peruvian desserts

Peru is the result of a syncretism of cultures, where each group that passed through the Peruvian lands left their mark on the culture and gastronomy. Peruvian food has been causing a stir for several years within the food scene. It is not surprising that Peruvian cuisine has gained a position within internationally recognized cuisines. And Peruvian food is not the only delicious thing to try in this magical country. Its desserts and drinks are another significant strength that Peruvian gastronomy has to offer. Therefore, together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru, we want to tell you all about the best Peruvian desserts to try on your trip!

The best Peruvian desserts to try on your next journey

South Peruvian Dessert

peruvian desserts queso helado

If we talk about Peruvian desserts, we have to talk about the Inca’s culture and its geography of provenance. Why? Because the majority of current Peruvian desserts contain ingredients cultivated in the Peruvian highlands, since Inca times. Therefore, it is not surprising that this part of the country has a wide variety of desserts, many of them indigenous. In the following lines, we show its best representatives.

1. Picarones

peruvian desserts picarones

One of the best Peruvian desserts to try during your stay is Picarones. Picarones are the Peruvian equivalent of donuts. For this reason, they are also often considered Peruvian donuts and their origins go back to pre-Hispanic times when the Incas people, who live in the south of Peru (Cusco and other current cities) elaborated a similar recipe with sweet potato and pumpkin. Years later, on the central coast of Peru, the recipe was combined with foreign ingredients that the Spanish conquerors brought like wheat flour and sugar, resulting in the famous Picaron.

These delicacies are a must at street vendor stalls and are one of the main dishes in Peruvian street food. Unlike donuts, Picarones are made from mashed sweet potatoes and pumpkins. After frying the pancakes, they are spread in Chancaca, a type of lovely sugar syrup. Picarones are the quintessential Peruvian desserts to accompany Anticuchos, another well-known dish.

2. Mazamorra de Cañihua (Cañihua Grits)

canihua peruvian desserts

Cañihua is one of the Andean cereals with the most nutritional contribution in all of Peru. These offer double the protein of wheat, rice, and even oats. This cereal is cultivated in the north of Titicaca Lake, in Puno Region (South of Peru), and can resist severe inclement weather, such as frost, drought, even flooding. Therefore, from powerful ingredients, nutritious food is elaborated, the Mazamorra de Cañihua. This is the best example among Andean Peruvian desserts, and its preparation is very easy.

First, the Cañihua has to be boiled with cinnamon and cloves. In another pan, over boiled water addition two egg yolks, flour, and carob juice. Remove constantly the mix (To prevent lumps) and add the water, where the Cañihua was boiled previously, and the same Cañihua cooked and crushed. When the mixture is thick, you can add sugar or bee honey to taste and… Well done! You will have the famous mazamorra of Cañihua.

3. Queso Helado (Frozen Cheese)

queso helado desserts in peru

Frozen cheese or “Queso Helado” is one of the best-known Peruvian desserts from Arequipa, a south department of Peru. This unique dessert is well known nationally for its particular texture and flavor. It is one of the healthiest desserts in the repertoire of Peruvian desserts. According to history, the first place, where the historians have registered its preparation, was the Santa Catalina Convent in the Historic Center of Arequipa. And, believe it or not, the Queso Helado (Frozen cheese) does not contain cheese in its preparation. Conversely, the main ingredient is fresh cow’s milk, which contains protein, calcium, and different minerals. After trying some Peruvian food dish, why not enjoy a Queso Helado for dessert?

4. Humitas Dulces (Sweet humitas)

humitas peruvian desserts

The Humitas Dulces was named “The Incas bread” by the chronicler and historian Garcilaso de la Vega. The term Humita comes from the Quechua word “Huminta” which means (cornbread). The Incas used to prepare them for main festivities and special occasions. Also, according to studies by Alexander Grobman, emeritus professor at the Agrarian University of La Molina, corn has come cultivated in Peru since 6504 and 7775, being Peruvian corn the oldest in all America.

The Humitas Dulces are the Peruvian desserts that are still being prepared in south Peruvian cities like Cusco, Arequipa, Puno inter alia. The fresh corn is blended with milk, this mix is added to the preparation of melted margarine, cinnamon, honey, and clove. After some minutes of cooking, the mix is wrapped in corn leaves and boiled in water, inside large saucepans. Finally, the humitas are retired and consumed in tea parties and special occasions. Dare to prove them, you will not regret it!

