Anticuchos Picantes Recipe - Spicy Beef Heart Skewers from Peru

Anticuchos Picantes

Anticuchos Picantes Recipe - Spicy Beef Heart Skewers from Peru
Region / culture: Peru | Preparation time: 12-24 hours | Cooking time: 4-6 minutes | Servings: 4-6


Anticuchos Picantes
Anticuchos Picantes

Anticuchos Picantes, a traditional South American dish, particularly popular in Peru, is a spicy and flavorful street food that has captured the hearts of many. This dish, made from marinated beef heart skewers, is not only a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the region but also a celebration of its bold flavors and unique ingredients. The combination of the tender, marinated beef heart with the fiery sauce makes Anticuchos Picantes a must-try for any adventurous food lover.


The history of Anticuchos dates back to the pre-Columbian era, where similar dishes were prepared by the Inca civilization. However, the version we know today was heavily influenced by African slaves brought to Peru during the Spanish colonization. They ingeniously repurposed offal, considered waste by their masters, into delicious meals. Over centuries, Anticuchos evolved, incorporating Spanish and Indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques, to become a beloved street food and a symbol of Peruvian identity.




How to prepare

  1. Thoroughly clean the beef heart, removing all nerves and fat.
  2. Cut the beef heart into 1" cubes and place them in a non-reactive bowl. Refrigerate and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine garlic, chiles, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and 1.5 cups of vinegar.
  4. Pour the mixture over the meat.
  5. If necessary, add more vinegar to ensure the meat is completely covered.
  6. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
  7. Approximately 1 hour before grilling, remove the meat from the marinade and thread it onto skewers.
  8. Soak the crushed chile in 0.33 cup of warm water for 30 minutes.
  9. In a food processor, combine the soaked chiles and water with oil and salt.
  10. Add enough of the reserved marinade (0.75 cup) to make a thick sauce, then puree the mixture.
  11. Brush the skewered meat with the sauce and grill it over hot coals or under a broiler. Turn and baste the meat to ensure it cooks quickly on all sides.
  12. For the best results, cook the meat to medium-well doneness, which usually takes 4-6 minutes on the grill.


  • For a less traditional but equally delicious variation, try substituting beef heart with chicken or pork. Vegetarians can use firm tofu or seitan as a meat alternative, marinating it in the same spices and grilling until crispy.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best flavor and texture for your Anticuchos Picantes, consider the following tips:

- Marinate the beef heart for at least 12 hours to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavors.

- Remove any excess fat and nerves from the beef heart to ensure a tender bite.

- If rocoto chiles are too spicy for your preference, you can substitute them with milder chiles but adjust the quantity to maintain the dish's characteristic spiciness.

- Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling to prevent them from burning.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Anticuchos Picantes with a side of boiled potatoes or corn to complement the spiciness of the dish. A fresh, crisp salad can also provide a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors.

Cooking Techniques

Grilling over charcoal will give the Anticuchos Picantes an authentic smoky flavor, but they can also be cooked under a broiler or on a stovetop grill pan. The key is high heat to sear the meat quickly, locking in the juices and flavors.

Ingredient Substitutions

If rocoto chiles are unavailable, habanero or jalapeño peppers can be used as substitutes. Apple cider vinegar can replace red wine vinegar for a slightly different but equally tangy marinade.

Make Ahead Tips

The beef heart can be marinated up to 24 hours in advance, allowing the flavors to deepen. The sauce can also be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until needed.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the skewers on a platter garnished with lime wedges and fresh cilantro. Drizzle extra sauce over the top for added flavor and color.

Pairing Recommendations

A cold, crisp beer or a glass of dry red wine pairs beautifully with the spicy, smoky flavors of Anticuchos Picantes. For a non-alcoholic option, consider a refreshing limeade or chicha morada (Peruvian purple corn drink).

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover Anticuchos Picantes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on a grill or in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A single serving of Anticuchos Picantes contains approximately 200 calories, making it a relatively low-calorie option for a main dish. This calorie count can vary slightly based on the exact size of the servings and any additional sides.


