20 Delicious Peruvian Foods to Try (With Recipes)

The top culinary destination in the world, Peru offers an incredibly diverse array of dishes. Discover 20 delicious Peruvian foods to try while visiting or to make at home!
A square dish with ceviche, lettuce, sweet potato, and corn.
The best Peruvian food, ceviche. Photo by Pirata Studio Film on Unsplash.

Peruvian food is gaining popularity worldwide. From 2012 to 2019, the Andean country’s culinary feats earned Peru the honor of World’s Leading Culinary Destination, according to the World Travel Awards. This country’s offerings are being touted in cities from New York to London to Tokyo, and the list keeps growing.

It’s hard to say exactly what makes Peru’s cuisine so sought after and revered. It could be the diversity of ingredients from various regions – from coast to mountain to jungle. It could also stem from the indigenous way of life living off the fertile land for thousands of years. Or maybe it’s the blend of flavors brought here by generations of immigrants from around the world. Regardless, the combination is a delectable and palate-pleasing cuisine for the world to enjoy. Here is our list of the top 20 Peruvian foods you should try.

Table of Contents

  1. Ceviche (citrus cured raw fish)
  2. Lomo Saltado (beef stir-fry)
  3. Aji de Gallina (chicken stew in spicy sauce)
  4. Pollo a la Brasa (roasted chicken)
  5. Causa Rellena (layered potato salad)
  6. Cuy Chactado (fried guinea pig)
  7. Rocoto Relleno (stuffed spicy pepper)
  8. Seco de Carne (cilantro beef stew)
  9. Tiradito de Pescado (Peruvian sashimi)
  10. Anticuchos (grilled beef heart kebabs)
  11. Pachamanca (meats and vegetables slow-cooked underground)
  12. Arroz con Mariscos (seafood paella)
  13. Adobo (spicy marinated pork stew)
  14. Papa a la Huancaina (potato with a spicy cheese sauce)
  15. Leche de Tigre (ceviche marinade)
  16. Tequeños (fried cheese sticks)
  17. Jalea (fried fish and seafood)
  18. Alfajores (shortbread cookie sandwich)
  19. Mazamorra Morada and Arroz con Leche (mixed-fruit jelly with rice pudding)
  20. Picarones (pumpkin and sweet potato doughnuts)
  21. Bonus: Pisco Sour (national cocktail)

Last updated by Melissa Dreffs in September 2020.

1. Ceviche

The national dish of Peru, ceviche is generally considered the best Peruvian food worldwide. On the surface, it’s a simple recipe of raw fish marinated in citrus juice. However, the spices in the marinade and accompaniments make the dish complete. 

Raw white fish, such as sea bass, is cured in lime juice and mixed with thinly sliced red onion, chili peppers, and salt. Peruvian corn known as choclo and slices of sweet potato accompany the dish for even more flavor. The dish is fresh and acidic, with a spicy kick. Vegetarians and vegans in Peru can also appreciate the rich flavor in a mushroom variation. 

Not everyone can master it, but some of the best restaurants in Lima certainly have. No trip to Peru is complete without trying ceviche, so be sure to test it out while you’re here or in your favorite local Peruvian restaurant! 

Find out even more about ceviche and a recipe here.

A plate of ceviche with white fish, onions, corn kernels, lettuce, and sweet potato.

Ceviche, Peru’s national dish. Photo by Tanta Perú on Facebook.

2. Lomo Saltado

Chifa is a popular Peruvian cuisine that combines local and Chinese ingredients and techniques. This style of cooking dates back to the early 1900s, when a wave of Chinese immigrants came to Peru. The most popular chifa dish, lomo saltado, is a hearty crowd-pleaser packed full of flavor. 

Lomo saltado is a robust stir-fry concoction of beef, tomatoes, peppers, and onions cooked together in a pan with a soy sauce mixture. Most variations are served over French fries (or even add them to the stir fry) and are accompanied by white rice. Today, you can find this dish not only in chifa restaurants, but in many Peruvian restaurants across the country. 

