Unforgettable Taste of Picarones: How to Make Them at Home

Have you ever tasted a sweet and fluffy dessert that melts in your mouth? If not, then you’re in for a treat with this Peruvian classic dish called Picarones. Picarones are deep-fried doughnuts made from sweet potatoes and squash that are mixed with flour and yeast to form a dough. Then spiced up with cinnamon sticks, anise seed, and whole cloves to get that unique flavor which sets them apart from any other fried dough.

The origins of Picarones date back to the Moche culture in Peru, where they were initially eaten during religious ceremonies. However, today they are enjoyed as a street food and in restaurants throughout the country. This dessert is so popular that it has crossed borders and become a traditional dessert not only in Peru but also in countries like Chile.

In this article, I will show you how to make Picarones that will rival any restaurant’s version. All the necessary ingredients can be found at any local supermarket, so there’s no need to go searching far and wide.

So get ready to indulge yourself in this delicious Peruvian dessert food that has been enjoyed for centuries. Follow the guide below on how to make Picarones, and you’ll have yourself some fluffy doughnuts with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cloves in no time!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe


Picture yourself indulging in a warm and fluffy doughnut, crispy on the outside, with an infusion of cinnamon and cloves. Now imagine this same doughnut made with the flavors and textures inspired by Peruvian cuisine – this is where Picarones come into play.

This delicious Peruvian dessert food has been enjoyed for centuries, and it’s not hard to see why! Made with mashed up squash or sweet potato, anise seed, fresh yeast, and all-purpose flour, these treats are packed with hearty nutrients like vitamins A and C. picarones can be served in numerous ways- drizzled with syrup or chocolate, sprinkled with powdered sugar or served plain- there’s no wrong way to enjoy them.

One of the main reasons why you’ll love this recipe is its versatility: you can make Picarones using either pumpkin, yam or sweet potato. Each variation adds its own touch that makes it unique; pumpkin donuts give a subtle sweetness to the recipe while yam fritters have a denser texture that takes longer to fry but once fried will stay crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.

Another reason why you’ll adore this dessert recipe is its cultural significance. Picarones carry with them the traditional charm of Lima, Peru, where they originated and have become one of Peru’s most cherished dishes. This treat demonstrates how food can connect us to a country’s rich history and how it can inspire us to learn more about its people and culture.

Lastly, making Picarones is simple and satisfying. It’s a perfect opportunity to get your hands dirty and prepare some delicious Peruvian doughnuts without any fancy equipment needed ones. The ingredients are few and pantry-friendly; most ingredients requested can be substituted by what you already have at home.

There are countless reasons why you should try this recipe today; it’s deliciously tasty, versatile, culturally significant, nutritious – what more could you ask for? So, get ready to make Peruvian Picarones, and be prepared to taste a little bit of Peru!

Ingredient List

 Crispy and golden brown, Picarones are a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
Crispy and golden brown, Picarones are a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Picarones Recipe

Here’s a list of ingredients you’ll need to make delicious Peruvian Picarones:
– 1 pound (450 g) Squash, peeled and seeds removed, cut into small pieces.
– 1 Sweet Potato (1/2 lb or 225 g), peeled and chopped.
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 3 whole cloves
– 2 teaspoons anise seed
– 1 pack fresh yeast (0.60 oz or 17 g)
– 1/4 cup (50 g) white sugar
– 2 tablespoons (30 g) dark brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 4 cups (500 g) All-Purpose Flour

Optional Ingredients:
– Pumpkin instead of sweet potato can be used optionally, in which case the recipe is called Picarones Pumpkin.
– Chancaca or Panela Syrup, which is a popular sweetener used in Latin American cuisine.

It is recommended to use fresh ingredients to ensure the best flavor and consistency of the dough.

The Recipe How-To

 Sweet potato and pumpkin puree come together perfectly to form these scrumptious fritters.
Sweet potato and pumpkin puree come together perfectly to form these scrumptious fritters.

Now that you’ve gathered all the ingredients, it’s time to start making the Picarones! Follow these simple steps to achieve perfect results:

Step 1: Boil the Vegetables

In a large pot, add enough water to cover 1 pound of squash and sweet potato (half of each), and boil until they are tender. Drain well and let them cool for a few minutes.

Step 2: Prepare the Dough

In a blender, mix the boiled vegetables until they have a smooth texture. Then, add 1 tablespoon of fresh yeast, 2 teaspoons of anise seed, 3 cinnamon sticks, and 8 whole cloves. Mix again for a few seconds.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and gradually add 4 cups of all-purpose flour, while stirring constantly. Keep mixing until you get a uniform and soft dough that doesn’t stick to your hands. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

Step 3: Make the Picarones

Heat up enough oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. If you have access to traditional Peruvian syrup made from chancaca, this is where you would pour it into a separate pot and start heating it up as well.

