Did you know that the city of Lima in Peru is the culinary capital of South America?
In fact, according to the BBC, Peru is one of the top destinations for foodies to visit in 2019!
Unfortunately for most, a trip to Peru is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And many will never get the chance to explore the wonders of Machu Picchu and the Amazon rainforest.But, does that mean you have to miss out on all the taste-bud tingling Peruvian cuisine?
No! You can get authentic Peruvian food all over the globe, even in the US where Peruvian restaurants have sprouted up all over the country.
In fact, an increasingly popular search term on Google is, “Peruvian food near me“.
So, what are you waiting for?
Check out this list of best Peruvian foods below and you’ll be ready for the ultimate Peru vacation…or your US foodie staycation!
What Is Peruvian Food – Peru Food Facts
Before we dig into some mouth-watering Peruvian dishes, let’s take a look at some fascinating Peru food facts.
As with most countries colonized in the past, Peruvian cuisine is a perfect reflection of the countries history. You will find that most Peruvian recipes are a fusion of native foods and immigrant cuisine.
Many influences come from Asia, West Africa, and Europe.
The staples of a typical Peruvian food diet are:
- And a lot of meat (from Peruvian chicken to Guinea Pigs!)
If you go into any Peruvian restaurant, first they will typically serve soup. This soup will contain quinoa, corn, vegetables, and meat.
If soup isn’t the order of the day, they may serve Peruvian roasted corn kernels with a variety of creamy and spicy sauces, even including soy sauce.
After, they will serve your main course. This usually contains some kind of rice and potatoes. And don’t forget the meat such as Peruvian chicken or seafood!
Then they will give you a small dessert. Peruvian cuisine is more famous for its main meals than its desserts. But they do have some sweet specialties that are to die for.
Best Peruvian Foods
Now you know your Peruvian food facts, it’s time to dig into the main course.
Check out this Peruvian food list for the tastiest Peru food recipes you can find.
Ceviche is Peru’s national dish. The name actually means “fresh fish” in Quechua. Depending on the chef and location, there are different varieties of fish used in the recipe.
This zesty treat is a fresh fish dish that is super healthy. It’s made out of uncooked fish that’s marinated in lemon juice. Then it’s sprinkled with aji pepper and red onion.
The best places to eat Ceviche in Peru are near the coastline. Although wherever you go around Peru you’ll find a different version of this citrus dish.
You can find it in street food variations or delicious fine dining options.
2. Lomo Saltado
This fusion of Chinese cuisine and Peru food recipes is a wildly popular meat dish. Many Chinese immigrants arrived in Peru in the 1800s. They taught natives new cooking methods, including how to flame-cook (flambé) their food.
Lomo Saltado contains a meaty serving of stir-fried beef, red onions, peppers, tomatoes, and soy sauce. It is often served with fluffy white rice or potatoes.
The smoky taste gives Lomo Saltado a BBQ sensation. But it’s the mixture of Peruvian spices and Chinese ingredients that create such a unique flavor.
3. Chupe de Camarones
Chupe de Camarones is a prawn chowder that is both aromatic and full of superfoods. When you think of chowder, creamy seafood comes to mind. Chupe de Camarones is both creamy, chunky, and crunchy!
The mixture includes prawns, cumin, tomatoes, broad beans, corn, garlic, onions, cream, and a poached egg. The hearty seafood stew is protein-rich and gives off divine garlic aromas.
It’s traditionally made with prawns. But many use chicken, beef, lamb, shellfish or only vegetables instead.
4. Cuy al Horno
Like eating chicken feet in China or frogs legs in France, Cuy al Horno is Peru’s bizarre delicacy.
Out of all the meats on this Peruvian food list, this one may be the most controversial. Cuy al Horno is basically a roast guinea pig!
They bake the guinea pig on a spit and serve it whole. Then they stuff the meat with a variety of herbs. And it’s usually served with potatoes and vegetables.
In Peru, because they serve the roasted guinea pig whole, it’s pretty much impossible to eat with a knife and fork. You can’t be dainty and sophisticated, use your fingers instead. That’s what most of the locals do.
