AlInAS/GaInAs superlattices (SLs) with barrier and well layers of various thicknesses were grown by organometallic vapor phase epitaxy to optimize growth of quantum cascade lasers (QCLs). High-resolution x-ray diffraction data of nominally lattice-matched SLs show a systematic shift toward more compressively strained SLs as the barrier/well layer thicknesses are decreased below about 10 nm. This shift is attributed to In surface segregation in both AlInAs and GaInAs. This shift is compensated for in the growth of ultra-thin layers in QCL structures. QCLs with tapered gain regions and emitting at 9.6 um are demonstrated with peak power as high as 5.3 W from one facet at 20 degrees C.