What Is the Peruvian Puff Pepper?

The Peruvian puff pepper, also called the aji pepper, is 4 to 6 inches in length and 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches wide. The pepper dates back to Peru’s Moche culture and is most commonly grown in the South American mountains, particularly Bolivia.

Aji peppers are normally red or orange, but can also be purple or yellow. About 40 pods grow on each pepper plant. The peppers have a number of flavor profiles. Aji limo has a lemon or lime taste and smells like citron. Aji amarillo has a fruity yet grassy taste, and aji panca has a smoky and fruity taste. The aji amarillo is the pepper most commonly cultivated and eaten in Peru. Peruvian puff peppers can also be grown in the southern region of the United States.

These peppers are not usually available at conventional grocery stores, but are sold at some specialty grocers in the U.S. Peruvian puff peppers are commonly used to make chimichurri, a South American condiment that is used widely in cuisine native to Uruguay and Argentina. Chimichurri is used as a marinade for fish, chicken and steaks. In addition to dried Peruvian puff pepper flakes, the sauce also contains oil, garlic, oregano and parsley.