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16 Traditional Peruvian Dishes

Learn more about Peruvian cuisine with these foods.

Traveling the world can be exciting, but trying new foods can be even more exciting. Exploring different cultures through their food can be a delicious way to educate yourself.

Salted beef,lomo saltado ,Peruvian gastronomy with rice on a square dish

New tastes, different textures, and spices you have never heard of are some things you can look forward to. Maybe you are planning a trip to Peru or you are just curious about their foods, there are some foods that you must sample.

Peru’s cuisine offers an endless menu of tempting dishes, so I have compiled a list of the most popular Peruvian foods.

Popular Peruvian Food

In my opinion, the following sixteen dishes are the best options for someone trying Peruvian food for the first time. We will take a quick look at each.


Arroz con Pato

Arroz con pato is a Peruvian delight which means duck with rice. This dish is prevalent in northern Peru, specifically in the city of Chiclayo.

Arroz con pato is the perfect combination of native and foreign ingredients. Peruvians love preparing food with their native ducks, and this delicious dish includes rice, duck, cilantro, and peas.

People of Peru often use beer to marinate the duck.

The rice is seasoned with coriander giving it a flavor that complements the savory duck.

Peruvians serve this dish with the duck legs resting on the rice, or you can experiment with this recipe by substituting chicken for the duck.


Aji de Gallina

Aji de gallina is a Peruvian stew made with chicken. This delicious meal is considered comfort food and is often called a chicken chili.

Peruvians make a base by sautéeing red onion, garlic, and aji amarillo. Aji amarillo is a mildly spicy pepper.

They add poached poultry and stock and then thicken it with milk-soaked bread or evaporated milk, cheese, and groundnuts. The result is a creamy chicken stew that you will love.

Peruvians serve aji de gallina with boiled potatoes or white rice and garnish the dish with black olives and a hard-boiled egg.

Aji de gallina is a typical meal you will encounter if you visit Peru.


Lomo Saltado

Lomo saltado is a traditional Peruvian dish that echoes American cuisine.

This dish is a stir fry made with marinated strips of sirloin, onions, tomatoes, french fries, soy sauce, aji amarillo, rice, and vinegar.

Lomo saltado was born from the chifa tradition, which combines Peruvian and Chinese cuisine.

Lomo saltado is full of flavor and has just the right spice. You can experiment with the level of spice depending on your tastes.

The beauty of this dish is that it has endless variations that will all be delicious.

The stirfry can be used in sandwiches, stuff peppers, or fill empanadas. You can also substitute chicken for beef.


Rocoto Relleno

Rocoto relleno is a famous dish from Arequipa, a city in the south of Peru. It is a variety of stuffed peppers, and this dish takes considerable time to prepare but is well worth the wait.

Rocoto peppers are cooked in vinegar and water to remove as much spiciness as possible.

When the rocoto peppers are ready, they are stuffed with mincemeat and sprinkled with cheese. They are baked and then served whole.

There are many variations for stuffing the rocoto peppers, and the most popular is a mixture of beef, pork, onions, garlic, margarine, and pecans.

Stuffing the rocoto pepper with a hard-boiled egg is another popular way to serve them.


Ceviche

Peruvians make this delicacy with raw fish, usually sea bass, that has been cured in citric juices.

They seasoned it with aji, chili peppers, red onions, salt, and coriander. Peruvians usually serve this dish as an appetizer.

Ceviche is prepared fresh, and you must eat it immediately to avoid food poisoning.

They do not cook ceviche. The marination in a citric mixture causes the proteins to become denatured, making it appear cooked.

The citric mixture will not kill parasites or worms as cooking would. Ceviche is usually marinated for several hours before serving, and this dish is generally served with chunks of corn on the cob and slices of sweet potato.


Leche de Tigre

Leche de Tigre is a Peruvian beverage considered an appetizer, an aphrodisiac, and a cure for hangovers.

Peruvians often drink leche de tigre before their seafood entree. They make this beverage from the citrus mixture used for curing seafood, and the bubbly liquid can be made alone or made from marinade used to make ceviche.

There are many variations of this beverage. It can be spicy, creamy, acidic, savory, or fresh.

The drink can be made creamier by adding fish puree or milk to balance the acidity of the lime juice.

A leche de tigre is a wonderful way to prepare your palate for the seafood entree that is sure to follow.


Tacu Tacu

When it comes to using leftovers, Peru’s tacu tacu is one of the tastiest ways to clean out the refrigerator.

This dish uses leftover rice and beans and spices the dish with onion, garlic, spicy aji amarillo, and herbs. They fry the ingredients into a patty.

Peruvians serve tacu tacu with a fried egg, steak, fried plantain, and fried fish with a delicious onion relish served on the side.

You can easily make tacu tacu as a vegetarian meal by eliminating the egg and meat, and you will still have a great meal.

The spices and peppers will give this leftover masterpiece an appealing zest.


Pollo a la Brasa

Pollo a la brasa is a type of rotisserie chicken popular in Peru. It was once only served in high-end restaurants but has become a staple of Peruvian restaurants.

This tender chicken is cooked on a spit, and they season it with salt. Traditionally, the chicken is served with french fries, and people eat it with their fingers.

Today, Peruvians use additional spices to season the chicken, and people often use cutlery to eat it.

Pollo a la brasa is served with creamy sauces and most often with an aji salsa.

It is considered a traditional dish in Peru, and most Peruvians consume it at least three times a month.


Tiradito

Tiradito is a popular Peruvian dish of raw fish served in a spicy sauce. They cut tiradito into thin slices.

