Anticuchos, Peruvian Grilled Deer Heart

5 from 19 votes
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Anticuchos peruanos is a common street snack in Peru, and you will most often see it as anticuchos de corazon, grilled heart skewers.

Normally you will see this done with beef heart, but I primarily use deer heart, although lamb, elk, moose, pork, etc. are all fine, and, oddly, all similar tasting. Oh, and it doesn’t need to be hearts. Any tender meat will do.

A platter of anticuchos de corazon
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Anticuchos, pronounced something like “ahn-tea-KOO-choss,” is an ancient dish, dating back before European contact with the Inca in the early 1500s. Originally done with llama or whitetail deer (yes, there are whitetails in the Andes), anticuchos de corazon are basically marinated kebabs done with heart.

(Looking for another deer heart recipe? Try my grilled deer heart with sweet peppers.)

The main ingredient of the marinade is a Peruvian chile paste called ají panca. You can find it in good Latin markets or online, and I really like the premade Aji Panca Paste.

That said, Mexican chipotles in adobo are way easier to find and are similar, if a little hotter. Bottom line is you want a thick puree of mildly hot chiles—don’t blow your head off with heat here. You can get close with some chipotles in adobo buzzed in a blender with a few preserved red bell peppers. Another option is to use Mexican pasilla chiles or anchos.

Normally, anticuchos peruanos are just a snack or appetizer, not a main meal. But if you have lots of deer hearts, go for it. And yes, you can make these with other parts of the deer or beef or whatever. The same marinade works with all varieties of meat, and even fish or shellfish like shrimp or lobster.

I’m a big fan of letting these sit in the fridge overnight to marinate, but you can get away with as little as an hour if you have to.

Anticuchos on the grill
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

You should always cook these skewers over charcoal or other open flame, and they are traditionally served with potatoes (also native to the Andes), corn, and hot sauce.

Preparing the heart is easy – you can see details here.

Unless you are using hearts from young animals like lamb, you will want to tenderize the meat before putting it on skewers. Mostly I do this with a jaccard, which is a nifty handheld device with a handle and lots of sharp, pointy blades. You put the meat on the cutting board and bounce the jaccard all over the meat, making hundreds of little cuts in it. Works very well with any tough piece of meat, hearts especially. A jaccard is cheap, too, costing about $20 in any good supermarket or online.

Your other option is to score the heart meat with many thinly spaced, crosshatched cuts from a knife. I don’t love this method for anticuchos, but it will work in a pinch. You can also pound the heart into flat cutlets and thread them on the skewers.

(For another great Peruvian recipe, try my recipe for ceviche de pato, citrusy braised duck or goose legs.)

Skewers of anticuchos on the grill
5 from 19 votes

Anticuchos de Corazon, Grilled Heart Skewers

This is a versatile recipe that works with more than just hearts. Any meat you want to eat on a skewer will do, including shrimp and lobster.
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Peruvian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 35 minutes


  • Skewers


  • 6 dried aji panca chiles (See above for substitutes)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon achiote paste (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pound hearts (or other meat), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces


  • Pour boiling water over the dried chiles and cover. Let this sit for 20 minutes to soften.
  • Mix all the marinade ingredients together and buzz them into a puree in a food processor or blender. Submerge the heart pieces in the marinade for at least 1 hour, and up to a day.
  • Thread the heart pieces on the skewers—this helps you flip them more easily and helps them cook more evenly. Grill over very high heat with the grill cover open until you get a nice char on the outside, about 3 minutes per side. Baste with the marinade as the skewers cook.


NOTE: You can use Mexican pasilla or ancho chiles instead of aji panca, or if you have premade aji paste, use the whole jar, which is about a cup. 


Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 120mg | Potassium: 456mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1391IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

5 from 19 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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  1. I’ve made this recipe several times it is fantastic! My question is specifically about the achiote paste. Is that the same as your recado rojo recipe you use for cochinita pibil? Everything is excellent as always!

    1. Sean: It’s not the same, but you could sub in one for the other and it would still be excellent.