Some people might not like the idea of eating a guinea pig or even alpaca meat, but it’s commonplace in Peru. It’s even becoming more popular in the US for its taste and ecological benefits.
Tiradito is another fusion dish from Asia, but this time it has Japanese roots. This unique Nikkei cuisine (Peru and Japan fusion) created this fabulous seafood dish.
Tiradito is like Ceviche, but it has a more delicate taste.
Instead of overwhelming the fish, they marinate the delicate thin cuts of raw fish in Tigers Milk. Tigers milk is a Unique Peruvian marinade. It is a sauce made up of lime juice, sea salt, sliced onion, and chili.
This zesty treat has a delicate taste that brings out the natural flavors of the seafood.
6. Rocoto Relleno
Are you ready for some spice in your life? While chili is a common ingredient in most Peruvian food recipes, Rocoto Relleno is well-known for its fiery taste.
Rocoto Relleno is a spicy red bell pepper stuffed with vegetables, sautéed meat, and topped with a lot of cheese.
Then it’s baked to perfection. Some opt for a boiled egg instead of meat for a vegetarian option.
If you want the flavors without the spice, you can pre-boil the pepper in water and vinegar to reduce the firey taste.
7. Aji de Gallina
Aji de Gallina is a traditional Peruvian home cooked dish. If you meet anyone in Peru, they’ll tell you that their Mom or Grandma makes the best Aji de Gallina ever.
The golden-hued dish is a rich stew made with shredded chicken.
The sauce is creamy with walnuts, pecans, cheese, garlic, onion, and peruvian yellow pepper. Although creamy, many add chili and other spices to add some oomph to the mild dish.
It is usually served with fluffy white rice, boiled eggs, and potatoes. Others traditionally mop it up with bread. Especially in those cold winter months.
Restaurant recipes vary, but the best Aji de Gallina you’ll find is in peoples homes, cooked by abuela of course!
8. Jalea de Mariscos
If you want a big old plate of fried seafood, Jalea de Mariscos is the meal for you. This dish is actually a take on the classic Italian dish, Fritto Misto.
The Peruvian version is a selection of bite-size pieces of fish dipped in batter and deep-fried. Some use vegetable or meat instead of fish.
The deep-fried delights are usually served with Salsa Criolla, which is a treat in itself.
Salso Criolla is onion, coriander, tomato, and lime mixed with Peruvian chilis. This fresh and healthy salsa is the perfect side to the deep-fried guilty pleasure.
9. Anticuchos de Corazon
Antichuchos de Corazon, or “Beef Heart Skewers” is similar to a late night kebab on a night out.
Traditionally, the Antichuchos recipe includes a beef heart. This dates back to Spanish colonial times when the Spanish would take the best portions of the cow and leave the organs for the locals.
Antichuchos are cow’s heart marinated in vinegar and hot spices, then cooked on skewers in a charcoal oven. The meat alternates with potatoes and onion on the skewer and drizzled with lime.
Many today prefer the delicacy made from a lean cut of meat instead of the organs. Whichever cut you prefer, they will cook the meat medium rare.
10. Arroz con Pato
The literal translation of this dish is “rice with duck”. This is a typical Spanish Criollo dish that’s eaten widely throughout Peru.
As the name suggests, this filling dish is mostly made up of duck and rice, but there is more to it.
They mix the rice with beer and herbs (mainly cilantro) which makes it an outer-worldly green color. Then they roast the duck to crispy perfection.
11. Pollo a la Brasa
If roast Guinea pigs don’t get your tastebuds tingling, maybe a roasted Peruvian chicken will instead!
They marinate the chicken in cumin, garlic, and red peppers. Then they roast the Peruvian chicken on a rotisserie to achieve a perfectly crispy skin. They serve the dish with french fries and salad.
Pollo a la Brasa is easily the most traditional Peruvian food you’ll find across the country.
Add an Inca Kola to your Peruvian chicken dish and your ready to apply for citizenship.
12. Tacu Tacu
Tacu Tacu is the Peruvian version of bubble and squeak. This rice and beans dish is usually served with beef steak and egg. It’s a traditional home-cooked meal in Peru.
