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Peruvian-Style Pasta with Creamy Pepper and Cheese Sauce

4 to 6 Servings

40 minutes

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Huancaína is a creamy, golden-toned sauce made by pureeing sautéed onion, queso fresco (a fresh, crumbly cheese with a mild, milky flavor), milk or cream, and ají amarillo (a variety of chili commonly used in Peruvian cooking). The sauce has myriad uses. Pairing it with boiled potatoes and hard-cooked eggs yields a popular Peruvian appetizer, papa a la huancaína. It’s also much loved over pasta, a dish known as huancaína con fideos. For our simplified version, instead of ají amarillo—which can be tricky to source—we use a combination of habanero chili for heat and yellow or orange bell peppers for sweetness and substance. The creamy, salty, spicy-sweet sauce on al dente noodles, garnished with briny black olives (botija olives are classic, but we use widely available Kalamatas instead) is addictive. For fans of spicy heat, leave some or all the seeds in the habanero.

4 to 6



Don’t boil the pasta until al dente. Drain the noodles when they’re a few minutes shy of al dente, as they will cook for a brief time directly in the sauce. Be sure to reserve some of the cooking water before draining the pasta.

40 minutes


  • 1

    pound fettuccine or linguine

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


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Joel P.
September 4, 2022
This was great - creamy with some pep, but not spicy. I of course didn't have a second yellow/orange bell pepper so I used a yellow and a red. And did not include the habanero seeds. It didn't need extra pasta water or salt for me.
Angie P.
January 15, 2024
Go to recipe for guests
I make this almost every month and when we have guests it's always one of my top three picks to serve. I make as written.
Jennifer B.
June 13, 2023
Fantastic fusion pasta
I don't know much about South American cooking, so thank milk street for making me try it. This pasta was sublime.
Frank E.

I have aji amarillo paste. I'm wondering what would change to this recipe if I incorporated it.

Bill H.

We made this and it definitely needs the olives and I would substitute tangier feta instead of queso fresco. Also would use far less pasta.

Jon S.

Deliciously odd. I just housed an unhealthy amount of this. Your eyes are telling you you're about to eat one thing and then the habanero hits.