Meet my new favorite hot sauce! Aji verde is a bold and bright Peruvian green sauce. It’s spicy and tangy, and packed with fresh flavor.
We’ve been dousing just about everything in aji verde since I found it—tacos, eggs, rice and beans, potatoes and more. A drizzle of aji verde makes the most basic of foods taste irresistible.
I discovered aji verde not at a Peruvian restaurant, but at the Avanti food hall in Denver a few weekends ago. Have you been to a modern-day food hall yet? I’m like a kid in a candy store, since I can taste so many concepts from so many restaurants.
I walked up to The Rotary and ordered a couple of vegetable sides, plus all three of their sauces to sample. You know I can’t resist a good sauce.
We each took a bite of their grilled broccolini, which was doused in aji verde. Our eyes lit up and I vowed not to leave without the recipe. Today, I’m sharing the recipe with you!
Aji Verde Ingredients
The girl behind the counter said the sauce was made with cilantro, jalapeño, Parmesan and lime juice. I deduced that she must have forgotten to mention mayonnaise, since the sauce had an unmistakable mayo-like consistency. I also added garlic, to match the restaurant sauce’s pungent flavor.
Aji verde is often made with Cotija cheese, not Parmesan. They’re both hard, aged, salty cheeses that lend complexity to this bright sauce, and you can use either one.
A note on authenticity: The aji verde recipe you see here is more like the aji verde you might find at North American Peruvian restaurants than restaurants in Peru.
True Peruvian aji verde recipes are made with Peruvian ingredients including aji amarillo (hot yellow pepper) instead of jalapeño and huacatay (black mint or black mint paste) instead of cilantro. I haven’t tried these ingredients myself, but I’m ordering them now since this recipe has piqued my interest in Peruvian cuisine.
From what I’ve read, aji verdes vary between restaurants, so please consider this my version. I absolutely love it and hope you will, too.
Uses for Aji Verde
This zippy green sauce will liven up a wide variety of dishes. Like chimichurri, aji verde will be great on anything from your grill this summer. Here are some vegetarian ideas:
- Rice and beans
- Grilled or roasted vegetables
- Prepared raw vegetables, like carrot sticks and strips of bell pepper (serve it as a party dip)
- Scrambled or fried eggs
- Sweet potato fries
On a homemade hot sauce kick? Here are a few more of my favorite spicy condiments:
- Shatta (Middle Eastern Hot Sauce)
- Zhoug (Spicy Middle Eastern Cilantro Sauce)
- Fresh Jalapeño Relish
- Creamy Avocado Dip
Please let me know how you like this sauce in the comments! I can’t wait to hear how you serve it.
Aji Verde (Spicy Peruvian Green Sauce)
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 ¼ cups 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Food processor
- Cuisine: Peruvian
Learn how to make the best aji verde sauce! Aji verde is spicy Peruvian green sauce, made with cilantro, jalapeños, and a little mayonnaise and Parmesan. It is utterly irresistible drizzled onto tacos and more! Recipe yields about 1 ¼ cups.
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro, mostly leaves but small stems are ok (from 1 big bunch of cilantro or 1 ½ medium)
- 2 medium jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed but reserved, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup (1 ounce) grated Cotija or Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a food processor or blender, combine all of the ingredients. Blend until the cilantro has broken into very tiny pieces and the sauce is green and mostly smooth (no matter how long you blend it, it will still have some texture to it).
- Taste, and adjust if necessary. This sauce is intentionally bold and spicy and I usually think it’s just right as written. However, if the flavor is too overwhelming, blend in 1 tablespoon of olive oil while running the food processor. If it’s not spicy enough, add some of the reserved jalapeño seeds and blend again. If it doesn’t have enough zip, add another tablespoon of lime juice and/or a pinch of salt.
- Aji verde keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 1 week.
Make it dairy free: Simply omit the Parmesan. To temper the flavor a bit, drizzle in 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil while running the food processor.
Make it vegan: I think you could replace the mayonnaise with equal parts vegan sour cream, and omit the cheese. Or for a similarly creamy cilantro sauce, try my avocado dip. You can add extra jalapeño if you want it to be more spicy.