Aji Pineapple: Fresh & Fruity Medium-Heat Peruvian Chile

aji pineapple
Aji pineapple pepper originates from Peru and belongs to the capsicum baccatum species. With a Scoville heat range of 20,000 to 30,000 SHUs and a fruity flavor, this medium-heat pepper has been a staple in Peruvian cuisine for centuries.

What Are Aji Pineapple Peppers?

Aji pineapple peppers are of the Capsicum baccatum species. They’re native to Peru and have been used for centuries in Peruvian cuisine for their fruity flavor and medium heat. Aji means chili pepper in Spanish.

This chile has medium heat and is perfect for dishes where you want some spice and a fresh, fruity flavor without overpowering the other flavors in your meal.


Some growers describe the taste as fruity and sweet, like pineapples. The fruity, sweet flavor combined with the medium heat makes this chile a great addition to sweet and spicy dishes.


Aji pineapples are slim, elongated peppers that taper to a pointed end. They can grow two to three inches long. Like most peppers, they start green, turning bright yellow instead of red when they’re ripe.

Aji pineapple plant.
Aji pineapple plant.

How Hot Are Aji Pineapple Peppers?

With 20,000 to 30,000 SHUs, this chile is medium hot. This heat level is between the aji amarillo (30,000 to 50,000 SHUs) and serrano pepper, which has 10,000 to 20,000 SHUs.

The mild heat of the aji pineapple pepper makes it an excellent chile for beginners who want to experiment with cooking international spicy food cuisines with exotic peppers.

What To Do With Aji Pineapple

Aji pineapple peppers can make gorgeous bright yellow hot sauce, salsa, or simply add heat and flavor to your favorite recipes. Here are some ideas for how you can use them:

  • Add them to your favorite tropical salsa recipe. Salsa is great on everything from tacos to nachos, and it’s a delicious way to experiment with using your aji pineapple peppers in fruit-based salsas that go well with seafood and chicken.
  • Make a spicy hot sauce. Try making a hot sauce if you want something more concentrated than salsa. Use aji pineapple peppers and other ingredients like vinegar, onions, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Swap out the habanero for a couple of aji pineapple peppers in this yummy ají de piña (pineapple hot sauce) recipe.
  • Mix them into your favorite stir-fry. Stir-fries are quick and easy meals that you can make with just about anything, and they’re perfect for using up aji pineapple peppers for a spicy twist.
  • Grill them alongside other peppers, like bell peppers and jalapenos, for an easy side dish.
Aji pineapple salsa
Aji pineapple peppers pair well with tropical, fruit-based salsa and hot sauce.

Where To Buy Aji Pineapples

Aji pineapples are hardly grown in the United States, so finding them can be challenging. If you’re lucky enough to live near an Asian market or a Latin American grocery store, you may be able to find the peppers there.

Another option is to buy aji pineapple pepper seeds online and grow aji peppers indoors or in your backyard.

You can also buy other forms of aji pineapple, such as dried peppers or hot sauce.

Substitutes For Aji Pineapple

Various peppers can be used as substitutes for aji pineapple. Although these alternatives may have different flavor profiles, they will still work well in many recipes.

  • Serrano pepper: Almost as hot but with a sweet, smoky flavor.
  • Habanero pepper: Extra hot like the scotch bonnet but with a fruity flavor.
  • Aji charapitas: Also yellow Peruvian hot peppers with a fruity flavor, but these peppers are tiny and labor-intensive to use.
  • Cayenne pepper: Slightly hotter with a peppery taste.

Can You Grow Aji Pineapples?

Since fresh aji pineapple peppers are not readily available, the best way to enjoy them is to grow your own. This can be done indoors or in your backyard.

Start by purchasing seeds online or from your local nursery if available. Plant the seeds indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost in your area for optimal germination.

Ensure the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist but well-drained and ensure air is circulating the plant.

Once the plants have a few sets of true leaves, you can move them outdoors or to larger containers. If transplanting them outdoors, harden the plants before you move them. Hardening means exposing them to sunlight to adjust to their new environment.

Aji pineapple plants are prolific and can become heavy with fruit, so they may require support.

After 90 days, the peppers should be ready to harvest when they’re 2-3” and bright canary yellow.


Tabitha's passion for gardening didn't begin until she was in her twenties. She was always interested in plants, but it wasn't until she moved to a rural setting that she realized how much fun it could be. Peppers are part of her edible landscape, and she is constantly looking for new and interesting varieties to try. When she is not gardening, she spends her time reading and writing.

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