Check out an authentic lomo saltado recipe here!

A mix of beef, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions with a side of white rice on a light pink plate.

Lomo saltado, a beef stir fry with fries and white rice. Photo by Tanta Perú on Facebook.

3. Aji de Gallina

Consisting of tender chicken stewed in a rich yellow chili pepper sauce, this dish is a Creole classic. Gallina actually means hen in Spanish, but most chefs use chicken in this dish. Besides the chicken, a key ingredient is the aji amarillo, or yellow chili pepper. This pepper gives the sauce its yellow color and adds an incredible kick of spice. Other ingredients like cheese and salted crackers tone down the spice and create a thick, creamy sauce. Like many other Peruvian dishes, aji de gallina pairs with potatoes and/or white rice.

This dish is cheesy, nutty, spicy, and absolutely delicious. It takes a while to prepare, but the results are well worth it. Check out our favorite aji de gallina recipe here.

A top Peruvian food, aji de gallina is a yellow chicken stew served with white rice.

Aji de gallina, a spicy chicken stew. Photo by Tanta Perú on Facebook.

4. Pollo a la Brasa

Peruvian style roasted chicken, known as pollo a la brasa, is incredibly popular in Peru. Combined with fries, salad, and delicious aji amarillo sauce, a pollo a la brasa meal is a family favorite. 

The key is marinating the chicken in soy sauce with red peppers, garlic, and cumin in order to give the meat and skin a smoky, salty taste. Chefs then cook the marinated chicken over hot coals and serve the chicken whole. The signature Peruvian recipe is used across the country, and it’s even starting to catch on outside of Peru as well.

While this dish is typically eaten at pollerias (chicken restaurants), you can achieve a similar flavor at home on the grill or in the oven.

A whole marinated chicken cooked in the Peruvian pollo a la brasa style.

Pollo a la brasa, Peruvian roast chicken. Image: pollo a la brasa by Krista, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

5. Causa Rellena

A typical food in Peru, causa rellena is similar to a potato salad. Layers of spicy, citrusy mashed potatoes, avocado, and chicken or tuna are topped with hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, or sauces. The dish is served cold, making it a great option for warm summer days. 

Chefs often get creative with the ingredients and toppings, but what makes a causa truly a causa is the layered presentation and use of Peruvian potatoes. Peru is home to thousands of potato varieties that come in all sorts of colors, shapes, sizes, and even flavors. How many will you try? 

Check out this delicious causa rellena recipe and try making it at home!

Causa rellena with layers of mashed potato, tomato, avocado, egg, and chicken salad.

Causa rellena, a layered potato salad. Photo by Tanta Perú on Facebook.

6. Cuy Chactado

Cuy chactado is a fried guinea pig dish common in the Andes. While you might not be able (or willing) to try making this at home, many restaurants in Peru, especially in the Cusco region, serve this delicacy. For many Peruvians, guinea pigs are a luxury that they only have on birthdays or holidays. 

Although guinea pig is not a common source of meat globally, Peruvians have eaten cuy for hundreds of years. High in protein and low in fat and cholesterol, guinea pig meat is generally considered a healthy meat. Could this be the next big thing to hit the western world? Only time will tell.

A whole fried guinea pig served with potatoes and salad is a Peruvian delicacy.

Cuy chactado, a fried guinea pig served with potatoes and salad. Image: Peru 099 by Los viajes del Cangrejo, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

7. Rocoto Relleno

This dish made famous in Arequipa, Peru is not your average stuffed pepper. Instead of bell peppers, the Peruvian recipe calls for a spicy rocoto pepper, truly giving it an extra kick. Rocoto peppers are 4 to 40 times hotter than jalapeños, so only those with a high spice tolerance should give this dish a go.

Filled with cheese, ground beef, and vegetables, the stuffing is a delight that cuts through the spicy pepper on the outside. Learn more about the rocoto relleno and other top foods in Arequipa here.

A rocoto red pepper stuffed with cheese, meat, and vegetables with a piece of potato casserole as the side.

