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12 Aji Amarillo Paste Substitutes [And Four To Avoid]

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of aji amarillo paste substitutes for cooking to find the best one.

Whatever your reason for avoiding aji amarillo paste is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best substitutes for aji amarillo paste are aji mirasol paste, homemade aji amarillo paste, and aji amarillo powder. A combination of habanero peppers and bell peppers is a solid, easy to find option. You can also try a mix of ajicito and jalapeno peppers. For a spicier kick, try salsa de rocoto.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Experiment

I made a spicy mayo dipping sauce to try all the different aji amarillo paste substitutes I could find. 

Aji amarillo paste is a staple condiment in Peruvian cuisine. It has a vibrant yellow color, and it boasts a pleasant heat tempered by its fruity, citrusy twist. I was looking for a substitute with a similar depth of flavor.

Here’s what I tested and the verdicts: 

SubstitutesSubstitute directionsVerdict
Aji mirasol pasteReplace in a 2:1 ratio, adjusting to taste 10/10
Homemade aji amarillo pasteReplace in a 1:1 ratio 10/10
Aji amarillo powderReplace in a 2:1 ratio, adjusting to taste 10/10
Habanero peppers + bell peppersReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Ajicito + jalapenosReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Salsa de rocotoReplace in a 2:1 ratio, adjusting to taste 8/10

Common dishes that use aji amarillo paste and the best substitutes to use

Here are the most common uses for aji amarillo paste and the substitutes for those situations:

  • For sauces, stews, and soups – aji mirasol paste, homemade aji amarillo paste, habanero peppers + bell peppers 
  • As a condiment (on its own or mixed with other condiments) – aji mirasol paste, homemade aji amarillo paste
  • For marinades and salad dressings – aji mirasol paste, aji amarillo powder, homemade aji amarillo paste

Aji mirasol paste

I was confused when I saw a jar of this paste because it looked really similar to aji amarillo, and it turns out – they’re basically the same!

But instead of fresh aji amarillo chiles, this version is made with aji mirasol, the dried chili version. 

You can expect an identical fruity, spicy flavor but the heat will be much more intense than your usual amarillo paste. 

Be conservative with the amount you use – start small and add more as needed. 

How to substitute: replace aji amarillo paste in your recipe with half the amount of aji mirasol paste, adjusting to taste. 

Homemade aji amarillo paste

The problem with making fresh aji amarillo paste from scratch?

It can be challenging to find fresh peppers outside of Peru.

But the next best thing is using frozen aji amarillo peppers, which you can usually get from well-stocked Latin grocery stores.

The jarred paste is convenient, but this homemade version had a fresher, fruitier flavor that’ll take your dishes to the next level. 

Plus, making your own aji amarillo paste means you have some control over spice level. I removed the seeds for less heat!

How to substitute: replace aji amarillo paste in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with homemade aji amarillo paste.

Aji amarillo powder

You can also buy aji amarillo peppers in powder form.

The powder packs more of punch than its paste counterpart. Just a sprinkle of this magic dust can elevate your dishes to new heights. 

Pro-tip: want a paste-like consistency? Mix the aji amarillo powder with a bit of water or oil to create a paste. I’ve successfully used this combo to create a tasty marinade for chicken. 

How to substitute: replace aji amarillo paste in your recipe in a 2:1 ratio with aji amarillo powder, adjusting to taste. 

Pureed habanero peppers + bell peppers 

If you want a fresh (and easy to find) alternative to aji amarillo paste, habanero peppers have your back. 

These punchy peppers are fruitier than aji amarillo peppers (that’s why they’re my favorite), and they’re way spicier. 

That’s why pairing them with some orange bell pepper is a must – it’ll balance the flavor and also recreate the vibrant color of aji amarillo.

You can also remove the membranes and give the habaneros a good rinse before blending them into a paste to keep the heat in check. And don’t forget a spritz of lime juice to make those flavors pop.

Pro-tip: use Scotch bonnet peppers instead of habaneros for a slightly less spicy alternative. 

How to substitute: replace aji amarillo paste in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a puree of ½ habanero or Scotch bonnet and 1 orange bell pepper.

