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Peru’s food scene is a vibrant tapestry of flavors and techniques, reflecting its diverse geography and history. From the coastal cevicherías to the Andean highland kitchens, Peruvian cuisine is a blend of indigenous traditions and influences from Spanish, African, Chinese, and Japanese immigrants. The country’s unique culinary heritage is marked by its variety of ingredients, from over 3,000 types of potatoes to exotic fruits and fresh seafood, making traditional food in Peru a delightful exploration for any food enthusiast.

The Top 10 Dishes in Peru

Food is an important part of Peru’s culture.
  1. Ceviche: The quintessential Peruvian dish, consisting of fresh fish marinated in citrus juices, typically lime, and spiced with chili peppers.
  2. Lomo Saltado: A stir-fry that combines marinated strips of sirloin with onions, tomatoes, and other ingredients, served with fried potatoes and rice.
  3. Aji de Gallina: A creamy and spicy chicken stew made with aji amarillo (yellow chili pepper), garlic, nuts, and cheese, served over rice or potatoes.
  4. Causa Rellena: A layered dish of mashed potatoes, avocado, and various fillings like tuna, chicken, or shrimp, seasoned with lime and chili.
  5. Rocoto Relleno: Spicy bell peppers stuffed with minced meat, vegetables, and topped with melted cheese.
  6. Pollo a la Brasa: Marinated rotisserie chicken served with fries and salad, a popular fast-food dish in Peru.
  7. Anticuchos: Skewered and grilled beef heart marinated in vinegar, garlic, and spices, a common street food item.
  8. Chupe de Camarones: A hearty shrimp chowder with potatoes, milk, and Andean corn, typical of the Arequipa region.
  9. Tacu Tacu: A traditional Afro-Peruvian dish of rice and beans pan-fried together, often served with steak or seafood.
  10. Picarones: Sweet, ring-shaped fritters made from squash and sweet potato, served with a syrup of molasses or chancaca (unrefined sugar).

What Food is Peru Most Famous For?

Sliced Vegetables in White Ceramic Bowl
Ceviche is perhaps Peru’s most famous dish

Peru is most famous for its Ceviche, a dish that has become synonymous with Peruvian cuisine globally. This iconic dish uses fresh fish or seafood marinated in tangy lime juice, spiced with chili peppers, and garnished with onions, cilantro, and sweet potato. Beyond ceviche, Peru is also renowned for its superfoods like quinoa, maca, and purple corn, which are integral to its culinary identity. Ingredients like aji amarillo (yellow chili pepper), lucuma (a native fruit), and choclo (Peruvian corn) are staples in Peruvian kitchens, contributing to the vibrant flavors and textures of the cuisine.

Peru’s National Dish…

As the country’s national dish, Ceviche, is a testament to the country’s rich coastal culture and biodiversity. This dish represents a perfect harmony of fresh seafood, tangy lime juice, spicy aji, and aromatic herbs. It’s not just a culinary delight but also a cultural icon, reflecting Peru’s coastal lifestyle and its people’s connection to the sea. Ceviche is more than just food; it’s a culinary ritual that brings people together, celebrated in homes and cevicherías across the country.

What is the Best Dish in Peru?

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Lomo Saltado

While Ceviche is the national pride, Lomo Saltado is often touted as the best dish in Peru according to locals and critics. This beloved Peruvian stir-fry reflects the fusion of Andean and Asian culinary traditions, a legacy of the Chinese immigrant influence in Peru. Lomo Saltado combines marinated strips of sirloin with a vibrant mix of tomatoes, onions, and aji peppers, all stir-fried and flambeed with soy sauce and Pisco, then served with crispy potatoes and rice. It’s a dish that perfectly balances the robust flavors of Peruvian ingredients with the techniques of Asian cuisine, making it a must-try culinary experience.

What is the Most Unique Food in Peru?

