Aji Amarillo – the Sunny Yellow Chili Pepper
The aji amarillo is a spicy South American chili pepper with vibrant orange-yellow skin and fruity flavor. It is important in Peruvian cuisine. Learn more about it.
Scoville Heat Units: 30,000-50,000 SHU
The aji amarillo chili pepper is a spicy South American pepper with vibrant orange-yellow skin and fruity flavor. “Amarillo” means “yellow” in Spanish, and “Aji” means “chili” in South America, this pepper is also appropriately known as the “yellow chili.” The Ají Amarillo is grown in all areas of Peru. Used by the Incas, it is still the most common and popular chili pepper in that country.
It may be said that is it possibly the most important ingredient in Peruvian cuisine, as it is incorporated in a number of national dishes, from main courses to side dishes and more. You’ll find them at Peruvian markets in many forms, including fresh and dried, canned or chili paste.
What Does the Aji Amarillo Look Like?
The Aji Amarillo pepper grows to about 4-5 inches in length, and despite its name, it actually matures to a deep orange. The skins are vibrant and smooth, though slightly rippled. The color can vary from pod to pod as they mature, from a bright orange to deep, deep orange.
What Does the Aji Amarillo Taste Like?
Like other peppers from this area, the Aji Amarillo has a fruity, berry-like flavor. It is medium in heat level, but it does not leave your mouth burning. It is also great as a condiment.
I find the flavor of fresh aji amarillo peppers to be quite vibrant, which makes them great for making sauces, salsas, or drying and grinding into powders.
It’s definitely a must for Peruvian food, prized for their unique flavor.
How Hot is the Aji Amarillo?
Compare this to a typical jalapeno pepper, it can be up to 10 times hotter.
What Can I Substitute for Aji Amarillo?
Beware, however, as both of those peppers are quite a bit hotter than the aji. They’re similar in flavor profile, though, and have a nice fruitiness.
If you’d like to tame the heat of those substitutes, core them out to remove the innards, which is where most of the heat resides. Or, you can use milder sweet bell peppers, either yellow, orange, or red, for similar flavor with no heat.
Where Can I Buy Aji Amarillo Peppers?
The Ají Amarillo may be sold in Latin food stores and on the internet in its dried or paste form.
Learn more about aji chili peppers.
Other Varieties Aji Chili Peppers
There are many different strains of Peruvian aji peppers, but here are links to some of the most popular:
- Aji Chili Peppers Main Page
- Aji Amarillo
- Lemon Drop
- Aji Fantasy
- Aji Limo
- Aji Pineapple
- Aji Panca
- Aji Cito
- Aji Habanero
Aji Pepper Recipes
Here are a number of recipes I have created that celebrate the heat and flavor of aji chili peppers.
- Aji Amarillo Sauce – a Popular Peruvian Sauce Recipe
- Aji Amarillo Paste
- Papa a la Huancaína
- Fermented Aji-Garlic Hot Sauce
- Aji-Lime-Kiwi Sweet Pepper Jam
- Aji Picante Sauce
- Aji Pineapple Hot Sauce
- Lomo Saltado (Peruvian Beef Stir Fry with French Fries)
- Pebre with Aji Chili Peppers
Check out all of our Chili Pepper Types.
Got any questions? Ask away! Leave a comment or shoot me an email. — Mike H.
NOTE: This page was updated on 10/7/21 to include new information. It was originally posted on 9/23/13.