We’ve compiled 17 of the best Peruvian appetizers to make at home, from Tequeños and Chinguirito to Tiradito and Choclo Con Queso.
The third largest country in South America, Peru, is known for a variety of landscapes ranging from beaches and mountains to deserts and rainforests.
This makes Peru a global destination that attracts many visitors due to its rich history, wildlife, culture, and food.
Peruvian cuisine offers a fusion of indigenous and international flavors, rooted in the foundation of the massive influence that Peru has gained from other cultures, which include Asian, African, and European interaction that has provided the nation with a multicultural history.
A great way to get introduced to Peruvian cuisine is by trying out the many Peruvian appetizers that represent the art of cooking in Peru.
Typical meals in the country often include Peruvian starters, with these traditional food options also taking the place of a light lunch or enjoyed as a snack.
With a rich culinary history dating back to the year 6,000 B.C., there are plenty of ingredients and recipes you may find in Peru that cross boundaries, such as the use of everyday staples: peppers, corn, and beans.
These amazing appetizers can heat you from the inside and call your attention with various options and brightly colored recipes!
Check out the #13 Tiradito recipe that highlights the fusion of influences in culinary styles you can find in Peru!
A great finger food option, the Tequeños is a fried egg roll wrap filled with beef steak and vegetables, seasoned deliciously to offer a savory starter to any meal.
Many consider this crunchy and meaty roll to be a cross between empanadas and taquitos, which are famous dishes within the region in South America.
Peruvian tequeños also vary from a similar Venezuelan recipe, with the Peruvian option using spring roll wrappers and different fillings you can use, such as putting in crab meat, hot dogs, or ham and cheese.
2. Tacu Tacu
Tacu tacu is a delicious Peruvian appetizer that’s also a practical option that utilizes leftover ingredients.
Many Peruvian recipes call for rice and beans, and turning the leftovers into a tasty dish is always a great idea!
Adding onions, garlic, spices, and herbs can spruce up those leftover ingredients into an entirely new dish topped with fried eggs, fried plantains, and local onion relish.
A typical dish from the northern part of Peru, this variation to the ceviche is made from the dried meat of the guitarfish or chingo, and is often enjoyed as a starter or appetizer.
The chinguirito is named after its star ingredient, the guitarfish, locally known as chingo.
This dish is only made with this particular fish found in the Sechura-Piura areas of Lambayeque.
It’s seasoned with garlic, onion, and chili pepper, with a significant amount of lemon, to create a sublime ceviche version that’s fresh and bright.
The Rocoto Relleno is a colorful Peruvian appetizer packed with so much flavor.
This stuffed pepper is filled with meat, aromatic herbs and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, peanuts, and raisins, providing various textures and flavors beyond the fiery spice.
Many locals consider this traditional dish as a representation of the Misti Volcano of the Andes mountains in southern Peru.
They are even regarded as an aphrodisiac because of how it reflects the volcano’s burning passion.
Pulpo Al Olivo is a classic Peruvian recipe that is often served as an appetizer or main dish and consists of octopus in olive sauce.
Typically prepared with olives, lime or lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and eggs, there are many variations to the pulpo al olivo.
Freshly made ceviche plays a vital role in Peruvian cuisine, with this recipe considered the national dish of Peru.
Ceviche is made with raw seafood, most commonly containing fish, cured in fresh citrus juices such as lime or lemon to cook the fish with the acidity of the ingredients.
Spicy peppers and spices are added to provide depth of flavor and heat to the dish, often served with starchy corn, sweet potatoes, and plantains to balance the acidity and spiciness.
Causa Rellena, or layered potato casserole, is a refreshing appetizer served cold in the summer.
This amplified potato salad features layers of golden mashed potatoes, with various vegetables and fish (or chicken) stuffed in between.
This recipe uses tuna to enrich flavor and tenderness, making it an ideal filling for the causa rellena.
A fresh and light Peruvian treat, the causa can be served with black olives and hard-boiled egg, with a drizzle of mayonnaise over each slice.
One of Peru’s most popular appetizer options, the Papa A La Huancaina is made with boiled potatoes, eggs, and olives, with an equally famous huancaina sauce.
Huancaina sauce is a creamy and cheesy sauce with a distinct spice from the aji amarillo pepper, the country’s most used hot pepper.
