10 dishes of Peruvian cuisine you must try

By Serena Pedrioli

Discovering Peruvian cuisine is a journey through a kaleidoscope of flavors, a culinary experience that enchants the senses and fascinates the souls of anyone who has the pleasure of savoring it.

With its roots intertwined with indigenous, Spanish, African and Asian influences, Peru’s gastronomy offers a world of unique taste pleasures. From classics such as ceviche and aji de gallina, to iconic dishes such as lomo saltado and chicken brasa, every bite is an invitation to explore the culinary richness of this land.

Not surprisingly, in 2023 Virgilio Martinez’s Central restaurant won the title of best in the world according to “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023”. Located in Lima, the capital of Peru, Central celebrates the diversity and authenticity of Peruvian dishes in a superb way.

Here are ten dishes of Peruvian cuisine not to be missed.

Table of Contents

1. Chevice

Ceviche de conchas negras y pescado con chifles, camote, cachita

Ceviche, a famous dish of Peruvian cuisine, is a delicious preparation based on raw fish marinated in lemon juice, enriched with spices such as chili and coriander. This dish, recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of Peru, has a compelling history, with several theories on the origin of its name and recipe. It is believed to have ancient roots, with evidence dating back to the Mocha era, about two thousand years ago.

The basic preparation of ceviche involves the use of fresh fish cut into cubes, lime juice, chili and salt. However, there are numerous regional and personal variations, which include the addition of ingredients such as red onion, coriander and celery. Some places, such as Lima, prefer to serve it immediately to maintain the freshness of the fish and the liveliness of the flavors.

Among the most popular specialties are the mixed ceviche, enriched with shellfish and accompanied by sweet potatoes, and the ceviche of black shell, typical of the coasts of Tumbes and Piura in northern Peru. You can also find variants with octopus, shrimp and other local ingredients.

To accompany this delicacy, traditional drinks include chicha de Jora, dark beer or inca kola. The toppings vary from region to region, with ingredients such as toasted corn, sweet potatoes and lettuce leaves.

The ceviche occupies a place of honor in Peruvian culture, so much so that it has been declared a Cultural Heritage of the Nation. Over the years, it has won the hearts of Peruvians and lovers of international gastronomy, becoming a symbol of the culinary richness of this fascinating land.

2. Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado peruano

The lomo saltado is an iconic dish of Peruvian cuisine, whose roots go back to the 19th century, during the era of Chinese influence in Peru. This dish represents a unique fusion between the Criolla and the oriental culinary tradition, manifested through the high-temperature cooking technique in the pan, known as "Salteado" in Peru.

The synergy between these two millennial gastronomic traditions gives lomo saltado a perfect balance of flavors and aromas. Exclusive to Peru, it is one of the most loved and consumed dishes in the country.

The heart of this preparation is beef, usually cut into strips and sautéed together with onions and peppers. Peruvian yellow chili is often used to give that characteristic touch of spiciness. It is traditionally served with plain rice or potatoes, offering a rewarding and traditional taste experience.

3. Ají de Gallina

Aji de gallina con arroz

L'ají de gallina is a dish native to Peru, known for its rich and creamy texture. It involves the use of shredded chicken, which is gradually cooked in a pot with broth until it reaches a dense consistency. To further thicken the cream, pieces of hard bread are added previously soaked in broth or milk.


The distinctive element of this dish is ají amarillo, a Peruvian chili that gives the dish a characteristic yellow color and a touch of spiciness. The resulting cream is traditionally served with cooked potatoes and/or white rice, offering a rewarding and flavoursome taste experience.

L’ají de gallina has deep roots in the culinary history of Peru, with influences that combine Spanish and Quechua ingredients. It is said that before the Spanish conquest, the dish was prepared with a bird called “hualpa”. Over time, it has spread to other Latin American countries, enriching the culinary landscape of the region.

In addition, there are creative variations of this dish, such as ají de huevo and ají de atún, invented by chefs who have modified the original recipe to create new delicious interpretations.

4. Anticucho

Anticuchos, originating from the Antisuyu region of the Inca Empire, have become an icon of Peruvian cuisine. These popular and affordable meat dishes have roots in the pre-Columbian era, but the modern version was adapted during the colonial era between the 16th and 19th centuries. Today they are widespread in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, where they are known as "chuzos" or "carne en palito".

Anticuchos can be found on street carts and food stalls (anticucheras). The meat can be marinated in vinegar and spices such as cumin, chili and garlic. Although they can be made with any type of meat, the most popular ones are made of beef heart (anticuchos de corazón), usually served with cooked tripe and a boiled potato at the end of the skewer. In Peru, the anticuchos are linked to the procession of the Lord of Miracles.

Although of pre-Columbian origin, modern anticuchos date back to the 16th century, when they were first encountered by Spanish conquistadors. At that time European ingredients such as garlic were added, and beef began to replace the traditional llamas used during the Inca Empire. It was a popular dish among the inhabitants of the Inca Empire and is now widespread in most countries of South America.

