Classic Papa a la Huancaína Revisited

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, quail 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.

Papa a la huancaína

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 ready it should have the consistency of custard.

Papa a la huancaína

The sauce can also be made in the blink of an eye if you have aji­ amarillo paste at hand. Just process about a few tablespoons of it with all the other ingredients, y listo!

Papa a la huancaína

It is a fact that some cooks like the sauce extremely spicy and they make it with raw aji amarillo using the seeds and ribs but 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 Huancaína
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Peruvian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Boiled yellow potatoes covered with an even yellower spicy and creamy cheese sauce, and accompanied by hard-boiled eggs and black olives
  • ½ cup aji amarillo paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 soda crackers
  • 8 oz. queso fresco (fresh white cheese)
  • Salt
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 6 yellow potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • Black olives
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in slices
  • Parsley sprigs
  1. Put the aji amarillo paste in the blender, add oil and milk and process with the crackers, queso fresco, and salt, until smooth.
  2. In four plates put four lettuce leaves, some thick potato slices, and cover with a few tablespoons of the sauce.
  3. Garnish with black olives, hard boiled eggs and parsley.
Nutrition Information
Serve size: 4 Calories: 443 Fat: 23,51g Carbohydrates: 35,33g Sugar: 6,91 g Fiber: 3,1 g Protein: 22,21g Cholesterol: 404 mg


  1. Just discovered your blog and wanted to thank you for sharing your recipes!
    I’m an expat blogger based in Lima and also a fan of Peruvian food. Added your site to my blogroll for others to discover too!

    Felices Fiestas Patrias!

    Anna from Lima

    • That’s great Anna! Peruvian food can sometimes be labor intensive, but soooo good that it’s worth every bit of the effort put into it. Enjoy our city! Abrazos.

    • The lettuce is not optional, it is meant to be eaten it added freshness to the dish and crunch and tastes delicious with huancaina, it should be a larger amount of lettuce like 2 large loafs usually you can place it first on the plate and then potatoes on top. Also add more crackers to thicken if your sauce is too thin. Use good crackers, they affect the flavor so dont use old dusty ones.

  2. I did this recipe quite a few times now. I am from Brazil, live in Canada, and have a Peruvian boyfriend. He says that my Papa a la Huancai­na is the best ever! Thank you for the awesome recipe. I will keep trying other recipes for sure 🙂

  3. I’ve found a bag of frozen Aji Amarillo from Peru, boiled it for 15 minutes to make the Huancaina sauce… They are very spicy! I did remove the seeds and veins, but after boiling, should I have removed them before? I could not get the consistency of the sauce to be very smooth with the queso fresco I found…from La Fey…

    • Hi Mirela. Yes, you should take out the seeds and veins before blanching aji amarillo. Then boil the peppers three times, changing the water to tame the heat. Drain them and process in the blender until creamy. Now you have aji amarillo paste. Many Peruvian cooks love Huancaína sauce with a coarse texture, but we like it very smooth. Maybe you should try another brand of queso fresco.

  4. I made this for my (American) family, and it was a little spicy for the kids. My husband loved it! Knocked the aji amarillo back to 1/4 cup, and my Peruvian friend still approved!

  5. Love your recipes. Thank you for sharing. I want to make this for a Potluck party and was wondering if this could be made ahead & is it better hot or cold?


  6. Thank you so much for sharing with pictures and explaing the whole ordeal. I am not from Peru but I have had these at friends who are from there and I have been dying to make it at home!

  7. I have made it quite a few times… but it’s grainy instead of silky like my Peruvian neighbors. I tastes amazing…. the texture is off. I try a different queso fresco every time… that’s what seems to never break up. 🙁 Any helpful suggestions for that?

  8. Patricia Domzalski says:

    What is the shelf life for huancaina sauce?

  9. I would have suggested adding a few more crackers, the consistency was slightly thin. Knowing how spicy aji can be, I knocked it back to 1/4 a cup; perfect flavoring. Over all this recipe was a good foundation.

  10. I was able to find the sauce already prepared on Amazon. GOOOOOOD.

  11. This recipe was great. I used this recipe for my kids birthday party and they all loved it so much they were begging me for more! The rich taste will in a way leave you addicted! Love you

  12. Loved this recipe!! Great for beginners. I used the frozen yellow aji, boiled, removed veins and seeds and put it in the blender still a bit spicy but my family loves spicy! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hi I’m Diana I moved to America 2 years ago but I’m from Peru, i was reading what you wrote about “Bolivian papa a la Huancaina” i thank what you are talking about is “ocopa” we have it in Peru too and is originally from Arequipa, it is quite similar to papa a la Huancaina but we add peanuts and a lil bit of huacatay the rest is the same, they are two different appetizers though 🙂


  1. […] Huancayo is a city in the Peruvian highlands where the dish originated, but it has since become a popular staple in household cooking around Peru and Bolivia. Salsa Huancaína is a versatile sauce that can be paired with just about anything, though boiled potatoes are the traditional favorite. Having tried papa a la Huancaína in both Peru and Bolivia, there is one distinct difference between the two recipes. Peruvians make their cheesy sauce out of queso fresco, aji amarillo (yellow chili pepper), evaporated milk, onion, garlic, and crushed crackers, while Bolivians add one key ingredient: peanuts. The most delicious version that I encountered was at a Bolivian friends’ home where the family cook was kind enough to share her protein-packed recipe with me. [For the typical Peruvian recipe, please check out Peru Delights] […]

  2. […] leaf and stuffed with onions, sweet peppers and whatever spices the chef chooses, then broiled) and papas a la huancaina (boiled and peeled potatoes bathed in a creamy, spicy sauce made of cheese, milk, hot peppers, […]

  3. […] cook claims to have “the best” recipe for it. The sauce is part of a dish called Papa a la Huancaína (potato with Huancaína sauce), but people love it so much that it’s used in several other concoctions. If you buy (or […]

  4. […] Serve these squares with regular guacamole or with a simple cream of avocado, mayo, and lime juice. Or serve them with salsa Golf (mayo with ketchup), with aji amarillo sauce, or salsa huancaina. […]

  5. […] flavor of these chilies. Use this paste in any recipe that calls for ají amarillo paste, such as salsa huancaína, ají de gallina, […]

  6. […] Papa a la Huancaina recipes on Peru Delights (English) or Yanuq […]

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