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8 Best Aji Amarillo Paste Substitute You Can Find

8 Best Aji Amarillo Paste Substitute You Can Find

I adore aji amarillo paste! It has a wonderful flavor and bright color, both of which make it indispensable in the kitchen. When you don’t have any to hand, though, you can take a look at my list to find the best aji amarillo paste substitute for you.

What is aji amarillo paste?

Aji amarillo is a spice paste that’s used really commonly in Latin America. Unless you specifically request that someone doesn’t use it for you while you’re in Latin America, you’ll probably taste it at least a little.

The paste itself is mostly made from dried and ground aji amarillo peppers. Combined with a few different spices and liquids to get the perfect consistency and flavor. The combination of flavors is quite unique. Meaning that when it’s been added to a soup, stew, or sauce, you can usually tell.

The bright color of aji amarillo peppers means that the paste itself has a vibrant orange color to it. It’s wonderfully eye-catching, and this brings something truly brilliant to a wide variety of the dishes that it’s used in.

8 best aji amarillo paste substitute

Here are 8 of the best aji amarillo paste substitute that I guarantee you’ll love as much as I do : )

1. Chipotle peppers

Chipotle peppers can make a great alternative to making your own aji amarillo paste since they’re so easy to get hold of. The flavor isn’t that faithful to that of aji amarillo paste (it’s typically a lot smokier, and a little hotter). But they can be bought at nearly any supermarket. And can be ground into a paste with some vegetable oil quickly and easily.

2. Roasted poblano peppers

Roasted poblano peppers are another option that can be found very easily in most supermarkets. This fact, combined with the fact that they’re generally less hot than chipotle peppers, means that they can be easily made into a great aji amarillo substitute.

3. Dried or frozen aji amarillo chiles

These are usually the only formats you’ll be able to buy aji amarillo peppers in, since they’re quite hard to track down, aside from online. If you can get one of these options, you can make your own aji amarillo paste – dried, ground aji amarillo chillies can be combined with oil to form a paste.

4. Scotch bonnet peppers

Scotch bonnet peppers are much hotter than aji amarillo peppers, so the paste that is made from them is also much hotter, too. This can be a turn-off for some people, since they’re so spicy, but they do have an underlying fruitiness that makes them ideal for aji amarillo paste.

On top of that, scotch bonnet peppers are easy to track down in grocery stores, even in the winter.

5. Habanero peppers

aji amarillo paste substitute

Habanero peppers are considered to be some of the spiciest peppers, which might mean that you don’t consider them to be a great idea for your cooking. However, they do have a pleasant fruitiness that tempers their spicy nature, making them quite ideal for a range of different dishes.

To avoid making any one spot of a dish hotter than the others, deseed these peppers before drying and grinding them into habanero paste.

6. Sumac paste

Sumac is a sour, lemony spice that is used in a suite of cuisines. Most commonly Middle Eastern and Eastern European. This particular type of paste can be made in your home. Or, you can pick up a small container of sumac paste from most grocery stores.

Ash is used as a binding agent in this option, which can give a dish a smoky flavor that you might not prefer. On top of that, sumac isn’t very spicy at all. Meaning that its heat won’t match up with the heat of aji amarillo paste.

7. Turmeric paste

Turmeric is a spice made from the roots of the turmeric plant. They are cooked, dried, and powdered. This powder can be mixed with vegetable oil to create a turmeric paste ideal for adding to a range of dishes.

Turmeric perfectly replicates the bright orange coloring of aji amarillo paste, though it has a warm, earthy flavor that’s a bit dissimilar to aji amarillo paste.

8. Paprika

While paprika isn’t the most ideal spice in terms of color (it’s typically bright red) it does have a similar enough flavor that would work very well! The flavor of paprika is quite warm and spiced. Sweet paprika wouldn’t be too dissimilar from aji amarillo at all!

What does aji amarillo paste taste like?

The paste itself has a nearly unique flavor. It’s very strong and potent when tasted on it’s own. But when it’s in a dish, it tends not to overwhelm the other flavors in the pot.

The main flavor of the paste is a citrusy tanginess. This is a brilliantly Latin American flavor, as is evidenced by the fact that there are so many different Latin American recipes that contain a hit of lime juice and a generous dose of coriander.

The aftertaste of aji amarillo is where the spice is. It doesn’t bring a lot of heat to a dish. But it brings enough that it makes a meal a little warmer when, otherwise, it may have been boring.

What does aji amarillo mean?

Aji amarillo literally means yellow pepper – that’s a really handy translation! There are a lot of food items translated in this way. Since their name was created by the people that first made or grew them.

A great example of this is ‘naan’. This literally translates to bread, and yet Indian restaurants in English-speaking countries often list ‘naan bread’ on the menu.


What is aji amarillo paste made of?

Aji amarillo paste is made from aji amarillo peppers – these are chili peppers from South America that have a fruity, tangy, and slightly spicy flavor.

peruvian yellow chili pepper

What does aji amarillo taste like?

Aji amarillo has a fruity and tangy flavor most of all. This flavor is complemented by the slightly spicy note that aji amarillo paste ends on that typically serves to enhance the dishes the paste is used within.

How much aji amarillo paste equals one pepper?

This is a bit hard to say for certain since different pastes are made with different recipes. With that said, though, I’d argue that around one and a half teaspoons of aji amarillo paste is equivalent to one aji amarillo pepper.

aji amarillo paste substitute

8 Best Aji Amarillo Paste Substitute You Can Find

I adore aji amarillo paste! It has a wonderful flavor and bright color, both of which make it indispensable in the kitchen. When you don’t have any to hand, though, you can take a look at my list to find the best aji amarillo paste substitute for you.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins


  • Chipotle peppers
  • Roasted poblano peppers
  • Dried or frozen aji amarillo chiles
  • Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Habanero peppers
  • Sumac paste
  • Turmeric paste
  • Paprika


  • Choose one of the aji amarillo paste substitutes above and get cooking!
Keyword aji amarillo paste substitute, substitutes for aji amarillo

 Wrapping it up!

Aji amarillo paste has a wonderful flavor! It’s one of the number one things that makes South American food (particularly Peruvian cuisine) taste so unique and flavorsome. If you can’t track down some great aji amarillo paste near you, try an alternative from this list!

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