The Peruvian tradition of eating anticuchos spans all social classes and is particularly popular as street food. The traditional preparation involves the use of pieces of beef heart placed on a skewer and roasted on open fire, seasoned with salt and sometimes vinegar. They are often served with a sauce made from garlic, onion, aji panca, cumin, black pepper and beer.

Anticuchos are an integral part of Peruvian cuisine and are particularly popular during the Fiestas Patrias celebrations in July.

5. Pollo a la Brasa

Pollo a la brasa peruano

Chicken a la brasa, also known as chicken asado, blackened chicken or charcoal chicken, is a variety of grilled chicken particularly associated with Peruvian cuisine. It was developed in Peru in the 1950s by Swiss immigrants. Originally, the consumption of this dish was limited to high-class restaurants (from the 1950s to the 1970s), but today it is widely available.

 The original version consisted of a chicken cooked on a skewer over charcoal and seasoned only with salt, served with large French fries and traditionally eaten with their hands, although today additional spices are used and many people eat it with cutlery, if they wish. It is almost always served with creamy sauces made from mayonnaise, and more frequently with a sauce known as ají.

Chicken a la brasa is now found in restaurants around the world and is considered a key element in the menu of Peruvian fusion restaurants. It is considered a national dish of Peru, with Peruvians consuming it on average three times a month and skewered chicken restaurants accounting for 40% of the fast food industry in the country.

The dish was developed by Roger Schuler, a Swiss resident of Chaclacayo, Lima, in 1950. Schuler, a Swiss citizen who found it difficult to return to his country during World War II, and after moving to several locations in Chile and Peru, settled in Lima, working in hotels and restaurants. He devised the specific method for cooking chicken, observing his cook’s technique in the preparation and gradually, together with his business partners, perfected the recipe, creating the Granja Azul restaurant in Santa Clara, Ate district, Lima. After developing the initial recipe, he received a large catering order and, trying to cook more food in a shorter time, sought another Swiss immigrant, Franz Ulrich, a blacksmith who developed a type of oven for broilers with a high-capacity spit that he called “El Rotombo”. While the initial preparation included only salt as a seasoning, today the preparations typically include rosemary, huacatay, black pepper, soy sauce, ají panca and cumin. The Schuler family still owns Granja Azul and several other restaurants throughout Peru, and Ulrich continued to produce broiler ovens.

6. Causa limeña

The cause limeña, also known as causa rellena or simply causa, is a typical appetizer of Peruvian gastronomy with pre-Columbian origins. It consists of a mini saucepan, with the top and bottom consisting of yellow potatoes and the filling consisting of white meat.


In ancient Peru, it was prepared with yellow potatoes kneaded with chopped chili, but sometimes other varieties of potatoes were used. During the Viceroyalty of Peru, between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, lemon was added, originating in Asia, bringing the recipe to its final form both in ingredients and presentation.

Peruvian chef Nilo Do Carmo states that “this dish, created using ingredients from the coast and mountains, is an essential appetizer in every menu and still represents pure Peruvian patriotism”.

There are various theories about the origin of the name of this dish. One of the most credited believes it may derive from the Kawsay idiom, which in Quechua is associated with the potato and means “necessary nourishment” or “what it nourishes”. Other hypotheses link it to episodes of war in the contemporary history of Peru.

The cause limeña is traditionally prepared with yellow potato, lemon, boiled egg, yellow chili and black olives. The filling can be enriched with avocado, lettuce and other white meats such as tuna, chicken, crustaceans or octopus. It is served with a light mayonnaise sauce and can also be prepared with lima beans or yellow yuca.

7. Arroz Chaufa

Arroz Chaufa con Mariscos

Arroz chaufa, also known as arroz de chaufa ("Chinese rice"), is a fried rice dish from Peru. It is part of Peruvian Chinese cuisine, called chifa. This dish consists of a mix of fried rice with vegetables, usually spring onions, eggs and chicken, cooked quickly over high heat, often in a wok with soy sauce and oil.

Arroz Chaufa with seafood

Its origin is attributed to Chinese cuisine due to the influx of Chinese immigrants to Peru in the late 19th century. Commonly used meats include pork, beef, chicken, and shrimp. Dark soy sauce is preferred for seasoning Peruvian fried rice. A person who specializes in the preparation of arroz chaufa is known as a chaufer. The term “chaufa” comes from the Chinese word “chaofan” (炒 飯), literally “fried rice”.

A variant of the arroz chaufa is the chaufa amazónico, a fried rice prepared with ingredients typical of the Amazon region of Peru. Typically includes cecina (dried and salted meat) and maduros (sweet bananas). In addition to rice, a common ingredient in many versions of arroz chaufa is cebollita china, or spring onion. You can also adapt the recipe with other cereals, such as quinoa and wheat. In some regions, rice is replaced with quinoa or pearl wheat, while in others it can be combined with noodles. The dish is often accompanied by soy sauce and/or ají cream.

