Aji Panca Chile Paste

Aji Panca Chile Paste - A rich, smoky, spicy paste made with aji panca chilies from Peru | mjskitchen.com

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Thanks to my chile loving soul mate, European blogger friend, Sissi of With a Glass, I have now had the privilege of tasting a new chile…the Peruvian Aji Panca chile.  Thank you Sissi!!!!  What a chile!  A few weeks ago, I received a bottomless package of goodies from Sissi that consisted of products from all around the world – biscuits from Switzerland, chocolate from France, spicy seasoning from Japan, and dried aji panca chile from Peru (just to name a few).  Of course I zoned in immediately on the dried chiles.

The first thing I did was heat up some water and rehydrated one of the chiles just to see what they tasted like.  What I tasted, was not what I was expecting.  From the look and smell of the chile I was expecting a very strong smoky flavor with a lot of heat…like chipotle.  But instead, I tasted a slightly smoky, sweet raisin or dark berry flavor with a little bit of heat.  It was SO different from the flavor of dried red chile here in New Mexico and SO good! I was surprised to find in my research that the smokiness of the chile is characteristic of the chile itself and not due to any smoking process.

After tasting the chile, it didn’t take me long to decide what to make.  This Aji Panca Chile Paste is a thick, smoky, sweet, nutty, and spicy paste, but not too spicy.  The nuttiness comes from toasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds which make a great complement for just about any chile. The richness of this paste is that of a black mole’.  So far we have used this paste on shrimp tacos and with scrambled eggs.  We finished it off with some chips.  It’s a good thing we didn’t start with the chips or else we wouldn’t have had any paste left for the tacos nor the eggs.  This is a great tasting chile and makes a very unique paste that any chili/chile fan would love.

AND, as one of my readers discovered – this recipe works great for other types of dried chile as well: “Just made this with Aji Amarilo and it’s fabulous.”

Aji Panca Chile Paste

Aji Panca Chile Paste - A rich, smoky, spicy paste made with aji panca chilies from Peru #chile @mjskitchen

Aji Panca Chile Paste Recipe
10 mins
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
A spicy and uniquely tasty Peruvian chile paste.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Condiments, Sauces & Dressings
Cuisine: Mexican
Yields: 1 cup
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 25 grams or ~1 ounce dried aji panca chiles*
  • 15 grams or ¾ ounce pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 small garlic clove, sliced thin
  • 1/8 tsp. + 1 dash salt or to taste
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tsp. canola oil or mild tasting oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced yellow onion
  • Juice from ¼ lime
For Step 6, you can transfer the ingredients to a blender or to a bowl suitable for an immersion blender. I use a glass, 4 cup measuring cup. It provides the width and the height needed for this amount of sauce (with just a touch of splatter).
  1. Remove the stems and shake out the seeds from the dried chiles.
  2. Crumble the dried chiles into a small bowl.
  3. Bring about 1 cup of water to a boil. Pour SOME of the boiling water into the bowl with the chiles, just enough to completely cover. Let the chiles rehydrate for about 15 minutes.
  4. Lightly toast the pumpkin seeds and the sliced garlic in a dry skillet over a medium low heat. Once toasted, add to the re-hydrating chiles.
  5. In the skillet that you toasted the pumpkins seeds, heat the canola oil over a medium low heat. Add the minced onion and sweat the onion until it is soft and translucent.
  6. Transfer the salt, cooked onion with oil, lime juice, and chile, pepitas and soaking water to a blender.

  7. Blend the ingredients until you have a nice puree’. If it is thicker than you want, add 1 Tbsp. of hot water and blend. Continue adding 1 Tbsp. of water at a time until you get the desired thickness.
Kitchen Notes

Aji Panca chili (or chile) – This chili has a very mild heat. According to Chili Pepper Madness, its heat comes in only at 500 Scovilles which is low compared to jalapeno at 3500 Scovilles. Compared to New Mexico chile, I would consider it mild medium. So if you want the paste a little spicier, then throw in a hotter chile pod to boost up the heat level. Just don’t get carried away because you don’t want to miss the flavor of the aji panca which is quite unique.



One can buy aji panca chile on line.  Below are a few suppliers that I found.

My Spice Sage

A few suggested uses:

  • Spread for sandwiches or quesadillas
  • Topping for tacos, tostadas,  burritos, or eggs
  • Flavoring for sauces, soups, stews
  • Complement for grilled meat, like a juicy T-bone steak
  • Dip for chips or fruits and vegetables

The aji panca chile has a very unique flavor that I think everyone would love.  It’s a great chile for those who can’t handle the heat, but love the flavor of a smoky chile.