Pureed hungarian wax peppers

These peppers might not be as spicy as aji amarillo, but they pack a delightful sweet-tangy punch that’ll leave you wanting more. 

And they’re way easier to find than aji amarillo paste.

If you’re craving some extra heat, throw in a pinch of chili flakes as you puree these peppers.

Pro-tip: I roasted the Hungarian wax peppers before blending them to amp up their natural flavors and give my paste a smokey touch.

How to substitute: replace aji amarillo paste in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with pureed Hungarian wax peppers.

Pureed ajicito + jalapenos

If mild and fruity is your jam, then ajicito (or aji dulce) peppers have you covered.

They’re just as fruity as aji amarillo but without the spice – and that’s where the jalapenos come in to bring a delectable but light heat.

Again, if you’re looking for a little extra kick, add in some dried chili flakes or switch the jalapenos for serrano peppers. 

They’re slightly hotter but won’t leave you gasping for a glass of water.

How to substitute: replace aji amarillo paste in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a puree of ajicito and jalapenos or serrano peppers.

Salsa de Rocoto

If you’re looking for a close cousin to aji amarillo paste, let me introduce you to salsa de rocoto.

This bright red Peruvian paste is not an exact flavor match for your vibrant yellow pepper paste, but it has similar sweet, fruity notes.

The catch? It’s much spicier than aji amarillo paste. But don’t let that stop you from giving it a whirl. 

Just use less of it, or add a splash of lime juice to cool things down a bit.

How to substitute: replace aji amarillo paste in your recipe with half the amount of salsa de rocoto, adjusting to taste.

Other options to consider

The substitutes I’ve listed above are my top picks, but here are some other options you can try if you happen to have them on hand.

They aren’t perfect, but they can save your dish in a pinch! 

  • Pureed ancho peppers – these have milder heat than aji amarillo paste and have a distinct sweetness. You can enhance them further by adding cayenne powder and a squeeze of lime juice to mimic aji amarillo paste’s acidity. 
  • Pureed guajillo chilies – these are not as spicy as aji amarillo paste, but they share similar fruity, berry-like notes. 
  • Aleppo pepper flakes– these are moderately spicy, with a fruity, citrusy flavor. You might find a bottle of these in big-brand groceries, but if not you’ll have to go to a speciality store.
  • Manzano peppers – these have a similar color to aji amarillo peppers and have a fruity, citrusy bite. But they can also be difficult to find.
  • Sriracha – this is a last-resort substitute. It’ll bring heat and a hint of sweetness to your dish, but you need to add a spritz of lime juice for a fresh citrus kick. Psst.. I’ve also got a great article on the best alternatives to sriracha.

Substitutes to avoid 

Not all chili peppers and pastes can stand in for aji amarillo paste.

Here are some substitutes I saw other people suggest that I wasn’t impressed with when I tried them.

  • Sambal oelek – I love this condiment, but it’s not fruity. And I found it too vinegar-forward to replace aji amarillo.
  • Sumac – this is a superb addition to your spice cabinet, but it’s not spicy and works better as an alternative to lemon. 
  • Turmeric paste – this looks like aji amarillo paste and has a subtle kick, but it has earthy, slightly bitter notes that stray too far from aji amarillo paste. 
  • Carrot powder – this is great for baking and smoothies, but won’t work as a  substitute for aji amarillo paste. It’s not spicy and has a sweeter flavor. 

Best Aji Amarillo Paste Substitutes

I tested all the different aji amarillo paste substitutes I could find to find the best one.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Peruvian
Keyword: aji amarillo paste substitutes, substitutes for jaji amarillo paste
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 7kcal


  • ½ tbsp aji mirasol paste, adjusting to taste
  • 1 tbsp homemade aji amarillo paste
  • ½ tbsp aji amarillo powder
  • 1 tbsp habanero pepper + bell pepper, pureed
  • 1 tbsp ajicito + jalapeno, pureed
  • ½ tbsp salsa de rocoto, adjusting to taste


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen aji amarillo paste substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 7kcal

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