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Close up of potato egg salad with yellow pepper sauce in a white bowl.

Peruvian Potato Salad (papas a la Huancaina)

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5 from 3 reviews

This popular potato salad (papas a la Huancaina) is as delicious as it is colorful. Perfectly tender potatoes are combined with a creamy dressing made with spicy yellow pepper paste and queso fresco. It's served with hard-boiled eggs and black olives. 

  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

Units
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 6 tablespoons yellow pepper paste (homemade recipe)
  • Salt
  • 9 oz (250g) queso fresco (see notes below)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil + a few extra tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk or whole milk
  • 3-4 water crackers or saltines
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled (see notes below)
  • 2 pounds assorted small potatoes (skins left on)
  • 1/2 cup of black olives (I didn't use them, but they are traditional)
  • 1/2 a lime
  • Chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Instructions

  1. In a skillet, sautée onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, until starting to get golden.
  2. Add the pepper paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a blender, or use an immersion blender directly in the pan.
  4. Add queso fresco, milk, crackers, salt and pepper to taste, and ¼ cup olive oil. Blend until smooth. Add lime juice and check seasonings, adjusting if necessary.
  5. Add the rest of the olive oil if you want a thinner consistency.
  6. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a large pan of salted water. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, add the lime juice and a couple of tablespoons olive oil, toss and let cool.
  7. Potatoes and eggs can be made in advance if you want a cold salad.
  8. In a serving bowl put potatoes and add some of the pepper sauce. Toss.
  9. Add some more sauce, sprinkle with parsley and arrange the eggs, cut into quarters, around the edges of the bowl.
  10. Scatter olives on top if using.
  11. Serve with a bowl of extra sauce drizzled with olive oil if you want.

Notes

  • Potatoes: use small potatoes if you can find them. They have a better structure. But the potatoes you normally use for making your favorite potato salad will work.
  • Yellow pepper paste: you can make a batch and keep it in the fridge. Here's a link to a homemade recipe. Or you can buy aji amarillo sauce online since the Peruvian yellow peppers might be hard to find.
  • Black olives: do use them. They add to the final dish. 
  • Queso fresco: it should be somewhat crumbly. You can buy queso fresco online.
  • Substitutions: though they are not exactly the same, you can sub a mix of regular yellow pepper with habanero peppers (for heat, or any other spicy yellow pepper you like), and the queso fresco for firm ricotta with some cream cheese. It will work once you blend everything.
  • Evaporated milk: I use regular whole milk when I don't have evaporated. It works just fine.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: put eggs in regular tap water with a sprinkling of salt (this prevents the white from escaping in case of the eggshell breaking while cooking), and cook for 10 minutes exactly after it starts to boil. Drain, rinse in cold water for a few minutes and peel.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Peruvian

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4
  • Calories: 605
  • Sugar: 7.5 g
  • Sodium: 1263.1 mg
  • Fat: 35.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.5 g
  • Fiber: 6.3 g
  • Protein: 24.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 230 mg