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Arepas

Last Updated on January 9, 2024

Arepas, one-of-a-kind delights in Hispanic culture- filled with beans, vegan cheeses, and more. Easy-to-make and delicious for breakfast sandwiches and lunch bites. You’ll kick yourself for not having tried them sooner.

making arepas

Arepas

Arepas are vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly. So what are they? In short, Arepas are cornmeal cake pockets with a variety of tasty fillings. 

a bowl of arepas

Arepas are wonderful, time-efficient dishes used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Small, disk-like bundles of corn dough filled with various fillings and later fried to perfection.

You can also use Arepas for dessert like the Dominican made them with cornmeal and sweet coconuts. The dish has become very popular because of its versatility- and I can’t get enough!

arepas pan fried

What Is An Arepa Made Of?

Traditional recipes call for three ingredients- pre-cooked cornmeal, water, and salt.

Gently incorporate all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Once the dough forms, shape it into small discs and pan-fry.

It is unclear the meaning of its name. However, from Latin roots, arepas means pan bread.

We do know that arepas’ origins trace back to South America, close to the region of Colombia and Venezuela.

From there, the dish branches off- from the sweet Puerto Rican arepas (called Arepas de Coco) to the spicy, stuffed arepas of Salvador (called Pupusas).

arepa recipe cornmeal

The original corn arepas are made by soaking ground corn (corn maize), or MASA Harina flour in water, and then turning it into dough. 

This makes arepas gluten-free as gluten is not naturally present in corn. From here, the dough rolls out into a disk-like shape, fried, and sat aside to cool.

They have since evolved into stuffed arepas or arepas sandwiches where the dough is filled with protein, cheeses, and spices before frying.

Colombian Arepas vs. Venezuelan Arepas

They differ mainly in taste and size. Usually, Colombian Arepas are larger and flatter than Venezuelan Arepas.

🫓 Colombian-Style– Stick closely to the original corn, water, and salt recipe.

Adding a bit of oil and cheese and maybe a seasoning- or two- the Colombian Arepa looks toward tradition.

🫓 Venezuelan-style– They are a bit more festive and resemble pancakes. Venezuelan Arepas are Cachapas or Changas, which means “crumpet” in Spanish.

In traditional Venezuelan Arepa recipes, cornmeal, water, and salt were all you needed (yes, your guess is right, this recipe is Venezuelan-style Arepas).


Now, a few Colombian arepas come with a cheese filling called Arepas de Queso or Arepas Con Queso, in which they form the dough and then stuff the center with butter and cheese before frying.

A delicious filling, you can add vegan cheeses as well! Simply create a pocket in the middle of the dough after frying, stiff in vegan cheeses, and add to the fryer once more.

Arepas Recipe

In our recipe, we kept to the tradition. By using pre-cooked white cornmeal to create a soft dough, these flat cornbreads are chewy and heartwarming when cooked.

Go the extra mile and top with vegan cheeses, refried beans, or jams! You can even stack them together to make a breakfast sandwich!

arepas recipe
  • Pre-cooked Cornmeal – white corn or yellow corn of your choice. Use this brand only, Harina P.A.N Arepa flour (aka “masa de arepa” or “masarepa“)
  • Water – Lukewarm
  • Salt– high-quality sea salt.

How to Make Arepas

how to make arepas
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F /176 C degree. Set out a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Add salt and water to a large mixing bowl. Mix salt with water and stir until it dissolves. 
  2. Add the PAN arepa flour bit by bit into the water and stir with your fingers to prevent lumps.
  3. Once all the arepa flour is in, the dough will still be wet but don’t worry. You simply need to keep mixing and kneading for another 4-5 minutes. Since it’s dehydrated, pre-cooked corn maize flour, stirring it continuously will help it rehydrate and thicken.
  4. Once it has reached the desired consistency. Scrape down the sides and smooth the surface.
  5. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes (Let the arepa flour absorb the liquid and relax completely. Do not skip this step).
  6. The dough should be divided into four portions. Roll one portion into a ball. You will need to press the ball between your palms to form a disc 0.5 inches thick (see video for visual aid). You can adjust the thickness to your preference. Wet your fingers with water and gently pat along the edge if it cracks on the sides.
  7. Spray a bit of oil in a large non-stick skillet and heat on medium heat. Pan-fry each side for 3-4 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  8. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes (or in the air fryer) until slightly puffed and golden brown. Let cool a bit before serving. 

What Do You Eat With?

stuffed arepas

You can eat them with almost anything! Because it is a cornbread, technically, the possibilities are endless.

For example, if you are making them into sandwiches for breakfast, you can eat them alongside scrambled tofu, fresh salad, and guacamole.

For lunch, you can stuff them with vegan cheeses and sautéed chickpeas; and for dinner, you can serve them alongside mushroom tacos or Birria Consomé.

How to Store?

If you plan to freeze your arepas, let them cool completely before putting them in a ziplock freezer bag.

Before reheating, let them thaw completely, wrap it in foil, and reheat it in the oven or microwave for 10 seconds alternatively.

arepa venezolana

FAQ

Q: Are Arepas vegan by default?

This answer is “it depends”. Cheese is always used in Arepas in central Colombia. Traditionally they may be cooked in lard in regions like Santander and Colombia.

Q:  Arepas vs Pupusas

Pupusas generally have a filling- Salvadoran and Honduran are large and stuffed before cooking.

Arepas, which are from Colombia and Venezuela, are smaller and made with the maize flour masarepa, which can be stuffed after they are cooked.

Q: What is arepa called in English?

In Venezuela, arepa is a staple food made of cornmeal or flour. The dish is popular throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In English, the arepa is called an “arepa sandwich” or “cornmeal cake”.

Hope you like this gluten-free Arepa recipe! 😚

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More Vegan LATIN Delights

More Vegan Sweets n Baking

a bowl of arepera

Gluten Free Arepas

Arepas are gluten-free by nature, one-of-a-kind delights in Hispanic culture- filled with beans, vegan cheeses, and more. Easy-to-make and delicious for breakfast sandwiches and lunch bites. You’ll kick yourself for not having tried them sooner.
5 from 28 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 piece
Calories: 158kcal
Author: SHU-CHUN

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Pre-cooked Cornmeal Use this brand only, Harina P.A.N Arepa flour (aka “masa de arepa” or " masarepa")
  • cup Water Luke-warm
  • ¾ tsp Sea Salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F /176 C degree. Set out a baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Add salt and water to a large mixing bowl. Mix salt with water and stir until it dissolves. 
  • Add the PAN arepa flour bit by bit into the water and stir with your fingers to prevent lumps.
  • Once all the arepa flour is in, the dough will still be wet, but don't worry. You simply need to keep mixing and kneading for another 4-5 minutes. Since it's dehydrated, pre-cooked corn maize flour, stirring it continuously will help it rehydrate and thicken.
  • Once it has reached the desired consistency. Scrape down the sides and smooth the surface.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes (Let the arepa flour absorb the liquid and relax completely. Do not skip this step).
  • The dough should be divided into four portions. Roll one portion into a ball. You will need to press the ball between your palms to form a disc 0.5 inches thick (see video for visual aid). You can adjust the thickness to your preference. Wet your fingers with water and gently pat along the edge if it cracks on the sides.
  • Spray a bit of oil in a large non-stick skillet and heat on medium heat. Pan fry each side for 3-4 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  • Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes (or in the air fryer) until slightly puffed and golden brown. Let cool a bit before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pc | Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 441mg | Potassium: 176mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 2mg

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