5 Latin American Sauces That Will Punch Up Your Parrillada

Lead Photo: Sliced grilled barbecue beef steak with green chimichurri sauce. Photo: Getty Images
Sliced grilled barbecue beef steak with green chimichurri sauce. Photo: Getty Images
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There’s still plenty of grilling season left, but by this stage of summer you may just be finding yourself stuck in a BBQ rut. After all, even the most delicious grilled meats, chicken, fish and veggies can start to get tedious when you’re cooking them on repeat. Luckily, there’s a quick and easy solve that can help you breathe new life into your grilling routine: adding in some salsas, sauces and dips.

All across Latin America, you’ll find a huge variety of sauces that can help you punch up your parrillada, with ingredients ranging from smoky roasted chiles to pungent garlic, bright citrus, fresh herbs, creamy avocado and more. If you need a little inspiration, check out our round up of 5 simple, cookout-friendly sauces below.

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Where it’s eaten: Venezuela
Ingredients: Avocados, citrus juice or vinegar, parsley, garlic, and chile peppers.
Perfect for eating with: Grilled steaks, patacones.

The creamy, garlicky flavors of guasacaca are cut by the bright acid of citrus or vinegar, making it a well-balanced, addictive sauce for all your grilled meats. In the Dominican Republic, they eat a version of this sauce called wasakaka, which swaps out the avocado and leans in harder to the fresh chopped parsley. Check out recipes for both versions below.

Venezuelan Guasacaca.
Dominican Wasakaka.

Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

Where it’s eaten: Mexico
Ingredients: Tomatillos, serrano chiles, garlic, cilantro, onion, and salt.
Perfect for eating with: Carne asada

Tomatillos are delicious raw, but they take on a sweet, smoky flavor when cooked on the grill making for a mix of tart, sweet and spice in this salsa. Check out a recipe for grilled tomatillo salsa here.

Ají Verde

Where it’s eaten: Peru
Ingredients: Ají amarillo paste, jalapeños, cilantro, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, white vinegar, lime, mayonnaise and lime.
Perfect for eating with: Grilled chicken, salchipapas

This tangy sauce gets a medium hot kick from the jalapeños and the yellow capsicum in the ají amarillo paste. Typically served with pollo a la brasa, it’s also a great garnish for pretty much anything you throw on the grill. Peruvians can be guarded about their ají recipes, and there are many variations, but you can find one to try out here.


Where it’s eaten: Argentina, Uruguay
Ingredients: Garlic, red wine vinegar, salt, cilantro, parsley, oregano, olive oil, red chile.
Perfect for eating with: A bevy of grilled meats.

This tangy sauce is loaded with fresh herbs, which give its bright green color. It’s a must at any Argentine asado, and makes a delicious dressing for pretty much any cut of beef you may throw on the grill. Find a full recipe here.


Molho Apimentado

Where it’s eaten: Brazil
Ingredients: Onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic cloves, olive oil, sherry vinegar, malagueta peppers.
Perfect for eating with: Roasted meat.

This Brazilian hot pepper sauce is chunky and fresh, with a spicy punch from the malagueta pepper (which is quite hot – be warned). Try the recipe here.