Take pieces of dough and roll them into strips about 1 inch thick. Then connect both ends of each strip by pinching them together with your fingers, forming rings about 3 inches in diameter.

Carefully place each ring into the hot oil using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, cook until golden-brown, then remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon or spider strainer once more. Place on paper towels to remove any excess grease.

If you have traditional Peruvian chancaca syrup ready, dip each picarón into the syrup for extra flavor.

Now that you have successfully made the Picarones, it’s time to enjoy them!

Substitutions and Variations

 Get your sugar fix with a helping of Picarones that are drizzled with syrup.
Get your sugar fix with a helping of Picarones that are drizzled with syrup.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to experiment with the flavors of Picarones, there are a few ingredient substitutions and variations that you can try.

Firstly, instead of using sweet potato, you can use pumpkin or butternut squash to create a slightly different texture and flavor. In fact, picarones pumpkin is a common variation, which adds an earthy sweetness and creaminess to this Peruvian dessert.

You can also swap white sugar for honey or agave nectar for a more natural sweetener. The same goes for the chancaca syrup, which is essentially boiled cane sugar that gives picarones its caramel-like flavor. You can experiment with different molasses or syrups to make your own unique version of this classic treat.

Another fun idea is to top your picarones with various toppings such as whipped cream, chocolate syrup, fruit compote or shredded coconut to add some extra pizzaz. You could even go a step further and add some chopped nuts like pecans or cashews for crunch.

One popular variation of picarones is Chilean Picarones where yams are used instead of sweet potatoes. Yams have a denser texture than sweet potatoes and add depth to the dish.

The traditional Peruvian way of consuming picarones is with hot chocolate, but you could pair them with your favorite dessert wine or coffee too.

By experimenting with these variations, you can take the basic Peruvian Picarones recipe and make it into something truly unique and delicious!

Serving and Pairing

 Served piping hot, these fried dough rings make the perfect winter warmer.
Served piping hot, these fried dough rings make the perfect winter warmer.

When it comes to serving and pairing picarones, there are many delicious options to choose from. Traditionally, picarones are served with a drizzle of chancaca syrup on top, which is essentially a sweet syrup made from raw cane sugar. This syrup complements the rich and earthy flavor of the picarones, making them even more delicious.

You can also pair picarones with other desserts such as ice cream, which creates a delightful combination of cold and warm textures. You can also serve them alongside some fresh fruit such as sliced mango or pineapple for a refreshing twist.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try pairing picarones with some savory dishes such as grilled meats. The sweetness of the donuts goes well with salty and savory flavors, creating an interesting palate experience.

For drinks, you can pair picarones with a hot cup of coffee or tea to balance out the sweetness. Alternatively, you can try serving them alongside traditional Peruvian beverages such as chicha morada – a sweet purple corn drink – or Inca Kola – a neon yellow soda that tastes like bubblegum.

Overall, picarones are a versatile dessert that can be paired with many different flavors and beverages. Whether you prefer sweet or savory pairings, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So why not give this traditional Peruvian dessert a try and experiment with some new flavor combinations?

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Bring a little bit of Peruvian culture into your kitchen with this authentic recipe.
Bring a little bit of Peruvian culture into your kitchen with this authentic recipe.

As with many fried desserts, Picarones are best enjoyed while still warm and fresh. However, if you find yourself with leftovers or wish to prepare them in advance, fret not! There are several ways to store and reheat Picarones to ensure they retain their deliciousness.

To make-ahead, prepare the Picarones dough based on the recipe instructions and refrigerate it overnight. When you’re ready to fry them up, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping and frying. This will allow the dough to soften and make shaping easier.

To store leftover Picarones, let them cool to room temperature and place them in an airtight container or Ziplock bag. The Picarones should be kept at room temperature for up to 24 hours. If you need to store them for longer, you can freeze them for up to three months.

To reheat Picarones, there are a couple of options. If they’ve been stored at room temperature, you can warm them up in the oven by placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and heating them at 350°F (~175°C) for about 5-10 minutes until just warmed through. Alternatively, you can heat them up in a microwave for about 10-15 seconds.

It’s important to note that reheated Picarones may not be as crispy as freshly made ones, but they will still be delicious! To add some extra sweetness and flavor, drizzle some chancaca syrup or honey over the top before serving. Enjoy your traditional Peruvian dessert!

Tips for Perfect Results

 No need to go to the street vendors, when you can whip up a batch of Picarones at home.
No need to go to the street vendors, when you can whip up a batch of Picarones at home.