But this traditional home-cooked meal has many tasty additions when served in gourmet restaurants. Many chefs add asparagus, Amarillo chili, leeks and even sweet mango to the mix. Some add avocado too.
Causa is like a cold Peruvian potato cake. That may not sound very appetizing, but this cool salad-like dish will blow your taste buds off.
The dish features a perfect blend of meat, potatoes, eggs, celery, olives, and the superfood, avocado.
They sprinkle the mashed potatoes and the mixture with zesty lime and salt for flavor. Some people use mayonnaise or chili as an addition too.
14. Conchitas a la Parmesana
Conchitas a la Parmesana, or Parmesan scallops is an Italian, Peruvian fusion dish. This is one of the freshest, cheesiest seafood dishes you’ll find.
They melt parmesan cheese on top of fresh scallops. Then they add a dash of lime. And, that’s it, this simple dish is ready for eating.
You can find this classic European style dish in any seafood restaurant in Peru. It’s a great option if you’re hankering for something that “tastes like home”.
Choclo corn cobs are enormous kernels that aren’t as delicious as the sweet corn we all know and love.
But, this staple food is super tasty when slathered with sour cream, cheese, and chili powder.
If you get the chance to visit Peru, you’ll see ladies selling the ginormous cobs from huge boiling pots. They are the perfect snack to carry with you on your trek through the Amazon jungle.
16. Suspiro a la Limeña
Suspiro a la Limeña is the most popular dessert recipe in Lima. The sugary treat is a combination of caramelized sugar and merengue.
This sickly sweet treat is perfect to cleanse your palette after a seafood dish. But you only need a small portion, even if you’re a sweet tooth!
17. Mazamorra Morada
Mazamorra is another sweet dessert, but they serve this dessert hot.
Due to the long winters of some of the mountainous regions, many citizens use this sweet dessert to warm themselves up. Although, many eat it in the summer months too.
The dessert uses naturally grown produce to create a complex treat. Peruvian purple corn, cinnamon, clove, pineapple, peach, cherry, and apricot make up the mixture.
Then add sweet potato flour to create a gelatin-like glaze over the mixture.
This dessert is often served with Arroz con Leche, which is sweet milk rice.
Bonus Peruvian Food: Papa a la Huancaina
Papa a la Huancaina, is a favorite Peruvian starter. It is made from boiled potatoes, and a cheesey and hot peppery sauce called salsa huancaina.
It is commonly garnished with aceitunas botijas, also known as Peruvian black olives and sliced hard boiled eggs and served over a bed of lettuce.
Papa a la Huancaina is eaten all year long but a very traditional Peruvian dish most notably enjoyed during the holidays.
Extra Bonus Peruvian Food: Leche de Tigre
There are so many great Peruvian foods to list we had to squeeze in at least one more.
Leche de Tigre! Is there a cooler name for a dish then Leche de Tigre? English translation, “Milk of the Tiger”.
Leche de Tigre is not only a traditional Peruvian dish but also known as a hangover cure and even more interestingly as an aphrodisiac.
Apparently after eating this Peruvian dish, it will help bring out the tiger in you!
The dish can be found in Peruvian restaurants served in small glasses along side ceviche.
It is a dish comprised of a citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in the ceviche. It’s typically made up of lime juice, chiles, sliced onion, salt and pepper.
Which Peru Food Recipes Will You Try?
If you’re a foodie waiting in anticipation for the next taste sensation, you’ve got to try some of these Peru food recipes.
But now your mouth is watering to try some of the best Peruvian foods, what can you do?
If you can’t hop on a plane to travel to Lima, don’t worry. You can buy traditional Peruvian foods and drinks right here in the US.
Check out our Peruvian store for the best Latin food suppliers online, and you can feed your Peruvian foodie desire.
Now that you know all about Peru’s best foods, you’ll need something to wash that down, take a look at What They Drink In Peru.
Our blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods & drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a wide variety of hard to find freshly imported foods & drinks from all over Latin America and Spain.