Rocoto relleno, a stuffed spicy pepper and pastel de papa, a potato casserole. Photo by Clotina on pixabay.

8. Seco de Carne

A favorite in Peruvian kitchens, seco de carne is a hearty beef stew. However, several ingredients differentiate it from other beef stews you might be more accustomed to. A fermented corn beverage, chicha de jora, and cilantro are two key ingredients in this Peruvian stew. Andean people have used chicha de jora for hundreds of years. Used similarly to cooking wine, the liquid adds a unique acidic twist to the stew. 

This stew paired with beans and white rice is a real crowd-pleaser. To make this at home, check out this seco de carne recipe, replacing some of the local ingredients with items found internationally.

A plate with seco de carne beef stew, white rice, and tan Canary beans.

Seco de carne, a cilantro beef stew, with rice and beans. Photo by Tanta Perú on Facebook.

9. Tiradito de Pescado

Nikkei cuisine combines two of the world’s best cuisines, Peruvian and Japanese, into one. Tiradito de pescado, or simply tiradito, is the flagship dish of Nikkei cuisine in Peru. Raw fish is sliced into very thin strips, like Japanese sashimi. The type of fish varies, but with Peru’s vast coastline, there is no shortage of fresh fish year round. 

A spicy, citrusy sauce brings out the flavor of the fish. Lime and the Peruvian aji amarillo chili pepper combine with garlic and cilantro for a simple, light sauce. Perfect for a warm summer day, be sure to order tiradito when you visit Lima. Or, for a taste of Peruvian summer, try to make this tiradito recipe at home!

A plate of thinly slices fish with an orange citrus sauce and shrimp on top.

Tiradito, a sashimi-like Peruvian food. Photo by ciclaar on pixabay.

10. Anticuchos

These skewered meat kebabs are a typical Peruvian street food. Traditionally made with marinated beef hearts, some chefs now use more conventional cuts of beef or chicken. However, the standard and what you can find on many street corners are beef heart anticuchos

While the meat itself is tender and delicious, what makes this dish stand out is the marinade and serving sauces. The marinade uses many ingredients, but the main flavors are garlic, aji panca smoky chili pepper, cumin, and sometimes lime juice. There might be several options for sauces, but you cannot go wrong with a spicy rocoto sauce on top.

Prepare this dish the traditional way using beef hearts following this recipe or using sirloin following this recipe.

A top Peruvian street food, anticuchos are beef heart kebabs.

Anticuchos, beef heart skewers with corn, plantains, and dipping sauces. Image: Beef heart anticuchos and pisco sour at Panchita, Miraflores by Bex Walton, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

11. Pachamanca

Not to be confused with Pachamama, or mother earth in Quechua, pachamanca is a traditional Peruvian dish commonly found in the Andes. A variety of meats and vegetables can be used, but the spices and cooking method are what make this dish unique. Peruvian spices and local herbs like huacatay, or black mint, first marinate the meat and vegetables. Then, the entire mixture is cooked underground, in an “earth oven” or “earth pot,” the literal translation of pachamanca from Quechua

Following the traditional preparation, you must dig a hole in the ground and heat plenty of stones over a fire. The marinated meat and vegetables will cook in between layers of hot stones in the hole in the ground. A cloth covers the food and then grass and earth go on top, insulating and sealing the oven. The food then takes several hours to cook.

Today, you can also achieve the same flavors on a stovetop, but the traditional method is an unforgettable experience. Consider participating in a traditional pachamanca experience in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

A plate full of various meats and vegetables, typical of a pachamanca meal.

A plate of pachamanca. Image: Pachamanca by Taco Witte, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

12. Arroz con Mariscos

One of the top Peruvian seafood dishes, arroz con mariscos literally translates to rice with seafood. However, this translation does not do this dish justice. Similar to the Spanish paella, arroz con mariscos is a complex explosion of flavors. Combining two of Peru’s favorite things, rice and seafood, this dish is popular year-round. 

