Papa a la huancaina traditional peruvian dish with potato egg olives and cheesy sauce

Papa a la Huancaína – Potatoes in Spicy Cheese Sauce

Papa a la huancaína holds a special place in Peruvian cuisine, much like the dishes my mom used to make. It features potatoes served with hard-boiled eggs and black olives, but the true star is its sauce.

The huancaina sauce that lovingly coats the potatoes is cherished beyond this dish alone, often accompanying various other favorites. It’s a thick, creamy blend of cheese with a hint of spice, capturing the essence of Latin American flavors that reminds me of home cooking.

The recipe of Papa a la Huancaína – Potatoes in Spicy Cheese Sauce

Serving: 4 persons – Difficulty Level: Medium
Preparation Time: 15 min – Cook Time: 25 min


Potatoes and garnish

  • 4 large yellow potatoes (about 2 lbs or 900g)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • Black olives, pitted and halved
  • Fresh herbs (persley or chives), for decoration
  • Salt, to taste


  • 1 cup evaporated milk (240ml)
  • Queso fresco (or fresh farmer’s cheese) (200g)
  • 2 aji amarillo peppers, seeds removed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 saltine crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (60ml)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Begin by boiling the potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Once cooked, remove from heat, drain, and let them cool. Once cooled, slice them into 1/2-inch thick rounds.

  • For the Huancaína sauce: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, queso fresco, aji amarillo peppers, garlic cloves, and crushed saltine crackers. Blend until smooth.

  • While the blender is running, slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil until the sauce thickens and becomes creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • To assemble: Place the sliced potatoes on a serving plate. Generously pour the Huancaína sauce over the potatoes.

  • Garnish with slices of hard-boiled eggs, black olives, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

  • Serve immediately, preferably chilled, as a delightful appetizer or side dish.

  • Optional: For an added touch, you can sprinkle some paprika or chili powder on top for extra color and a hint of spice.

  • Enjoy your Papa a la Huancaína with a side of white rice or corn for a complete Peruvian experience!

  • Papa a la Huancaína is a classic Peruvian dish that showcases the rich flavors and textures of the country’s cuisine. The creamy and spicy Huancaína sauce is the star of this dish, and it pairs wonderfully with the starchy potatoes.

    FAQ about Papa a la Huancaína – Potatoes in Spicy Cheese Sauce

    Can I use a different type of pepper if I can’t find aji amarillo?

    Yes, you can substitute aji amarillo with other peppers such as jalapeños or habanero, though they will alter the flavor slightly. Jalapeños are milder and less fruity, while habanero offers a similar heat but more intensity. For an authentic taste, try to find frozen or jarred aji amarillo at Latin American grocery stores.

    What are the best types of potatoes for making Papa a la Huancaína?

    Yellow potatoes are traditionally used for their creamy texture and sweet flavor, which balance the spicy, tangy sauce. However, Yukon Gold or red potatoes can also be used as substitutes that hold up well during boiling and complement the sauce nicely.

    Is there a dairy-free alternative for the sauce?

    For a dairy-free version, you can use unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk as a substitute for evaporated milk and nutritional yeast or a dairy-free cheese alternative in place of queso fresco. This will maintain the creamy texture while adapting the sauce to dairy-free requirements.

    How long can you store the Huancaína sauce in the refrigerator?

    The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make sure it’s well sealed to maintain its freshness and prevent it from absorbing other flavors from the fridge.

    What are some common side dishes to serve with Papa a la Huancaína?

    This dish pairs well with a simple side of white rice or boiled corn to complement the creamy, spicy sauce. A fresh green salad or avocado slices can also balance the richness and add a fresh component to your meal.

    Can Papa a la Huancaína be made in advance for events?

    Yes, you can boil the potatoes and prepare the sauce a day ahead. Store them separately in the refrigerator and assemble just before serving. This not only saves time but also allows the flavors in the sauce to meld together more fully.

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