In addition to this, many other variants of arroz chaufa can be found, such as with chicken, beef, pork, duck, dried meat, seafood, fish and many other ingredients, offering a wide range of flavors and combinations. Some variants are referred to by the added ingredients, such as “aeropuerto” when it also includes tallarín saltado, another chifa dish, on the same plate, or “wild”, “special”, or “taypa”.

8. Cuy frito o Chactado

The cuy Frito, or cuy chactado, is one of the oldest and most traditional dishes of Peru, consumed since the time of the Inca. This dish involves the use of guinea pigs, which, unlike their destination as pets, are fried to a crispy consistency.

The taste of the Frito cuy is often compared to that of chicken, although with a fatter note, tending to a hybrid of chicken and rabbit. Curiously, for many, the favorite part is just the head of the cuy. This dish is traditionally enjoyed with your hands, so it is advisable to have at hand napkins to avoid getting dirty. Usually served in cuyerías, the Frito cuy is accompanied by corn cobs, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, various sauces and salads.

Picante de cuy is a traditional dish of the Andes, spread throughout Peru over the centuries. It is regularly consumed in some regions of the country, such as Ayacucho, Cuzco, Ancash and Junín, and is often the protagonist of celebrations and festivals.

The breeding of cuy (Cavia porcellus) is an ancient practice in the territory of Perugia, with a widespread consumption already in pre-Inca and Inca times. The precise origin of picante de cuy is unclear, but it is known that it originated in the mountainous regions of Peru, such as Huánuco, Cajamarca and Ancash.

The Incas selected a representative dish for each month, to be offered in celebration to Mother Earth. For example, picante de cuy was traditionally prepared during the month of August, Chakra Yapuy Killa, dedicated to the preparation of the land for sowing. This dish symbolized the beginning of the agricultural season.

9. Papa a la Huancaína

La papa a la huancaína is an iconic dish of Peru’s Criolla cuisine. The first written references date back to the late nineteenth century, when the "yellow potatoes alla Huancaina" were served as an appetizer at the banquet organized by Don Miguel Grau Seminary, then captain, at the Club Nacional on June 21, 1879. This dish was also mentioned in the cookbook "Copia de comidas para el uso de la señorita Isabel Gertrudis Alfaro" (1897) and in "La cocina práctica" by Boix Ferrer (1928).


The classic sauce preparation involves shredding or liquefying yellow chili with milk, oil and fresh cheese, traditionally poured on boiled potatoes. Some variations of the sauce include lemon juice, biscuits, garlic and onion. There are also versions with other types of chili, such as rocoto.

In the classic presentation, the potatoes are arranged on lettuce leaves and accompanied by hard-boiled eggs and black olives. Huancaína sauce is also used in other dishes, such as ravioli, pasta or Sancochado.

There are several stories about the origin of the name. One tells that the dish comes from the Peruvian region of Junín, where the creator bought the ingredients mainly in the city of Huancayo in the valley of the Mantaro River and to pay homage to this region he called them “Papa a la Huancaína”. Another story suggests that the dish was served at the first direct train station to Huancayo (Peru Central Railway), hence the name. Both stories suggest a limeña origin of the dish.

According to Jorge Stambury, in his book “La Gran Cocina Peruana”, the dish has origins in Huancayo and was born during the construction of the Central Railway of Peru, which required a large amount of workers. The women of the huancas population prepared food for the workers by boiling the potatoes and serving them with a cheese sauce mixed with rocoto and milk, accompanied by boiled eggs. The recipe later migrated to Lima and rocoto was replaced with yellow chili.

10. Caldo de Gallina

Caldo de Gallina

Hot chicken (broth) is an icon of Peruvian gastronomy, comparable to ceviche, chifa and grilled chicken. It is a very popular dish, with the reputation of being able to restore not only the body, but also the spirit. This magic broth, rich in vitamins - we Peruvians love soups, broths and chupes - hides some secrets that are worth knowing.


As for its origins, like many other dishes criollos, are uncertain. However, in the middle of the 19th century it was mentioned in the work of the writer Manuel Ascencio Segura. A hundred years later, it was already a must in the vicinity of the Central Market and La Parada, where night owls and early risers – bohemian criollos and workers – went to recharge their energy in the morning hours.

This broth has a reputation for being able to raise the dead, restore the sick and dispel the shadows of a long night of drinking – or prepare to continue -. Will it be for the combination of vegetable ingredients, pasta carbohydrates and bird nutrients? Probably yes. Broths have this property, and the chicken one is outstanding in this.

Chicken broth kiosks are found throughout Peru, especially along the streets and around markets or industrial zones, where a large amount of workers are concentrated. However, Lima is the city with the largest number of these kiosks. Some are dedicated exclusively to this dish, serving it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, each with its own distinctive touch, such as a little chili, toasted corn or the egg’s cooking point.

Of course, there are also regional versions. In the Andes it is served with Mote, while in the Amazon it is accompanied by yuca.

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.