Peru is famous for beautiful historical sites such as Machu Picchu, towering mountains, and the Amazon rainforest. It’s also famous for delicious cuisine that you can’t find anywhere else. Peruvian dishes feature spicy flavors and have something that everyone will love. Whether you adore seafood or prefer a good cut of beef, Peruvian cuisine will not disappoint.
Traditional Peruvian Food
When most people think of Peruvian food the traditional dishes like Ceviche and Guinea Pig come to mind. But there is so much more to Peruvian cooking that combines ingredients that were brought to the country by immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Africa over the years. This makes for a wild combination of flavors that makes Peruvian food unique.
If we’ve got your mouth watering…Good! We’ve put together a list of some of the best Peruvian food that will appeal to all types of food lovers. Whether you are looking for some incredible seafood dishes or something sweet, these are 20 Peruvian dishes you can try out at home or while you are in Peru. you have to try before you die.
1. Ceviche (Fish Cocktail)
If you’re looking for famous traditional Peruvian cuisine, you absolutely have to try Ceviche. Ceviche is one of the most famous types of food from Peru, and if you’re looking for traditional things to do in Peru, eating Ceviche should be at the top of your list.
Ceviche is essentially a dish made up of chunks of raw white fish. The chef cures the fish with lime juice and then tosses it in a blend of chopped onion, fresh cilantro, salt, and chili peppers. You’ll often find a plate of ceviche served up alongside sliced sweet potato. The sweetness of the vegetable helps balance out the salty taste of the fish. This is the perfect dish to make at home and this recipe tastes delicious!
2. Lomo Saltado (Chopped Steak)
Lomo Saltado is common at Peruvian meals. To make Lomo, Peruvians chop up onions, tomatoes, beef, and the famous ají Camarillo (Peruvian chili pepper) and combine them with soy sauce. This is one of those Peruvian dishes that is a perfect example of the influence of Chinese immigrants on the country. They mix these ingredients together in a rich stir fry.
Lomo Saltado is usually served on top of french fries. You’ll also enjoy a steaming hot bowl of white rice to accompany the dish. This dish is really easy to make at home. Check out how to make it with this recipe.
3. Pollo a La Brasa (Grilled Chicken)
Simple yet a staple of Peruvian cuisine, Polla a la Brasa is simply grilled chicken. To make the dish, chefs marinate a whole chicken in a mixture of chilis, cumin, and garlic. After roasting the meat over hot coals, the chef will slice it up and serve it with salad and french fries. If you really have an appetite you can even order an entire chicken! Read: 5 Authentic Cusco Restaurants Where you Can Eat Like a Local
4. Causa Rellena (Layered Potato Casserole)
Causa Rellena is a common Peruvian food and is very similar to a classic American potato salad. However, this salad has layers, making it a truly Instagram-worthy dish. Causa Rellena consists of mashed citrusy potatoes, avocado, chicken or tuna, and hard-boiled eggs. Many Peruvian chefs have fun getting creative with the toppings for this dish and introducing new ingredients.
5. Aji De Gallina (Spicy Chicken)
If you love spicy food you won’t want to miss out on aji de gallina. Aji de gallina is a spicy chicken dish made from yellow chili peppers, cheese, and sliced hen.
One fun fact about Peru is that chefs actually differentiate between chicken and hen. This dish uses hen, as opposed to chicken, which changes the texture of the dish. Aji de gallina is most commonly served with white rice. You may also enjoy potatoes alongside this dish. Either way, you’ll fall in love with the nutty and spicy flavors of aji de gallina.
6. Anticuchos (Beef Heart Kebabs)
If wandering the streets of Peru is how you plan to spend your days exploring this country, make sure to pick up some Anticuchos. Anticuchos are meat skewers made out of marinated beef hearts. To make the marinade, Peruvian cooks mix smoked chili peppers, lime, cumin, and garlic. The combination pairs perfectly with the meat and creates an aromatic flavor.
Anticuchos are most often sold as street food and so get served alone. However, vendors typically have fried plantain slices or yuca fries on offer if you want a side dish. No matter which you choose you’re sure to love this salty snack!
7. Seco De Carne (Beef Stew)
One of the simpler Peruvian dishes out there is Seco de Carne. This tasty stew combines a thick beef broth, generous cuts of meat, and a few traditional Andean ingredients that create a unique flavor. Fermented corn and cilantro bring out the flavor and transform this dish from an ordinary soup into a delicious meal. Peruvians serve this tasty meal with a side of rice.
8. Cuy Chactado (Fried Guinea Pig)
If you’re wanting to step out of your comfort zone and try something truly exotic, you simply have to give Cuy Chactado a try. This dish is essentially a plate of fried guinea pigs. (we couldn’t bring ourselves to try this while visiting Peru, they are just too darn cute – however, we saw them on the menu a lot when visiting Machu Picchu)
Cuy is a dish that Peruvians enjoy on special holidays. The meat is highly sought after and is a delicacy throughout the country. While the idea of eating guinea pigs might not seem appealing, it’s definitely worth a try. Guinea pig is low-fat meat that’s high in protein and packed with important nutrients.
9. Tiradito De Pescado (Sashimi)
Do you love sushi? If so, you’ll definitely want to order a plate of Tiradito de Pescado. Tiradito consists of thinly sliced raw fish. Since Peru borders the Pacific Ocean, there is plenty of fresh fish for use in this dish. To make tiradito, chefs create a special sauce using yellow chilis, garlic, and cilantro. Lime juice ties the sauce together and creates the perfect balance to the salty fish slices.
10. Rocoto Relleno (Stuffed Peppers)
Anyone who loves stuffed pepper should definitely give Rocoto Relleno a try. This dish is made out of spicy Peruvian peppers but is between 4 and 40 times spicier than jalapeños.
