Papa a la Huancaina

Appetizers, Salads

Papa a la Huancaina is a Peruvian appetizer from the region of Huancayo. The creamy spicy sauce is poured over cold slices of potato, a bed of lettuce and garnished with black Peruvian olives and boiled egg.

Papa a la Huancaina

Umm..what’s Papa a la Huancaina?!? That’s what you’re thinking, right? Well, that’s why I’m here; to explain, you see. I grew up on this stuff. As a kid, I remember my mother making this sauce and me sneaking cubes of queso fresco. I was pretty creative with the stuff and used to put it on everything from chicken to potato chips. In Peru, where my mother was born, this is a pretty common appetizer–it’s sort of like their version of veggies and dip.

Where is Papa a la Huancaina from?

This appetizer hails from Huancayo, Peru; the place where my great grandmother was from. She grew up in Huancayo, a mountain town high up in the Andes. The place of magic and Incas. This sauce hails from there.

Papa a la Huancaina


What does Papa a la Huancaina consist of?

  1. Boiled and then chilled potatoes. Peru is a very rich in its varieties of different potatoes.
  2. A few layers of lettuce. Typically you’ll see the potatoes fanned out onto a bed of iceberg lettuce. I often times like to use red leaf lettuce to be a bit fancier.
  3. Huancaina sauce. This yellow sauce makes the entire dish. It’s a spicy, creamy sauce that has aji amarillo in it, queso blanco/fresco, oil, saltine crackers (yes, that’s right!) and evaporated milk.
  4. Black olives. This briny garnish adds a nice bite/acid to an otherwise creamy dish.
  5. Boiled eggs. This is also a garnish and is SO delicious dipped in the sauce.

I’ve started exploring dishes of my childhood lately; probably because I get a little homesick from time to time. Living away from home makes me want to be there even more. I also think it’s about this time in ones life where you begin to look back a bit. Being a kid was so cool. It was cozy; no bills, no worries, no pretending about being a real adult. Being an adult sucks. I want nothing to do with it. So in protest I’ve decided to make a bunch of this sauce and dip it in potato chips. So there. I hope you enjoy a taste from my childhood: Papa a la Huancaina.


How to Make Papa a la Huancaina

  1. Prep all of your ingredients.
  2. To a blender, add the queso blanco or queso fresco, aji amarillo or habanero, evaporated milk, pinch of kosher salt and turmeric.
  3. Start the blender.
  4. As it blends, pour in the neutral oil.
  5. And then, add a saltine cracker crushed up to give it body and thickness. Give it a taste and add more if needed.
  6. Salt to taste.
  7. Assemble!
  8. Add a few pieces of lettuce to a plate. Top with sliced boiled potatoes.
  9. Pour the sauce on top and garnish with quarters of boiled egg and black olives.

Papa a la Huancaina Recipe

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serving Size: 4
Calories: 350kcal
Papa a la Huancaina is a Peruvian appetizer from the region of Huancayo. The creamy spicy sauce is poured over cold slices of potato, a bed of lettuce and garnished with black Peruvian olives and boiled egg.


Huancaina Sauce:

  • 12 ounces queso blanco (or feta in a pinch), cut into cubes
  • 1 whole aji amarillo pepper or habanero , trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch turmeric
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil , (such as avocado oil, vegetable oil or grape seed oil)
  • 4 to 5 saltine crackers

For Serving:

  • 2 whole iceberg lettuce leaves or romaine lettuce leaves
  • 6 whole russet potatoes, boiled and then cooled
  • 1 large boiled egg, sliced
  • 4 pitted black olives


Huancaina Sauce:

  • To a food processor or blender, add the cubes of queso blanco, along with the pepper, evaporated milk, a pinch of salt, a few rounds of freshly ground pepper, turmeric and oil. Blend until smooth. If the consistency is a bit too thick, then add an additional teaspoon or two of oil. If it’s too thin, add a few crumbled saltine crackers and blend one last time. 

To Serve:

  • Place a few slices of lettuce on a serving plate. Pour a few spoonfuls of sauce on top of the potatoes and then arrange the boiled eggs and black olives atop. Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Serve immediately. 


To Make Ahead:
All of these components can be made the up to 3 days before and kept in the fridge. You can assemble everything when you're ready to serve. 
KeywordHuancayo, Huancayo Peru, Papa a la Huancaina, papa a la huancaina receta, papa a la huancaina recipe, Peruvian food, Peruvian recipes, Visit Peru
Serving: 4g | Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Did you make this Recipe? Tag me Today!Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen

Enjoy this step-by-step video of How to Make Papa a la Huancaina:

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Recipe Rating

  • Reply Sandra January 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    This looks amazing and your photos are so appetizing! My boyfriend has eaten this before and was telling me how amazing it is. I want to make it this weekend for him. Looking at the recipe I am a bit confused as to where the habanero pepper goes – is it for garnish or does it get blended in with the sauce? Is the sauce quite spicy? I love your blog!

  • Reply Lorien December 31, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Oh yes! I have wanted this recipe for a while but I couldn’t spell it. Thank you, thank you! Also I agree with the last comment. Lomo Saltado, Peuvian comfort food. Wonderful. I knew about this for many years and now living in Miami I have total access to it. It would be great to have the recipe!:::fingers are crossed:::

    • Reply Adrianna January 1, 2012 at 12:44 am

      Let me know how it turns out! I love lomo saltado, too. I need to make it for the blog soon!

  • Reply Michelle August 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I live in Peru and this is one of our most delicious appetizers! Your recepie is very well done, that’s how i make it too! You should try to make “Lomo saltado” it’s one of my favourite peruvian meals!

  • Reply DessertForTwo August 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I meant Costa Rica 🙂

  • Reply DessertForTwo August 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I lived in Costa Rice for a period of time and I absolutely loved this sauce! Wow! Thanks a million for the memories 🙂

  • Reply Chas August 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Yum! That looks amazing! I’ve never had anything like that before. I’ll have to give it a try!

  • Reply Adrianna August 8, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Cecy, I considered buying the chilies and freezing them but all of the little stores that carry them are a bit too far from my house. I’ll definitely have to stock up the next time I head up north!

    George, Thank you! I remember you always being sensitive to butter, cream and cheese! Ha!

    Lillian, that’s a really good idea. I never thought of substituting with cottage cheese. An awesome healthy option!!

  • Reply lillian August 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I make this dish with low-fat cottage cheese. It’s just as creamy but with a lighter texture and lower in fat.
    You can also garnish it with a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley.
    This is one of my favorite Peruvian dishes.
    I love the variety of recipes on this site.

  • Reply George August 7, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Adrianna, Love the new look! Easy to navigate. I must admit, I was never a fan of this dish. I just remember everyone loved it! Your photographs look fabulous! Makes me want to try it, but I know I will be disappointed. Awsome presentation!

  • Reply Johnna Lynn August 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm


    I would usually not order something like this but from these photos and description totally want to try!

  • Reply Cecy August 7, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I like the new look!
    This dish is one of my favorite Peruvian dishes all around. Your presentation is exquiste, appitizing and I’m certain its quite delicious. I would have never thought of using the huancaina sauce as a dip. All this talk is really making me hungry.

    Note the habanero chili is over 100,000 times hotter (SR scale) than the ají amarillo. There are latin american markets that may carry ají amarillo in SCal.
    I know of a market here in SF that carries ají amarillo. Next time you come for a visit we’ll shop there. Thai peppers may be a good substitute. Also Chiles freeze well.
    Happy cooking!