One of Peru’s most significant national treasures is its food. Packed with bold flavors, flavorful, yet delicate species, and a range of unique food combinations, Peruvian food has something for everyone.
Whether you like a hot or cold dinner, a crisp and clean or heavy and deep meal, or a unique blend of different cultures, there’s something you will love.
Using cooking techniques and ingredients from East Asia, Europe, and Africa, you can cook many of Peru’s unique dishes at home.
Today, we want to help you experience a piece of Peruvian cuisine by showing you 10 of the best Peruvian foods you need to try. We’ll show you what’s on offer, how to make each dish, and what you can expect.
Quick Answer: Peruvian Foods You Need To Try – Some of the best Peruvian foods include Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, Papas a la Huancaína, Ají de Gallina, Causa, Cuy, Rocoto Relleno, Arroz Con Pato, Pollo a la Brasa, and Anticuchos de Corazón.
Be sure to stick around if you want to learn more about these dishes including how to make each one at home!
Peruvian Foods – A Quick Comparison
|Recipe||Total Preparation Time|
|Lomo Saltado||40 minutes|
|Papas a la Huancaína||55 minutes|
|Aji de Gallina||60 minutes|
|Rocoto Relleno||45 minutes|
|Arroz Con Pato||10 hours|
|Pollo a la Brasa||14 hours|
|Anticuchos de Corazón||4 hours|
The first food on our list is actually the national dish, making it one of, if not the most popular dish in the country.
Not too dissimilar to the ceviche made in Mexico and Ecuador, this flavorful dish is full of unique flavor combinations that help create a wonderfully balanced meal.
Traditionally cooked and then served cold, the dish can be made with white fish, which tastes wonderful when marinated in a mixture containing lime juice, hot chilies, salt, and onion.
The addition of corn and sweet potatoes helps to balance the protein and add texture. For extra texture, corn kernels can be scattered around the plate.
Creating a taste sensation in your mouth, this dish is one of the easiest ways to experience authentic Peruvian food. Ceviche also goes well alongside a traditional Peruvian brandy known as Pisco.
Total calories: 403Kcal
Total preparation time: 59 minutes
Coming in a close second behind ceviche, we have lomo saltado. Lomo saltado is a beef stir-fry dish that mixes Peruvian cuisine with Chinese stir-fry.
Occasionally made from alpaca meat, you’ll most commonly find lomo saltado with tender strips of beef.
The strips of beef are then marinated in soy sauce and served with fresh onions, aji chilies, tomatoes, a mix of spices, rice, and French fries.
For the best flavors, cook the beef well and the onions and tomatoes until they start to form a gravy-like consistency.
Aside from delicious, yet simple flavors, the best thing about this dish is how it perfectly combines eastern and western cuisines to create something unique.
For those that like their food a little bit hotter, make sure you add plenty of chilies to give the dish that extra bit of heat.
Total calories: 873Kcal
Total preparation time: 40 minutes
Super simple to make, yet packed with flavor, papas a la Huancaína is a popular Peruvian dish that you can easily make at home.
Papas a la Huancaína is a simple dish that serves potatoes covered in a spicy, creamy cheese sauce. Atop the dish sits a hard-boiled egg to top things off.
Potatoes are a staple Peruvian food so you’ll find a lot of dishes like this throughout the country.
To unlock the best flavors, the golden potatoes are smothered in a unique puree that consists of queso fresco, garlic, evaporated milk, aji amarillo, and lime juice.
This not only adds bursts of flavor to the potato but also leaves the dish with a vibrant yellow color.
The dish may look a little soupy and messy, but don’t let that fool you. Papas a la Huancaína is spicy, fresh, and completely unique.
All of the ingredients help achieve the perfect balance between earthy, savory flavors, and fresh, tangy sensations.
Often served as a side dish, papas a la Huancaína makes a great appetizer too.
Total calories: 586Kcal
Total preparation time: 55 minutes
Aji de Gallina is a curry-styled dish that features shredded chicken and rice alongside a thick, creamy curry-like sauce.
To pull all the flavors together and balance the protein, ground walnuts, aji amarillo, and cheese are also added.
A great alternative for those that don’t like things too hot, this mild, yet flavorful dish only has a subtle touch of heat that helps take the creamy sauce to another level.
Often served with a chopped hard-boiled egg, olives, slices of potato, and rice, the end product is a dish that shares a similar consistency to chowder.
The only downside with this dish is how many calories it contains. Therefore, this might not be the best meal choice if you’re following a diet. If you’re not, you’re in for a real treat.
To make the dish even better and to balance out the dish’s sweetness, consider serving dinner with a glass of dry white wine.
Total calories: 843
Total preparation time: 60 minutes
A native Quchan dish, you’ll find causa in many different variations right the way across Peru.
While each variation tastes pretty great and offers something different, the most well-known variation is Causa Limeña.
Originating in Lima, this variation of causa can be served as a casserole, terrine, cake roll, or individual portions. No matter how you decide to make it, the dish is all about color.
Of course, flavors are key, but the main purpose of this dish is to create something bright and light.
The yellow Peruvian mashed potatoes used to make the dish help give the meal a bright yellow color. This mash is then placed on either side of your choice of meat. This can be salmon, tuna, or chicken.
In between each layer also lies hard-boiled eggs, olives, and avocado. While the dish already has plenty of flavors, combining it with oil, an aji amarillo sauce, and lime enhances flavors further.