5. Guargüero

guarguero peruvian desserts

Guargüero is one of the best traditional Peruvian desserts in the south of Peru and Moquegua is its cradle. This dessert is prepared specially during Holy Week festivities in Moquegua. History said that the Spanish conquerors brought cow milk and this was the main ingredient that the Peruvian women mixed with egg yolk, wheat flour, and butter. All of them were fried into vegetable oil. The cook had to be given the preparation a conical shape in the process. After, the fried cones were retired and dried. Finally, the Guargüero was filled with blancmange, honey, even the delicious Peruvian chocolate.

This process means respecting the tradition of its preparation. Therefore, the Guarguero can be considered as the oldest delight among south Peruvian desserts.

Center Peruvian Desserts

center dessert in peru

Although the majority of Peruvian desserts and their ingredients were born in the South of the Andean country. These reached their maximum splendor over the tables of Peruvian center families’ houses. Why? Because the mestizo and creole people that crowed in center cities (Many of them came from the south) began to replicate the recipes of their native cities, replacing original ingredients for some that grown in surrounding areas of coasts. The result? Peruvian desserts with unique flavors and pleasing to any palate.

6. Mazamorra Morada (Purple Corn Pudding)

peruvian desserts mazamorra morada

Another of the amazing Peruvian desserts to try is the Mazamorra Morada. This well-known dessert is made with purple corn as the main ingredient (Api is the Quechua name of this type of Corn). It is the ingredient that gives it its iconic color and distinctive flavor. There is a record of its consumption since the colonial era, especially between the streets of Virreinal Peru. In addition to corn, certain fruits such as pineapple, peaches, apple as well as cinnamon, and cloves are also usually included, among other ingredients. This dessert is consumed throughout the year, but it is often more popular in the long winters of the country. If you are looking to experience tourism in Peru, you cannot miss out on trying this unique Peruvian flavor.

7. Arroz Zambito (Zambito rice)

zambito arroz

Arroz Zambito is the local variant of Arroz con Leche (Milk rice). Even, their preparation is similar, with the difference of Chancaca (unrefined brown sugar) that is included in the preparation phase of boiled rice, with aniseed and coconuts. Therefore, this ingredient brings its traditional brown color. As an additional note, Zambito or Zambo was the appellative that Peruvian gave to descendants of African persons who arrived in Chincha (South city from Lima) since Colonial times, due to its dark and ocher colors. In the beginning, the recipe was cooked with boiled water, the late years the water was replaced with milk, to obtain more consistency and viscosity. The final delight used to be adorned with dried pecans or shredded coconut.

Nowadays, Arroz Zambito is one of the most consumed Peruvian desserts in all regions of Peru. And the best of all is that there is no special occasion to taste it!

8. Frejol Colado (Strained beans)

frejol colado peruvian desserts

The Frejol Colado is an Afro-Peruvian bean candy native to the Cañete and Chincha valleys (The dessert was firstly prepared by African immigrants 150 years ago approx.) Frejol Colado translates in English as strained beans. It may not sound like something delicious, but trust me it is a rich and delicious dessert. Sweet as candy! Its preparation is not so complicated and requires simple ingredients. You will only need black beans cooked and crushed, sugar, cloves, anise, and milk mixed and blended slowly with the beans, and well done! You can expect a Peruvian dessert with a consistency of puree or pudding. It is not necessarily a great representative of Peruvian gastronomy, but it is a dessert with a great history behind it and consumed by everyone!

9. Suspiro de Limeña (The sigh of a Lima lady)

peruvian desserts suspiro limeño

The Suspiro de Limeña is one of the oldest Peruvian Desserts; its origin dates back to Lima in the 19th century when Amparo Ayarza created the recipe of this delight and her husband, the poet Jose Galvez crowned the creation of his beloved with a name as romantic as Suspiro de Limeña. This delicious dessert consists of a base of manjar blanco or dulce de leche. It is followed by a top layer of meringue dusted with cinnamon and other flavorings. This dessert is served in individual glasses or bowls with normal temperature or frozen. It is usually a classic in some of the best restaurants in Lima.

10. Ranfañote

ranfanote peruvian desserts

Among all Peruvian desserts, Ranfañote is considered the oldest desert in the Andean country. Its origin is still being discussed today. Some affirm that the dessert was an invention of Afro Peruvian slaves who did not know what to do with their dry bread rations. Others indicate that it was a creation of Peruvian soldiers with their food rations during “The War of the Pacific” (a war between Peru and Chile)

Either way, the Ranfañote is the best representative of the Peruvian inventive to stifle hunger. Pieces of toasted bread bathed in honey, blancmange, including Chancaca (raw brown sugar syrup). All of them are adorned with grated coconut, dried fruits, nuts, and pieces of salty cheese. Without a doubt, Ranfañote is a traditional delight that all visitor has to taste, at least once, during their trips to Peru.

