What Are Aji Dulces & How To Use Them

Ají dulce, ají cachucha, quechucha, ajicito, or ají gustoso as it is known throughout Latin America and the Caribbeans is a variety of sweet perennial peppers.

The pepper or chili is native to the Yucatan Peninsula of Central America and Caribbean islands.

It is most widely known in Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominion Republic, and Venezuela, where it refers to a specific native variety of Capsicum chinense that is related to the habanero but with a much milder, smoky flavor.

Where English is spoken in the Caribbean, the sweet chili is known as seasoning pepper and is essential to a variety of traditional dishes.

In Puerto Rico, where the chili is called Ají dulce, is an essential chili as well. It is used as a condiment of Puerto Rican cuisine called “sofrito.” Sofrito is the base of many prepared dishes.

The Meaning Of Aji Dulce Throughout Latin American

Throughout Latin America, ají means “chili pepper” and dulce means “sweet.”

Cachucha is a Latin American word for cap, so ají cachucha means “cap chili pepper” and refers to its cap-like shape.

Gustoso means tasty, so ají gustoso translates to “tasty chili pepper”.

Ajicito is the diminutive of ají and translates to “little chili pepper.”

The bottom line is, it’s a sweet chili pepper.

What A Aji Dulce Looks Like

Ají Dulce peppers widely vary in appearance depending on the climate, soil, and region they are grown in.

The pods can be squat, wrinkled, and hat-like, or they can be oblong to round in shape, averaging from 2-4 inches long and 1/2 inches to 3 inches wide.

When the peppers are young they have hues of light to dark green and as it matures, it transforms to orange-yellow, and then red.

Underneath the skin, the flesh matches the exterior part, depending on maturity.

They contain seeds that are flat, round and cream-colored.

Ají Dulce chile peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in the summer through fall.

If you can not find them in the produce section of your local supermarket, check with your local Hispanic markets.

During the summer you should be able to find them in local farmers markets.


Read And Learn More About Cooking With Chilies


How To Use Aji Dulce

Ají Dulce chile peppers have mild heat and are aromatic with a sweet, fruity, and smoky flavor.

The chile pepper is used both in raw and cooked applications. Which includes sautéing, roasting, and stewing.

Roasted Aji Dulce – Image Credit Bizcochos y Sancochos

They are most commonly chopped and used in sofrito. It is a savory sauce base made up of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro.

Sofrito – Image Credit: EATGORDAEAT

The peppers are also used to flavor sautéed vegetables, summer salads, meat dishes, stews, soups, rice, and bean dishes.

As they are a mild chili, they are used to flavor mild salsas, herbal vinegars, paprika, and sauces.

They pair well with potatoes, green lentils, olives, rice, beans and herbs such as cilantro, oregano, parsley, and rosemary.

Scramble Eggs With Aji Dulce Peppers

Ají Dulce chile peppers can also elevate your scrambled eggs. The peppers scramble well with eggs, Smoked Gouda cheese, bacon, shallots, bell pepper, and Anaheim chilies.


Read More About The Different Ways To Cook Eggs


Where To Find Aji Dulces

Ají Dulce chile peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in summer and fall months.

If you can not find them in the produce section of your local supermarket, check with your local Hispanic markets.

During the summer you should be able to find them in local farmers markets.

Pickle Aji Dulces Using This Recipe – Pickled Mini Sweet Peppers

And if you are an avid vegetable gardener, seeds can be found on Etsy, eBay or Amazon.

They will keep up to one week after harvest when stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator.


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