Thanks to a varied climate and distinct regions, Peruvian fruit is some of the most diverse in the entire world. Some are localised to the Andes and the Amazon, whereas others appear on grocery shelves in supermarkets all over the world.
Whether you’re looking for a snack for a long distance bus journey or are hoping to recreate your favourite dessert at home, these colourful fruits from Peru are some of the best that the world has to offer.
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17 Delicious Peruvian Fruits
Evidence from archaeological sites shows guavas have been cultivated in Peru for over 4500 years! They can be eaten raw as well as consumed in jams. Generally they will have a green exterior and be pink on the inside.
Sometimes referred to as guayaba, these fruits are commonly used in juices. They are also touted as having several health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and boosting heart health.
2. Camu camu
Introducing another Peruvian fruit which is native to the Amazon region: camu camu. This sour berry grows on bushes in swampy areas and is usually yellow or red in colour. It has a citrusy taste which is described to be somewhere between cherry, grapefruit and lime.
Camu camu is a famous superfood which goes some way in explaining why it so readily features in health juices, powders and pills. In fact, this fruit is so good for you that it contains 60 times the amount of vitamin C than in an orange!
It has numerous other health benefits too, including containing a load of antioxidants which have been claimed to protect the health of smokers. However, it is worth bearing in mind that these benefits are debated and there is little solid evidence to prove the effectiveness of antioxidants.
If I told you there was a fruit so lavish that it actually tastes like butterscotch, would you believe me? Well, that is exactly what lucuma tastes like. The fruit is generally green, with an orange flesh which is a similar texture to sweet potato.
Known as the ‘Gold of the Incas’, this fruit was long a symbol of creation and fertility. In fact, it has been so important to Peruvian culture that the image of lucuma has even been found in the designs of ancient ceramics.
Lucuma is an ideal dessert fruit as it is so sweet. It’s also a common ice cream flavour which is easy to pick up all over Peru. During our cooking class with Cusco Culinary, we used lucuma to make a delicious, creamy dessert. It was so good that I still get lost in dreams of it now!
Cocona is native to the Amazonian region. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Amazon tomato’ and despite what you’d assume from the name, is a type of citrus fruit. It tastes like a cross between a tomato and a lime.
Cocona is believed to be closely related to naranjilla and it can be red, purple or yellow in colour. As well as being a popular choice for jam making, it is also frequently used to produce spicy sauces and condiments.
Maracuya is the Spanish word for passionfruit. It generally refers to the yellow variety that grows across South America. It is one of Peru’s most common fruits and is easy to find at markets across the country.
This fruit is cultivated in tropical rainforest regions and is enjoyed in a variety of ways. Commonly, the pulp will be scraped out and used for juices or alcoholic beverages. One of our favourite South American drinks, the Brazilian Caipirinha, is often made using maracuya.
The fruit has a sour, tropical taste and is also rich in potassium and various vitamins. It is claimed that maracuya also has antioxidant properties and can be hugely beneficial for your digestive system.
6. Pepino dulce
Although the name ‘pepino dulce’ literally translates to ‘sweet cucumber’, this type of fruit is more similar to a melon. It is grown in the Andean region of Peru and it is usually yellow with purple lines.
Pepinos dulces can be different sizes as well as shapes. The yellow flesh is sweet and refreshing, with its flavour being likened to a cross between cucumber and honey melon. Many say that it’s similar to cantaloupe. This fruit is traditionally eaten as is or cut up and put into a fruit salad.
Aguaymanto is a fruit which bears many names. You may hear it referred to as the ‘Inca berry’, the ‘Peruvian cherry’ or even the ‘pichuberry’. Widely available all over the world and generally used for garnishing desserts, I’ll admit I wasn’t aware that this fruit was native to the Andean region until I visited Peru!
Known for its orange yellow colour and paper-like leaf, it has a sweet taste. Aguaymanto has been cultivated in Peru for thousands of years and was believed to have been popular with Incan royalty.
Upon first glance, you could be forgiven for not realising that pacay is actually a fruit. However, these large pods (which look slightly similar to green beans in shape, albeit much larger) hide a sweet interior. Cracked open, they are home to big black seeds (which you don’t eat) and most importantly, sweet, sugary fibres which resemble candy floss (which you definitely do eat!).
Also known as ‘ice cream bean’ in English, this fruit tastes far too good to be healthy but healthy it is! It contains important vitamins, minerals and is even used for medicinal purposes across the country.
You can find pacay in the tropical regions of Peru. In the days of the Incan Empire, it is believed that Pacay was commonly brought up to the capital of Cusco where it was enjoyed by royalty.
9. Limón Peruano
For those of you who have been brushing up on your Spanish, you’ve probably realised that limón peruano literally means Peruvian lemon in English. This can be a little confusing because in this case, we’re talking about limes.