This dish is always served cold.
Total calories: 386
Total preparation time: 60 minutes
The next food on our list may surprise you a bit, but it is the second most popular source of meat across the Andes. The alpaca is first. Bearing this in mind, you really need to give it a try.
Cuy is the Spanish word for a guinea pig. Some may be repulsed by the idea of eating a guinea pig, but the truth of the matter is that their meat is beautifully tender.
When a guinea pig is wood smoked, the flavors underneath the crispy skin are simply amazing.
Traditionally, guinea pigs are stuffed with a variety of local herbs, before they are slow-roasted over an open wood fire. They are then served with potatoes.
The inclusion of aji sauce adds a lovely touch of spice to the cuy.
Cuy can then be eaten with your hands, just like you would with fried chicken.
This probably isn’t a food you’ll be able to eat at home so maybe save this one for your visit to Peru.
Total calories: 918
Total preparation time: 5 hours
Rocoto Relleno is one of the best Peruvian foods to try if you’re a vegetarian. However, you must also be able to handle a lot of spice.
Despite having an appearance that is almost identical to sweet red bell peppers, the rocoto relleno is surprisingly hot.
To prepare rocoto relleno to perfection, take aji rocoto chilies and stuff them with garlic, onions, olives, herbs, raisins, and a mix of spices.
All you have to do then is top the chilies with queso fresco and bake them in a milk and egg custard.
Traditionally, ground beef is also added to the dish so if you eat meat add some in before baking.
Once cooked, you can expect to be left with a strongly flavored dish, that’s 10 times hotter than jalapeno peppers. Another excellent thing about this Peruvian classic is that it is super lean and low in calories.
Total calories: 665
Total preparation time: 45 minutes
The next Peruvian food you need to try is Arroz con pato. At first glance, this recipe seems to be a simple Spanish Criollo recipe.
However, in Peru, it’s a signature dish that comes in many variations.
Usually, the recipe features roast duck thigh or leg and rice. For the best results, recipes often recommend leaving the duck for up to 8 hours to marinate first, so if you have time, be sure to do so.
This will help to give the duck more flavor.
To further enhance the flavor of the dish, herbs, dark beer, and cilantro paste are usually added. This helps give the rice an earthy flavor. These flavors pair well with the duck’s tenderness and crispiness.
On the topic of pairing, you’ll find that this dish goes nicely with a pinot noir as it draws out the gamey, earthy flavors of the duck.
Total calories: 373
Total preparation time: 10 hours
Pollo a la Brasa is the most popular type of Peruvian food in the United States. We have a number of Peruvian rotisserie restaurants to thank for that.
Considered Peruano soul food, pollo a la Brasa is simply roasted chicken.
Despite sounding like a relatively simple dish, it has to be done perfectly for the best flavors to be produced. Chefs usually marinate the chicken in herbs and spices and garlic.
The chicken is then roasted over a spit until crispy. Roasting over hardwood tends to deliver the best results.
The end result is a wonderfully crispy roast chicken filled with flavor. To add to the earthy taste of the chicken, green huacatay is used. This is a black mint sauce.
To maximize flavors, pair your chicken with a golden lager. The best thing about this food is that it requires very little effort on your part.
Total calories: 1061
Total preparation time: 14 hours
The final Peruvian food on our list is Anticuchos de Corazón. Interestingly, despite its regular appearance, Anticuchos de Corazón is a dish made out of beef hearts.
While the thought of eating hearts might deter you, it is worth noting that heart meat is much leaner than filet mignon.
It also offers bolder flavors than ribeye and tastes pretty awesome when seared over an open flame. That’s not all though, beef heart is also considered a superfood.
To prepare beef hearts, chefs start by cutting them into two-inch cubes. The cubes are then marinated in garlic, cumin aji, and vinegar for a couple of hours.
Once marinated, the now flavorful cubes are grilled over charcoal.
Grilled like kebabs, the meat is finally served with sweet slices of onion and potato. A dash of lime is then added to add a hint of bitterness.
Total calories: 102
Total preparation time: 4 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Peruvians Eat For Breakfast?
A Peruvian breakfast is usually fairly simple. Most Peruvians start their day with a slice of fresh bread and their choice of butter, jam, ham, cheese, or avocado.
Having said that, there are some parts of Peru that eat a more hearty breakfast. One popular breakfast dish is chichrarón de chancho.
This dish consists of fried pork, bread, onion, chopped aji, sweet potato, or fried yuca.
Is Peruvian Cuisine The Best In The World?
Yes, Peruvian cuisine is the best in the world. In fact, Peru was elected the world’s best culinary destination for nine years in a row. With so much on offer, it’s really not hard to see why.
What Is Peru’s Most Popular Dish?
When it comes to Peru’s most popular dish, nothing compares to ceviche. Known globally as Peru’s sushi, ceviche is even considered the national dish of Peru.
It consists of diced fish, a lemon garnish, onions, rice, and a variety of other herbs and spices.
Is It Illegal To Eat A Guinea Pig?
The second most popular source of meat in Peru is guinea pig. Over 65 million guinea pigs are eaten every year in Peru alone.
Whilst this seems pretty strange to a lot of people, it is perfectly acceptable. They can even be eaten in other countries.
For example, eating guinea pigs in the United States is perfectly legal.
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