Aji panca paste is a popular Peruvian condiment that has a smoky, sweet flavor, making it perfect for adding flavor to stir-fries, burgers, and marinades.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find in some areas.
But don’t worry—there are great aji panca substitutes that will give you the same smoky heat and sweet tang you get from aji panca.
Let’s explore what some of these substitutes are!
What is Aji Panca Paste? What is in aji panca paste?
Aji Panca Paste is a traditional condiment from Peru made from the aji panca pepper.
The main ingredients of Aji Panca Paste are the dried aji panca peppers, which have been toasted and blended to create a red paste.
Other ingredients, such as garlic, oregano, cumin, oil, vinegar, and salt, are added to give it a unique flavor.
The result is an aromatic condiment with a slightly sweet taste and smoky aroma that can be used to enhance the flavor of various dishes.
It is a versatile condiment that is used to make flavorful dishes like tacos, empanadas, salads, soups, and sauces.
You can even add it to marinades or use it as a rub for meats and fish. Moreover, it adds a unique flavor to any dish, making it the perfect ingredient for any cook.
Aji Panca Paste can be found in many Latin American markets and specialty stores.
Is aji panca paste spicy?
Aji Panca is a Peruvian pepper paste ranking at 1,000-1,500 in the Scoville scale of spiciness that delivers a mild spicy hit of flavor.
Originating in Peru, the paste gets its name from the Aji Panca chili that it’s made with, which is known for having a sweet taste mixed with some heat.
Depending on how much you use, the spice level of your dish can vary greatly with Aji Panca, so if you’re looking for something milder, start with a small amount and build up from there – because once it’s in, there’s no taking it back!
Best Aji Panca Paste Substitutes
1. Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
If you’re looking for a substitute with a similar smoky flavor profile as aji panca paste, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are an excellent choice.
Chipotles are smoked jalapeno peppers, and they are usually sold canned in adobo sauce. The adobo sauce gives the dish an extra layer of smokiness and spiciness.
To replace one tablespoon of aji panca paste, use 1 teaspoon of chipotle pepper plus 1 teaspoon of its accompanying sauce.
2. Chili Powder
I can suggest Chili powder if you need something spicy and flavorful but I don’t have any aji panca paste on hand.
Chili powder has many potential uses in cooking and can easily be substituted for aji panca paste in most recipes.
To replace one tablespoon of aji panca paste, use 1 teaspoon of chili powder instead.
However, just keep in mind that chili powder has more heat than the original ingredients, so make sure not to overdo it!
Paprika is another pantry staple that can come in handy when you need to replace aji panca paste quickly and easily.
Paprika has quite mild heat compared to other spices, but it still packs plenty of flavor into dishes.
Plus, it’s easy to find almost anywhere! To replace one tablespoon of ají panca paste, use 2 teaspoons paprika plus half a teaspoon cumin (optional).
4. Ancho Chile Paste
Ancho chile paste is a great alternative to aji panca paste. Ancho chiles are dried poblano peppers with an earthy flavor and mild heat level—about half as spicy as jalapenos.
When ground into a paste, ancho chiles make an excellent substitute for aji panca because they add smoky depth without too much spice.
They also lend their unique earthy flavor, which can enhance your dishes’ taste!
5. Smoked Paprika
Smoked paprika is one of my favorite options, and it is especially for those who want to replicate the smokiness of aji panca without too much heat.
Smoked paprika is made from smoked bell peppers which gives it its distinctive smoky flavor and aroma.
It also adds just enough heat to give your dishes some kick while still maintaining the sweetness of the dish.
Use this as an alternative to aji panca when you want to add depth but not too much spice!
6. Pimento or cherry pepper
Pimento or cherry pepper paste is a widely available substitute for Aji Panca paste. These pastes come in a variety of flavors, varying from mild and sweet to hot and smokey.
They provide a similar flavor profile as the more traditional Aji Panca paste, with its slightly fruity, warm spices notes.
This makes them an excellent substitute if you cannot find the original paste, offering up a great flavor while adding a little bit of spice.