Shrimp, scallop, and squid are the most common seafood in this dish, but some recipes use clam, mussel, or octopus. Seasoned rice, combined with peas, carrots, and red bell pepper, complements the seafood, and a pinch of parmesan cheese on top adds even more flavor. 

Seafood lovers can make this dish at home or try it out at some of the top restaurants along Peru’s coast.

A bowl of arroz con mariscos with rice, peas, red pepper, and seafood, similar to paella.

Arroz con mariscos, the Peruvian paella. Photo by Tanta Perú on Facebook.

13. Adobo

Another favorite from Arequipa, adobo is a spicy, marinated pork stew. Many people eat this dish for breakfast, typically on Sundays. Traditionally, the marinated pork cooks in a clay pot until it is tender. When visiting Arequipa, head to the top restaurants to try authentic Peruvian adobo at its source.

The word adobo essentially translates to marinade. Many countries like the Philippines, Mexico, and Puerto Rico also have dishes known as adobo. However, the meat and the ingredients used in the marinade vary between countries. In Peru, the meat is always pork and the marinade uses chicha de jora (a fermented corn beverage), aji panca (a smoky chili pepper), and achiote (annatto seeds). 

Check out a Peruvian adobo recipe here.

A pork stew known as adobo is a common food in the Arequipa region of Peru.

Adobo, a spicy pork stew from Arequipa. Photo by robcarranza on pixabay.

14. Papa a la Huancaina

As you may have noticed, many Peruvian recipes call for aji amarillo, a yellow chili pepper. This pepper has a decent level of spice, but is not overpowering. From sauces to stews, this pepper is a key flavor in Peruvian cuisine. One of the best Peruvian potato dishes, papa a la huancaina, also uses this chili as a key ingredient. 

Boiled potatoes are covered in an aji amarillo and cheese sauce known as huancaina. A rather simple dish to make, papa a la huancaina is a favorite summertime snack or side dish with ceviche. Try making this sauce yourself with this simple recipe. Pour it over boiled potatoes and enjoy!

A white plate with the Peruvian papa a la huancaina, a potato and spicy cheese sauce dish.

Papa a la huancaina, boiled potatoes with a huancaina sauce. Image: urubamba papas a la huacaina by Krista, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

15. Leche de Tigre

One of the best parts about ceviche is the rich marinade that gives the fish its intense flavor. So why not take that marinade and turn it into a snack of its own? Chefs add shrimp, fish, and baked corn kernels to a cocktail glass and top it off with the liquid ceviche marinade to make a dish known as leche de tigre

Literally translating to “tiger’s milk,” leche de tigre is white, but it is not milk. The color and intense flavor comes from lime juice. Chopped chili peppers, red onion, and cilantro also add to the taste of this Peruvian food. 

A popular hangover cure, learn more about leche de tigre here.

A cup of a milky liquid with shrimp, corn, cilantro, and lime on top.

Leche de tigre, a dish based on the ceviche marinade. Image: Leche de Tigre (tiger’s milk) by Carlos Varela, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

16. Tequeños

Tequeños are among the most popular Peruvian appetizers. Different from the original Venezuelan tequeños, the Peruvian version uses wonton wrappers as the shell and fresh white cheese as the filling. Dip these in guacamole or spicy aji sauce and you will not be disappointed! 

Popular at bars in Lima and across Peru, these are the perfect snack to have with a beer or cocktail. Plus, they are easy to make at home! Check out a Peruvian tequeño and guacamole recipe here.

A fried cheese stick dipped in a yellow pepper sauce.

Peruvian tequeños, fried cheese sticks. Photo by Teque Teque Perú on Facebook.

17. Jalea 

The Peruvian version of fish and chips, jalea is one of Peru’s favorite seafood dishes. Try the jalea mixta for a variety of fried fish and seafood or jalea de pescado for just fried fish. Instead of potatoes, most jaleas include fried yuca, also known as cassava.