Aji Panca Chile Paste - A rich, smoky, spicy paste made with aji panca chilies from Peru | mjskitchen.com


Now that I’ve made this Aji Panca Chile Paste, I can’t wait to purchased some more so that I can make a sauce and use it like I do a red chile sauce.

Thank you so much Sissi for turning me on to this aji panca chile!


If you like this aji panca chile paste, then you would also enjoy these other pastes, spreads and salsas.

Red Chile and Chile de Arbol Paste

Roasted Red Chile Spread

Chile de Arbol Salsa


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42 Responses to “Aji Panca Chile Paste”

  1. Alexad April 30, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Just made this with Aji Amarilo and it’s fabulous. I am not one for much heat and this was a little spicy for me but so packed with flavour it’s worth the slight burn. My husband, however, is going to adore this when he gets home to Sweden after work travel in the US. It’s his welcome home present!! Thank you for your inspiration.

    • mj April 30, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

      Thank YOU Alexad for this comment!! I’m thrilled that you gave this recipe a try and even more thrilled that you liked it! I hope you’re husband enjoys it as well. You are most welcome and thanks again! 🙂

  2. Dedy@Dentist Chef April 20, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    the paste looks delicious already…

    • mj April 20, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

      Thanks Dedy!

  3. Raymund April 20, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    Wow I envy you with that bottomless package, the last time I had those was years ago. I know that exciting feeling of checking whats in the package

    • mj April 20, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

      It was very exciting and so very kind of Sissi!

  4. Tamara April 19, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

    My sister-in-love Josselin is Peruvian, and introduced me to Aji amarillo and a couple of others. I’m not familiar with this one, but it sounds fabulous! I’m going to see if I can find it. Thanks MJ!

    • mj April 20, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks Tamara! I discovered aji amarillo during my search for information on aji panca. It looked quite interesting as well. A completely different pepper – yellow instead of a deep purple. I’m very curious of how it tastes now.

  5. Nads April 19, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    How cool it is that you have created this amazing network of friends from all over the world that not only share your passion, but enable you to continue to come up with more and more of your inspired creations. I am truly astounded at how many uses you continued to come up with for your beloved chile.

    • mj April 20, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

      Thank you so much Nads!!! Big Hugs Darlin!

  6. Shobha April 18, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    This is totally new to me. But the chilly paste looks tempting and inviting.

    • mj April 18, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

      Thanks Shabha! It was new to me as well, but what a great discovery!

  7. Liz April 18, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    What a terrific delivery from Sissi! I hope you’re able to find these in your area—but I have a feeling I might have to resort to Amazon! Your chili paste sounds like the perfect way to jazz up eggs.

    • mj April 18, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

      It was a terrific delivery! I’m still reaping the benefits of her kindness. You can definitely get these chiles through Amazon. Is there anything that you can’t buy through Amazon? 🙂

  8. Ramona April 17, 2015 at 5:25 am #

    Just hand me a spoon! 🙂 I love that you are so into chiles…. you are a lady after my heart. 🙂 Oh, I see this paste on many things… I love the idea of it on eggs.

    • mj April 17, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      Thanks so much Ramona!

  9. Katerina April 17, 2015 at 2:32 am #

    There is so much undiscovered food around the world! Sissi was so generous and you made such a good use of her gifts!

    • mj April 17, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      It’s amazing how much I’ve discovered just from blogging and it just keeps going. Sissi is a very generous woman!

  10. ChopinandMysaucepan April 16, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    Dear MJ,

    I could so spread this paste on a hamburger or a smoked piece of beef brisket from the BBQ, let alone make some spicy chicken wings with it.

    • mj April 17, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

      All of those sound like great ideas to me! I really like the idea of the burger. I use NM red on burgers. Why not aji panca. 🙂 Thanks!

  11. Shashi at RunninSrilankan April 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    This is my first time hearing about aji panca chile, but, MJ – that paste looks so gorgeous! Love the pepitas added in!

    • mj April 17, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

      Thanks so much Shashi!

