Aji Verde (Peruvian Green Sauce) is a bright, spicy Peruvian condiment that uses hucatay paste, aji amarillo and cilantro leaves. Serve it with pollo a la brasa, yucca fries or roasted veggies–the possibilities are endless!
Aji Verde (Peruvian Green Sauce) is a hot sauce that I LOVE SO MUCH! If you’ve ever gone to a place that serves pollo a la brasa, it will look familiar to you. It’s usually kept in squeeze bottles on every table. You dip your yucca fries it, you douse the chicken with it…and then you start sweating because it’s SO spicy. And yet, you can’t stop eating it.
It’s addicting! This sauce is SO good. It does require two ingredients that used to be harder to find. But now, thanks to ol’ Amazon, it’s much easier.
What is Huacatay?
You’ll need huacatay paste, which is a Peruvian variety of mint. It’s essentially black mint. It’s nearly impossible to find fresh hucatay outside of Peru but the paste is amazing. It adds a brightness and hint of flavor that is needed. BUT you can skip it.
In Peru, most aji verde is made from JUST fresh huacatay. But here in the United States we have to make adjustments due to what we have access to. I find that using cilantro AND the paste makes for a really delicious aji verde.
Also, aji amarillo paste. It’s a Peruvian yellow pepper that is so delicious and spicy.
What is Aji Amarillo?
Aji amarillo is a yellow pepper indigenous to the Peruvian Andes. It’s a mild-flavored pepper that is a bit sweet and delicious. They’re quite difficult to find fresh peppers in the United States. I like to use the paste, though it’s not a requirement for this recipe. It does add a nice lovely flavor and heat.
I prefer to use serrano peppers in this recipe vs. jalapeños because it really adds the heat that’s needed. If you’re adverse to spice, well, this recipe isn’t for you. I was going to make a milder version but I would be doing it a disservice.
Peruvians love spicy food, me included.
The queso fresco/blanco adds a nice creaminess to this sauce and a thickness that sits on yucca fries just perfectly.
I’ve wanted to successfully make this recipe for a long time and I have finally found the perfect ratios that make me happy.
How to Make Aji Verde?
Making Aji Verde could not be simpler. A high-powered blender helps a lot with getting this sauce to a super smooth texture. Here’s how to make Aji Verde:
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender. I like to add the liquids (mayo, olive oil and lime juice) to the bottom of the blender and then layer the solid ingredients on top. I find that it blends better this way.
- Turn the blender on until smooth. Stop the blender, scrape down the sides and then blend a bit longer. The cilantro will go from being in teeny bits to super smooth. This does take a minute or so, so be sure to let it run.
- Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to your liking.
- Transfer to an airtight container or squeeze bottle.
Can You Freeze Aji Verde?
I wouldn’t recommend freezing aji verde. While I haven’t tried freezing it, I feel like the oil and cheeses will mess with the creamy and smooth texture.
What to Pair with Aji Verde?
- Pollo a la Brasa Thighs
- Zuni-Style Pollo a la Brasa with Bread Salad
- Olive Oil Eggs with Kale
- Roasted Potatoes or Veggies
- Yucca Fries
Aji Verde Recipe (Peruvian Green Sauce)
- 1 whole lime juiced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise (such as Hellmann's)
- 3 ounces queso fresco or blanco
- 2 serrano peppers ends trimmed
- 1 bunch cilantro with the leaves removed and stems discarded*
- 4 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 green onions ends trimmed and roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons huacatay paste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- To a blender, add the lime juice, olive oil, cheese, mayonnaise, serrano peppers, cilantro leaves, garlic cloves, green onions, huacatay paste, aji amarillo and salt. Blend for about 1 to 2 minutes, until very smooth. At first the cilantro leaves won't be totally smooth, but keep the blender running and it will eventually become cohesive and smooth.
- Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to your liking. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.
- If you have a super high powered blender such as a Vitamix or Ninja, etc, it can process a lot of the stems. If you don't, I suggest to remove al of the cilantro leaves.
- I would suggest to add the liquids to the bottom of the blender and then add the cilantro on top. It helps combine all of the ingredients.
- To make this Whole 30, eliminate the cheese and replace it with a bit more Whole 30 compliant mayonnaise.
Looking for more Latin-inspired recipes? Here are some favorites:
- Tres Leches Cake
- Classic Flan
- Pupusas with Curtido and Salsa Roja
- Papa a la Huancaina
- Green Arroz con Pollo (Peruvian-Style)