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5 from 4 votes

Papa a la Huancaina Recipe

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.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Peruvian
Servings: 4
Cost: $12


  • 1 blender


Huancaina Sauce:

  • 2 whole ají amarillo chiles or 1 tablespoon ají amarillo paste
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 yellow or white onion  roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces queso fresco cut into cubes
  • 1 (5-ounce can) evaporated milk
  • Pinch ground turmeric (optional)
  • 4 to 5 saltine crackers

For Serving:

  • 4 to 5 leaves iceberg lettuce or butter lettuce for plating
  • 5 boiled and peeled russet or yellow potatoes cooled and peeled
  • 1 large boiled egg quartered
  • 3 to 4 pitted Peruvian black olives or kalamata olives


To Make the Huancaina Sauce:

  • If using whole ají amarillo chiles, thaw them if necessary. And begin by slicing them in half. Remove the stem and seeds.
  • In a small sauté pan, set over medium heat, add a teaspoon of oil, reserving the rest of the olive oil. Cook the ají amarillo chiles until softened. Transfer to a blender. If you're using paste, you can simply add the paste to a blender and proceed as instructed below.
  • To the same small sauté pan, add the onion, garlic, and pinch of salt. Cook until mostly softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the blender, along with the cubed queso blanco, evaporated milk, and ground turmeric (if using); blend until mostly smooth. With the blender running, slowly add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add about 3 to 4 crushed saltine crackers and blend again until it reaches a thick rich consistency. Add another cracker if the consistency seems too thin. Salt to taste.

For Serving:

  • Slice the peeled potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. To plate the dish, arrange the leaves of lettuce on a large plate. Fan the sliced potatoes atop the lettuce, and pour the sauce over the potatoes. Garnish with eggs and olives.


Tips and Tricks:
  • What should I use if I can't find aji amarillos? You can use scotch bonnet or another red/yellow colored pepper.
  • Where can I find aji amarillos? You can often times find aji amarillos in any Latin market. I like to buy them in the frozen department. This way I can thaw what I need. You can also buy the paste on Amazon.
  • What if I can't find queso fresco? In a pinch you can always use feta cheese. It will have more of a tart flavor to it so I would only use this as a last option.
  • Can this sauce be frozen? Yes! It's a really good sauce to freeze. I would freeze it for up to 3 months.
To Make Ahead:
All of these components can be made up to 3 days before and kept in the fridge. You can assemble everything when you're ready to serve. 


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