Ají Picante (Colombian Hot Sauce)

by Erica Dinho on April 18, 2009

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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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris De La Rosa April 18, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Looks like something I’ll have to try. very similar to some of the hot sauces we have in the Caribbean.


2 5 Star Foodie April 19, 2009 at 3:15 PM

This is exactly what my husband would have wanted today – he was asking for something really spicy – this sauce looks excellent!


3 Erica April 19, 2009 at 7:48 PM

This sauce is really spicy, but it is delicious.
Try it!


4 Mindy April 24, 2009 at 4:37 AM

This looks great…I’ll have to try it!


5 Sarah April 25, 2009 at 11:41 AM

love hot sauces, would this be considered salsa verde? Coriander is one of my favorite herbs


6 Lori Lynn April 28, 2009 at 12:55 PM

I must make this!


7 carlos September 9, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Hey at last I found the Colombian aji recepie. This is the ral deal.

Many thanks


8 BAKING is my ZeN September 9, 2009 at 10:25 PM

My sister-in-law makes this. She is from Columbia. I LOVE THIS!!!


9 Erica October 2, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Thank you everyone for your comments!


10 Pam Daza November 4, 2009 at 3:49 PM

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! :)


11 Erica November 4, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Thank you for the nice comment, Pam!


12 Pam Daza November 4, 2009 at 3:50 PM

by the way….. I’ve wanted the recipe for this sauce for a looooonng time!!


13 Maria Mabel November 19, 2009 at 9:30 AM

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.


14 Erica November 19, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Maria Mabel- I have the papas chorreadas recipe in my list and this is the link: http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/2009/02/potatoes-with-cheese-sauce-papas_11.html

I am working in the print version.

Thank you for your comment!


15 danielle January 12, 2010 at 10:17 PM

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!


16 Rocio January 26, 2010 at 9:16 PM

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!


17 Jason H. March 20, 2010 at 9:38 PM

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!!!


18 Sara March 25, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Is there a mild version?


19 Erica March 25, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Sara- Add less hot pepper.


20 alexa July 15, 2010 at 9:56 PM

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!


21 Samantha July 21, 2010 at 2:29 PM

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!


22 arlene August 10, 2010 at 12:22 AM

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!!!


23 LeeAn Kahriger September 9, 2010 at 11:34 AM

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.


24 Lori October 29, 2010 at 10:31 AM

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!!


25 Diana Lopez November 22, 2010 at 5:23 PM

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.


26 Carolina March 26, 2011 at 6:53 AM

mmm Aji!!! but aji is really from el Valle del Cauca.


27 Erica January 21, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Carolina- We have variations of ají and empanadas all over the country!


28 Nana February 1, 2012 at 3:28 PM

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.


29 Randy M. April 8, 2012 at 10:50 PM

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!


30 Gio September 25, 2013 at 4:14 PM

So do you have to wait ten days before you use it or Is it good for up to ten days. Sorry if that’s a silly question


31 Erica Dinho September 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Good for up to ten days.


32 Herb Wright September 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM

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.


33 Michelle September 28, 2013 at 2:53 PM

The habanero is delicious! If you are afraid of the heat……..MAKE SURE you take the seeds and the white pulp out.


34 michelle w January 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Since I found this recipe, a jar of it is in my fridge all the time. I just love it


35 Erika February 12, 2014 at 2:42 PM

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.


36 Ashley May 21, 2014 at 11:54 AM

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!


37 M June 17, 2014 at 8:34 PM

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


38 Mark July 23, 2014 at 9:46 PM

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?


39 Erica Dinho July 24, 2014 at 8:39 AM

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.


40 Alan Bowman November 14, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Hi Erica from Spain
the big problem with aji is getting those tiny lethal peppers here.


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