salsa criolla

As most salsas are, Salsa Criolla (Peruvian Red Onion Relish) is very simple to make, but vastly versatile.

A popular side dish in Peru, this onion relish is light, crunchy and bright, made with hot peppers to give it some heat. How many peppers you add depends on how much you like spicy food. In Peru they use Aji Amarillo peppers, but Serrano or Jalapeño are good substitutes.

It can be used to top, and mix with, almost anything and is, in my opinion, indispensable in a roast beef sandwich. We enjoy this salsa mixed into our Tuna White Bean Salad.

Salsa Criolla

Salsa Criolla is also known as Peruvian Red Onion Relish. It's a delicious condiment that pairs nicely with tamales, arroz con pollo, grilled steak, chicken or fish, on top of ceviche or even in sandwiches.


  • 2 medium to large red onions, julienned
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1-2 chile peppers, minced (Serrano or Jalapeño make good substitutes)


  • Boil some water. In a colander or sieve, quickly pour boiling water over the sliced red onions. Drain well.
  • Combine with the rest of the ingredients and allow to marinate for several hours, pickling the onions, essentially.
  • When the onions have achieved the desired flavour, you can drain the marinade off to keep the relish crunchier. Otherwise, it will continue to pickle and get softer as a result, which is fine too.