Cusco-style Roasted Guinea Pig

18 de April de 2024

The roasted guinea pig is one of the most consumed dishes in Peru by both visitors and locals due to its substantial nutritional value and flavor. Its unique preparations make it more attractive and sought-after by everyone.

What is a Guinea Pig?

guinea pig
Guinea Pig

The guinea pig is a species of rodent from the Cavidae family, originating from the Andean regions of South America such as Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia. This animal is also known as a cobaya, cuye, guinea pig, or, scientifically, Cavia porcellus.

This small rodent can weigh up to 2.9 kg, has a broad body covered with bristly, straight hair in various colors and swirls, a wide head with small ears, and short legs with a varying number of toes.

Guinea pigs hold significant importance in Latin America, particularly in Peru, where their breeding is crucial for many Peruvian families because these animals require much less space than other livestock species.

There are projects initiated by the Peruvian government to encourage the breeding of guinea pigs, which can be for economic purposes or as a source of food, as they help combat anemia.

The origin of the guinea pig dates back to the Inca era, where they were consumed, used in rituals, and served in celebratory dishes. Their consumption was linked to important feasts celebrating Mother Earth (Pachamama). One belief was that if a guinea pig had red eyes, it indicated that the Inca family had not yet finished asking for forgiveness for their deeds.

Today, some of these beliefs persist with variations, such as some shamans (persons believed to possess supernatural powers) using the guinea pig to "heal" or "cure fright."

Nutritional Value of Peruvian Guinea Pig

Guinea pig meat is highly nutritious, containing essential amino acids and fatty acids for human nutrition. According to the National Institute of Health (INS) and the National Food Center of the Ministry of Health (MINSA), guinea pig meat surpasses the nutritional values of other meats.

The approximate nutritional content of guinea pig meat includes 20% protein; 1.6% fat; and 1.2% minerals, among which calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc are prominent.

The Best Recipe for Roasted Guinea Pig

Roasted Guinea Pig
Roasted Guinea Pig

Peru boasts a rich variety of traditional dishes, and its overall cuisine delights both locals and visitors alike. The roasted guinea pig is an exquisite dish renowned for its flavor and preparation.

There are various dishes and preparations; however, one of the most desired is Roasted Guinea Pig. The recipes vary depending on the region and the ingredients used. Here we present an easy recipe to follow to enjoy this dish.


  • 1 guinea pig, split down the middle
  • ground garlic cloves
  • juice of lemon and orange
  • oil
  • cumin
  • pepper
  • huacatay
  • ground ginger to taste


  • To prepare the seasoning, a stone mortar (batán) is used to grind the garlic cloves, ginger, salt, cumin, and huacatay leaves.
  • The peeled, gutted, and cleaned guinea pig is stuffed with the prepared seasoning inside and out, then drizzled with orange and lemon juice, and finally, a generous amount of huacatay branches are placed inside the guinea pig.
  • In a tray, place the well-seasoned guinea pigs. A tip is to use small sticks to keep the guinea pig from sticking to the tray so that they remain intact when served. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and place it in a preheated oven.
  • Bake the guinea pig for an hour and a half, then turn it over, remove the aluminum foil, and return it to the oven to brown for another 15 minutes. (It is important to check the quality of the oven and monitor the cooking process).
  • The roasted guinea pig can be served with boiled potatoes, potato pie, baked pasta, and more.

Where to Eat the Best Roasted Guinea Pig in Cusco?

As a representative dish of Peru and its regions, it is possible to find roasted guinea pig in various rural restaurants throughout the city of Cusco. One of the most popular places is Tipón, where various restaurants prepare Cusco-style dishes in abundance.

Other Dishes Made with Guinea Pig

In Peru, guinea pig is prepared in various ways, including Roasted Guinea Pig, Fried Guinea Pig, Guinea Pig on a Stick, Guinea Pig Stew, Pachamanca, and others.

Fried Guinea Pig

Fried Guinea Pig is characterized by its preparation with flour on the seasoned guinea pig, followed by frying in oil. This dish is distinctive of the Arequipa region and is served with fried potatoes and salad.

Fried Guinea Pig
Fried Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig on a Stick

Guinea Pig on a Stick is a traditional preparation for those without an oven. The guinea pig is placed on a stick and cooked over a fire until it is done, often served with golden potatoes, sauce, or tortillas.

Guinea Pig on a Stick
Guinea Pig on a Stick Photo: @airam_aidil

Guinea Pig Stew

Unlike the previous dishes, Guinea Pig Stew is a casserole made with guinea pig meat, corn, potatoes, seasoned with onions, peanuts, and is accompanied by rice.

Guinea Pig Stew


Pachamanca is one of the most traditional dishes in Peruvian cuisine, celebrated every first Sunday of February. For cooking, a stone oven is used where meats, vegetables, and fruits are placed, covered with earth until cooked, and then removed from the ground to be shared.

It is recommended to season the meats a day before cooking.



Déjanos tu respuesta o si tienes alguna pregunta, consultenos.
form contacto
Our partners
Our certifications