Peruvian Peppers Guide: Ajis And More

Peru is the origin of some of the most delicious chili peppers on the pepper scale, though none are popular staples outside of their native land. In Peru, though, some of these chilies share condiment space right beside those salt and pepper staples. It’s a culture that loves its heat – and peppers with a lot of nuance behind the spice. Let’s review the most popular Peruvian peppers. You can learn even more by clicking through to the profile of any of the peppers below.

aji panca substitute

Aji Panca

1,000 to 1,500 Scoville heat units
See our full aji panca profile here

There’s a lot of flavor behind the mild simmer of aji panca. It’s smoky and fruity – though not the tropical fruitiness of many other chilies. It’s more like a berry undertone. Which makes it particularly tasty with berry-based desserts. Aji panca is the second most popular chili hailing from Peru, behind only the aji amarillo.

rocotillo pepper


1,500 to 2,500 Scoville heat units
See our full rocotillo profile here

If you want a substitute for a habanero or Scotch bonnet with a much milder heat, the rocotillo is a very good choice. It has a fruitiness (and shape) much like these much spicier chilies, without the heat. It’s spiciness is more inline with a poblano.


lemon drop pepper

Lemon Drop Pepper/ Aji Limon

15,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units
See our full lemon drop pepper profile here

Often three to four times the heat of a jalapeño, the lemon drop pepper (or aji limon) offers a citrusy sweet bite. It’s also widely used as an ornamental pepper due to bright yellow color. It brings a real pop to a garden.

Aji Amarillo

30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
See our full aji amarillo profile here

The most popular Peruvian pepper, the aji amarillo packs a cayenne like punch and a ton of tropical flavor. It has a sun-touched sweetness that borders on raisiny. In Peru, the aji amarillo is used in many traditional dishes, sauces, and salsas.

Aji Charapita

Aji Charapita

30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
See our full aji charapita profile here

The aji charapita may be tiny, but it’s not lacking in flavor. It has a fruitiness akin to a habanero (but not quite to aji amarillo level). The peppers are much like the American chiltepin pepper in shape, tiny with hundreds growing from the bush-like plant.

Aji Omnicolor

Aji Omnicolor

30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
See our full aji omnicolor profile here

The best ornamental pepper among the Peruvian chili peppers in our guide, the aji omnicolor provides a real rainbow of hues on one plant. There are various shades of white, yellow, red, and even purple on the plant. It performs well in the kitchen, too, with a relatively sweet flavor.


Peruvian White Habanero

Peruvian White Habanero

100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Peruvian white habanero profile here

Another looker in the garden, the Peruvian white habanero is both bold in heat and flavor. It has a habanero-like tropical fruitiness, with a touch of smoke underlying the flavor. They are shaped much like large jelly beans and age to hues of white.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on March 20, 2022 to include new content.
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