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Picarones - Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Doughnut Recipe

Picarones the peruvian doughnuts

Picarones the peruvian doughnuts

Have you tried picarones before?

The Peruvian Doughnut

Some of the best foods you will ever find to eat will be the local street food of any culture.

This is the best way to find out what the local people are like, through their food.

Peru has many different street foods. In most parts of Peru, as evening approaches you can see the trolleys rolling onto the streets with gas bottles attached. Each prepared for an evening on the streets selling freshly prepared evening snacks.

What is a picarone

It is basically a Peruvian doughnut, but much nicer, in fact they are addictive.

The principle ingredients are squash and sweet potato; it is then stretched to form a doughnut shape, fried, and best served hot, smothered in rich gooey chancaca syrup. It is a traditional street food that can be found in most towns being sold from mobile trolleys on street corners.

How they came about

Picarones were developed during the colonial period in Peru to replace the more expensive ingredients involved in making “Buñuelos” a Mexican street food. People started to replace some ingredients of the Buñuelo with sweet potato and squash. Peru had now created it´s very own dessert that became a very popular street food right up until and still is today.

Frying the picarones

Frying the picarones

Picarones mix

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 lb. butternut squash cubed
  • 4 whole anise seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 4 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 4 teaspoons white sugar
  • ¼ cup of pisco (any brandy)
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour

Chancaca syrup

  • ½ kg (1lb) chancaca
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • Rind of an orange
  • Rind of a lime
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 2 cups water


  1. Boil a good amount of water enough to be able to cover your sweet potato and squash. But don´t put them in yet. Add the cinnamon, cloves and aniseed to the water and leave to boil for 10 mins.
  2. Take out the spices from the water and add the squash and sweet potato to spiced water to cook until soft. When cooked, drain the potatoes but saving to one side 2 cups of the liquid. Leave the potatoes to cool.
  3. Place in a large bowl the 2 cups of liquid which should be slightly warm but not hot. Add the yeast and sugar. Gently mix together with fingers and leave to stand for 15 mins.
  4. In a separate bowl or in your food processor make a puree from the squash and sweet potato. In the large bowl with your puree, add salt, and mix with your hands the yeast mix into the potato until it is mixed in really well.
  5. Mix in the flour and move it around vigorously until a soft, elastic mix is made and it no longer sticks to your fingers.
  6. Place the mix onto a baking sheet large enough and loosely cover with plastic wrap for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Heat up a frying pan with plenty of oil. With humid fingers but not wet, take a portion of your mix and form a thin doughnut shape and place into hot oil until golden brown and floating.
  8. While still hot, pour over a good amount of syrup mix, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your family will keep asking you to make these as a special treat……… every week
Picarones ruinas on the corner of Tullumayo & Ruinas

Picarones ruinas on the corner of Tullumayo & Ruinas

Picarones Ruinas...Cusco

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36 years ago the owner started selling picarones in Cusco, just some 10 minutes walk from the plaza the main square in the center of historic Cusco on the corner of Tullumayo and Ruinas. This is just ½ a block away from the recently renovated building that now serves as a beautiful Marriot Hotel.

This picarone bar is only open in the evenings and only sells picarones and chicha morada a purple corn drink commonly drunk in Peru.

It´s amazing that the owner has been here for so many years and has made a thriving business out of it and never had to branch out into making anything else.

Why spoil a good thing?

Check out these ideas


lemonkerdz (author) from LIMA, PERU on January 22, 2014:

VVanNess Man after my own heart. I love doughnuts too. They are a peruvian version so they will be different to what he knows but will love em.

Thanks for commenting.

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on January 22, 2014:

I'm just going to thank you for my husband. He LOVES doughnuts! I'll have to make these for him. He'll be delighted.

lemonkerdz (author) from LIMA, PERU on May 25, 2013:

They are pretty adictive especially with plenty of that sticky sauce. oh yer yummy

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on May 25, 2013:

Yum! Sweet potatoes and butternut squash in a dessert! That is so much better then just white flour doughnuts. I will try to I am sure I will find them favorites. Thanks!

lemonkerdz (author) from LIMA, PERU on January 24, 2013:

Mama Kim 8 Everyone loves these crispy peruvian version of the doughnut, once you try one you can't stop eating, especially with that syrup sauce yum... thanks for commenting and voting :-)

Aloe Kim on January 23, 2013:

Oh my goodness this sounds amazing!!! ^_^ I totally agree with you in that street food is the best when traveling. Wonderful recipe and great background info. Voting a whole bunch!

lemonkerdz (author) from LIMA, PERU on December 22, 2012:

Wow sounds like you had a great taxi experience. They really are a popular snack for the evenings. Anyone coming to peru should try them and then they might appreciate this hub a little more and be motivated to give it a go at home. the trick is don't rush them. The fermenting stage is important to have light fluffy picarones.

After the taxi, this hub is your life saver :-)

IndieJoe on December 22, 2012:

I've never met anyone that didn't love this Peruvian snack. They are infinitely better than a doughnut or funnel cake. I've been known to jump out of a moving taxi at the sight of a vendor selling picarones in the market. They're that good! Thanks for giving us an option to cook at home - much safer than abandoning moving vehicles.

lemonkerdz (author) from LIMA, PERU on December 15, 2012:

These are such a different kind of doughnut to what is sold in Dunkins but as you say they are addictive but amazing. The sauce is what really makes these special and everyboby has their own secret ingredient. Some infuse the sauce with a fig leaf while others put a small amount of fig in it. I have included just the basic recipe.


Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on December 14, 2012:

Having sampled picarones here in Peru, I can vouch for how addictive they are! In fact, when the 18-year-old son of some dear friends came to stay with us, he quickly became addicted to them. In the early afternoon, when our neighbor began making them, he would become highly irritated if they didn't get the picarones out quickly enough! Now we can make them at home. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us.

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