Legend has it that the huancaina sauce was made by a peasant lady, who traveled far to sell potatoes from her farm in Huancayo, and used the added sauce to entice people with its creaminess and heat.
A meaty and (quite literally) hearty dish, the anticuchos are a popular street food all over South America, but most especially along the streets of Peru.
The traditional Peruvian anticuchos were originally made of beef hearts and served as appetizers, with modern recipes alternating with marinated chicken and beef steak.
This Peruvian iteration of grilled beef kabobs is fatty, juicy, and full of flavor, with a bold garlic kick and just the right amount of spice.
The best way to ensure savory meat for this dish is by marinating the beef overnight to soak in all the spices and flavor.
Aguadito De Pollo is the Peruvian version of chicken soup and is a recipe that stands out with its green-tinted color.
The green hue of this soup is taken from the peppers, garlic, onions, and aji amarillo paste ingredients, which are blended with cilantro to create a puree mix.
This chicken soup is quite phenomenal, providing fresh and light flavors from its ingredients with a chicken stock base loaded with lots of vegetables.
Rice is also added to this recipe, making it the best type of comfort food you can ever get a spoonful of.
The Solterito is a Peruvian chopped salad with an array of ingredients that add complex layers of scrumptiousness to this salad.
It’s comprised of many dense and flavorful elements that allow you to enjoy each bite fully; from corn, edamame, cherry tomatoes, feta, jalapeno, olives, and more, this is more than just a plate of something fresh from the garden.
This salad can also be creamier by adding avocado as an extra ingredient.
12. Tamalitos Verdes
The traditional Mesoamerican dish tamale has a Peruvian version in the form of Tamalitos Verdes or green tamales, with the recipe originating from northern Peru.
These tamales are delicate, complex, and spicy, making them a popular appetizer in the country.
The Tamalitos Verdes stand out with their bright green color, derived from fresh corn and cilantro used to make the dish.
Tiradito is a popular traditional dish made of sashimi-grade raw fish that’s thinly sliced and drizzled with delicious aji amarillo sauce.
A perfect appetizer to serve to your guests, this dish is inspired by Nikkei food, which celebrates the intermingling influence of Japanese immigrants with Peruvian traditions.
Whitefish is the most common type of fish used for this dish, but other types may also be used.
The empanada is a typical dish you can find all over Central and South America, with the recipe for this delicious pastry treat said to originate from Galicia in Spain.
Traditionally made with beef, eggs, and olives, with the dough sprinkled with sugar, it forms a caramelized crust as it bakes in the oven.
The empanada has since had many variations that make each one so satisfying.
The traditional recipe known as Juanes is considered a food staple in the jungle regions of Peru.
This sticky mass of rice and chicken is conveniently wrapped with bijao leaves, making it easy to carry and consume.
Inside this ball-formed package, you can find meaty chicken, olives, boiled egg, and yellow rice colored and seasoned with turmeric, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper, making this classic Juanes so aromatic and packed with layers of flavor.
16. Choclo Con Queso
Choclo Con queso is a Peruvian favorite that’s often consumed as a snack or as an appetizer and side dish.
It features choclo corn, a type of corn in Peru with large kernels that provide a nutty flavor and chewy texture.
This recipe uses a garlic and cilantro mixture mixed with mayonnaise and cheese to provide a delicious munchable treat that you can make at home.
Choritos A La Chalaca is a delicious mussel dish that originates from Callao, the main seaport of Peru.
Peruvian-style mussels are made by steaming the mussels and topping them off with spicy salsa.
The salsa is made by combining rocoto pepper, tomatoes, parsley, corn kernels, lemon juice, aji amarillo, oil, salt, pepper, and onion, to provide a pleasantly flavorful mix with plenty of heat.
The bottom line
Food from Peru is an excellent way of experiencing the country’s rich culture and history, with these Peruvian appetizers providing an incredible means of introducing the cuisine.
With a wide variety of ingredients and flavors to choose from, you’ll be serving exciting and pleasing flavors with every dish you try!
- Tacu Tacu
- Rocoto Relleno
- Pulpo Al Olivo
- Peruvian Ceviche
- Causa Rellena
- Papa A La Huancaina
- Aguadito De Pollo
- Tamalitos Verdes
- Peruvian Empanadas
- Choclo Con Queso
- Choros A La Chalaca
- Skim through our Peruvian Appetizers list.
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