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14 Best Aji Amarillo Paste Substitute For Peruvian Cuisine

Aji Amarillo Paste is a spice made from the Peruvian yellow chili pepper of the same name. Aji Amarillo is one of the five local chili peppers grown in Peru. It is considered one of the three most important ingredients in Peruvian cuisine, the other two being red onion and garlic.

Aji Amarillo is used in traditional Peruvian dishes like Papa a la HuancainaAji de Gallina, and Causa Rellena. It can also be included in roast dishes, potato dishes, ceviches, and salsas. It can also be made into a sauce to serve with meat and vegetables. For those who like to keep things spicy, Aji Amarillo can also be infused with rice. 

Here are some alternatives to consider if you run out of it.

  1. Serrano Pepper
  2. Scotch Bonnet Pepper
  3. Habanero Pepper
  4. Manzano Pepper
  5. Jalapeño Pepper
  6. Poblano Pepper
  7. Bishop’s Crown Pepper
  8. Fresno Pepper
  9. Aleppo Pepper

Read on to find out more about these alternatives and also the origins of this spicy ingredient.

14 Best Substitute For Aji Amarillo Paste 

Aji Amarillo Paste Substitute

Aji Amarillo is believed to have been cultivated and eaten since the time of the Incas. Although the literal translation of “Aji Amarillo†is yellow pepper, it turns bright orange when it is ready for harvest. 

The normal Aji Amarillo grows from 3 to 6 inches long with a slightly curved end. It is rated at 30,000 to 50,000 points on the Scoville Scale, making it almost ten (10) times hotter than jalapenos.

It has a fruity and berry flavor reminiscent of passion fruit and mango that lends a uniquely sweet flavor to dishes. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, copper, and potassium.

Aji Amarillo chili peppers, as mentioned earlier, are one of the primary ingredients in Peruvian cooking. It is often used as a paste or powder. However, it can also be canned, frozen, dried, or made into a sauce. 

Fresh Aji Amarillo is abundant in Peru and other Latin American countries. In other areas, powdered, dried, or paste Aji Amarillo might be more accessible. In cases when aji Amarillo is unavailable, we’ve listed down the best Aji Amarillo paste substitute list.

Serrano Pepper


Serrano Peppers originated from Mexico. They are small, usually no longer than 2 inches, and are often mistaken for jalapeno peppers. Serrano peppers usually come in green but they can also come in yellow, red, orange, and brown.

Like Aji Amarillo, Serrano peppers also pack in heat in their small package. Serrano Peppers rate 10,000 to 23,000 Scoville Heat Units. The spice level of a serrano pepper often depends on its color (unripe peppers are often milder) and size (smaller serrano pepper are often spicier). As to its taste profile, Serrano Pepper has a crisp and earthy taste.

Serrano Pepper can be eaten raw and mixed into salads, soups, salsas, and dips. Like Aji Amarillo, these peppers can be dried. The seeds are often taken out before the pepper is dried. The dried serrano pepper can then be crushed to be made into powder or paste.

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Serrano Pepper is rich in vitamin C, copper, potassium, and manganese. It is also low on calories. As with most spicy food, Serrano Pepper encourages metabolism because of its high capsaicin content.

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

Scotch Bonnet Pepper, also known as Caribbean red pepper or Bonney pepper, is a chili pepper cultivated in the Caribbean and West Africa. A close relative of habanero pepper, scotch bonnet pepper has a Scoville Heat Rating of 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers can come in green, yellow, peach, brown, or scarlet red color, depending on their variety and ripeness. It is typically used in the Caribbean and Latin American cuisine. 

As to flavor profile, Scotch Bonnet Pepper probably has the closest to Aji Amarillo. Like Aji pepper, it has a fruity and sweet taste reminiscent of cherry, apple, and tomato.

Habanero Pepper 


The next entry on the list is the habanero pepper. The name of this chili is derived from the Cuban city – Havana. However, it is noteworthy that although it is named after the Cuban city, habanero pepper is rarely used in Cuban cuisine.

This chili originates from the Amazon. Currently, the largest producer of this chili is the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. It is also cultivated in countries like Ecuador, Belize, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, and the United States of America. 

It is famous for its high rating on the Scoville Scale. It registers a whopping 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. It commonly comes in green when unripe. As it matures, habanero peppers usually turn orange and red. But it can also be yellow, purple, brown, or white. 

Manzano Pepper

Another pepper on the aji Amarillo paste best substitute list is the Manzano pepper. It is notable for its apple shape and distinctly fruity and citrusy flavor. It derives its name from its shape. Manzana is apple in Spanish.

It usually grows up to 5 cm. When immature, it has a yellow-orange or light green color. Once it ripens, it typically turns orange or dark red. It has light flesh and black seeds. In the Scoville meter, it registers between 10,000 to 30,000 SHU. 

Manzano Pepper is typically used in soups, sauce, salsa, and stir-fries. It can also be used to make spicy vinegar. Other people who fancy spicy things even eat Manzano chili raw like apples. In South America, the seeds of Manzano chili are used to flavor chocolate drinks. 

Jalapeno Pepper


Jalapeño pepper is one of the most consumed peppers in the world. It is medium in size, typically growing up to two to four inches long. It is typically used in Mexican and Southwestern American cuisine. Unlike other peppers, Jalapeño peppers are typically picked and consumed while it is still green.

If fully ripened, Jalapeño peppers turn yellow, red, or orange. It is often mistaken for a serrano pepper because of its similar appearance.