Food or friend? Cuy or guinea pig is a unique dish to try in Peru

Peru’s culinary landscape is dotted with unique and sometimes adventurous dishes, but one of the most distinctive is Cuy, or guinea pig. A traditional Andean delicacy, cuy is often roasted whole and served with potatoes and corn. It has a rich, gamey flavor and is considered a staple in the highland regions.

Another unique aspect of Peruvian cuisine is the use of Amazonian ingredients, such as Camu Camu, a superfruit known for its high vitamin C content, and Paiche, a giant river fish. These ingredients not only add to the diversity of Peru’s culinary offerings but also reflect the country’s vast ecological biodiversity.

Popular Peruvian Breakfast Foods to Try

A Delicious Tamale on Banana Leaf

Peruvian breakfasts vary by region but are always hearty and flavorful. Here are some traditional breakfast foods to try in Peru:

  • Pan con Chicharrón: A popular breakfast sandwich in Peru, consisting of crispy pork belly, sweet potato slices, and salsa criolla (onion relish) served on a crusty roll.
  • Tamales: A traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (a dough made from hominy), which is steamed or boiled in a banana leaf. In Peru, tamales are often filled with meats, cheese, or chilies, and served with bread and coffee in the morning.
  • Quinoa Porridge: Reflecting the Andean staple, this nutritious porridge is made with quinoa, milk, cinnamon, and sugar, often accompanied by fresh fruits or nuts.
  • Café con Leche y Pan con Mantequilla: A simple yet classic start to the day in many Peruvian households, consisting of freshly brewed coffee with milk paired with buttered bread.
  • Jugo de Aguaymanto: A refreshing juice made from the Andean berry known as aguaymanto (goldenberry), offering a tart and sweet start to the morning.
  • Chicharrón de Calamar: In coastal regions, breakfast can include this crispy fried squid, often served with a side of garlic mayonnaise and lime, showcasing Peru’s rich seafood tradition.
  • Frutas y Yogurt: With the abundance of exotic fruits like lucuma, cherimoya, and passion fruit, a common breakfast is a bowl of yogurt mixed with these local fruits, providing a refreshing and nutritious morning meal.
  • Sangrecita: A more traditional and rustic dish, sangrecita is made from chicken blood cooked with spices and served with boiled potatoes or bread, known for its high iron content.
  • These breakfast choices reflect the country’s rich culinary diversity, combining native ingredients with influences from European and Asian immigrants. Enjoying breakfast in Peru can be an adventure in itself, offering insights into the country’s culture and regional variations.

Popular Peruvian Lunch Foods to Try

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Markets throughout Peru are popular places for a midday meal

Lunch in Peru is the main meal of the day, often consisting of multiple courses and shared with family or colleagues. Here’s what you should try for an authentic Peruvian lunch experience:

  • Arroz con Pollo: A simple yet flavorful dish of rice and chicken, cooked with cilantro, peas, and carrots, often served with salsa criolla.
  • Seco de Cordero: A hearty lamb stew, slow-cooked with cilantro, beer, and Andean spices, typically accompanied by rice and beans.
  • Ají de Gallina: A rich and creamy dish made with shredded chicken in a spicy, nutty sauce of ají amarillo and walnuts, served over boiled potatoes or rice.
  • Escabeche: A traditional marinade or dish made with either fish or chicken, pickled with onions, vinegar, and spices, offering a perfect balance of tangy and savory flavors.
  • Papa a la Huancaína: Boiled potatoes covered in a spicy, creamy sauce made from ají amarillo, cheese, and milk, often served as a starter.
  • Arroz con Pato: a hearty Peruvian dish featuring rice cooked in cilantro sauce with duck, is traditionally savored during festive occasions and family gatherings.

These dishes are typically enjoyed in local markets, restaurants, or as homemade meals, reflecting the country’s rich culinary traditions and the importance of lunch in daily life.

