• Menu

Eating Guinea Pig (Cuy) in Peru

*Affiliate disclosure: I may receive commissions if you buy via the links below. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

As you may know, I get a kick out of trying exotic foods. The weirder, the better. I’ve eaten balut (duck embryo), durian (stinky fruit), and alligator, just to name a few. So call me cruel, but when I decided to come to Cusco, I was ecstatic about eating a guinea pig, or as the Peruvians call it, “cuy” (COO-ee).

Cuy al horno, baked guinea pig in Cusco

To begin with, you should know Peruvians don’t eat cuy on a regular basis. This pricey, delicacy is normally saved for special occasions such as birthdays, fiestas, and holidays.

Today, with the influx of curious tourists, many Peruvian restaurants now keep cuy on the menu, if only to satisfy the appetites of adventurous foreigners.

History of Guinea Pigs

Believe it or not, guinea pigs originated in the Andean region (Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru) and were originally raised specifically for eating.

It wasn’t until the Spanish came and started sending guinea pigs to Europe that the furry creatures were treated as pets.

Guinea pig meat is considered special because it’s higher in protein and lower in cholesterol than chicken, pork, or beef.

I know a girl here in Cusco who volunteers with a program that raises guinea pigs specifically to feed to cancer patients, as the meat is healthier for them.

The cuy was revered by certain indigenous Peruvian peoples such as the Moche, Incas and the Quechua. In fact, in the Cathedral in the main square of Cusco, you can find a Quechua painter’s rendition of “The Last Supper”–with cuy being served!

Cuy al Horno Versus Cuy Chactado

Important to know, is that there are two main ways cuy is served in Peru:

  1. Cuy al horno (Baked Cuy)Cuy al horno, baked guinea pig I recommend trying this one because this is the way it is traditionally served in the Andean region, stuffed with herbs, baked over a spit, and served whole.
  2. Cuy Chactado (Fried Cuy)
    This way of preparing cuy is indigenous to Ayacucho, a city to the west of Cusco. It’s more difficult to find cuy chactado in Cusco, but I have seen it on the menu at La Cusqueñita.

Where to Try Cuy

I asked my host, Manuel, a native Cusqueñan, and he highly recommended La Cusqueñita, a traditional (albeit, touristy) restaurant on Ave. Tullumayo in central Cusco.

What It Tastes Like

It tastes like a dark meat chicken or duck. Some people describe its flavor as being close to pork. It didn’t taste too “gamey” to me.

Honestly, it doesn’t taste nearly as bad as it looks or sounds. It’s just another meat. There actually isn’t much meat on the bones; the meatiest parts are the hind legs.

Headed to Machu Picchu? Check out these tours!

How to Eat Cuy

You have to use your hands. I’m serious.

Don’t try to be all dainty and sophisticated when in reality you have a roasted childhood pet snarling at you from your plate. :))

Dig in with your fingers like the barbarian that you are! (Alternatively, you can ask the waiter to cut it up for you. My friend who visited me in Cusco two weeks ago did this. Much less messy.)

guinea pig on a plate
Ripped off its hind legs. I was told to!
Eating Cuy Guinea Pig in Peru - Guinea pig parts on a plate
I’m a monster.

Coincidentally, three days later as I was touring the nearby town of Ollantaytambo, my tour guide took me to a house where a woman raises guinea pigs for human consumption. And–oh crap–they’re kinda cute.
soma order
tramadol for sale

Live guinea pigs raised in Ollantaytambo
Look at those furry faces!

order xanax on line
tramadol overnight delivery

live guinea pigs in a house in Ollantaytambo
Those eyes…WHAT HAVE I DONE?

What’s the most “adventurous” food you’ve tried? Would you eat cuy?

What’s the Weather Like in Cusco, Peru?

How to Avoid Food Poisoning & Traveler’s Diarrhea in Cusco, Peru

14 Surprising Things About Cusco, Peru

Transportation in Cusco, Peru

17 Famous Foods in Peru You MUST Try

How to Plan a Trip to Peru (From Someone Who Did It Three Times)

10 Breathtaking Day Trips from Cusco, Peru

Don't forget travel insurance to protect your trip in case of injury or delays! Get World Nomads