Peruvians love salsas, sauces and dips. They are a must on every dining table and complement, enhance or vary the unique flavors of local dishes. One of the most popular sauces in Peru that reflect the soul of the Peruvian cuisine is Salsa Huancaina.
Salsa Huancaina is a creamy, spicy, but still pleasant sauce with an inimitable Peruvian flavor that is prepared in no time with simple Peruvian ingredients such as aji amarillo, the Peruvian yellow chili pepper with its distinctive flavor, queso fresco, a fresh Peruvian white cheese, and milk.
Even though the Huancaina sauce gained popularity being the star of Peru’s famous starter Papas a la Huancaina, the scrumptious salsa is very versatile and goes extremely well with many other flavors.
While Salsa Huancaina is absolutely delicious as a dip for fries, tequeños, fried yucca sticks, corn on the cob, veggies and many other little goodies, it is heavenly with barbecued meat and when served as Spaghetti a la Huancaina or Risotto a la Huancaina. Comfort food with a Peruvian touch at its best.
Preparing Salsa Huancaina at home isn’t a big deal and done in 5 to 10 minutes. But if you are aiming for the real Peruvian flavor, there is no way around using aji amarillo. The perfect combination of its sweet fruitiness and heat gives the sauce its characteristic color and taste.
Usually you can find aji amarillo in Latin American food stores in numerous cities around the globe or online – if not fresh, then surely as paste, or whole frozen or canned, or as last resort grounded. While finding aji amarillo outside Peru might be challenging, it’s worth the effort.
Find below our quick and easy recipe for Salsa Huancaina.
LimaEasy's Recipe for Huancaina Sauce
- 2 - 3 aji amarillo (aji amarillo paste is fine as well)
- 1/2 small onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 Tbsp good neutral vegetable oil
- 200 ml (a little less than 1 cup) evaporated milk
- 250 g queso fresco (you can use feta or white farmer's cheese)
- 1 hardboiled egg
- 2 - 4 saltine crackers
- Cut queso fesco (or white farmer’s cheese / feta) into cubes and set aside.
- Remove seeds from the aji amarillo and chop into small pieces. Dice onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté aji amarillo (or paste), onion and garlic over medium heat until soft. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
- Transfer the mixture including the oil to a blender or food processor, add around 100 ml (about ½ cup) of evaporated milk and blend.
- Then add the cheese, the hardboiled egg and 2 saltine crackers. Blend. While blending slowly add more milk until your Huancaina sauce is smooth and fairly thick. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add more saltine crackers if your Huancaina sauce got to thin, or a little bit more milk if it's too thick.
- Enjoy my absolute favorite Peruvian salsa!