South American hot sauce

South American Hot Sauce

Explore the rich flavors of South American hot sauces with five delicious options to seek out on your next vacation.

An easy way to explore the culture of any place is through their local cuisine. Interestingly, every country in South America has its unique hot sauces that are served with both traditional and popular dishes. There is a wide variety of mouth-watering and delicious hot sauces that curious foodies, travelers, and cooks should not miss out on.

These hot sauces have bright colors because they are mostly from spices and fresh herbs. They also have a rich and unique flavor profile, which further sets these hot sauces apart. We’ve put together five of our favorite South American hot sauces in this article, so continue reading to learn more.

Peruvian Rocoto Sauce

Rocoto peppers are scientifically known as Capsicum pubescens, and they are native to Peur. They are mostly consumed by the Andean and Inca cultures. The appearance of the pepper is like that of a squashed tomato, but the taste is nothing like a tomato. It is a red and hot pepper with a heat level similar to that of habanero pepper (100,000) on the SHU scale.

The Peruvian rocoto sauce is made with evaporated milk and cheese, both of which give it a creamy texture and delicious taste. Depending on your preference, you can also add onions and garlic to the sauce. One of the interesting things about this hot sauce is its nutritional value. It is rich in vitamins like A, C, and E, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties.

The Peruvian rocoto sauce is widely used in most Peruvian cuisine and is regarded as emblematic of Peru. It is a versatile hot sauce that can go with potato fries, vegetables, anticuchos, jalea, chicking, and many other dishes. You can also use the sauce with snacks and other street foods. [2]

Brazilian Malagueta Pepper Sauce

Brazil is home to a wide range of hot things, but nothing beats that of the malagueta pepper. The heat of the malagueta pepper is double that of cayenne pepper which is between 50,000 to 100,000 SHU. This makes it one of the hottest chilies available, and you can find it in most Brazilian homes.

The name malagueta was coined from a West African spice known as melegueta but they are two different things. Melegueta is more like cardamon, which is a part of the ginger family, while malagueta is not part of the ginger family.

In Brazil, Malagueta pepper sauce is used in a wide range of meals, including light soups and stew dishes. There are many recipes that use the sauce to flavor meat and poultry dishes. The main ingredients used in making the sauce are tomatoes, malagueta peppers, olive oil, black pepper, salt, thyme, oregano, cumin, vinegar, balsamic, garlic, onion, and olive oil. [3]

Chilean Pebre

The Chilean pebre is a popular condiment that is found together with most meals across the country in homes and restaurants. Chilean pebre has different variations, which mostly depend on the household and part of Chile it is made in. However, the main ingredients used in making Chilean pebre are onion, garlic, olive oil, ground aji chili peppers, and cilantro.

In Chili, this sauce is used on almost everything, including empanadas and boiled potatoes. It is also used over meat and in various soups. Even though this sauce is popular in Chile, its actual origin is from Catalonia in Spain. During the 1900s, Catalonian construction workers and engineers migrated to Chile, and they needed a simple sauce to add more flavor to their food, and this led to the birth of pebre.

Today, it is the most popular sauce in Chile, and you can eat it with different traditional Chilean dishes like Chilean sea bass, sopaipillas, and Chilean corn humitas. It’s also a perfect pair with grilled meats and roasted potatoes. [4]

Argentinian Chimichurri (Spicy Variant)

The Argentinian chimichurri sauce is another South American sauce to be taken seriously. It’s one of the most popular sauces in Argentina, and it’s basically a concoction of succulent parsley, chili, oregano, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic.

There are many stories about the actual origin of Chimichurri. The main thing to note is that the name ‘chimichurri’ originates from the word tximitxurri, which means a mixture of many ingredients. The name is also widely thought to be derived from ‘Jimmy’s curry.’ According to Myth, Jimmy was an Englishman who was a trader and freedom fighter who was in Argentina during the 19th century. The Argentinians could not call his name, and it got converted to chimichurri. Today, the condiment is a household stable that can be taken with different pasta or meat dishes. [5]

Colombian Aji Picante

Colombian Aji Picante is also known as aji pique or aji, and it’s a condiment that is served with a wide range of traditional dishes, including carimanolas and empanadas. Aji Picante is a popular hot sauce in most South American cuisines.

The sauce is made with onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and water as a base. This is also in addition to a wide range of ingredients, which is unique for each region. Aji has been around since pre-Hispanic times, especially in countries like Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia. During this period, it was also known as uchu in Quechua.

After a few years, each country developed its unique version of the condiment, and this was mostly based on economic reasons, weather, and availability of ingredients. In Colombia today, Aji Picante is served with most dishes, thanks to its soft flavors. Aji can also accentuate other flavors while adding spice to your dish. [1]

It’s worth noting that the Colombian Aji Picante has a SHU rating of around 30,000 to 50,000. The variation depends on the type of pepper used in preparing the hot sauce.

Here’s a recipe for creating Aji Picante hot sauce at home:

Aji Picante Hot Sauce Ingredients

  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • ½ ripe beefsteak tomato, chopped
  • ½ small yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 Fresno chili, Serrano, or Jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (adjust to desired spiciness)
  • 1 packed cup of cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (or lime wedges for serving)

Method of Preparation

  1. Prepare the Ingredients: Wash and chop the scallions, tomato, onion, and chili. Finely chop the cilantro leaves and tender stems.
  2. Mixing: In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped scallions, tomato, onion, and chili. Add the cilantro and mix well.
  3. Seasoning: Season the mixture with kosher salt to taste.
  4. Lime Juice: Squeeze in the juice of 1 to 2 limes, depending on your preference for acidity.
  5. Blend (Optional): For a smoother sauce, you can blend the mixture in a food processor or blender until it reaches your desired consistency. For a chunkier sauce, skip this step.
  6. Taste and Adjust: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, spiciness, or lime juice as needed.
  7. Serve: Serve the Aji Picante immediately or store it in the refrigerator. It can be used as a condiment for various dishes or served with lime wedges on the side.
  8. Storage: Store any leftover Aji Picante in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Enjoy your homemade Aji Picante hot sauce with your favorite meals!


These are only five popular South American hot sauces, but there are many others. The common thing about these hot sauces is that they are packed with a great punch in addition to their slightly sweet and rich flavor. South American hot sauces are perfect for anyone looking to advance their hot sauce game with different flavors.

In addition, South American hot sauces are easy to prepare. Therefore, curious foodies and cooks should consider making these sauces at home. If you’re visiting any South American country, you might want to consider trying these delicious sauces.


[1] Kenji, J. “Ají (Colombian-Style Fresh Salsa) Recipe.” NYT Cooking.

[2] Peru, Eat. “‘Sweet’ Peruvian Rocoto Pepper Sauce Recipe.” Eat Peru, 7 Jan. 2020.

[3] Matt, B. “Malagueta Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses.” PepperScale, 12 Oct. 2021.

[4] Jorge, G. “Pebre: A Delicious, Versatile & Healthy Chilean Sauce.” The Best Latin & Spanish Food Articles & Recipes – Amigofoods, 22 Mar. 2023.

[5] Agostino, P. “Chimichurri: The Argentinian Sauce Eaten as a Ritual.” BBC Travel, 25 Feb. 2022.

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