Aji // Chili Pepper

Q – What is “aji” exactly?  A – Aji is the name given in Spanish speaking South America to spicy peppers. Around the world, many names have been given to spicy peppers:

  • Aji (Spanish speaking South America)
  • Uchu (Quechua)
  • Huaica (Aymara)
  • Chile (Mexico & Central America)
  • Guindilla (Spain)
  • Chili Pepper (USA)
  • Chilli Pepper (England, Australia, New Zealand, India)
  • Piment (France)
  • Pimenta (Portuguese)
  • Chili (German)

Here in Peru, you will find, use and enjoy these:

aji amarillo peppers

Aji Amarillo // Yellow Chile Pepper

This is the chile pepper most widely used and most widely grown all over Peru. Using this brings both spice and color to your food. It is typically orange in color, approximately 10 centimeters long and is found between 30,000 – 50,000 on the Scoville Scale. For several dishes, the pepper is prepared as a paste, but for many others, it is cut into strips and added to dishes like lomo saltado. Aji Amarillo is also known as Aji Verde and Aji Escabeche. (Capsicum baccatum)


Aji Arnaucho
Although this pepper resembles the aji limo, it has shorter, rounder and has a thicker skin. It is small, but packs a punch of spice. This chile pepper is typically found in the northern area of Peru. Aji Arnaucho is also known as Asnaucho. (Capsicum frutescens)

Aji Cerezo // Cherry Chile Pepper
This chile pepper is named for the cherry fruit because it resembles the fruit in both color and shape. The Aji Cerezo is considered very spicy and found primarily in Lambayeque. Aji Cerezo is also known as Aji Cereza. (Capsicum annuum)

aji charapita plant


Aji Charapita
The aji charapita is small, round, orange and comes from the Amazon region. This pepper is consumed primarily in the jungle of Peru and is said to be a aphrodisiac. Aji Charapita is also known as Charapilla. (Capsicum annuum)



aji colorado


Aji Colorado // Colored Chile Pepper
This pepper is the fresh version of the dried Aji Panca Chile Pepper, the form which it is most commonly used. It is a long pepper, red in color and medium in spice. It is used for color and for flavor that is added to dishes when used. (Capsicum chinense)



aji dulce plant
Aji Dulce // Sweet Chile Pepper
Like it’s name, this chile pepper is very mild. It is a typical chile pepper of the Amazon region and is used in a number of dishes served in the jungle. Most often it is red, it is shaped similarly to a small bell pepper and adds a delicious flavor to dishes. It is noted at zero on the Scoville scale. (Capsicum chinense)



Aji Escabeche
The name of this chile pepper was adopted because of it’s use in preparing the Peruvian dish called Escabeche, but it is actually the Aji Amarillo pepper. (Capsicum baccatum)

Aji Jalapeño // Jalapeño Chile Pepper
Originally from the Jalapa region in the Veracruz state of Mexico, this chile pepper has found it’s way into Peru. It is grown both in the north of Peru as well as some regions in the Ica area. The pepper can be both red and green, is usually medium sized and is found between 2,500 – 8,000 on the Scoville Scale. It is said that the spice is similar to the Aji Cerezo. (Capsicum annuum)

aji limo


Aji Limo
This medium-sized pepper is very spicy! It comes in a variety of colors, depending on it’s maturity – red, yellow, green, purple, white, and orange. Because of the spice and flavor it adds, this is the chile pepper primarily used for ceviche. It is smaller than the Aji Amarillo pepper. Aji Limo is also known as Aji Lima, Aji Limon or Aji Ceviche. (Capsicum chinense)


Aji Mirasol // Dried Yellow Chile Pepper
The Aji Amarillo chile pepper goes though a process of sun-drying and becomes Aji Mirasol, or literally “Look at the Sun Chile.” Drying the pepper allows it to be conserved for many months. The dried pepper can be used both whole, powdered or ground into a paste, depending on the dish. (Capsicum baccatum)

Aji Mischucho
This is a small, red and very spicy chile pepper. Aji Miscucho is also known as Aji Micucho and Aji Misquiuchu. (Capsicum frutescens)

aji mochero
Aji Mochero
The Mochero pepper received it’s name from it’s origin. It comes from the area surrounding the Moche River in Trujillo which is in the La Libertad department. It is medium-sized and looks similar to the Aji Limo, although comes in just green or yellow. Ceviches made in the northern coast of Peru are typically made with this pepper.



aji panca market


Aji Panca
The Aji Colorado chile pepper is sun-dried and through the process becomes Aji Panca. The intensely colored pepper is dark red but the spice is milder than that of the Aji Amarillo. It can be used whole or made to use as a paste. Aji Panca is also known as Aji Especial. (Capsicum chinense)



Pequin Pepper


Aji Pipi de Mono
From the Amazon region, comes this pepper named after the monkey. It is very small, red and very spicy. Aji Pipi de Mono is also known just as Aji Mono. (Capsicum frutescens)



Aji Seco // Dry Chile Pepper
This term is used for any chile pepper which is dried in the sun and used as a dried pepper. The most common peppers used this way are the Aji Mirasol and Aji Panca.

Aji Verde // Green Chile Pepper
The Aji Verde pepper is actually the Aji Amarillo, which is neither green nor yellow, but orange in color. Before it ripens, the pepper does have a dark shade of green. Aji Verde is also known as Aji Amarillo and Aji Escabeche.

rocoto peppersRocoto // Peruvian Death Pepper
The rocoto pepper originated in the Andes mountains and now it is also grown in the central jungle region. It is a large pepper, similar to a bell pepper, however it is very spicy – between 50,000 – 250,000 on the Scoville scale. The plant itself resists low temperatures, but is grown all over Peru. The color can be green, orange, yellow or red, but always contains black seeds. It has been found in archeological digs dating items back to 7500BC. The Rocoto pepper is known as Locoto in Bolivia and Argentina and as Chile Manzano in Mexico. (Capsicum pubescens)

Gretchen Noelle

My love of food was cultivated early on by my family but has come alive while living in Peru. During the 12 years of living in Lima, Peru, I have also enjoyed numerous trips to other areas of the country. Here on Provecho Peru you will find Peruvian recipes in English, American favorites prepared overseas, news about Peruvian Cuisine and interesting tidbits about life in Peru.

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