However, it is milder with a 4,000 to 8,500 Scoville Heat Unit. Currently, Mexico, India, Peru, Spain, and China are the large producers of Jalapeño peppers. According to[2], Jalapeño is rich in vitamins C, A, B6, and K. It is also a great source of fiber, folate, and manganese.

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One of the famous derivatives of Jalapeño is chipotle. It is a spice made from dried and smoked Jalapeño peppers. Chipotle is usually used in Mexican and Texan-Mexican dishes. Chipotle is a great substitute for Aji Amarillo because of its distinctive spicy flavor.

Poblano Pepper

Poblano pepper is a famous Mexican chili. It is famous for its heart shape and typically grows 4 to 5 inches. It is dark green when unripe.

When it ripens, it turns into a brown or dark red color. Poblano Pepper is a perfect substitute for Aji Amarillo paste for those who are not very fond of spicy food. Poblano pepper measures between 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. 

Because it has thick skin, it is commonly used for stuffed pepper. Aside from this, poblano peppers can be fried, dried, or roasted.

It is also used in salads and soups. When dried, poblano peppers are sold and packaged as ancho peppers. Poblano Pepper is rich in carotenoids, and vitamins A and C.

Bishop’s Crown Pepper


Bishop’s Crown pepper is known by many names because of its peculiar shape. It is also known as Joker’s hat or Christmas Bell because of its three-sided shape with rounded tips.

It is indigenous to South America, but is now also widely cultivated in Europe. Like Aji Amarillo, it has a sweet and fruity taste. However, it is much less spicy than Aji Amarillo. It registers 5,000 to 30,000 Scoville Heat Units in the Scoville Scale. 

This pepper is best eaten fresh. This is the reason why it is often mixed in salads and salsas. It can also be processed and made into a paste and powder. 

Fresno Pepper

The next entry on the list is Fresno peppers. It is a medium-sized pepper widely cultivated in California. It is often mistaken for jalapeño peppers, but it has thinner skin and milder heat.

It registers 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. The young Fresno pepper is typically bright green then turns red or orange as it matures. 

This type of chili is often used in Mexican and Southwestern American cuisine. It can be used in salsas and ceviches.

Young Fresno chili works great in dips, chutneys, sauces, stews, relishes, stews, and other savory dishes. Meanwhile, ripe Fresno pepper is often used as a topping in salads, tacos, hotdogs, and burgers.

Aleppo Pepper


Aleppo pepper is widely sold in Mexican and Middle Eastern markets. As its name suggests, this pepper originated from Aleppo, Libya.

A condiment of the same name is derived from Aleppo pepper. This spice is said to taste the closest to Aji Amarillo powder because of its mild and fruity taste. Some variations of Aleppo spice have a raisin or tomato-like flavor with cumin undertones. On the Scoville Scale, it registers 10,000 Scoville Heat Units. 

Aleppo spice is widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It works well as a meat rub mixed with cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, and sugar. It can also be used to spice up your ordinary egg, toast, or pasta. Some even use it to liven up their cocktail drinks.

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Cheongyang pepper

Cheongyang pepper is a medium-sized pepper from South Korea. Its name is derived from the region in Korea where it was first produced. The young fruit of this pepper is usually green or purple.

As it ripens, it turns deep red. As to its flavor profile, it tastes like a sweeter and tangier version of Asian Birds eye. On the Scoville Scale, it registers 10,000 SHU.

In Korean cuisine, Cheongyang pepper is typically added to soup dishes to add heat without coloring the broth red, unlike other peppers. It can also be dried and turned into a powder or paste to become a substitute for Aji Amarillo.

Piquante Pepper


Another ideal substitute is piquanté pepper. It is widely cultivated in Limpopo province in South Africa. It is very mild with only 1,177 heat units on the Scoville Scale.

Because of its very low rating on the Scoville Scale, some people consider this pepper as sweet rather than spicy. Because of its mild flavor, it is often used in soups and salads.

Criolla Sella

This pepper is indigenous to the Bolivian Andes located in western South America. It is very distinct because of its bright orange color when ripe. It is very small, averaging between four to five centimeters in length.

It has a thin and waxy skin and white-colored seeds.

As to its taste, it is sweet and citrusy with notes of mango. It is moderately spicy averaging 25,000 to 30,000 Heat units on the Scoville Scale.

It is often used in salads together with cabbage, oregano, cilantro, lime, and thyme. It can also be used in its powder form to add flavor to soups, sauces, stews, and stir-fries. 

Guntur Sannam


Guntur Sannam is a chili from India. It grows up to 15 centimeters in length and 1.5 centimeters in diameter. It has thick skin, which makes it great for stuffed chili.

It has an average of 35,000 to 40,000 Scoville Heat Units. The peak harvest season of this chili is from December to March.

As to its taste, this pepper has a sweet and fruity flavor with hints of tomato, which makes it a good substitute for Aji Amarillo.

Aji Limon

Last, but not the least is the aji Limon. Like aji Amarillo, aji Limon also originates from Peru. Its name, which directly translates to “lemon dropâ€, is derived from its appearance.

When unripe, lemon drop pepper is color green. It slowly turns to yellow as it matures. It has a heat rating of 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville Heat Unit.


  1. Serrano Pepper Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed. November 30, 2021, Accessed April 29, 2022 ↑
  2. 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Jalapeños. Erica Julson, MS, RBN, CLT. March 10, 2018. Accessed April 29, 2022 ↑
  3. What Are Poblano Peppers? Nutrition, Benefits, and Uses. Lizzie Streight, MS, RDN, LC. March 29, 2022. Accessed April 29, 2022 ↑