Papa a la huancaína, Huancayo style potatoes


Very high in the Andes, the beautiful city of Huancayo is the flourishing commercial emporium of the region. It has fantastic food and is abundant in fresh produce, especially artichokes. Papa a la Huancai­na, (potatoes Huancayo style) are boiled yellow potatoes covered with an even yellower spicy and creamy cheese sauce, and accompanied by hard-boiled eggs and black olives. This easy recipe is so popular that you can find the Huancai­na sauce everywhere: as a dip for crudites, quails eggs, corn, or fried yucca, as a sauce for spaghetti or risotto (surprisingly good), over Causa Limeña (I love this one), with steak…you name it. If it was up to me, I would have it even for dessert.

Creamy or lumpy, depending if it´s made in the blender, or by hand with a fork or in a mortar, its texture and flavor charms either way. But modern cooks rely on the blender because it´s easy and they can have the sauce ready in a minute. The food processor is another good idea, but here instead of queso fresco try to use cottage cheese or cream cheese. If the sauce is too dense add more milk. When it´s ready, it should have the consistency of custard.


It  can also be made in the blink of an eye if you have Aji­ Amarillo paste at hand. Just process about 2-3 tablespoons of it with all the other ingredients, y listo!

It is a fact that some cooks like the sauce extremely spicy, and it can be overpowering and make it difficult to appreciate the sensations of this unpretentious and satisfying dish. Do I make it spicy? Of course! But I enjoy a nice kick that is not excessively hot.

Papa a la Huancai­na (for 4)

6 yellow potatoes, boiled and peeled

5 aji Amarillo chili pepper, seeded and ribbed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 soda crackers

8 oz. queso fresco (fresh white cheese)

1 cup evaporated milk

Iceberg lettuce leaves

Black olives

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in slices


Parsley sprigs


* Cut the aji­ and take out the seeds and ribs. Boil in salted water for 15 minutes, strain and peel: the skin will be easy to remove.

*Put the aji­ in the blender, add oil and milk and process with the crackers, white cheese, and salt, until creamy.

*In a plate put a lettuce leaf, some thick potato slices, and cover with a few tablespoons of the sauce.

* Decorate with black olives, hard boiled eggs and parsley.

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  1. This is so yummy. I once experimented with different cheeses: goat cheese or feta. I even tried a vegan version with tofu, but had to add a little bit of Nutritional Yeast to it.

  2. I’ve been hanging out for this for months now. Thanks for the recipe!! Which kind of white cheese would you recommend for substitute to Peruvian white cheese? Ricotta? Is fetta too overpowering?

    • Peru Delights says:

      Hi Natasha, you can find queso fresco in most grocery stores. Feta is a good option but sometimes it is too salty. Ricotta is good, too.

  3. Dave Yuhas says:

    I used frozen aji Amarillo peppers. The taste is not even close to what I had in Peru.

  4. Sorry to be blowing up your site with comments — but how much pasta de aji would you recommend using in place of the fresh peppers?

    • Peru Delights says:

      Hi Lindsey! You should start with 1 – 2 tablespoons, depending on the heat of your chili paste. If it´s not spicy you may add some more to get the beautiful yellow color of the sauce. You really need to try the chili paste before start cooking. Sometimes they are mild and others are fiery hot.

  5. Tropical Kitchen says:

    I’ve never used the soda crackers and did not know it was an ingredient until just now. Next time I’ll use them. FYI, I save and dry the seeds from the peppers and grow my own. Very tolerant plant to grow, fruit in 12 weeks or so here in Costa Rica. Thanks for your recipe!

    • Peru Delights says:

      That´s awesome, Tropical Kitchen! My brother grows aji amarillo in El Salvador with great success, but the second or third time they are not hot at all!


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