How to Eat Guinea Pig: Cuy in Ecuador

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Guinea pig, or cuy in Ecuador is one of the traditional foods you should try while visiting Ecuador, Bolivia or Peru.

It is more commonly known as cuy (kew-y) in the indigenous language of Kichwa, because of the high-pitched bird-like sound the animal makes.

What is Cuy?

Many people wonder why Ecuadorians eat guinea pig and it’s because guinea pigs were the main source of meat before cattle were introduced to the country.

The number of cuy became a status symbol because it meant you had enough money to eat meat.

It was never an everyday meal but a luxury.

It is much larger than what we know as a guinea pig in North America and it about the size of a rabbit.

While many travelers think eating guinea pig is gross, I don’t think you can really judge if you eat meat of any kind.

Offering of cuy at Pase del Niño Viajero parade in Cuenca Ecuador
Offering of cuy at Pase del Niño Viajero parade in Cuenca Ecuador

Guinea pig tastes like chicken?

The taste of guinea pig is difficult to describe and depends on how it is cooked.

In Ecuador it is often cooked over an open spit; it reminds me of chicken wings or some other kind of dark meat.

I ate guinea pig again again in Cuzco when a Peruvian friend took me to a local place to eat so much meat I didn’t eat again for a full 24 hours.

It was deep fried and I had to admit in the cuy wars, Ecuador won the best preparation test. 

As deep frying it seemed to enhance its already pronounced greasiness.

Trust me, it really does matter how you cook this animal.
 

 Roasted Guinea Pig (cuy) Ecuador

Where to Eat Guinea Pig in Ecuador?

Guinea pig can be found in the Andes of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

Although Cuenca Ecuador is known as one of the best places to eat cuy, my first time eating cuy was in Baños with my mother and sister.

Surprisingly my sister really liked it. 

But my mother once had a pet guinea pig and the sight of little feet on her plate turned her stomach.

After Banos and Peru, I had to go back to Cuenca famous for its cuy and I had never been.

Roasted Cuy at Ecuadorian food festival Guinea Pig

How to Eat Guinea Pig?

It seems like a strange question to ask but most people try to eat guinea pig with a knife and fork.

Don’t worry about being polite, just get in with your hands and eat it like chicken wings.
 

STUFFED PLANTAIN RECIPE: Bolon de Verde

Have a look at my video above about eating guinea pig (and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you like it)

I must admit it wasn’t the best, as it had a really strong flavour. But I have heard the age of the cuy changes the flavour dramatically.

And while I can’t say I loved it, I know I’ll try it again.
 

Pin it For Later

How to eat cuy - Guinea Pig in Ecuador and Peru. Eating guinea pig is a delicacy in South America but you need to know where to eat cuy and what to expect. In this post I also share a video where I eat guinea pig with my hands.

Join the Conversation

  1. Funny, my last post was about eating cuy in Cusco… I have to admit that my reaction was similar to your mother’s. That said, my 11-year-old kid devoured not only her entire cuy, but started in on mine… You’re brave to try it again! Not sure I’ll ever be up for it again, although I’m glad I tried it.

    1. Barry Allen says:

      First off im The Flash and as a food critic i have been through many disgusting foods that looks good and the other way a around. I wouldn’t know until i tried it so yeah

  2. Whoa, interesting! I’ve never tried cuy before. I wonder if the taste is similar to what we have here in Bali, the Babi Guling or roasted pork 🙂

  3. Micamyx|Senyorita says:

    Reminds me of Cebu Lechon lol 😀

  4. Maybe it’s just the perspective of the photos and video…. but those look like some massive guinea pigs– much larger than anything I ever had as a pet growing up!

  5. I can’t believe your mum was put off by the feet. They’re the best bit!! I didn’t post the video we made of me chewing on paw (con mis manos) because it’s a bit too gruesome!

  6. Danny Delnison says:

    Looks like good! But it’s so much with me 🙂

  7. Nicole @ Green Global Travel says:

    No thank you!

    Well travel is all about new things. You have achieved that!

  8. Here in the Philippines we also have roasted suckling pig it called “Lechon”. Every birthday, family occasions and corporate parties has it on their menu.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes I have had lechon in the Philippines, they have it here in Ecuador as well – although guinea pig isn’t as good.

  9. Lauren, ephemerratic says:

    Mmm. Cuy! That looks better than the Peruvian deep fried guinea pig. I preferred having a fancy schmancy restaurant take the guinea pig and make something adventurous. But I’m lazy, eating around the little bones drives me crazy!

  10. I’m with your mom! Can’t get past my childhood pet guinea pig! Loved the article though!

  11. Awww my best friend had two guinea pigs as pets that we used to play with (turned out I was super allergic) I love trying new foods and I eat some really weird stuff but I don’t know if I can do this one…

  12. I like the logo in the video. The videos were cute, not sure I like watching people eat but it was funny. I will have to try cuy whenever i make it to south america.

  13. TammyOnTheMove says:

    Are these giant cuys or is it just the perspective of the photo? They look massive. When I had cuy in Ecuador they were much smaller.

  14. Loving your videos — what camera do you use? And what about editing software / how do you write over the video?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      On this video I used an Olympus OM-D E-M5 mirrorless camera and I used Adobe Premiere Pro for both the editing and the text.

  15. AlainSojourner says:

    I had this in the Philippines. Judging from the picture, the one I had there looks better. :))

  16. Lina @ Divergent Travelers says:

    eeeekkkk!! We had many chances to eat guinea pig during our travels in Peru but I just couldn’t bring myself to try it!

  17. Tulsi @ trekking in nepal says:

    I love to eat different meat foods. I had get chance to test various items. But not ate at this . Thanks for shearing this article.

  18. sorry i don’t eat pig 🙁

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s okay cuy it’s not pig but guinea pig.

  19. tastes like chicken

  20. OMG, those are roasted pigs?
    They look tasty, but now I need to eat only veggies and fruits with some meat and chees.
    Piggy is good looking, but …maybe next time.

  21. lithonia taxi service says:

    Sorry i am vegetarian so i hate this pic!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s okay I can understand how it’s not for everyone.

    2. Fuckvegans says:

      I eat meat so I hate your comment

  22. Janiece Thomas says:

    That looks disgusting

  23. Uptourist says:

    Lechon is the best. So good. Even the skin is just enough to send you to heaven.

  24. When I visited Ecuador my Roomorama host told me to try cuy, and I was like no way. But I finally gathered enough courage to, since it was the local dish it’d be a pity to leave without trying. It was definitely an interesting experience, but guinea pig isn’t exactly my cup of tea hahaha. This post brings back so many memories of my wonderful trip then 🙂

  25. clients6.coffee4well-being.com says:

    Thanks for finally writing about >How to eat cuy: guinea pig
    in Ecuador – Bacon is Magic <Liked it!

  26. Jackie @Kitchen Gadget Reviews says:

    Interesting! I’m always amazed to see the kinds of food in other countries. We’re pretty boring in North America I think.

  27. David C. Morrow Sr. says:

    I ate Iguana in Colombia. We shot one out of a tree and the cook at one of the military bases cooked it for us in a sort of Tomato sauce, It was delicious. On a cruise to the Caribbean ,I even tried snails (Escargot ) but they tasted sort of muddy. I won’t try them again. I will eat anything once. Up in the hill country, they say if it has a name it’s a pet, If not it’s food.
    t

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