2013:

cakedodds, thank you for paying me a visit! We love everything Peruvian and can't get enough of Peruvian food. I'm glad you're going to try these sauces--enjoy! Paired with French fries is our favorite. : )

cakedodds on May 22, 2013:

Thank you so much for watching our "Mario's Peruvian" episode and leaving you're blog link- yes! I do cook and I love aji sauce and I'm going to try both of them!

I want french fries and aji now! Thanks for the recipes...


Claudia Tello from Mexico on May 14, 2013:

Thanks, I´ll use cilantro instead.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on May 14, 2013:

Claudia Tello, what nice things to say! I really appreciate your commendation, it means a lot to me. Huacatay is native to South America so you may not be able to find it in Mexico, but cilantro is a nice substitution and is often used here in Peruvian aji sauce. So it will still be authentic and delicious. : ) I hope you have a chance to make the sauce sometime!

Claudia Tello from Mexico on May 14, 2013:

Both spicy Peruvian aji sauces look very appetizing. I would have never imagined I´d find queso fresco as one of their ingredients but now that I know what they are made of, I love the idea of having them with sweet potato fries AND adding the peanuts you suggest in the tips section. I am not sure if I could find huacatay in Mexico though, I don´t even recognize it!

I am glad you are doing so well in HP, you´re really a role model for us recipe-hub writers.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 19, 2013:

Beth37, what a nice compliment! I really appreciate it. This sauce is as common in Peru as ketchup in the U.S. No table is complete without it. I hope you can try it sometime! Thanks for coming by.

Beth37 on March 19, 2013:

Amazing, Im looking randomly thru recipes, see this one, it looks incredible and different, I click on it, and it's you... of course. You always have the most interesting and impressive dishes! :)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 14, 2013:

Anna Evanswood, Peruvian aji sauce is so delicious and easy to make. I hope you try it sometime. Thanks for coming by!

Anna from Malaysia on March 13, 2013:

Mmm your hub has my tummy rumbling:) I want to make some:) thank you!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 05, 2013:

csgibson, I'm glad to know this sauce isn't only Peruvian. It really is delicious and so easy to make! Thanks for coming by.

Craig Gibson from Traverse City Michigan on March 05, 2013:

Excellent sauce. I live in Colombia and we eat empanadas with this sauce all of the time. Thank you for the recipe.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on January 30, 2013:

MarieAlana, please let me know what you think of the aji sauce. In Peru, no meal is complete without it. Thank you for coming by!

Marie Alana from Ohio on January 29, 2013:

I love spicy things to eat. Thanks! I will defintely try it. This might even be good with my Hot Mocha. Come and check it out!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on January 08, 2013:

Peggy W, this sauce is really delicious and addictive. A Peruvian meal isn't complete without it! Thanks for the vote and share and all your support.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 08, 2013:

What a great sounding sauce! We love all kinds of spicy and flavorful sauces, pestos and the like. While it might not be possible to find all of the same ingredients, we can always find jalapenos, cilantro, etc. in Texas. Thanks for giving us another fabulous sounding recipe. Up, useful and sharing!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on December 29, 2012:

Tattuwurn, any bland white cheese would do. Most countries make some sort of "fresh" cheese that isn't aged. That would be ideal. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks so much for the vote and share!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on November 26, 2012:

Moonlake, it's surprising how much starch rinses off the sweet potatoes after soaking. That, of course, makes the fries even crispier which can be a challenge when frying sweet potatoes. Thank you for coming by.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on November 26, 2012:

DeborahNeyens, I envy your garden! How wonderful to have a fresh supply of peppers. Please tell me which varieties work best with this sauce if you find the time. Thank you!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on November 26, 2012:

Sgbrown, I'm glad to know you have a blog! I'll check it out. Yes, I'd be happy if you share this recipe on your blog. Do you find your blog gets more or less traffic? I think it's a great theme, around the world recipes. Enjoy the aji sauce, it really is delicious and maybe your husband would like sweet potatoes cut into fries? You never know! Thank you for coming by.

moonlake from America on November 26, 2012:

This sounds really good. I never thought about soaking the sweet potatoes first. Voted up.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on November 26, 2012:

This looks great! I'm always on the lookout for different ways to use peppers, since I grow so many different varieties in my garden. I'm going to try this. The sweet potato fries look awesome, too!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on November 26, 2012:

This sounds delicious! I love trying new foods. I too, will have to use the cilantro, but I love it. I have wanted to try sweet potato fries for ever, but hubby doesn't like sweet potatoes. I am going to make some for just myself! Voting this up, useful, sharing and would like to share this on my "Around the World with Recipes" blog, if that would be allright with you. Have a wonderful day! :)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 28, 2012:

OldeCashmere, it's always nice to hear from you. Thank you for coming by!

Olde Cashmere on August 27, 2012:

I really enjoy your recipes vespawoolf, they are always excellent. Voted up, awesome, and useful :)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 23, 2012:

LetitiaFT, it's always nice to hear from you. This sauce is also delicious made with any hot pepper and cilantro. I hope you have a chance to try it! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 23, 2012:

Wesley Meacham, I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for the vote, share and pin!

LetitiaFT from Paris via California on August 23, 2012:

Oh heavens, This I have to try. But where in Paris am I going to find aji and huacatay? I may just have to order them from your Amazon links. Thanks for including them!

Wesley Meacham from Wuhan, China on August 22, 2012:

This is awesome. I've always loved sweet potato fries. Voting up and useful. Sharing and pinning.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 22, 2012:

I'm glad you found this recipe useful, alocsin. This is a very popular sauce in Peru and one of my favorites. Thanks so much for the comment, vote and share!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on August 22, 2012:

I love this sauce when encountered at Peruvian restaurants. But never thought I could make it. Thanks for the delicious recipe. Voting this Up and Useful. SHARED.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 21, 2012:

Mama Kim 8, I'm glad you enjoyed the soaking tip. I've read that coating the fries before baking will make them crunchier, but because our oven doesn't get hot enough I haven't had much success with that method. Thanks for the vote, pin and comment!

Sasha Kim on August 21, 2012:

Sounds so yummy! I don't think I've ever had peruvian food before. I especially like your tip and explanation on soaking the sweet potatoes. I usually bake mine because I'm scared of frying in that much oil. Voted up and pinned!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 21, 2012:

Om Paramapoonya, this sauce is still delicious with cilantro. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! It's always nice to hear from you.

Om Paramapoonya on August 21, 2012:

Sounds delightful! Unfortunately, I'll have to make this with cilantro leaves instead of huacatay paste. I don't think I'll be able to find huacatay in any of my local supermarkets. So my Aji sauce probably won't taste as authentically Peruvian as it should be, but I'm sure it'll still be yummy. Thanks for sharing this!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 20, 2012:

Glimmer Twin Fan, thanks for the comment and pin. Enjoy!

Claudia Mitchell on August 20, 2012:

This sounds and looks delicious! I'm going to have to try it. Pinned too!

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