Salsa de Aji Picante: Colombian Hot Pepper Salsa

Colombian hot pepper salsa

Claudia Totir / Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Refrigerate: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
188 Calories
14g Fat
15g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 188
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1181mg 51%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 2g
Calcium 71mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In South American cuisine, aji is the name for both a variety of chili peppers and a fresh salsa made with the peppers. This Colombian recipe is known as salsa de aji picante, and it features a single habanero pepper, making it pretty spicy. 

Beyond the pepper, the main ingredients in this vibrant salsa are tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. It has a similar flavor to another classic Colombia salsa called hogaothough the tomatoes, onions, and peppers in hogao are cooked rather than raw. This salsa has vinegar as well, which gives it a nice tang that complements the hot pepper.

Learn what foods you need to stock your pantry with to cook Colombian recipes.


  • 1 habanero pepper (seeded and minced)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (minced)
  • 6 green onions (white and green parts, chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Black pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Place the pepper in a food processor or blender with the water, vinegar, lime juice, salt, and sugar. Process until smooth.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, green onions, and cilantro. Toss with the pepper liquid and olive oil, mixing well.

  3. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, sugar, or black pepper as needed.

  4. Store salsa in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


  • Aji salsa can be as hot (picante) or as mild as you choose. The easiest way to adjust its heat is to choose a different pepper. For instance, a jalapeño will create a slightly milder salsa than the habanero. 
  • The finished salsa is a delicious complement to grilled meats and can be used to spice up any dish you would normally use salsa in. It also makes a great dipping sauce for fried plantains and the South American corn cakes known as arepas.