  12. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles April 16, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Is it wildly inappropriate that I want to attach a springboard to that ramekin, dive directly into the aji panca chile paste and start doing the backstroke? (I promise I’m sober 😉 ) — but the color and thickness of the paste have me positively swooning… what a unique and delicious recipe creation MJ. And leave it to our friend Sissi to describe her truck load of gifts as “humble” LOL. Enjoy your goodies!! 🙂

    • mj April 17, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

      Dive right on it Kelly!! Bobby and I started eating it with a spoon right out of the bowl then had to force ourselves to stop so we could try it on something. 🙂 We’re hooked! Sissi was so sweet to send me all of those goodies. I spent an hour at the computer trying to figure out what everything was because nothing was in English. 🙂 What a sweetheart!

  13. Minnie@thelady8home April 15, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    Never heard of it before. But sounds so yummy. The paste actually is very inviting. Lovely.

    • mj April 17, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

      Thanks Minnie!

  14. Angie@Angie's Recipes April 15, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    I am not even sure what aji panca chilli is…but I do love a good chilli paste, esp. the homemade one. I guess it will work with pepperoncini too.

    • mj April 15, 2015 at 8:23 am #

      Thanks Angie! I had never heard of them before either. I’m thrilled that I could introduce YOU to something new for a change. 🙂

  15. ray April 14, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    I love the look of that bowl of chile paste. It looks creamy and flavorful. I am always a big fan of Sissi just like I am a big fan of yours, my friend. I hope you are having a fabulous week, MJ! 🙂

    • mj April 15, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      Thanks so much Ray! Isn’t Sissi great?! Hope you are having a fabulous week as well!

  16. John@Kitchen Riffs April 14, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    What a fun find! I’ve not heard of this chile — sounds really interesting. And this paste looks delish! Really nice — thanks.

    • mj April 14, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

      Thanks John! It was a great find, thanks to Sissi!

  17. Debra April 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    What a great surprise package, indeed! I really want to seek out this pepper b/c I am thinking of so many ways to use this paste. You did a great job describing the chiles taste—so much so I want some NOW!

    • mj April 14, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

      Thanks so much Debra! Hope you do purchase some of these chiles. They are quite exquisite. Yes, Sissi did fix me up good. 🙂

  18. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef April 14, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    That chile is really cool. I’ve never heard of it before but this is one I’d probably love because of the less heat. That paste looks very inviting.

    • mj April 14, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! It is a very cool chile and so unique. I hope you give it a try.

  19. Sissi April 14, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Dear MJ, as soon as I read your newsletter’s first words on my phone, I had to run to my computer and see the recipe you have invented. I knew you would create something inspiring and unusual with aji panca and I was right: this paste looks extraordinary! I don’t know how you had this amazing idea to add sunflower seeds, but the result sounds both original and luscious. Thank you so much for your kind words… Sunflower seeds actually bring back my childhood memories because taking seeds one by one from whole dried heads of sunflower was one of my favourite summer snacks. Seeing you enjoy my humble gifts makes me utterly happy. Thank you so much, dear friend.

    • mj April 14, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

      My dear Sissi – THANK YOU! We are still enjoying everything you sent. I really do love the aji panca and plan to buy more. I’ll first check out local ethnic markets and if I can’t find them, then I’ll be ordering on line. I, too, use to eat the seeds from dried sunflowers when I was a kid. It’s amazing to me the similarities even halfway around the world. 🙂 Unfortunately, I do have to disappoint. You caught a typo in my recipe. I meant “pumpkin seeds” not sunflower seeds. 🙁 But since you mention it, I’m sure sunflower seeds would work just as well in this recipe. Thank you again for everything!

      • Sissi April 15, 2015 at 2:27 am #

        Pumpkin seeds are equally good and the important thing is you brought my childhood memories (the good ones!). I’m really glad you liked aji panca. I’ll check if I can find them here and send you much more of them, but the shop has disappeared, so I’m not sure…

        • mj April 15, 2015 at 8:22 am #

          Thanks Sissi, but no need to send me more. We have a couple of Central and Southern American markets here that will probably carry it, plus, I can actually order them through Amazon. No need for you to have to pay shipping when I can have it shipped for free. 🙂 I really appreciate your turning me on to these. Oh, I planted some of the Hungarian pepper seeds and surprise parsley. When I have something to show, I’ll take pictures. 🙂

          • Sissi April 18, 2015 at 8:33 am #

            I hope it will grow as easily as here (or even better…). I have planted chile pequin too!!! (I shook the pods you have kindly sent me and planted the grains). They haven’t sprouted yet, but I cross my fingers. Will keep you informed (I’ll certainly boast about having such an exotic chile 🙂 so photos are also planned).


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