Despite the heat of the pepper, this dish is full of flavor. Each pepper is filled with vegetables, ground meat, and cheese that balances out the spicy pepper and satisfies your palette. This dish is easy to make at home especially with this recipe.
11. Arroz Con Mariscos (Rice With Shellfish)
Arroz con Mariscos is one of the most popular seafood dishes in Peru. This dish is quite similar to a traditional Spanish Paella but uses unique ingredients to create an explosion of flavor.
To make this dish, Peruvian chefs first whip up a batch of spiced rice. They then add peas, carrots, and red bell pepper to the mix. Finally, the chef adds shellfish such as clams, shrimp, octopus, mussels, scallops, and squid to the rice.
No matter what type of shellfish you enjoy eating, you’re sure to find it rearing its head in a plate of Arroz con Mariscos. And, you can really bring out the flavor of this dish by adding a pinch of parmesan cheese on top of your meal!
12. Pachamanca (Hot Stone Barbecue)
Pachamanca is a traditional Peruvian food that’s native to the Andes Mountain region. What’s different about this Peruvian cuisine is the way that chefs prepare the meal. Check out more of the Andes at: Machu Picchu Hiking Tips – How To Hike the Inca Trail
In a pachamanca, chefs mix meats, vegetables, and herbs together. Then, they dig a hole in the ground and fill it with hot stones. The chefs place the meat and vegetables in between the stones and then cover the hole with earth.
The chefs then leave the food to cook for several hours, taking in the smoke from the stones and enhancing the flavor. If you visit Peru, you can take part in your own Pachamanca experience in the country’s Sacred Valley.
13. Adobo (Pork Stew)
Adobo is a dish that hails from Arequipa and is simply a spicy pork stew. The dish is usually prepared for breakfast on Sunday morning and is made in a clay pot. Don’t be confused by other countries offering adobo. Since the word means “marinade,” you’ll find many dishes in other Latino countries serving their own style of this dish.
The Peruvian adobo is made of pork, anatto seeds, smoky chili pepper, and fermented corn. The result is a delicious stew that you won’t be able to get anywhere else!
14. Leche De Tigre (Tiger’s Milk)
If you already tried ceviche and loved it you’ll want to give Leche de Tigre a try. This dish is made out of the juice of shellfish combined with lime juice, shrimp, fish, and baked corn kernels. Some chefs will add extra cilantro and lime to the snack to bring out the flavors. Try dipping saltines or other crackers in the cocktail for a delectable afternoon pick-me-up!
Pro tip: Leche de Tigre is said to cure hangovers. If you spent last night drinking one too many pisco sours, you can get back on your A-game with some Leche de Tigre.
16. Jalea (Fried Fish)
Unlike the British dish, Jalea is not often served with potatoes. Instead, your fish will be accompanied by a salty pile of deep-fried yuca. If you choose to order a plate of Jalea at a restaurant, make sure to ask for the accompanying creole salsa. The salsa is made out of red onion, cilantro, and lime juice that pairs perfectly with salty fish.
15. Papa a La Huancaina (Yellow Potatoes)
Many popular Peruvian recipes make use of yellow chili and papa a la Huancaina is no different. This dish uses these chilis mixed with cheese to create a smooth and spicy sauce. The sauce is then poured over boiled potatoes. Chefs often top the dish with hardboiled eggs and serve it with a side of ceviche.
17. Tequeños (Cheese Wontons)
One of the most popular Peruvian appetizers is tequeños. These delicious, bite-sized treats are served in bars all over the country and are the perfect way to start any meal.
Tequeños are made out of fried wonton wrappers that are stuffed with soft white cheese. They’re usually served with a side of spicy salsa or guacamole for dipping.
Interestingly enough, tequeños originated in Venezuela. The version you’ll find in the country of origin is slightly different than the Peruvian style dish. Even if you’ve already had Venezuelan tequeños, it’s worth giving the ones from Peru a try.
18. Picarones (Sweet Potato Donuts)
We’ve covered a lot of main courses on this list, but let’s not forget dessert! Dessert is the most important part of the meal, and Peruvians really know how to come up with a good one.
Picarones are made out of a mixture of sweet potato and pumpkin. The vegetables are mashed together and used to create a smooth dough which cooks then deep fry. Chefs top Picarones with drizzled honey, creating a sweet dessert.
These treats are most commonly found sold along the side of the road by street vendors. Originally sold as more affordable donuts, Picarones are now a popular Peruvian dessert.
19. Alfajores (Caramel Sandwich Cookies)
Alfajores are one popular dessert that you can find not only in Peru but all over South America. These treats are made of thin shortbread sandwiches with sweet caramel sauce in the middle.
There are many different toppings that you can add to alfajores. Try topping them with powdered sugar, sprinkling them with coconut, dipping them in chocolate, or even frying them!
20. Mazamorra Morada and Arroz Con Leche (Purple Corn Jam and Rice Pudding)
Chica Morada is a sweet drink made out of quince, purple corn, lime, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, and apple skins. The result is a sweet purple drink that many Peruvians enjoy.
In fact, the drink was so popular that chefs turned it into a jam! To make the jam, they simply heat the beverage and mix it with cornstarch to solidify the liquid.
Many Peruvians enjoy pairing the jelly with Arroz con Leche, a traditional rice pudding. The fruit flavor of the drink brings out the cinnamon used in the pudding and makes for a delicious combination.
Take a Bite Out of Peruvian Food
Peruvian food is full of unique flavors that encompass the region’s unique vegetation. Peruvian meals are full of spices and unique combinations that create delightful platters that satisfy any cravings.
Are you wanting more information on traveling to Peru or exploring any other part of the world? Check out our other guides, travel tips, and nomadic living articles, and get into the spirit of adventure!
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