Salsa Criolla is a typical Peruvian salsa to add on top of pretty much anything and everything. It basically transforms any dish into an absolute delight! Made out of red onions, ají amarillo peppers, and cilantro as main ingredients it makes it not only an incredibly flavorful but also healthy salsa.
Red onion – it’s the main ingredient and the most important. You can also use other types of onions but the salsa gets a completely different taste that way. Red onion is definitely the best choice. It’s very important to soak the onion so it loses its bitterness. The onion loses its strong flavor when soaked long enough and becomes a lot milder and easier to digest.
Ají Amarillo – is a typical Peruvian chili pepper and has a very distinct flavor. You can usually only find it fresh in Peru and other Latin American countries. However, Latin American stores all over the world carry the jarred whole peppers or the jarred pureed peppers. Else you can find it on Amazon sometimes. If you really can’t get your hands on it use jalapeño peppers for a mildly spicy salsa or habaneros for a super spicy salsa. It won’t be an authentic Salsa Criolla then though.
Cilantro – is an essential herb in Peruvian cuisine and very important in authentic Peruvian cooking. However, if you are one of those people with the enzyme that makes this herb taste like soap, simply replace it with parsley. The salsa will still be delicious that way. The red onion and ají are more important in this recipe than the cilantro.
Lime – is used in almost any Latin American dish because Meyer lemons are not easily available there. You can certainly make this salsa with Mayer lemons though.
Oil – any flavorless oil works. My favorite is avocado oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can I store Salsa Criolla in the refrigerator?
This salsa tastes even better the next day and day after so don’t hesitate to store leftovers in the fridge. It tastes amazing for up to a week, then it starts to slightly ferment. You can still eat it when it’s starting to ferment but try to eat it up quickly then because it’s not as delicious as the first week.
We never use more than 2 onions every time we make the salsa and with two adults in the family we finish the salsa within 3 days anyway. We put it on eeeeverything we eat because we love it so much.
What should I serve Salsa Criolla on?
It’s a typical salsa for many Peruvian dishes such as Butifarras or Frejoles Negros, however, it tastes great on literally everything. I love it on Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian Grilled Chicken) or on Quinoa Fried Rice for example, to make it taste even more delicious!
My favorite is to “spice up” rather boring dishes like beans and rice and scrambled eggs. It makes leftovers suddenly taste like the best dish you’ve ever created just because you’re putting your delicious salsa on top.
Peruvian Salsa Criolla
- 2 red onions
- 2-3 Ají Amarillo peppers - or 2-3 tsp of aji amarillo paste
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 Tbsp flavorless oil - I use avocado oil
- 2 limes
- sea salt
- Peel and very finely slice red onions (you can also use a mandoline) and soak in cold water for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Make sure all onions are submerged in the water. Then drain well or spin dry to ensure most water is gone and doesn't water down your salsa later.
- Peel, deseed, and devein the ají amarillo peppers and then finely slice (or add 2-3 tsp of the paste to a large bowl).
- Add sliced onions, sliced ají, chopped cilantro, juice of both limes, and sea salt to a large bowl and mix well with your hands.
- Serve over anything and everything and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.