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Peruvian Picarones

Among Peru’s many culinary treasures are the delightful fritters known as picarones. Believed to be an adaptation of the buñuelos brought to Peru by the Spanish during the 16th century, these “Peruvian doughnuts” are made from squash and sweet potatoes along with aromatic spices. A common street food, they are traditionally served with a generous helping of sweet syrup.

Peruvian Picarones



  • 3 qt plus 2 C water (3⅓ l)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp (6 g) cloves
  • 1½ Tbsp (13 g) aniseed
  • ½ lb (250 g) pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb (500 g) sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ C (48 g) sugar
  • 3 Tbsp (28 g) fresh yeast
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 lg egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 C (250 g) self-rising flour
  • Oil for deep frying


  • 2 C (237 ml) water
  • 2 C (440 g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 C (383 g) sugar
  • 1 fig leaf
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp (6 g) cloves
  • Peel from 1 orange, cut into large strips


Picarones: Bring water to a boil, add cinnamon, cloves and aniseed, reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes, strain out spices, add pumpkin and sweet potato to water, simmer 10-15 minutes or until tender, strain; reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid. Pass pumpkin and sweet potato through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl; let cool. Combine reserved cooking liquid, sugar and yeast; let proof 10-15 minutes. Add salt, egg and yeast mixture to pumpkin mixture, blend thoroughly, fold in flour, mix until dough is smooth and no longer sticky, place bowl in a warm spot, cover with a damp cloth; let rise 1 hour or until doubled in volume. Heat oil in a large, deep saucepan or deep fryer to 325°F (165°C). Form tablespoons of dough into ring shapes (rinse hands in ice water from time to time), fry until golden, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Syrup: Place all ingredients in a saucepan, simmer 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens; strain.

Plating: Dip picarones in syrup before serving.

  • Prep time: 18 minutes.
  • Cook time: 55 minutes.
  • Makes 10 servings.