Peruvian Pepper and Lime Salsa Criolla

A bowl of salsa criolla

Manuel González Olaechea y Franco/Wikimedia Commons/CC by 3.0

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
24 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 24
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 29mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 1g
Calcium 17mg 1%
*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.)

Quick and easy to prepare, salsa Criolla is an onion relish that is the perfect accompaniment to so many dishes, especially butifarra, a famous Peruvian ham sandwich. Lime juice is the key ingredient—it adds a bright flavor that sweetens the onions and livens up everything else on the plate. Soaking the onions in salted water beforehand also sweetens them and adds to the flavor of the salsa.

For authenticity's sake, it is important to cut the onions "a la pluma," or like feathers. Slice them into very thin half moons, retaining the curve of the onion, so that they look like little curls on the plate. In Peru, this salsa is made with ​ají chile peppers, but jalapeños make a reasonable substitute. (Be sure to wear gloves when seeding and slicing the chilis.) Some people also add tomatoes and garlic.


  • 2 red onions (sliced into very thin half moons)
  • 1 to 2 ají peppers (or jalapenos: seeded and sliced into very thin matchsticks, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro (chopped fresh, or parsley, or a combination of both)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Dash salt (or to taste)
  • Dash pepper (or to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Soak the thinly sliced onions in salt water for 10 minutes. Drain and let dry.

  2. Mix the sliced onion with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the salsa marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

  3. Store salsa in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.