Picarones – the Perfect Peruvian Donut

Picarones the Perfect Peruvian Donut

Peruvian cuisine is ever-changing and growing, and famous on a global scale. However, some of the best pastries are the ones that have been around for hundreds of years. One tasty treat that has stood the test of time are the delicious Peruvian donuts known as picarones. Sold on many street corners, with its spiced syrup made of chancaca, which is a type of raw sugar, picarones are the perfect way to end a day of exploring.

Picarones were invented during the viceroyalty of Peru when the Spaniards who had come over to Peru wanted to make buñuelos (a type of fried dough snack found in many parts of Spain). However, they needed to use the ingredients that Peru had to offer, namely squash and sweet potato. Instead of re-creating the fritters they were used to back home, they instead created something entirely new and wonderful, and enjoyed to this day. Topping these perfect rings that are exquisitely crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with the sweet, spiced chancaca syrup rounds out the plate entirely.

While making picarones can take some time, they are not technically challenging, and while some ingredients may be difficult to find outside of Peru (for example, chancaca), these are usually easily substituted (for example, with brown sugar). This recipe is a bit simplified and considering ingredients that you can more easily find in North America. Enjoy!

Picarones Recipe

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 4 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings: 52 Picarones


  • 1 Tbs. dry baking yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbs. ground corn or cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed anise
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup premium beer
  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash pureed.
  • 1-2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 lemon or orange peel shreds


  1. Doughnut Instructions: Dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water, use a small bowl for this.
  2. Mix cornmeal, salt, anise seed, 1 cup flour and beer in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and mix.
  3. Add squash or pumpkin and 2 cups of flour. Mix together to form a soft dough texture. Cover with a towel and let the mixture rise in a warm place for around 2 hours. You can also let the batter rise in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours if covered with film.
  4. Syrup instructions: Add the Syrup ingredients in a saucepan and leave to boil over medium heat level. Reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer until a thick syrup forms after 15 minutes or so. Remove saucepan from heat.
  5. To prepare doughnuts: Heat oil in a wok. Drop tablespoons of dough into hot oil and fry until crispy golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with warm syrup.


  • Helpful hints: To test for proper temperature, drop a small spoonful of dough into hot oil; if it rises quickly to the surface, the oil is hot enough.
  • If using the new quick-acting yeast, use half as much. Add to dry ingredients. Rising time will be reduced by about half.
  • To reheat doughnuts, place on baking sheets in a 350-degree oven until hot, about 5 minutes.


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