This sauce is SO good we licked the blender clean. Inspired by Peruvian aji verde, this dairy-free version is equally creamy, spicy, smoky, and vibrant!
What is Aji Verde?
Ají verde is a green hot sauce commonly served at Peruvian restaurants. It’s often made with cilantro, mayonnaise, lime juice, and spicy peppers, but everyone’s recipe is a bit different!
Our search for the origin story of this delicious sauce came up a bit empty-handed. But similar sauces with cilantro and ají peppers are believed to have been made in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia since as early as the 13th century. Peruvian chef Luis Sanchez shares his version in this video but says it’s not necessarily a Peruvian sauce since something like it isn’t made in Peru.
The following is our inspired, mayo-free version similar to the herby, creamy, smoky sauce we’ve tried at Peruvian restaurants.
How to Make Vegan Aji Verde
This vegan version relies on cashews to mimic the creaminess usually provided by mayonnaise. We include lots of fresh cilantro for a vibrant green color and fresh flavor, green onion and garlic for kick, lime juice for brightness, and salt and maple syrup for balance.
Then it’s on to the smoky star of this show: aji amarillo paste. While jalapeño does also work, it gives more fresh + spicy notes. Aji amarillo, on the other hand, gives this sauce a smoky, enchilada-esque aftertaste (major yum, just know it’s one of those things you’ll probably need to order online).
When you blend it all up with water, a creamy, bright, versatile condiment is yours to enjoy!
We hope you LOVE this sauce! It’s:
Quick & easy
& Lick-from-the-blender good!
More Creamy Vegan Sauces
- Zesty Dill Yogurt Sauce
- 6-Ingredient Vegan Tzatziki
- Tahini Stir-Fry Sauce
- Creamy Cilantro Sunflower Seed Dressing
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Aji Verde Sauce (Peruvian-Inspired, Dairy-Free)
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup water (plus more as needed)
- 2 stalks green onion, ends trimmed (2 stalks yield ~1/2 cup or 40 g)
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1-2 Tbsp aji amarillo paste (depending on heat preference // or sub 1/2 – 1 seeded jalapeño)
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 tsp maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
- Place all ingredients (starting with the lesser amounts) in a small blender (or high-speed blender*, but you will need to make a larger batch to cover the blades and encourage creaminess). Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed.
- Taste and adjust as needed, adding more lime juice for brightness, aji amarillo (or jalapeño) for heat, sweetener of choice to balance the heat, or salt for overall flavor. You can also add more water 1 Tbsp at a time if you prefer a thinner sauce.
- Leftover sauce will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, though the color will be more muted. Not freezer friendly — it will discolor and lose its freshness.
*You can also make this recipe using an immersion blender and glass measuring cup, but it doesn’t get as smooth and may need slightly more water.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amounts of aji amarillo paste and salt.
*Loosely adapted from Food & Wine and Feasting at Home.