To achieve the perfect texture and flavor of Picarones, follow these tips:

1. The dough: The dough is the foundation of great Picarones, so it’s essential to get it right. Make sure to use fresh yeast and knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. Also, be sure to let the dough rise in a warm place for at least an hour before frying.

2. Sweet potato: The sweet potato should be cooked before mixing with the flour. Boil or roast the sweet potato until fully cooked then mash it until smooth. This will help to incorporate it well into the dough.

3. Frying technique: It’s crucial that your oil be at a consistent temperature when frying picarones. Batches fried in cooler oil soaked up more oil and ended up soggy while batches fried in too-hot oil burned on the outside but were still undercooked on the inside. For best results, heat oil over medium-high heat and fry picarones until they’re golden brown and crispy.

4. Dipping sauce: Traditional Picarones are served with chancaca syrup, which is made by melting brown sugar, anise seed, cloves, cinnamon stick in water over medium heat until thickened. For variation, you can also serve them with honey, a simple syrup made from white sugar or maple syrup.

5. Serving temperature: Picarones are best served hot and fresh from the pan. Avoid warming them in a microwave or an oven as this will make them soggy.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to produce authentic Peruvian Picarones that are sure to dazzle your friends and family at your next gathering!


Before we get into the FAQs for this incredible Picarones Recipe, let me remind you that patience and practice are two of the most important factors in achieving success with this recipe. Of course, it’s natural to have doubts and hesitations along the way, which is why we have put together some frequently asked questions that will help you troubleshoot any issues you may encounter while making these delicious Peruvian dessert delicacies. Keep reading to get answers to the most commonly asked questions about Picarones Recipe.

What are Peruvian picarones made of?

Picarones is a Peruvian delicacy typically made from a blend of squash and sweet potato, fried in a doughnut shape, and topped with a syrup made from chancaca. This delectable dessert is traditionally served alongside the famous Peruvian dish, anticuchos.

What is the history of picarones?

Legend has it that the picarón can trace its roots back to pre-Hispanic eras when indigenous peoples created a comparable treat made from sweet potatoes and squash, which were staples in the Inca’s daily meals.

How much is a picarone?

The beloved snack of the Peruvian culture are picarones, which are a popular street food that can be bought for a low cost ranging from 60 cents to $1.20.

Bottom Line

Finally, if you want to impress your guests with a unique and delicious dessert, the Picarones recipe is definitely worth trying. Its rich history and cultural significance make it a perfect dish to introduce to your friends and family.

I hope this guide to making Picarones has given you all the information you need to make this traditional Peruvian dessert in your kitchen. Remember to follow the tips and techniques carefully, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different toppings and flavors.

Let’s not forget that cooking is an art form, and experimentation is crucial for discovering new flavor combinations.

So, get out your ingredients and start making Picarones today! Once you taste these fried pumpkin or sweet potato doughnuts drizzled with chancaca syrup, melt-in-your-mouth flavor awaits you. And don’t forget to rate this recipe and let us know how it turns out!


Picarones Recipe

A great Peruvian desert that I love and miss. If you wet your hands in salted water frequently--it makes the dough more manageable:)
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine Peruvian
Calories 707.6 kcal


  • 1 lb sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 lb squash, peeled
  • 1 lb flour
  • 3 tablespoons fresh yeast
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons anise seed
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • oil, necessary amount for frying


  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 allspice
  • 1 orange peel, cut into thick large strips
  • 4 cups water


  • Fill water in a large pan with cinnamon, clove, and aniseed. Boil for 10 min, and strain reserving water.
  • Cook sweet potatoes and squash in the reserved water until tender.
  • Remove pan and force through a strainer.
  • Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid and allow to cool.
  • In a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar and reserved cooking liquid.
  • Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Place strained sweet potatoes and squash in a large bowl. add salt, yeast mixture and eggs; stir until combined.
  • Fold in flour and continue stirring until soft and smooth and elastic dough is formed.
  • Cover with a damp cloth and leave dough to rise for 1 hour.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet until hot. Take a small quantity of dough and form a ring.
  • Fry in hot oil until golden on both sides. Repeat until all is used.
  • Drain on paper napkins.
  • Syrup:
  • combine sugar, clove, cinnamon, orange peel, allspice and water in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring to boil over low heat until mixture thickens to a syrup.
  • It will take around 20-25 minutes.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 330gCalories: 707.6kcalCarbohydrates: 165.8gProtein: 9.3gFat: 2.2gSaturated Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 52.9mgSodium: 94.5mgFiber: 4.1gSugar: 111.5g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Dessert, Peruvian, South American
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.