What can I use instead of Aji Amarillo paste? First, dried Amarillo chilis are the best way to achieve Aji Amarillo paste’s precise heat and flavor. Next, Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers are close follow-ups to match the taste of Aji Amarillo paste. Lastly, red Serrano and Manzono peppers fit the heat but offer a unique flavor.
The Aji Amarillo chili is a highly praised addition to most Peruvian dishes. This sunny yellow pepper is available in a paste that adds a medium heat and sun-drenched fruity, spicy flavor to your cooking. However, Aji Amarillo paste is a rare find, so be prepared to use one of the following pepper variety substitutes.
The Best Aji Amarillo Paste Substitutes
Dried Aji Amarillo Chilis
The best way to match Aji Amarillo paste’s precise heat and flavor is to opt for dried Aji Amarillo chilis.
Convert the dried chilis into a bright, citrusy, and spicy paste by blanching them in water and popping them into the blender with olive oil to create a paste.
You can also blend the Amarillo chilis with garlic, onion, salt, lime or lemon juice, and olive oil to mimic store-bought Aji Amarillo paste.
Use equal ratios of homemade Amarillo paste as the recipe requires.
Scotch Bonnet Peppers
Scotch Bonnet peppers make an excellent Aji Amarillo paste substitute for most recipes. The pepper offers a similar orange to yellow tinge and bright, fruity flavor to your cooking.
The Scotch Bonnet pepper is fiery, ranging from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU compared to the 30,000 to 50,000 SHU of Aji Amarillo. So, it isn’t a family-friendly substitute; only use the Scotch Bonnet pepper if you can stand the heat.
Initially, use ¼ Scotch Bonnet peppers of what the recipe originally calls for and adjust until you reach the desired heat level.
You can also blend the chilis with olive oil, salt, and garlic into a paste to closely resemble the Aji Amarillo paste.
The Habanero pepper also shares vibrant colors and fruity flavors similar to Aji Amarillo paste. So, you can use it as a spicier paste replacement without sacrificing the taste or color of the dish.
Habanero peppers are up to 11 times spicier than Amarillo paste, registering around 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.
So, only use Habaneros as a substitute if you can handle the heat. The citrusy and somewhat smoky flavors complement most dishes.
Use ¼ tablespoon ground Habanero for 1 tablespoon Aji Amarillo paste, and adjust the quantity in quarter-teaspoon margins to suit your preference.
Red Serrano Peppers
Serrano peppers match Aji Amarillo paste’s heat. Green Serrano peppers lack a distinct fruity flavor.
However, their grassy bite ages into a smoky, earthy sweetness once the peppers turn red, making them a closer match for Aji Amarillo paste.
The Serrano pepper scores between 10,000 and 23,000 SHU compared to Aji Amarillo paste’s 30,000 to 50,000 SHU.
As a result, the Serrano pepper offers pronounced flavors without overwhelming the recipe with spiciness.
Use red Serrano peppers and Aji Amarillo paste interchangeably in recipes. To reach the desired heat level, you can gradually increase the Seranno peppers in quarter-teaspoon margins.
Manzano peppers are a unique Aji Amarillo paste substitute. They offer a similarly sweet, citrusy taste, summer-yellow hue, and heat. However, Manzano peppers are scarce and will need some searching.
Manzano peppers range from 12,000 to 30,000 SHU compared to the 30,000 to 50,000 SHU of Aji Amarillo chilis.
As a result, these peppers work well in most recipes, ranging from soups to sauces and grilled foods to fresh salads.
Use Manzano peppers in a one-to-one ratio when substituting Aji Amarillo paste. If the Manzano peppers are too mild, feel free to add extra to spice up your dish.