Food & Drink

Traditional Huancaína Sauce Recipe

Find out which rich and creamy sauce uses crackers as a secret ingredient.

Huancaína sauce wouldn't be the same without them.

A staple in most pantries, saltines have often been thought of as a cure for nausea. But they've got one more trick up their plastic sleeves: saltine crackers are commonly used to make one of Peru's most popular spicy sauce known as Huancaína sauce.

Huancaína sauce is normally served over boiled potatoes, then topped with hard boiled eggs and olives. (This is called Papas a la Huancaina and can be enjoyed at almost all Peruvian restaurants.) The sauce, despite its creamy and rich consistency, is sneakily spicy. Before you know it, your whole mouth is on fire -- in a good way -- which is why it's served on mild-flavored potatoes.


Peru, which is known for its potatoes, is also home to a number of uniquely flavored peppers. The aji amarillo pepper, which gives the huancaína sauce all its flavor, is pretty hot. It's been compared to a scotch bonnet, but with more fruit and slightly less fire. If you can't find aji amarillo in your produce section (which is unlikely) some grocery stores carry them frozen (which is second best) or marinated in jars. You can also buy aji amarillo paste online.

To make the sauce, you simply blend saltines, queso fresco, aji amarillo, milk and garlic. See how it's done in this homemade video and get the recipe here.

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