The 6 Criollo Dishes You Should Eat in Peru

Our obsession with Peruvian cuisine continues! This time we explore Peruvian Criollo dishes.  

What is Peruvian Criollo food you might ask? And what are the Criollo dishes worth eating in Peru?

The short answer is Peruvian Criollo food is Peruvian “comfort food”or everyday food.  It is the food that many Peruvians eat in their homes. Criollo means creole, which commonly refers to people who descended from the Spanish colonial settlers.

When it comes to food, the Peruvian native indians had to integrate different ingredients and cooking techniques into their cuisine. These influences came not only from the Spanish but also from the African slaves, Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

Peruvian Criollo food is found mostly in the coastal and central regions of Peru where the early immigrants first settled.

Ready to indulge in Peruvian home cooking?

Here are the 6 Peruvian Criollo dishes you don’t want to miss while in Peru.

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1. Causa

A causa is a very unique Peruvian starter made of potatoes. Not just any potatoes, but Peruvian potatoes. Potatoes originated in Peru and there are more than 3000 varieties. Some people say causa comes from the Quechua word “kausay” (sustenance of life).  

A signature dish from Peru. there are endless ways to compose and present this dish. The two most typical classics are Causa Limeña which has potato, tuna, avocado and tomato.

Peru Gastronomy Causa Limena Criollo dishesCausa Limena

And, Causa Rellena which is potatoes stuffed with shredded chicken breast and tomatoes. Read more about Causa Limeña from our interview with Peru Gastronomy critic, Cecilia Morote.

Criollo Dishes causa rellenaCausa Rellena

2. Anticuchos

Anticuchos come from the African slaves who were brought to Peru by the Spanish in the16th century. The Spanish gave the African slaves the innards of cows which they considered garbage.

Africans then marinated the meats with spices and smoky chilies from the Andes and created Anticuchos. The most traditional is Anticuchos de Corazon, which are pieces of grilled beef heart. However, you can also get chicken, regular beef or even hot dog anticuchos.  

Today, anticuchos are much-loved street food and favorite late-night dish.

Criollo dishes anticuchosAnticuchos in the streets of Lima

3. Aji de Gallina

Aji de Gallina is one of the most typical native Peruvian dishes. It is a fusion of Spanish and Quechua ingredients.

The dish is a thick cream made up of shredded chicken with yellow chili, bread crumbs, egg, parmesan cheese, pecans, milk, onion, and garlic. It gets its bright yellow color from Aji Amarillo or yellow chili.  

Aji Amarillo is one of the most popular spices that is used to add extra flavor to meals.

The Aji de Gallina is typically made with boiled potatoes or rice. Served with succulent chicken, this creamy, mildly spicy sauce dish has a delicious combination of flavors.

Criollo dishes Aji de GallinaAji de Gallina

Authentic Food Quest Tip: Learn how to make traditional Criollo dishes in a cooking class in Lima. Visit a local market to first learn about the ingredients and then make some of Peru’s national and tasty dishes.

4. Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado is one of the most emblematic and traditional Peruvian Criollo dishes. You can find it easily in any restaurants or farmers market. It is a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian food which makes it a typical criollo dish. You can read more about it here in our a previous post: Spotlight On Peruvian Fusion – Chifa Dishes & Lomo Saltado.

Often served as the main meal on the lunch menu, it can easily be shared. It consists of stir-fried strips of beef are stir-fried with potatoes, onions, tomato and ají amarillo then flavored with a little soy sauce, garlic and cilantro. It is very tasty and one of our favorite dishes in Peru.

Authentic Food Criollo Dishes lomo saltado AFQLomo Saltado

5. Tacu Tacu

Tacu tacu is a typical Peruvian dish whose heritage is from the Afro Peruvian community. It is the Peruvian version of refried beans and rice. It is a way to use-up leftover rice and beans in a simple and savory combination. It is usually served as a patty with a cheap cut of beef steak and fried egg on top.

Though today you can find it with many variations using yellow chili, different types of beans and vegetables like asparagus and leeks.The rice and beans typically needs to be prepared a day before.

We had Tacu tacu at a Cevicheria and it was prepared with seafood. The portion was humongous, definitively enough to be shared for three people. It was a delight!

Criollo dishes tacu tacuTacu tacu

6. Suspiro a la Limeña

Suspiro a la Limeña is a Peruvian Criollo dessert and Lima’s most popular.  It is creamy dulce de leche  topped with a smooth meringue cloud and a touch of cinnamon. The name means “a woman’s sigh” given to it by Peruvian poet Jose Galvez. It was first known as the “Royal Delight of Peru.”   

Super sweet, it is worth indulging in this classic Lima dessert.

Criollo dishes suspiro a la limenaSuspiro a la Limena Peruvian dessert
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In Summary

When you sit down for a meal in Peru, you are not just eating, but tasting a fascinating mix of foods and cultures. The Peruvian Criollo dishes are a result of the new flavors and ingredients which combine the flavors of Africa, Europe and Asia.

When in Peru, indulge in these 6 must-eat Peruvian Criollo dishes. Be prepared for a culinary and historic journey of the Spanish creole influence in Peru. These dishes are eaten by Peruvians throughout the country, and are in fact, the everyday food.

Have you had any of these Peruvian dishes before? Please let us know in the comments below.

Savor The Adventure!

Looking for More Peruvian Local Food Experiences?