11. Turrón

peruvian desserts turron

Doña Pepa’s Turrón is a well-known Peruvian dessert that is usually consumed more frequently during October. This month is also considered the Purple Month and is when numerous faithful people dress in purple and march in processions to celebrate the Lord of Miracles (An image of the crucified Christ that is taken out in procession). The tradition said that Josefa Maraminillo, a slave afro-peruvian woman, was brought to Lima to assist the Lord of Miracles’ procession because she suffered paralysis in all her limbs. One of these nights in Lima, during dreams, Josefa saw the presence of saints who gave her the recipe for a special nougat to be consumed in the purple month. The next morning, Josefa was completely healed. A real miracle! The nougat was named Turron de Doña Pepa – Mrs. Pepa nougat (Take note that Pepa is the Spanish demonym of Josefa)

This exquisitely layered nougat is also sprayed with Chancaca, a delightful sugar syrup. And after the syrup coating, it is bedewed in a variety of multicolored sprinkles, giving it a powerful visual appeal. Among souvenirs to buy in Peru, turron de Doña Pepa is the best gift that a visitor can bring from Peru!

12. Tejas

peruvian desserts tejas

Tejas is the Peruvian equivalent of traditional truffles. This Peruvian dessert originates from the desert region of Ica. They are usually dipped in a white sugar fondant. However, the chocotejas are also a trendy alternative, with a chocolate exterior. Inside, you can find a layer of walnuts and Manjar Blanco, among other things. These delicacies are often wrapped in paper and are often an excellent gift for relatives at home.

North Peruvian Desserts

north desserts in peru

The north of Peru is known as the origin of the most delightful dishes inside Peruvian gastronomy. However, the Peruvian desserts, elaborated there, are not far behind. These desserts are usually prepared with native ingredients cultivated around north Peruvian cities. Therefore, the north Peruvian desserts have unique flavors and colors. Below, you have the three most representative examples of the zone.

13. Champus

champus peruvian desserts

With such rich biodiversity in Peru, it is not surprising that there is also a great variety of Peruvian desserts. When we talk about Champus we are not referring to shampoo. Although they have a similar name, Champus are fruity desserts. They are very similar to the oatmeal porridge that is usually sold in the street carts of Peru. The base of the dessert is composed of Mote, fruit, cornmeal, and water. The fruits that are used can vary, but traditionally the following are used: Apple, quince, pineapple, and fresh guanabana (soursop). Its name comes from the Quechua word Chapusca, which means mixture. This nutritious dessert is not too sweet and is served hot. A perfect alternative for those cold days.

14. Lucuma Ice Cream

peruvian desserts lucuma ice cream

We all love ice cream; it is one of those classic desserts that you cannot miss. And Peruvians have their own ice cream flavor. Among the most famous Peruvian desserts, the Lucuma Ice cream is a unique flavor known by the locals. Lucuma is a subtropical fruit that grows in the valleys of the Andes. In English, it is known as “eggfruit,” and its flavor is very similar to that of sweet potatoes. It is a prevalent fruit for juicing and flavoring other desserts. A good Lucuma Ice Cream is excellent after trying a Peru national dish.

You only need some Lucuma fruit, peeled and cut into pieces, vanilla extract, heavy cream, and some egg whites. All of them are blended with sugar. The mixed has to be refrigerated by 8 hours approx, and well done!

15. King Kong

king kong desserts in peru

Alfajor de Trujillo (Trujillo is the capital city of Peruvian region Lambayeque) was the first name that received this traditional north Peruvian dessert. The non-official history says that a baker of Trujillo decided to prepare a traditional dessert, but large and big. By the same days of 1933, the first movie of King Kong (The famous gorilla of exorbitant dimensions) was premiered. The north Peruvian related both elements (The movie and the dessert) having a common factor, the big size of them. The Alfajor of Trujillo passed to, re-named King Kong.

This Peruvian dessert consists of cookies, situated one on top of the other. In the middle of them, blancmange, peanuts, strawberry jam inter alia are added. The result is a delight that all Peruvians consume whenever they can.

Foreign desserts most consumed in Peru

foreign desserts in peru

Peru is a country that received constant influence from many parts of the world. It is due to the constant immigration flews that the Andean country received through all its history. Gastronomy, especially, foreign desserts stayed in the country and many of them approached local ingredients. Below, you will see some of the most consumed foreign desserts in Peru.