Popular Peruvian Dinner Foods to Try


Dinner in Peru, while generally lighter than lunch, is an equally important meal that showcases the country’s culinary diversity. Here are some traditional dinner dishes you should not miss:

  • Pachamanca: A traditional earth oven cooking method used to prepare a mix of meats, potatoes, and corn, seasoned with herbs and cooked underground over hot stones.
  • Pescado Frito: a beloved Peruvian dish, consists of succulently fried fish accompanied by sides of crispy yuca or potatoes, offering a simple yet flavorful taste of Peru’s rich culinary heritage
  • Tacu Tacu: Originally a way to use leftovers, this dish consists of rice and beans fried together until crispy, often topped with an egg or served with steak or seafood.
  • Sudado de Pescado: A fish stew made with onions, tomatoes, and Peruvian chilies, simmered in a flavorful broth, typically enjoyed along the coast.

These dinner options reflect the blend of indigenous, Spanish, and Asian influences in Peruvian cuisine, offering a variety of flavors and preparations to suit every palate.

Best Street Food to Try in Peru

pastry breads on brown chopping board

Peruvian street food is a vital part of the country’s culinary landscape, offering a taste of local flavors and traditions. Here are some must-try street food items:

  • Anticuchos: These grilled skewers, usually made with beef heart, are marinated in vinegar, garlic, and spices, offering a smoky and tender experience. Typically, they cost around 5-10 PEN ($1.50-$3 USD) per skewer.
  • Ceviche Carretillero: A street version of the classic ceviche, served in smaller portions and often spicier, costing about 10-20 PEN ($3-$6 USD) per serving.
  • Salchipapas: A fast-food favorite combining sliced sausages and fried potatoes, usually served with various sauces. Prices range from 5-15 PEN ($1.50-$4.50 USD).
  • Empanadas: These stuffed pastries, filled with meat, cheese, or chicken, are a popular snack, costing around 2-6 PEN ($0.60-$1.80 USD) each.
  • Picarones: Sweet, ring-shaped fritters made from squash and sweet potato dough, served with a sweet syrup, typically priced at 5-10 PEN ($1.50-$3 USD) for a serving.

These street foods not only provide a quick, delicious meal but also reflect Peru’s cultural and social diversity, offering an accessible taste of the nation’s culinary richness.

Best Desserts and Sweets to Try in Peru

Picarones a typical street food dessert in Peru. Dough is fried in a circular shape like a donut.
Picarones are a popular street food dessert in Peru

Peruvian desserts and sweets are a delightful blend of native ingredients and colonial influences, creating a variety of unique and flavorful treats. Here’s what you should try:

  • Alfajores: These are soft, delicate cookies filled with dulce de leche, dusted with powdered sugar. They typically cost around 2-5 PEN ($0.60-$1.50 USD) each.
  • Picarones: Made from a dough of sweet potato and squash, these ring-shaped fritters are deep-fried and served with a sweet molasses syrup, costing about 5-10 PEN ($1.50-$3 USD) per serving.
  • Mazamorra Morada: A popular purple corn pudding flavored with cinnamon and cloves, often accompanied by rice pudding. A serving can cost between 3-7 PEN ($0.90-$2.10 USD).
  • Turrón de Doña Pepa: An anise-flavored nougat layered with cookie sticks and covered with a syrup and sprinkles, usually found during the religious festival in October, priced at around 10-20 PEN ($3-$6 USD) for a small portion.
  • Suspiro a la Limeña: A sweet, creamy dessert made of condensed milk and topped with a light meringue, typically costing 5-15 PEN ($1.50-$4.50 USD) per serving.


Peru’s culinary landscape is as diverse as its stunning geography. It offers a vibrant blend of indigenous and international influences that make its cuisine one of the most varied in the world. From the coastal favorite ceviche to the Andean staple quinoa, each dish tells a story of cultural fusion and regional abundance.

From Lima’s bustling markets to the serene highlands, Peruvian food is not just nourishment but a vibrant part of the country’s cultural heritage. This exploration of Peru’s traditional dishes is an invitation to experience the true flavor of South America.

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