Aji Amarillo Peppers: Description, Flavor, Benefits, And Uses

Aji Amarillo peppers are an essential ingredient in many South American dishes. These peppers are originally from Peru and have made their way worldwide, adding a unique flavor and heat to many cuisines. The name ‘aji’ means ‘chili’ in Quechua, while amarillo means ‘yellow’ – apt descriptions of this pepper. Aji Amarillo peppers have a fruity, slightly smoky flavor and medium heat ranging from mild to moderately hot. Here is everything you need to know about these delicious peppers.

What are Aji Amarillo Peppers?

Aji Amarillo peppers are a type of chili pepper that originated in Peru. When ripe, these peppers are bright yellow-orange, measuring between 2 and 5 inches long. Aji Amarillo peppers have a mild to medium heat level, ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). By comparison, jalapeño peppers are usually around 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.

Aji Amarillo Peppers Description

History and Origins of the Aji Amarillo Peppers:

The Aji Amarillo peppers are native to South America and have been integral to the Andean diet for centuries. The pepper was first documented by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who noted its presence as early as 1528. It is believed to be descended from the wild capsicum chinense species of chili peppers, which is native to South America and the Caribbean.

While its exact origin has yet to be discovered, it is believed that the Aji Amarillo was first cultivated in Peru sometime in the 16th century. It soon spread throughout Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and even Brazil. The pepper has since become a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes throughout South America.

Varieties of the Aji Amarillo Peppers:

Aji Amarillo peppers come in orange/red, yellow, and white. The most common variety is the yellow Aji Amarillo, which is grown in the Andes Mountains and has mild to moderate heat. It also has a fruity flavor and can be used for sauces, marinades, and soups or added to salads or salsas as a medium-heat pepper.

The orange/red Aji Amarillo peppers are slightly hotter than the yellow variety, with a heat that can range from mild to hot. It has a sweet yet smoky flavor and is often used for sauces, salsas, soups, or stews. The white Aji Amarillo pepper is the hottest of the three varieties and has an intense smoky-spicy flavor. It’s perfect for making spicy sauces, marinades, or salsas. It can also be used for grilling and frying foods.

Appearance of the Aji Amarillo Peppers:

Aji Amarillo peppers have a bright yellow-orange color that resembles the setting sun, hence its name, which translates to ‘yellow pepper.’ They are usually 3-4 inches long and slender with smooth skin. The flavor and heat will get stronger as the pepper matures.

What do Aji Amarillo Peppers taste like?

Aji Amarillo peppers have a fruity flavor with smoky undertones. They are less acidic than other chili peppers and taste slightly sweet. The heat level can vary depending on the pepper, ranging from mild to moderately spicy.

Cultivation & Growing Conditions of Aji Amarillo Peppers:

Aji Amarillo peppers are native to the Andes Mountains in Peru, where they have been grown for centuries. However, they can now be found growing in many other regions worldwide. They thrive best in warm climates with high humidity and plenty of sun.

The plants do well in rich soil with adequate drainage and need little water to thrive. The peppers can be harvested when they are still green or left on the plant until they reach their mature yellow color before harvesting. Aji Amarillo peppers are best used fresh but can also be dried and ground into a powder for use in sauces and other dishes.

Plant Characteristics of the Aji Amarillo Peppers:

The Aji Amarillo pepper plants are small, hardy, and bushy. The leaves are dark green with slight serrations along the edge, and the stems reach a maximum height of about three feet. The flowers of this plant are yellow-white and, when mature, have an orange hue to them.

The mature fruit of the Aji Amarillo pepper is yellow-orange and can be up to four inches long. They are thin-walled, so they contain less heat than other peppers.

Health Benefits of the Aji Amarillo Peppers:

Aji Amarillo peppers are a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, and E. They also contain beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. The essential oils and phytochemicals found in the pepper have been known to reduce inflammation, act as an antioxidant, and promote healthy digestion. In addition, these peppers are known to help prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. The capsicum in the Aji Amarillo pepper can also help regulate blood pressure.

As with many spicy foods, eating Aji Amarillo peppers can cause some people to experience a burning sensation on their skin or tongue after consumption. This is not a cause for alarm; it is simply the result of consuming a capsaicin-rich food. Capsaicin is the compound in peppers that gives them a spicy flavor and can be beneficial when incorporated into your diet.

Where are Aji Amarillo Peppers Grown and Harvested?

Aji Amarillo peppers are grown and harvested primarily in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and Colombia. In Peru, they are the most popular pepper used in cooking. In Ecuador, Aji Amarillo peppers are often used to make sauces for ceviche and empanadas. They are a key ingredient in locro, a spicy corn stew in Bolivia.

In Chile and Colombia, they add flavor and heat to dishes like humitas and curanto. Aji Amarillo peppers can also be found in other parts of South America, such as Venezuela, with some varieties even grown in the United States. No matter where you go, these bright yellow peppers will surely add a zesty flavor to any dish.

Harvested Aji Amarillo Peppers

Where can the Best Quality Aji Amarillo Peppers be found?

 The best way to find the freshest Aji Amarillo peppers is by visiting a local (or online) Latin grocery store. Not only will you find the most authentic varieties, but you’ll also be able to purchase them in their freshest form. Additionally, many specialty stores and markets may carry these peppers as well. 

Depending on where you live, some farmer’s markets may also have a vendor selling these peppers in the summer months. You can even find Aji Amarillo peppers in canned or jarred form, which are convenient and great for adding to dishes. No matter how you buy them, ensure they are bright yellow and free of blemishes or soft spots. 

What is the Best Way to Store Aji Amarillo Peppers?

It is best to store Aji Amarillo peppers in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to a week. It’s important to ensure they are completely dry and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container before putting them into the fridge. If you plan on keeping them longer than a week, it’s best to freeze them. 

To do this, ensure they are completely dry and then wrap them in plastic or place them into a freezer-safe bag. Store them for up to three months. When ready, thaw the peppers in the refrigerator overnight before using them. You can also thaw it under running water or place it in a microwave-safe dish with a few tablespoons of water and heat on high for 30-second intervals until thawed. 

How to Use Aji Amarillo Peppers in Recipes?

Aji Amarillo peppers can be used in a variety of ways. One of the most popular is to make a Peruvian sauce called Aji Verde, which uses the pepper as its base. The sauce is made by blending together achiote paste, garlic, and olive oil with the ground pepper. This sauce is often served with grilled meats like steak or chicken. It can also be used as a marinade or as a topping for tacos and fajitas.

You can also use Aji Amarillo peppers to spice up salads or other dishes. They make a great addition to stir-fries and they are a good way to add heat to burritos and quesadillas. The pepper’s flavor is similar to that of a jalapeno, but it has its own unique sweetness which makes it a great ingredient for salsas and sauces.


Aji Amarillo Peppers are a versatile ingredient that can add a flavorful kick to dishes. This pepper will be an excellent addition to any meal, whether fresh, dried, or charred. With its mild-medium heat level and sweet flavor, Aji Amarillo Peppers are great for adding spice with a bit of sweetness. Try incorporating this delicious pepper into your meals and delight in the unique flavor it adds to every dish!

Mitch Baylis