Aji criollo or Ecuadorian hot sauce

Aji criollo or Ecuadorian hot sauce recipe

En español

Aji criollo is an Ecuadorian hot sauce made with hot peppers, cilantro, garlic, onion and lime. Sometimes people assume that food from Latin American countries is the same in each country and while there are a lot of similarities, the cuisine and ingredients are not only very different in each country but also regionally in each country. The reason I mention this is because several times when I tell someone I from Ecuador or just in general from South America and we talk about food it is assumed that South American food is the same as Mexican food: “Oh, you guys must eat a lot of tacos, etc”, well, in fact Mexican food (and I mean good Mexican food not crappy Tex-Mex fast food – I like Tex-Mex but with good quality ingredients) is just starting to be available widespread in Ecuador, about 10 years ago you could probably find something decent in the main cities of Quito and Guayaquil but not anywhere else; my mom grew up in New Mexico and really missed the food, when we we’re growing up she always made tortillas from scratch because it was impossible to buy them already made (now you can), most of my Ecuadorian friends were introduced to enchiladas and guacamole through my mom’s cooking, and she always talked about all the varieties of hot peppers and chilies and the sauces you could make with each one, and of course now that I live in the US I can find the chilies she missed but I can’t find my Ecuadorian hot peppers, but the jalapeños, serranos and habaneros are good replacements.

Another assumption is that Ecuadorian food is spicy (from using hot peppers) and that is quite untrue, a lot of Ecuadorians don’t like their food too hot (but some do), so almost all restaurants will serve meals accompanied by hot sauce, some are mild and some very spicy, so that people can add it if they want it hot. Aji criollo is a fresh hot sauce or salsa that is very popular and a lot of typical dishes are served with it, I’ve mentioned in a few of the previous recipes so I figured it was probably time to post the actual recipe, which is very easy to make and should be consumed ideally the same day but can last up to 3 days. I used serrano peppers to make this aji, they are usually spicy enough to make it pretty hot. You can also use jalapeños but I find that they are inconsistent and one might be spicy and another is not spicy at all (but the red fresno peppers are spicier). Or if you want it, as my five year would say, super hot burn your mouth on fire, then go for the habaneros. Also if you are going for mild,  remove the membranes and seeds, leave them in completely or partially if you want it spicier.

Aji criollo or Ecuadorian hot sauce

Aji criollo or Ecuadorian hot sauce recipe
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Aji criollo or Ecuadorian hot sauce recipe

Aji criollo is an Ecuadorian hot sauce made with hot peppers, cilantro, garlic, onion and lime


  • 4 ajies or hot peppers
  • ½ bunch of cilantro (stems and leaves)
  • ½ cup of water
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Juice from ½ lime or lemon
  • 3 tbs finely chopped white onion (scallions can also be used)


  1. Combine the hot peppers, cilantro, water, garlic cloves and lime juice in the blender or food processor and blend well.
  2. Add the chopped white onions or scallions and salt to taste.


This post was last modified: April 5th, 2013 by Layla Pujol


  1. I don’t think I will ever buy salsa verde again! This is “Yum!” Thank you for sharing! I made mine with jalapeños so that it would not be as spicy. My son would like to try some with hotter peppers!

  2. Vivianne says:

    Estoy realmente encantada con esta pagina es de lo mejor q he encontrado muchas felicidades!!

  3. I’ve been meaning to make this! Can it be frozen?

  4. I just found your blog and loved loved it!!! I tried the grilled Salmon with the avocado salsa and my hubby fell completely in love with it. I have a really hard time finding tasty things to cook and your blog has been so helpful.

  5. It sounds great so I will try it with my freshly made empanadas!! THANKS

  6. Mmmmm- this looks good – like chimichurri’s spicier cousin ;-)?
    Love your site!

  7. hi Layla,

    do the hot peppers have a name? because i am seeing different types. Would it actually say hot peppers?
    i can’t wait to do this sauce. I love everything spice. Hot even better.

    Hi Maria – There are different varieties of hot peppers, some are a lot spicier than others, so choose based on how spicy you want the sauce: jalapenos are hot peppers but are usually very mild, for something spicier you might want to use a Serrano hot pepper or a red chili, if you want it super spicy then try it with habaneros, there are other varities but these seem to be the most commonly available at most grocery stores.

  8. MrsDocChuck says:


    My husband is severely disabled (mental) and we are unable to travel anymore, except through viewing new and exciting sites on the internet.

    Yours is stellar! We will travel with you to exotic locations in South America frequently, now that we have found this site. THANKS!

  9. Christa – Goat meat can be hard to find, try to find goat cheese and then ask the goat cheese makers where you can buy the goat meat, they can probably tell you where to find some, it’s more likely to be found it small rural villages, or if you ask the butcher they can try to get some for you. Also, if you can’t find goat meat you can try it with lamb meat (borrego, in fact quite a few restaurants prepare it with lamb meat but still call it seco de chivo. In the US most butchers carry it but it’s frozen or they can order it for you, and also I’ve found it fresh at the Mexican butcher.

  10. Christa says:

    Laylita, I just love all your new postings! The aji criollo sauce is exactly what I have been looking for. Thank you. Christa

    PS: I have not seen any goat meat at the markets. Where would be the best place to look? I am anxious to try the goat stew.

  11. DocChuck says:

    Very interesting information in your post, and the aji criollo sounds super. Ecuador has been on our travel agenda of countries to visit. I am looking forward to sampling the regional foods.

    Thanks for the info.

  12. This looks positively fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  13. this sounds simple and fresh and tasty and right up my alley – i love serranos and cilantro.

  14. I just discovered your blog and I wanted to let you know that I love it! Thanks for sharing those great recipes with us!

    A tasty sauce and a beautiful picture!



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