Japanese cuisine influences this recipe. Tiradito differs from ceviche because it is sauced immediately before serving.

They serve this meal with sweet potato and boiled corn. There are variations in the manner of serving. Sometimes, they serve it with scallops or a small amount of searing.

Tiradito also differs from ceviche because it usually contains no onions, and its sauce is traditionally made with ginger and garlic.

Tiradito can be made quickly; the trickiest part will be slicing the fish. If you enjoy sushi, you will love tiradito.


Anticuchos

Anticuchos are a popular part of Peruvian cuisine, and they are served in July during the celebration of Fiestas Patrias.

They prepare anticuchos with inexpensive meats that are grilled using a skewer.

You can find these skewers at street carts and street food stalls, and the meat is marinated in vinegar and spices. Anticuchos are made from any meat, but the most common is beef heart.

Anticuchos are often served with a boiled potato at the end of the skewer.

They prepare the skewers with beef, Vienna sausage, onions, peppers, carrots, and mushrooms and serve them alongside other grilled meat.


Causa

Causa limena is a typical Peruvian entree that is enjoyed by many. It is a casserole with yellow potatoes kneaded with crushed peppers as the bottom and top layers.

You can also use any other variety of potatoes: The ingredients include lemon, boiled egg, yellow chili pepper, and black olives.

They make the filling with white meat such as tuna, trout, chicken, shellfish, spider crab, or octopus.

They serve this dish with a light layer of mayonnaise. Instead of yellow potatoes, the top and bottom layer can include lima beans and yellow yucca. This dish is a tasty appetizer that Peruvians love.


Butifarra

A butifarra sandwich has become a staple of Peruvian culture, and it is the ultimate ham sandwich.

A butifarra sandwich consists of Peruvian country-style seasoned ham called Jamon del pais slathered with salsa Criolla, a sweet onion relish.

It is commonly served on rosetta bread, but French bread rolls accompany the dish well. Peruvians often serve this tasty sandwich at birthday parties.

Butifarra sandwiches have become so popular that street vendors and sandwich shops sell them at any time of the day.

Variations of garnishes are endless depending on your tastes, but radishes, lettuce, and chilies are the most popular. You can also add aji Amarillo sauce for extra spice.


Chupe de Camarones

Chupe de Camarones is a delicious Peruvian chowder like no other.

Each region of Peru has its variation of this chowder, and the most prevalent version is the shrimp chupe which is originally from Arequipa, the southern part of Peru.

Traditionally, this chowder was made from crayfish, but shrimp has become the favorite ingredient. 

This chowder is served in the winter and is offered as a first course. Fish stock is used as a base and then add shrimp.

Onions, carrots, bay leaf, peppercorn, and salt are added and left to simmer. The ingredient that sets this chowder apart is the rocoto chilies. These chilies are very hot, and they will create a very spicy chowder.


Mazamorra Morada

Mazamorra morada is a delicious Peruvian dessert. It translates to purple porridge or pudding, and it is like nothing you have ever seen or tasted before.

The main ingredient is maize morado or more commonly known as Peruvian purple corn.

Most people eat this dessert warm, but it is just as good when cold – many Peruvians pair their mazamorra morado with arroz con leche on a cold winter night.

The maiz morado gives this dessert its fabulous purple hue. Raisins, apricots, peaches, and prunes are the dried fruits used, and then fresh pineapple, peaches, and sour cherries are added to make this dessert unbelievably scrumptious. 

It’s a refreshing dish that you won’t soon forget after a nice hot day.


Cuy al Horno

Peruvians do not necessarily see guinea pigs as household pets; they are used to making one of Peru’s most popular meat dishes.

It is a popular meal served at holiday events, and they even have the National Day of Cuy, which is celebrated every year on the second Friday of October.

Each region of Peru has its way of preparing this traditional dish.

Cuy al horno, baked guinea pig, is most popular in the Cusco region. This popular meal is found in every tourist restaurant in the country.

The cuy, or guinea pig, is cleaned and seasoned with garlic, pepper, salt, cumin, oil, and Huacatay. It is marinated and then baked for one hour. 


Papas a la Huancaina

Papas a la Huancaina is a delicious Peruvian appetizer. They make this dish with boiled potatoes smothered in a spicy, creamy sauce of fresh white cheese, grilled aji Amarillo, red onion, and garlic. 

This appetizer has become a staple for everyday and holiday menus.

In the southern region of Peru, they serve it with a sauce flavored with black mint rather than huancaina sauce. Both variations are tasty.

Papas a la huancaina is typically served cold on lettuce leaves and topped with black olives, white corn kernels, and hard-boiled eggs.

This appetizer is a favorite for picnics because it can be served cold. 


Popular Peruvian Food

  1. Arroz con Palo
  2. Aji de Gallina
  3. Lomo Saltado
  4. Rocoto Relleno
  5. Ceviche
  6. Leche de Tigre
  7. Tacu Tacu
  8. Pollo a la Brasa
  9. Tiradito
  10. Anticuchos
  11. Causa
  12. Butifarra
  13. Chupe de Camarones
  14. Mazamorra Morada
  15. Cuy al Horno
  16. Papas a la Huancaina

Final Thoughts

Peru offers some of the most incredible dishes I have ever tried. You will find something to challenge your palate, from the sweetest desserts to unique meat and seafood entrees. 

The traditional ingredients and spices of Peru will surprise and delight you. Open up your world and challenge yourself to try some of the most amazing dishes. You will learn a great deal about yourself and a new culture.

Each of my choices for the best Peruvian foods is delicious and unique. One taste, and I guarantee you will find yourself a fan of Peruvian cuisine. 

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.