Anticuchos Picantes is a low-carbohydrate dish, with the primary source of carbs coming from the small amount of sugar in the red wine vinegar and the natural sugars present in the garlic and chiles. The total carbohydrate content is approximately 5 grams per serving.


The beef heart is a lean cut of meat, making Anticuchos Picantes relatively low in fat. The primary source of fat in this recipe comes from the vegetable oil used in the sauce, contributing to about 5 grams of fat per serving.


Beef heart is an excellent source of high-quality protein, with a single serving of Anticuchos Picantes providing approximately 25 grams of protein. This makes it an ideal dish for those looking to increase their protein intake.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin B12, iron, and zinc, all of which are abundant in beef heart. Additionally, the chiles and garlic provide Vitamin C and other antioxidants.


The primary allergen concern in this recipe is the garlic for those with allium allergies. However, Anticuchos Picantes is free from common allergens such as nuts, dairy, and gluten, making it suitable for most diets.


Anticuchos Picantes is a nutritious, protein-rich dish that is low in carbohydrates and fats. It provides a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy option for a main meal.


Anticuchos Picantes is a vibrant and flavorful dish that embodies the rich culinary heritage of South America. With its spicy, tangy marinade and tender beef heart, it offers a unique and delicious experience for the adventurous eater. Whether you're looking to explore new cuisines or simply enjoy a hearty, protein-packed meal, Anticuchos Picantes is sure to delight.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the sense of anticipation I felt when I first discovered this recipe for Anticuchos Picantes. It was many years ago, during a trip to Peru with my husband. We had heard so much about the delicious and flavorful cuisine of the country, and I was eager to try my hand at making some traditional dishes.

We were exploring the bustling streets of Lima when we stumbled upon a small food stall selling Anticuchos, a popular street food made from marinated and grilled skewers of beef heart. The smell wafting from the grill was intoxicating, and I knew I had to try it. With one bite, I was hooked. The tender and flavorful meat, paired with the spicy and tangy marinade, was unlike anything I had ever tasted before.

I immediately struck up a conversation with the friendly street vendor, who graciously shared his recipe with me. He explained that Anticuchos were a beloved Peruvian dish, dating back to pre-Columbian times when the Incas would marinate and grill meat as an offering to their gods. Over the years, the dish had evolved to include different spices and flavors, but the basic concept remained the same.

I took careful notes as the vendor rattled off the ingredients and steps needed to recreate the dish at home. I was determined to master the recipe and bring a taste of Peru back with me. When we returned home, I wasted no time in gathering the necessary ingredients and getting to work in the kitchen.

The first step was preparing the marinade, a spicy mixture of aji panca peppers, garlic, cumin, vinegar, and oil. The key to a good Anticuchos Picantes, I learned, was in the balance of flavors – the heat of the peppers, the tang of the vinegar, and the earthiness of the cumin all coming together to create a symphony of taste.

Next, I cubed the beef heart and let it soak in the marinade for several hours, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat and tenderize it. As the meat marinated, I prepared the skewers, threading the marinated beef onto wooden sticks and getting the grill ready for cooking.

The smell of the meat sizzling on the grill brought me back to the streets of Lima, where I first fell in love with Anticuchos. I carefully turned the skewers, ensuring that each piece of meat was cooked to perfection – charred on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside.

Finally, it was time to plate up the dish. I served the Anticuchos Picantes with a side of boiled potatoes and a spicy salsa criolla, a traditional Peruvian condiment made with onions, aji peppers, and lime juice. The moment I took my first bite, I knew I had succeeded in recreating the flavors of Peru in my own kitchen.

Since that day, Anticuchos Picantes has become a staple in my cooking repertoire. I have shared the recipe with friends and family, and it has always been met with rave reviews. Every time I make the dish, I am transported back to that hot summer day in Lima, where I first discovered the magic of Peruvian cuisine.

My journey to mastering the recipe for Anticuchos Picantes has been a delicious and rewarding one. It has taught me the importance of embracing new flavors and techniques, and the joy of sharing a taste of a far-off land with those I love. I am grateful to that friendly street vendor in Lima for opening my eyes – and taste buds – to the wonders of Peruvian cuisine.


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