Alfajores – Spain

peruvian desserts alfajores

Among the Peruvian desserts, Alfajor is one with an extensive history behind it. Throughout the American continent, this cookie is prepared in various ways. You can find Alfajores in wineries, markets, bakeries, supermarkets, and even in street carts. In general, the main Peruvian ingredient is the Manjar Blanco or dulce de leche, as it is known in other regions of America. It is usually an excellent gift for relatives after enjoying the different tours in Peru.

Arroz Con Leche – Asia

peruvian desserts arroz con leche

This iconic and internationally known dish is one of the classic Peruvian desserts to enjoy. It is usually sold in the different carts of street vendors and is often accompanied by Mazamorra Morada. This dessert, with the consistency of pudding, is a classic for Peruvian palates and is typically a great companion on cold winter days. Without a doubt, the Arroz con Leche is a must.

Lemon Pie – EE UU or England

peruvian desserts lemon pie

Although it is not a Peruvian dessert par excellence, Pie de Limón is an international dessert recognized throughout the world. And that is why it cannot be absent from some Peruvian tables in the country. Especially after enjoying a classic dish of traditional Peruvian food. In the same way, Peruvians have a unique way of preparing this dessert, giving it a different and individual touch.

Crema Volteada – Phoenicians

crema volteada peruvian desserts

The Crema Volteada as it is known in Peru would be the equivalent of Flan. Of course, it is not a dessert from Peru. But if it usually has an important place in the hearts of its locals. Also, the Peruvian version is frequently a little different from the original recipe. It is light, sweet, and a favorite among the youth of the country. In addition, its texture is a kind of cross between a jelly and a cheesecake. It’s surprisingly easy to make and a great dessert to enjoy as a family. You will only need whole milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.

Pionono – Italy

pionono peruvian desserts

Another of the Peruvian desserts where the Manjar Blanco has a leading role. The Peruvian Pionono is a popular and delicious dessert. It is also known as Jelly Roll in other parts of the world. This dessert is not originally from Peru, since many other countries have their own version. But the fact that is filled with Manjar Blanco is what gives it the characteristic Peruvian Style. Enjoy a slice for a sweet snack while paired with delicious coffee. If not, serve it as a dessert for a party or special occasion. It is not necessarily one of the Peruvian superfoods, but it is super delicious.

Tres Leches – Mexico or Nicaragua

peruvian desserts tres leches

You cannot talk about Peruvian desserts without thinking about this magical dessert. Tres Leches is a cake that is usually soaked in milk syrup. Milk syrup is made by combining evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk. Although heavy cream can also be an excellent substitute. The result is a cake with a consistency similar to that of pudding. It’s quite big and heavy, so make sure you’re hungry when trying it out! Make sure to try one of these delicious desserts in the middle of your Peru itinerary.

Panettone – Italy

panettone desserts in peru

Di you know that Peru is the second country, besides Italy, in consume of panettone? The Peruvian Panettone is a delicious cross between cakes and bread. This is one of the most incredible and popular Peruvian desserts in Peru. Its unique shape resembles a dome of a tall building. This delicious sweet bread can be enjoyed throughout the year. But in general, it is usually a common dessert during festive times like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In Peru, you can find Panettone of excellent brands as well as homemade.

Some recommendations

desserts in peru

If you are looking to get some advice on where to try the best Peruvian Desserts, we recommend that you do it in Lima. In the capital of Peru, you will not only find incredible restaurants, but you can also enjoy high-quality bakeries and cafes. Here we have listed some favorite places of the locals of Lima. Excellent to enjoy a sweet and a coffee.

  • Ana Avellana Pasteleria: Cookies, Cakes, Tarts and more.
  • Puku Puku Café: Coffees, Cakes, Kekes, and more.
  • Blu: Ice cream shop in the district of Barranco, Lima.
  • La Fiorentina Gelateria: An old-school ice cream parlor, excellent alternative.
  • Manolo: Churros filled with Manjar Blanco or Chocolate.

The truth is that these places are just a glimpse of everything available in Lima. And the capital is not the only specialist in delicious desserts. Throughout Peru, you can enjoy a great variety of unique desserts. Together with our guides, you will be able to know the best places and establishments where you can enjoy a delicious dessert.

“LAUGHTER IS BRIGHTEST IN THE PLACE WHERE THE FOOD IS”

As you can see, there are a few Peruvian desserts to enjoy on your next visit to Peru. These are just a glimpse of everything sweet and delicious that you will be able to experience on your trip. We hope together with Machu Travel Peru to have opened your appetite to try new flavors. Cusco and the Andean country is a great start for you to begin experiencing new recipes and new cultures. Remember that to organize a culinary experience; you only have to contact our qualified advisors. We’ll be waiting for you!

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!