Arepas are delicious cornmeal cakes that are soft and moist on the inside, and crispy on the outside. They're so versatile, they can be filled with just about anything for a delicious snack or meal!
This recipe was originally published on March 29, 2019. It was updated with new information on October 16, 2023.
What are Arepas?
Arepas are patties or flat bread made from precooked cornmeal, and they are SO good. They are a staple in South America, especially in Colombia and Venezuela.
What makes arepas unique is that they're made using a type of cornmeal called masarepa or harina PAN. The dough is shaped into patties before being grilled, pan-fried, or baked.
It can be eaten any time of day, and can be filled with a variety of ingredients, from cheese to beans, to shredded meat! Not only are they delicious, but they are insanely easy to make, requiring only a few ingredients.
You only need 4 ingredients to make this recipe:
- Arepa Flour - They can be called masarepa or harina PAN. I use white pre-cooked cornmeal, but you can also make arepas with yellow masarepa. Just make sure you're using precooked cornmeal, and not regular cornmeal for grits or masa harina.
- Salt - Although the arepas will be sliced and filled, or stuffed with cheese before cooking, it needs a little salt to flavor the dough itself.
- Water - The water will hydrate the dough, making the arepas moist and delicious!
- Oil - A little oil in the pan will help to add a crispy exterior.
How to Make Arepas
Step 1: Make the dough. In a large bowl, combine the masarepa and salt. Slowly add the water and stir. Let the dough sit for a couple of minutes to let it thicken.
Step 2: Form the arepas. Divide the dough into 10 portions, and roll each portion into a ball. Flatten each ball into a disk using your hands. If you're making cheese arepas, add some shredded cheese into the center and enclose it with the dough so the cheese isn't coming out.
Step 3: Cook the arepas. Heat the oil in a pan, cast iron skillet, or a griddle over medium heat. Cook the arepas until they turn golden on both sides, about 5 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 4: Serve. Slice each arepa horizontally and fill them with your filling.
My all-time favorite filling for arepas is reina pepiada, a Venezuelan avocado chicken salad! I also often serve them for breakfast with scrambled eggs and avocado, but they're also delicious filled with black beans and cheese, or juicy and crispy carnitas.
Both arepas and pupusas are patties made from cornmeal that are made to hold delicious fillings. The difference between the two is that pupusas are made with masa harina, whereas arepas are made with masarepa. Pupusas are also generally larger and flatter.
While Colombian arepas are larger flatter, Venezuelan arepas (aka arepas venezolanas or arepas rellenas) are smaller and thicker. In Colombia, arepas are often topped with toppings or stuffed with cheese (aka arepas con queso), while in Venezuela, arepas are stuffed with fillings.
Arepas originated from the region in South America that is now Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela.
Yes! None of the ingredients in arepas contain gluten. That said, what you choose to fill them with can make them unsafe for anyone who requires a gluten-free diet.
Arepas taste best fresh. Immediately after cooking is when they are most delicious, but you can put any leftovers in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Avoid reheating them in the microwave, as they can get quite wet sitting on a plate, and instead reheat them in the toaster or the oven.
Yes, you can store cooked arepas for up to a month in the freezer. Put them in a freezer bag or an airtight container, and reheat them in the toaster or oven.
More Savory Recipes
- If you're in the mood for a cozy bowl of soup, try either my roasted tomato soup or creamy pumpkin soup!
- Want an impressive rice dish? My arroz valenciana recipe is so savory and flavorful, you'll love it!
- This spinach and artichoke dip is so creamy, it's the perfect appetizer for any party.
Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you loved this arepas recipe as much as I do! For more mouth-watering recipe inspiration, make sure to follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also get all of my newest content delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for my email newsletter!
- 2 cups P.A.N. arepa flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups water
- In a large bowl, combine the arepa flour and salt. Add the water and stir until combined. Knead until a smooth dough forms and let it rest for a couple of minutes to let the arepa flour soak the liquid.
- Separate the dough into ten portions and roll them into balls. Flatten each ball into 3.5in/10cm disks. Cook on a griddle or frying pan over medium heat until golden on both sides, about 5-10min per side.
- Take the arepas off the heat and enjoy as is, or slice open and fill with whatever your heart desires!