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Peruvian Vegetarian Tacu Tacu

Peruvian Vegetarian Tacu Tacu

Sharing another one of my favorite Peruvian recipes today called Tacu Tacu.  It’s a great way to use up leftover beans and rice.  The beans and rice in this recipe are mashed and /flavored with some onion, garlic, oregano and aji amarillo paste and then lightly fried to crisp up the outside.  In restaurants it is served in many different ways but most commonly with a thin piece of steak. I’ve also had it topped with a creamy seafood sauce which was super tasty but oh so rich.

Tacu Tacu Roots

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Tacu tacu evolved from the influence of the Afroperuvian culture in Peru.  It is believed that slaves who were brought here in colonial times often used leftover beans and rice to cook this hearty dish.  Their influence actually includes many dishes still served today in Peru.  This dish is served almost everywhere in Peru with each area having their own distinct way of cooking and serving this dish.  The name of this dish developed from the word tacui tacui from the Andean language, Quechua.

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The form of the tacu tacu changes from place to place but is most often in the shape of a patty.  I tried to cook it in a small amount of oil and I found that it worked best to make small cylindrical shapes to cook the tacu tacu as it was easier to move around in the pan and brown the different sides of the tacu tacu.  Patties, logs, or loose it doesn’t really matter, all you really want is a nice crunchy outside and creamy or soft inside!

Salsa Criolla

In this recipe for tacu tacu, I strip it down a bit and top it with a sunny side up egg and some fresh made salsa criolla.  Salsa criolla is served ALOT here in Peru.  With ceviche, fried fish and seafood and many other dishes.  Whoever thought red onions could be so tasty?  But they sure taste great and transform the flavor of just about any dish.

The first step in making it is to salt and soak the onions.  This soaking serves to reduce the strong flavor and slight bitterness of the onion.  Then you simply add a few more ingredients and serve it up.  This dish is best eaten immediately or very soon after making it. As it sits the onions lose their crispness and their color.


Tacu tacu is on a gray plate on top of a multi-colored wood surface. Shown before topped with egg.

Alternate Method

The final step in cooking this recipe is to fry the tacu tacu.   I didn’t want to alter the overall recipe too much as I want it to be as authentic as possible.  However, it is quite heavy with all that oil and high in calories and fat so I decided to try out baking it instead of frying.

And I have to say, that overall I was thrilled with the results.  Baking it in the oven resulted in a nice crispy texture on the outside and it still had lots of flavor.  The baking method takes a little bit longer to cook as it will need at least 30 minutes in the oven to get crispy on both sides.  However, in my opinion, the extra time is well worth it.

Two pieces of tacu tacu on a baking sheet halfway through cooking process. You can see the crispy crust formed on the left one.
Tacu tacu halfway through the baking process. One on left has been flipped already after cooking 15 minutes.

The main advantage to baking is that it lowers the amount of calories and fat from the recipe which may be an advantage if you are concerned about fat and calorie intake.  In my opinion, the rice and beans crisped up a bit more with the baking method and which added a nice bit of texture to the dish.

I ate mine with a bit of avocado on the side for a healthy fat!!  Very delicious!!! I enjoyed the meal and liked the way I felt after eating it baked rather than fried.

If you want to bake it here is the method I used:

  1. Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop out the rice onto a baking sheet sprayed with baking spray.
  2. Shape into oval/rectangle shapes and then flatten them down a bit with your fingers.
  3. Place into a 400 degree oven and cook for 30 minutes.  Flipping them over halfway in between.
  4. Each serving should be about 3-4 pieces depending on how full your scoops end up.

The Recipe

Picture of tacu tacu topped with egg and salsa criolla.

Vegetarian Tacu Tacu

Traditional Peruvian dish of leftover mashed beans and rice, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  Top it with an egg and one of the most popular Peruvian condiments of onions, chilies and limon.  
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Latin American, Peruvian
Keyword: beans, peruvian food, vegetarian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 7
Author: Lyn Croyle


Tacu tacu

  • 1 cup dried canary beans or lima beans soaked the night before
  • ¾ cup brown rice
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 large red onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic finely minced
  • ½ cup aji Amarillo paste
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 T canola to cook tacu tacu
  • 4 eggs

Salsa Criolla

  • 2 red onion
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 aji Amarillo deseeded
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt


  • Cook beans in salted water until tender, about 1 ½ hours. When ready, drain well.  While beans are cooking, cook rice until tender. When it is ready transfer to a plate and spread out. Place in the refrigerator to cool
  • When beans and rice are ready, heat 1 T oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic to oil. Cook until tender and lightly browned, about five minutes. Add the aji amarillo paste and oregano. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked beans and rice and mix well and mashing the mixture together. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

To form and cook tacu tacu

  • Form the rice and beans into 3 inch cylinder or "log" shapes.  Heat 1 T oil in a non-stick saute pan. When oil is hot, place 4-6 tacu tacu rolls into the pan leaving room to move them around.  As sides begin to brown, roll them onto alternate sides so that they brown evenly on the outside. When all the sides are browned and crispy, remove from the pan and place in a warm oven. Finish the remaining mixture in batches.
  • When the tacu tacu is done, lightly spray a non-stick skillet and fry up eggs to desired consistency.
  • To serve top tacu tacu with fried egg and a bit of the salsa criolla on the side.

Salsa Criolla

  • Season the sliced onion with salt, cover with cold water and soak for five minutes.  Then drain well and rinse.  Add lemon juice, vinegar, ½ tsp salt. aji amarillo, oil and cilantro. Mix well.


Cook the beans and rice ahead of time to decrease the cooking time.
Any beans will work to make this dish, but canary beans and lima beans are most commonly used in Peru.
You need about 3 cups of cooked beans and 3 cups of cooked rice for the entire recipe. Each serving is about 1 cup of the mixture topped with an egg.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 342mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Vitamin C: 5.8mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 4.9mg

Did you try out this recipe for tacu tacu?  Which cooking method did you use?  What is your favorite vegetarian Peruvian dish you’ve tried so far?  This one might just be mine, but honestly I LOVE all the ones I’ve shared here on the blog.  Tell me about it in the comments here on the blog. And, if you enjoyed the recipe, please be sure to give the recipe 5-stars in the recipe card!!!

If you liked this recipe for tacu tacu, try these other Peruvian dishes

Peruvian Vegetarian Causa Recipe

Aguadito de Verduras aka Peruvian Green Soup

Peruvian-Chinese Fusion: Vegetarian Lomo Saltado



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