Ají Picante (Colombian Hot Sauce)

This post is also available in Spanish

Colombian-Style Hot Sauce

Ají picante or Ají Piqué is a spicy sauce from my hometown Antioquia. We keep it in the refrigerator all year round. It is an absolute must for Colombian Empanadas and it is the perfect sauce to flavor soups, stews and the perfect dipping sauce for Patacones. Growing up in my house we used it in almost every dish my mom made and it is my dad’s favorite condiment.



  • 1 seeded small hot pepper or 1 red habanero pepper
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • ½ cup chopped tomato
  • Ají Picante or Colombian Hot Sauce


  1. Put the vinegar, water and habanero pepper in a blender for 2 minutes.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix. Add the vinegar and habanero mix to the bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour in a glass jar and cover. Refrigerate up to 10 days.
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  1. Pam Daza says

    Thanks soooo much for these recipes!! I am a gringo married to a wonderful Colombiano! :) This sauce has become a staple in our home. My in-laws absolutely loved it too!! Thanks for affording me the opportunity to cook genuine Colombian food for my family! :)

  2. Maria Mabel says

    I am glad I found your website. Thank you for taking your time to add links to the products, I am going to cook the empanadas tomorrow, sounds like a better alternative than to pay $2 per each at my local restaurant.
    Two requests: Recipe for “Papa Chorreada”, and adding a “Print Version” to the recipes.

  3. danielle says

    my boyfriend is Colombian and I went to visit him in the summer. i have been looking for an aji recipe for a long time. im so glad i finally found one!

  4. Rocio says

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I too has been wanting to know how to do it, I’m Colombian and my husband is american but he loves empanadas with the aji sauce!

  5. Jason H. says

    Thanks, Erica! I travel with a gentleman from Colombia periodically and we invariably end up at a Colombian restaurant (if we can find one) while we’re on the road. I’ve become addicted to the Bandeja Paisa, but it’s this sauce that I’ve been trying to get for a few years. Of the places we’ve visited, no one is willing to share the recipe. I’d give you a huge hug if I could, thank you!!!

  6. alexa says

    oh my gosh thank u so much for these wonderful recipes… im married to a very demanding colombian and you have truly helped me alot. you must be a wonderful cook erica! take care and thank you soooooo much 😉
    your awesome!

  7. Samantha says

    Thanks so much for all of your wonderful recipes Erica! My boyfriend is the happiest Colombian you will ever meet now. He is from Bogota. Of course, I cant cook it exactly like he used to have of his mothers cooking in Colombia, but still the same, he says it is amazingly precise! He tells me how much it reminds him of home and its all thanks to you! Thanks so much for giving us the true Colombian recipes!

  8. arlene says

    thank you – this is perfect aji! my husband lived in colombia for 5yrs (i visited over a dozen times) and this reminded me EXACTLY of the aji i loved and enjoyed so much!
    i made it 3 times this week!!!

  9. LeeAn Kahriger says

    Wow!!!! This is soo good. I know it will be a staple in my house. Can not thank you enough for all your work on this website.

  10. Lori says

    I have been searching for this aji for months to enjoy with my Colombian novio and was delighted to find a recipe for it. Thanks so much!!

  11. Diana Lopez says

    I couldn’t find habanero peppers so I made it with a jalapeno instead. It wasn’t as spicy but it was good enough. My husband thought it had too much vinegar but I thought it was just perfect.

  12. Nana says

    OMG! Mujer…. acabo de hacer aji y me quedo delicioso…. Thank you so much for such a great recipe. Brought me back to Colombia 😉

    Instead of habanero pepper, I used ground Cayene pepper ( It was so difficult to find habanero pepper by me :( ) and it came delicious.

  13. says

    I live in Costa Rica and am fascinated by the fusion of foods from cultures in the country. I haven’t encountered this recipe before in this country, but I did see a reference to its use as a condiment with a oven-roasted ripe plantain, stuffed with cheese. However, it looked like the aji picante was run through a blender in that case. I will try this recipe soon. Several members of our house like spicy food, including me. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. says

    Hi Erica:
    I have been making this Aji Picante sauce since I found your website and as you stated, we use it on almost everything. Last week we finally visited a local Columbian restaurant here in Austin, Texas House of Columbia and the aji picante they served is very different. I am sure there are varieties of this for different regions, there’s is a tomatoe base and didn’t seem to even have the parsley in it. Is it also a common sauce also or more of a personal variation? I have tried many of your recipes and love them all, thanks so much for the great website.

  15. Erika says

    Hello, very nice and simple recipe. Just a little adjustment to the original recipe would make it almost 100% Colombian… Try to use a chilli called “Aji Chirca”, a little green gem that grow wild in south america, specially in Colombia. I hear somewhere you can get it sun-dried, in vinegar or oil. When I get the link I’ll sure post it here.

  16. Ashley says

    My fiancé is paisa and this is the first aji recipe he freaked out over. He said it was exactly like home. We don’t find it too spicy and he puts it on everything. Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. M says

    I made this today, very easy and so delicious. Thank you for your recipes. I will use this with the frijoles paisas too.

  18. Mark says

    Outstanding recipe. I used a jalapeño and only 1/4 of the seeds and stems to keep the flavor and avoid the burn. Question: is parsley normally included?

    • Erica Dinho says

      Hi Mark,
      Every person in Colombia has a different recipe for ají.This is my family recipe. My grandmother always added parsley to her ají,but some Colombians don’t add parsley and they add more green onions or cilantro.

  19. Nadja says

    Thank you for this recipe! I’m getting married in september and I’m looking for a colombian salsa or something similar for guest wedding favors. It would be great if I could prepare the salsa (or similar) a few weeks before the wedding in a glass jar (like one of those jam jars)… Any ideas? :)

    Thank you, Nadja from Switzerland

  20. says

    Hi, Erica,
    Where can jalapenos seeds/or jalapeno chili pepper be purchased in colombia? Who/where to purchase aji chirca?
    Region of colombia: atlantico
    and antioquia
    Please let me know if possible because its a regalo.
    Your recipe are fantastic, thank you.


  1. […] Depois é só você deixá-las escorrer em um prato com papel aderente e as empanadas estão prontas para serem servidas. O processo é um pouco demorado por causa da massa. Fazê-la é bem simples. No entanto, o que tira um bom tempo é abrir e rechear uma empanada por vez. Já o recheio é bem rápido, uma vez que você tenha todos os ingredientes prontos. Se você gostar de um sabor mais picante, dá para adicionar uma pimentinha a gosto no recheio. Voltando para a massa, se alguém quiser se aventurar com a farinha de milho normal, sem ser pré-cozida, será necessário adicionar um ovo e um pouco de farinha de trigo para ajudar a dar ponto e elasticidade para trabalhar a massa, pois o grão do trigo cru é mais granulado e espesso. Mas, desse jeito, dá certo também, só que o ponto demorará mais para chegar. Uma alternativa fácil para essa trabalheira é utilizar massa pronta. No entanto, o sabor vai ficar mais parecido com o de pastel, pois as massas que temos aqui no Brasil não são como as de milho da Colômbia. De toda a forma, continua sendo uma dica válida, ainda mais se você tiver pouco tempo. Para acompanhar esse delicioso salgado, nada melhor do que um molho de pimenta. Você pode testar, ainda, fazer um ají picante, um molho servido com diversos pratos, especialmente as empanadas, feito à base de vinagre, sal, pimenta e condimentos. Há uma receita bem legal no blog My Colombian Recipes. […]

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