Even the most confident foodian might not know what aji amarillo paste is, let alone what to do if you don’t have any.
But if you are wanting to make a recipe faithfully and you can’t find the aji amarillo paste listed in the ingredients, what can you do?
The thing about aji amarillo paste is the fact that it has a very distinctive flavor – a mixture of citrus and spice, a slightly tangy finish that will linger on the tongue. So how can you replicate this?
Luckily for you, we have scoured the internet for some of the best substitutes that you can find on the market for aji amarillo.
We’ve whittled it down to the best 5 so that we don’t overwhelm you. So what are you waiting for? Get stuck in!
What Exactly Is Aji Amarillo?
This paste is commonly used in Peruvian dishes, although you can also find it used throughout other parts of Latin America.
You’ll be able to spot this paste almost straight away, as it is bright orange. It often comes in a little dipping dish on the side of something like burritos or a bean salad.
This comes with a few wholesome ingredients including chili peppers, lime juice, garlic and salt. This is where the combination of savory and spicy comes from.
The pepper that is used for aji amarillo is usually taken from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. You can serve this on the side of meat and vegetable dishes. This makes it a popular exotic choice for vegetarians.
If you want to pick up some of this paste, you can get it from authentic Latin American markets, as well as from larger wholesalers such as Amazon.
So what if you can’t get this unique paste? Well, there are some alternatives that you can find on this list that are delicious and tasty. Read our list of the top 5 substitutes below.
Best 5 Aji Amarillo Substitutes
1. Chipotle Peppers
If you are going to want a similar flavor but with a much more solid texture, then we would suggest chipotle peppers. These are basically made from smoked jalapeno peppers.
This pepper comes with an extremely smoky flavor that some people have likened to bacon. This makes it a great bacon substitute for vegetarians and vegans.
This has a decent kick in terms of heat, but it will not completely overwhelm the palate and detract from the flavors of the food that you are pairing it with.
You can pick up these peppers from most places, mainly Latin American food markets and any world food section in your larger supermarket. You can also order them in a jar from Amazon.
You can also grind this one up to make taco meat or chili sauce.
The reaosn why we have listed this one as a great alternative to aji amarillo is because of the sweet and citrusy flavor with that final spice kick at the end.
This one is slightly spicier than aji amarillo paste, but if you like to crank up the heat then this will be perfect for you.
2. Roasted Pablano Peppers
This next one is another pepper with a similarly mild flavor to aji amarillo, however, it is large enough to stuff. You can fill this with rice and cheese, both will taste amazing.
You can have peppers like this along with burgers or tacos. These have a smoky crunch that you can be sure will be paired with more earthy flavors like beans (see also ‘5 Super-Tasty Alternatives For Ranch-Style Beans‘).
These peppers have a light color and they are packed with vitamins and minerals.
These peppers are native to Mexico, which makes them a popular addition to things like salsa.
If you want to infuse your burrito or taco with that additional sweet flavor, then you can’t go wrong with adding a bit of pablano.
These peppers are also very eays to find, although to might have to go to an authentic Latin American market to find them.
You can pick this up from many online retailers, although we would recommend that you pick it up from authentic sources, especially if you want that extra burst of flavor.
This is probably not as spicy as chipotle, which makes it a great addition to anyone who is more a fan of sweetness than spice.
3. Dried Aji Amarillo Chiles
Now we are dialing it back and going to the original ingredient of this paste, and that is aji amarillo chiles themselves.
These will pack much more of a punch than the paste, as the paste is diluted with many other flavors like garlic and salt.
If you are going to be grinding these into a paste, then you better make sure that you have a strong pestle and mortar to do so, as these peppers are very hardy and tough.
More often than not you will find the aji amarillo chiles sold in their dried form or in a powder. Both these forms will guarantee that these peppers will last much longer in your pantry.
Most of the time the seeds from your chiles will have been removed before they are sold. This is because the seeds are very powerful and will blow the roof of your mouth off if they are consumed whole.
If you want to return to the sourse of your sumptuous aji amarillo pepper flavor, then we would recommend that you get it in its rawest form.
However, you’ll have to make sure that it is stored at the right temperature and out of the way of direct sunlight.
4. Scotch Bonnet Peppers
Now we have a step up from the heat that you might get in your aji amarillo paste, as a scotch bonnet pepper is one of the hottest peppers on this list!
These peppers are not widely available in a lot of places. You can probably only pick it up at your local food market. If you want it nice and fresh, then we would recommend buying them whole.
These peppers hail from Jamaica, which is why you will get a hint of that Caribbean flavor when you are tucking into them.
The texture of these peppers is very soft and you should be able to grind them into a paste if you have the right equipment.
The heat in your peppers will vary from one to another. You should check with your seller to see where they have been grown and what the pH level of the soil was when you bought them.
5. Habanero Peppers
Finally, if you want to have that additional fruitiness to your meal, then we would recommend getting some of these Habanero peppers. These are very mild and will not add too much spice to your final dish.
If you are looking to reduce the heat in your dish, then we would recommend taking out the seeds first.
In fact, these peppers can be so spicy with the seeds in them that we recommend that you remove then with rubber gloves.
You should avoid touching your eyes when handling these peppers, as they can result in some serious burns.
But these peppers do have a wonderful texture and they will give your burrito that extra meatiness that you might not actually get from aji amarillo paste.
One of the drawbacks of using habanero peppers is teh fact that they are a lot more expensive than getting aji amarillo paste.
They are also quite rare and you might have to hunt around in some ethnic food markets to find them.
Aji amarillo paste is very unique in terms of flavor and it will be hard to fully replace it with another pepper.
However, you can indeed get what you need from the ingredients that we have listed above, as they do resemble the aji amarillo in terms of flavor and texture.
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