Cooking Tips

These Two Peruvian Sauces Make Everything Taste Better

Garlicky-tangy-spicy ají verde and ají amarillo sauces are perfect accompaniments to pollo a la brasa—and anything else you put them on.

Published June 2, 2022.

If you’re familiar with pollo a la brasa (Peruvian grill-roasted chicken), then you know that the succulent, smoky birds are typically presented with an array of ají (chile) sauces. Peruvians love to drizzle the garlicky-tangy-spicy mayonnaise-based mixtures onto the chicken (as well as the accompanying French fries and salad), but the sauces are so packed with vibrant, interesting flavors—and so quick and easy to make—that I’ve been keeping batches on hand to add spark and depth to just about everything.

A generous spoonful of our ají amarillo or ají verde sauce works magic on simple grilled meats and seafood and perks up tacos and burritos. But that’s just the start: I also adore the creamy mayos on eggs, grain bowls, and roasted vegetables. 

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Each sauce calls for just a handful of ingredients; buzz them in the blender and you’re ready to go. The sunny chiles featured in the Ají Amarillo sauce give off fruity, habanero-like vibes with moderate heat; lime juice, garlic, and huacatay, an herb that’s often called black mint with vegetal and menthol undertones, accent the chiles. Our Ají Verde sauce also features huacatay, as well as grassy jalapeños, garlic, salty cotija cheese, and tangy lime juice. Both sauces can be refrigerated for up to one week. 

How to Make AjÍ Verde (Peruvian Green Chile Sauce) 

Combine ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped coarse, 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons grated cotija cheese, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon jarred huacatay paste, and 1 garlic clove, minced, in a blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute.  

How to Make AjÍ Amarillo (Peruvian Yellow Chile Sauce)

Combine ½ cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 garlic clove, minced,  and  1 teaspoon jarred huacatay paste in a blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute.

More Dipping Sauces

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This is an excellent sauce to add flavor to plain, broiled chicken.
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Goat Cheese and Chive Sauce

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Spicy Cilantro Sauce (Zhoug)

This warm-spiced, garlicky chile-herb sauce takes shakshuka to the next level.
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