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60 thoughts on “The 6 Criollo Dishes You Should Eat in Peru”

    • If Peru is on your travel plans, be prepared for a delicious experience. The cuisine is amazing and very fresh. Glad you enjoyed reading about Criollo cuisine. There is so much to discover and enjoy. Thanks Tiffany!

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  1. Potatoes make up my favorite comfort foods. Didn’t know it was so universal. Need to add some of these yummy dishes to my comfort meals. We’re supposed to get rain this week so it’ll be perfect.

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    • Highly recommend Peruvian cuisine….definitively worth getting exposed to 🙂 Look for a restaurant in you local area and order one of the dishes listed in the article. Don’t forget to come back and let us know what you think. Cheers Julie.

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    • The food in Peru is definitively worth the trip. Hope you can get there soon, beyond Criollo dishes there are many other cuisines worth indulging in. Poke around the Peru section of this website and get inspired by the other dishes. Do let us know if you need any tips when you plan on visiting the country. Appreciate your comments Annemarie.

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  2. This does look like a fascinating mix of food and I would like to try it all. It all looks so great but I really would love to try the Suspiro a la Limeña first. It looks divine and I love the name.

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    • Thanks Pam for your comments and so glad to read that you enjoyed the article and the dishes highlighted. Yes, the Suspiro a la Limena is quite divine and incredibly sweet. To be eaten in moderation 🙂 Cheers.

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    • If Peru is in your travel plans, do make a point of giving any of these delicious dishes a try. Alternatively, you can always check out a Peruvian restaurant in your area. Give it a try and let us know what you think 🙂 Cheers!

      Reply
    • So glad to read that this has inspired you to open up to new tastes and flavors. That’s our mission with Authentic Food Quest!!! Do let us know what you end trying that is new and out of the ordinary for you. Cheers.

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    • Thanks Kristina and so glad that you enjoyed about the food. Learning about the food does make it much more appealing. Appreciate your comments about the article and pictures and hope you can go to Peru soon and taste these delights for yourself. Cheers.

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  3. I spent 2 months in Peru a few years back, I think it has some of the best food in the world. My favourite thing to do everyday was look for the Menu of the Day, such a deal with 3 courses for a few bucks, Aji de Gallina was one of my faves!

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    • You are right Sheena, you can’t go wrong with Aji de Gallina, a favorite of ours as well 🙂 The menu del dia is quite a good way to go…everything is fresh and as you said for a few bucks you get a delicious 2-3 course meal. Love Peru for that!!

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  4. Mmh, they all look very good and interesting!
    I would definitely try some, especially #5 looks very good. I love calamaris, so that one seems the best fit for me!

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    • Thanks Crissy. Peruvian Criollo food is indeed delicious. The mix of cultures really makes for innovative dishes. They are all good and hope you can make it to Peru to give them a taste!! Appreciate your comments.

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  5. I haven’t been to Peru (yet) but did spend quite a bit of time in Bolivia so got to sample many ( many) varieties of potatoes. I would especially love to try Suspiro a la Limeña. I love the history of the name and its seems very unique!

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    • That’s right Michele, both Peru and Bolivia do have an incredible amount of varieties of potatoes. Did you find a favorite kind? The Suspiro a la Limena is worth the trip to Lima. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions when you go to Lima, Peru. Thanks for your comments.

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    • The funny thing Shane, is when the food is so fresh, healthy with no preservatives, you actually do not gain the 20 pounds. Instead, you savor incredible and delicious flavors. Yes, the Causa Limena is a favorite. Cheers.

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  6. I’m not familiar with Peruvian cuisine, but I always want to try something new and this looks delicious. I am going to save this for when I have the chance to eat Peruvian.

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    • Awesome Krysten, so glad this article intrigued you. Check out a Peruvian restaurant in your local area and they are bound to have a couple of these dishes. Do let us what you end up tasting. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Yummmm I just got really hungry reading that! I would love to try causa and suspira de limeña! Looks so good and very interesting to see all the different cultural influences in the cuisine.

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    • Yes, indeed Ivy, Aji de Gallina is like a curry because it is creamy, however it is NOT spicy like a curry. Many Peruvians make it at home and it is a simple, delicious everyday meal. Thanks for your comments!

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  8. I really love how you incorporate historical and cultural explanations when describing what you’re eating, it just makes my heart sing. Always love seeing your posts, I learn about so many new dishes!

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  9. Wow, I honestly had no idea what meals were eaten in Peru, thanks for the info! That dessert though, oh my God I wish I had Suspiro a la Limeña right now!! Haha ?

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  10. Wow! I have to admit, even though I just ate a few of those would tempt me to eat more. I’m a little upset with myself. I went to Peru a few years ago, and I don’t think I had any of those dished, because I had no idea what to eat. I find it difficult to find “criollo” food or food you would eat in the home in restaurants. They always want to be too touristy.

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    • Thanks Corinne…it’s too bad we didn’t have our blog ready a few years ago…we would have highlighted the places to check out 🙂 Nonetheless, glad you tried some of the dishes before. Keep the rest for your next trip and be sure to check out our post about Ceviche where we talk about “Huariques” which is home style cooking at “secret” restaurants.

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  11. This post was so informative! I’m ready to go to Peru and get my eat on lol. I have heard about Lomo Saltado before but the other dishes were new to me.

    Reply

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