7. Pasilla Pepper Paste
In Latin American cuisine, Aji Panca paste is a mild, sweet, and slightly smoky chili pepper paste used to add flavor to dishes.
Pasilla Pepper Paste is a great substitute for Aji Panca paste since it has the same smokiness with a deep flavor and hint of spice.
Known as Chile Negro in Mexico, Pasilla Pepper Paste adds sweetness to dishes such as salsas, cornbreads, and guacamole.
It is also often used in moles or stews that require a more pungent base sauce. For an even stronger taste, be sure to toast the dried peppers!
8. Sweet piquanté pepper
Sweet piquanté pepper makes for a delicious, convenient substitute for the tangy and smoky Aji panca paste.
It has an amalgamation of fruity and sweet flavors in combination with transformative heat that lasts long after consumption.
Sweet piquanté peppers make a great addition to many dishes, including stews, sauces, tacos, salsa, dressings, and marinades.
They are conveniently available in dried powder or sauce form, which can be used in the desired portion without having to worry about storing any fresh produce.
In conclusion, it is clear to see why Sweet piquanté pepper makes a great substitution for Aji panca paste.
9. Ancho Chile powder or paste
Aji panca paste is a Peruvian staple that is hard to find outside of Peru.
For those looking to make traditional dishes with an authentic South American flavor, Ancho Chile powder or paste is a great substitute for aji panca paste.
Ancho Chile paste provides a smoky and fruity flavor similar to that of the aji panca.
We suggest mixing the Ancho Chile paste with cumin and oregano for added complexity and depth, then simmering it in a saucepan.
This blend will provide all the benefits associated with the traditional Peruvian taste associated with aji panca , but in an easier form that can be found more widely.
However, Aji Panca paste is often used as a base for salsas, marinades, and sauces. When swapping out Aji Panca for Ancho Chile powder or paste, consider adding fresh garlic for a similarly spicy profile.
This flavorful concoction will amp up any meal!
10. Red Bell Pepper
If you are looking for a mild substitute for aji panca paste, look no further than a red bell pepper.
Known for its signature sweet and smoky flavor, the versatile red bell pepper can be used in many dishes that call for aji panca paste.
Not only will it lend an inviting hue to any dish, but its mellow flavor also makes it an ideal alternative when you are in a pinch.
Additionally, using red bell peppers is a budget-friendly way to add deliciousness and pizzazz to your food without having to source expensive ingredients.
There’s no better option than red bell pepper when it comes to complementing various flavors in your recipes!
11. Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
The most common substitute for aji panca paste is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos that have been dried and rehydrated; they have a smoky flavor similar to that of aji panca.
When the peppers are cooked down with tomatoes and spices, they become chipotle peppers in adobo sauce—a condiment used widely throughout Latin America.
This versatile ingredient can be used in place of aji panca in just about any recipe.
Conclusion on aji panca substitutes
Aji Panca Paste may be hard to find sometimes, but with these helpful substitutes, you won’t have any trouble creating delicious and flavorful dishes without it!
Whether you opt for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chili powder, or paprika (plus cumin if desired), each substitution will bring its own unique flavors and aromas into your cooking routine.
All while keeping true to the spirit of authentic Peruvian cuisine! So go ahead – give them all a try today!
FAQs on aji panca substitute
Q1. How spicy is aji panca?
The heat level is significantly lower than other popular chili peppers like aji Amarillo, jalapeños, and habaneros, making it an ideal choice for those who don’t like their dishes too spicy.
It’s usually described as having a mild to moderate heat that features notes of sweet and smoky flavor. Aji panca’s Scoville rating (the measure used to rate the spiciness of peppers) is 100- 500 SHU, which is significantly lower than other chili peppers.
For comparison, jalapeños have a rating of 2,500-8,000 SHU. Aji panca is an excellent chili to add flavor to dishes without making them too spicy. It can be used in salsas and sauces as well as in soups and stews for a hint of smoky heat.