In Latin American, limón has become a generic word for citrus fruits across the region. As lime is the most common citrus fruit in many countries, it is often referred to as limón.
Measuring around 3-4cm in length, the Peruvian lime is not only a little smaller than its European counterpart but it is also sourer.
Otherwise known as ‘Mountain papaya’, this fruit thrives in the Andes, at altitudes between 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres above sea level. It is smaller than the type of papaya we commonly see for sale in European supermarkets and when ripe, is a dark orange/yellow colour.
The pulp is edible, however, it is said to have a slightly more bitter taste than normal papaya. It is sometimes eaten before a big meal to help with digestion. As well as being cultivated in Peru, it is also found in Colombia and Chile.
Despite tuna being a type of fish for us English speaking nations, in Peru, it is a type of fruit. Grown on cactus trees, the tuna fruit has a spiky exterior and is a shocking magenta colour inside.
Sometimes known as prickly pear, this fruit has a long history in Peruvian culture and has even been found on textiles dating from the Wari, Incan and Chimu times.
The best way to eat a tuna fruit is to cut both ends off and then make a slit from top to bottom. The skin is full of tiny needles that easily stick into your skin so you’ll need to handle it with care. From this point, you can simply peel the skin and get stuck in. It tastes similar to a sweet watermelon and is commonly used to make jam.
One of Peru’s most popular fruits with both locals and travellers alike is undoubtedly sweet passionfruit. After all, who doesn’t love a refreshing pick me up? Granadilla is usually around the size of an egg with an orangey coloured exterior. Inside the fruit, there is a green/grey pulp which houses the seeds. These are also edible.
As you’d expect from most fruits, granadilla is very healthy. In fact, in Peru, the juice is the first thing that babies are fed while being weaned off of their mother’s milk! It is often used for juices, jams and mousses but can also be enjoyed straight from the plant.
Fun Fact: ‘Granada’ is Spanish for pomegranate, making the Granadilla a ‘little pomegranate’. The beautiful city of Granada in Spain was given its name, based on the number of pomegranate trees planted during the Nasrid Dynasty.
Tumbo is another type of passionfruit, better known as the banana passionfruit because of its shape. As you’d expect, it is a yellow fruit which is in the shape of a small banana. However, its interior couldn’t be more different from the common fruit we know and love.
The inside of the tumbo is orange in colour with black seeds hidden amongst the pulp. Tumbo is not usually eaten raw as it has quite a sharp taste. Instead it will be juiced into drinks, jams and also used to flavour ice cream. It grows in the tropical highlands of the Andes.
Those who are aware of Peru’s long history of chocolate making, will be unsurprised to learn that cacao fruit is also readily eaten across the country. Whilst the seeds are used to make chocolate, a white pulp covers these which can be eaten.
Cacao fruit is easiest to find on a chocolate farm or in the Amazonian regions where these fruits are grown. In some parts of the Amazon basin, cacao ceremonies still occur. These have been carried out for centuries, to aid fertility in marriage ceremonies and more recently, as a tool for self discovery.
To sample a bit of fruit, simply pop a seed into your mouth and suck off the pulp. It has a wonderfully sweet yet almost citrusy flavour. Be very careful not to accidentally bite into the cacao seed though, these are horribly bitter!
Cherimoya (sometimes spelt chirimoya) or referred to as ‘custard apple’, is one of Peru’s most famous fruits. The word derives from the Quechua which means ‘cold seeds’. This name was probably coined because cherimoya is native to the Andean highlands, where it gets very cold.
Cherimoya has a creamy texture and like apples, the white interior will brown if left exposed to oxygen. The best way to eat it is to tuck in with a spoon but watch out for the seeds – they are toxic.
Notable author Mark Twain once said about cherimoya, that it is “the most delicious fruit known to man”. I’m not entirely convinced of that, (there is a lot of competition on this list!) but it is certainly one of our favourites.
This is another fruit which is cultivated in the Amazon and is hugely popular all over Peru. Aguaje is a sweet and sour fruit which is purple brown and has a similar texture to pineapple.
Once the skin is peeled, it reveals an orangey pulp which can be eaten. It is said to be mild and is often used to make ice cream (the Peruvians love their ice cream!) as well as jams and juices.
Fun fact: Aguaje is a favourite for those looking for quick ways to trim their waistline – it is believed to have slimming properties!
Although many people think of dragon fruit as being an Asian fruit, this is not entirely true. In fact, dragon fruit is also native to many areas of Central and South America. In Thailand, it is usually the pink dragonfruit that you see most often, however, in Peru, you’re far more likely to see the yellow version.
Pitahaya has a yellow skin with white flesh and tastes sort of like a cross between a pear and a kiwi fruit. It is best eaten on a warm day where you can really get the benefit of every refreshing bite. This hugely popular South American fruit is also great for the body with a high vitamin C content.
What is your favourite Peruvian fruit? Let us know in our Facebook community!