Jalea typically has salsa criolla on top, a mix of red onion, chili peppers, and cilantro in lime juice. The citrusy, fresh flavor pairs well with the deep-fried fish. Popular along the Peruvian coast, especially in the north, fish and seafood lovers can find this at many restaurants. Alternatively, try this recipe for a rich taste of Peruvian cooking at home.

A platter of fried fish, fried yuca, and onion salad known as jalea.

Jalea de pescado, the Peruvian fish and chips.

18. Alfajores

Alfajores are a rich dessert with manjar blanco, a caramelized cream, stuffed between two shortbread cookies. A sprinkling of powdered sugar on top adds even more sweetness to this delightful cookie. 

While alfajores are popular across Latin America, each country adds its own twist that differentiates theirs. Even different cities and regions produce their own cookie sandwich known as alfajor. Dipped in chocolate, topped with shredded coconut, fried, or with a drizzle of honey, there are plenty of variations to discover while exploring South America and especially Peru. 

Read more about alfajores here and try making these cookies at home!

Two sandwich cookies with a caramelized cream filling and powdered sugar on top.

Alfajores, a shortbread cookie sandwich. Photo by La Casa del Alfajor on Facebook.

19. Mazamorra Morada and Arroz con Leche

Purple corn, a superfood, combines with quince, pineapple, apple skin, cinnamon, cloves, lime juice, and sugar to create a popular beverage known as chicha morada. This liquid is warmed up again, adding cornstarch, dried prunes, apricots, and/or cherries to turn the liquid into a fruit jelly known as mazamorra morada

Street vendors and restaurants often pair the fruity flavor with a rich, creamy arroz con leche, or rice pudding. Besides white rice, Peruvian rice pudding includes condensed milk, egg yolks, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little butter. While you can have just one or the other, the combination of mazamorra morada and arroz con leche creates a delectable, unique flavor.

A clear bowl full of a purple Peruvian fruit jelly known as mazamorra morada.

Mazamorra morada, a fruit jelly with cinnamon on top. Image: Lima (Perú) | Restaurante El Embrujo | Mazamorro morada by Mover el Bigote, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

20. Picarones

Who knew that a pumpkin and sweet potato could make such a delicious dessert? This Peruvian doughnut is another street-vendor staple that dates far back in Peruvian history. Originally created as a cheaper version of a classic doughnut, picarones have distinguished themselves and garnered popularity of their own. 

With a drizzle of anise-infused honey on top, picarones are a delight any time of year. Find tasty picarones in Parque Kennedy in Lima or Picarones Ruinas, right in the heart of Cusco. 

Do you have a sweet tooth? Discover 15 tasty Peruvian dessert recipes here.

Wooden sticks with many brown doughnuts known as picarones sit above a fryer.

Picarones, doughnuts made from pumpkin and sweet potato flour. Image: IMG_1521 by Renzo Vallejo, used under CC BY 2.0 / Compressed from original

Bonus: Pisco Sour

Finally, every good Peruvian meal should be topped off with a Pisco sour. Pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy, is the key ingredient in this tasty concoction. Mixed with lime juice, egg whites, bitters, and ice cubes, this is the national cocktail of Peru. 

Served at all bars and nearly all restaurants, you will have plenty of chances to try this on your next trip. Alternatively, take a look at this Pisco sour recipe and try making it yourself. This rich cocktail is sure to impress!

Two glasses with Peru's national drink, the Pisco sour, a yellow frothy cocktail.

Pisco sour, the national cocktail of Peru. Image: Pisco Sour – La Mar, Lima by Cathrine Lindblom Gunasekara, used under CC BY 2.0 /Compressed from original

There are so many more incredible Peruvian foods to discover, from cau cau to chaufa, and juane to papa rellena. Discover even more about food in Peru with our Peruvian food glossary, covering the common cuisines, local ingredients, and even more tasty dishes. 

Ready to experience all that Peru has to offer and try these delicious Peruvian foods in their homeland? Chat with an expert Travel Advisor at Peru for Less and start planning your own dream vacation to Peru.