South American Foods Online

The Chilean Pantry – Pilar’s Chilean Food & Garden

Traditional products and where to buy them. Replacements of Chilean ingredients living abroad.

If you have any information, leave it in the comments, and I will add it. This list of replacements for Chilean ingredients living abroad is updated periodically with your comments and suggestions. Thank you.

Queso Chanco: The closest thing is Havarti cheese or Muenster.
Chilean queso Chanco is a type of cheese native to the central region of Chile, named after the city of Chanco in the Maule Region. This semi-hard, artisanal cheese is made from cow’s milk and aged for three to six months.
Queso Chanco has a pale yellow color and a slightly salty taste, with a texture that melts in your mouth. The flavorful is buttery and clean milkiness. It is often used as a table cheese and is a popular ingredient in Chilean cuisine, particularly in sandwiches and empanadas.

Manjar or Dulce de Leche: the best and ideal thing is to buy the canned Dulce de Leche La Lechera brand. They sell it at Walmart (International aile), Safeway, Fiesta, and some Kroger.

Another alternative is to boil condensed milk. See details.

Argentinian Dulce de Leche, Mexican Cajeta, and Colombian Arequipe have other flavors that are different from what we are used to in Chile.

Manjar blanco is one made at home or artisanal. I linked my recipe for you

Homemade Dulce de Leche Manjar Blanco

Queso Fresco/Quesillo: Nothing compares to it. The closest thing is a creamy El Mexicano brand queso fresco. Mexican Panela is sometimes similar and Mexican Queso Fresco from some brands. Read the ingredients: buy only if they are milk, rennet, water, and salt.

Chilean queso fresco is a soft, white cheese commonly used in Chilean breakfast and Once. Made from cow’s milk, its texture is smooth and slightly moist. The flavor of queso fresco is mild, slightly salty, and tangy, with a fresh and clean taste.

You can make Chilean Queso Fresco at home with this recipe.

Ready cheese

Aliño Completo: You can’t buy here in the USA.

Aliño Completo is a seasoning blend that typically contains a mix of dried herbs, spices, and sometimes salt. The specific ingredients in Aliño Completo can vary depending on the region and the producer. Still, common elements include cumin, oregano ( Chilean oregano is similar to Mexican oregano, don’t replace Greek or Italian), black pepper, dry cilantro (not coriander), paprika, and garlic powder.
The name “aliño completo” literally translates to “complete seasoning.”
In Chile, Aliño Completo is used to season meats such as beef, pork, and chicken and to prepare stews, soups, and rice dishes.
The flavor of Aliño Completo is savory and slightly smoky. It adds depth and complexity to dishes and is essential to many traditional Chilean recipes.
Aliño Completo is widely available in Chilean grocery stores.

Chancaca: Goya panela is similar to Chilean chancaca and is easy to find in Latino supermarkets in the US.

Chancaca has a dark brown color and a rich, molasses-like flavor that is sweet and slightly bitter. It is often used to prepare traditional Chilean desserts, such as sopaipillas pasadas and mote con huesillos.
Chancaca is widely available in Chilean grocery stores. The most popular brand is Deliciosa.

Pan de Chancaca inside a pot with water.

Crema para cocinar o para Crema Chantilly: Using Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream is the same. Easy to find in the refrigerated section in all supermarkets.

Salchichón Cerveza: Beef salami from the Hebrew National brand. It has the same flavor.

Jamonada: jagdwurst or bierwurst, Shaller & Weber brand.

Zapallo Camote or Chilean winter squash: In the US, replace it with any winter squash. The sweetest is butternut, but canned pumpkin is also suitable for sopaipillas.

Kabocha or Hubbard squash can also be good replacements.

Chilean winter squash
Zapallo Amarillo

In Mexico, thank you, María José, use the yellow sweet potato (don’t use the Castilian squash for cazuela).

Ají Cristal or Ají Verde: The same variety does not exist in the USA, but the hot or sweet banana or Hungarian pepper is very similar.

Albahaca or basil: Only use sweet basil for Chilean dishes. Other basil are either too spicy or too strong.

Pisco: Usually, you can find Peruvian or Chilean pisco in the USA. Either of them will be delicious in your cocktail. I have tried Portón, Capel, and Catan (US brand women-owned, made in Chile) with good results.

Pisco is distilled from grapes. It’s hard liquor like tequila and vodka. In Chile and Peru, grapes were introduced by the Spaniards, and soon the production of Pisco and wines (of course) was started. There is an ongoing fight between Peru and Chile about the birthplace of Pisco. Pisco Sour, the cocktail, was invented in Lima, Perú.

Lucuma: on Amazon, they sell it in powder (search for lucuma powder). It can be added to whipped cream to make lucuma meringue cake and lucuma ice cream.

Lucuma is a fruit native to the Andean region of South America, particularly Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. It is also known as “eggfruit” due to its yellow, egg-shaped appearance. The fruit has a hard, greenish-brown outer shell; inside, the flesh is golden yellow and has a texture similar to a pumpkin.
Lucuma has a sweet, caramel-like flavor often compared to sweet potato or maple syrup. It is commonly used in desserts in its native countries, such as lucuma ice cream, cakes, and puddings.

Lucuma chilena

Porotos Granados: the ones sold dry are called cranberry beans, but be aware that they turn dark when cooked. I use white varieties like canned Cannellini Bean or Great Northern Bean.

Porotos-granados by Kane Sugiura

Choclo Humero or Chilean corn:

This variety of corn is widespread in Chile but very difficult to find in other countries. Humero corn has irregular kernels. If the rows of the grain are neat, it is not the correct one. The husk is hard. When you prick the corn, whitish milk comes out. Use fresh, don’t store it for more than ten days. The corn dries out and loses its consistency.

I recommend using frozen corn (yellow whole kernel) and adding cornmeal to thicken and improve the flavor while cooking the corn paste. The corn in the US is sweeter because it is a different variety. Cornmeal works better than cornstarch and polenta. Never add sugar to the mix.
Do not use the Peruvian giant frozen corn available at Latin supermarkets. It will not work here.

Langostinos: Buy frozen at Costco.

Machas are called Razor clams in English and are sometimes available on Amazon and in supermarkets in a can. Or frozen in Asian supermarkets called surf clams.

Chilean surf clam - Machas

Vinagre or vinegar: Buy a good red wine vinegar. Chileans don’t use white vinegar for traditional recipes.

Ají de color: Buy sweet paprika as a good replacement for your pantry.

Arroz grano largo: Basmati rice is the closest thing. Buy the ones that come in a plastic bucket. They are of better quality.

Mote: In Chile, it is pearl wheat, but the best replacement in flavor and texture in the US is pearl barley. Quaker brand is good, but cook al dente. Please don’t follow the package directions because it will be overcooked.


Chorizo for Choripan: In the US, look for Spanish chorizo, Argentinian chorizo, or Portuguese sausage, fresh or frozen. They are the most similar. For bread, the closest thing will be French bread or baguette.

Porotos verdes or Green beans (Chilean cut): It is called French-cut Green Beans. Available frozen.

Locos: In Asian supermarkets, there are frozen or canned called Abalones.

Chuchoca: It’s cornmeal in the US; buy a fine stone grind. Look at the reference photo. The coarsest grind is polenta.

Equivalent Cuts of meat (Chile/USA version). See more.


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