Arepas Recipe from Colombia and Venezuela - How to Make Arepas with Corn Flour and White Cheese


Arepas Recipe from Colombia and Venezuela - How to Make Arepas with Corn Flour and White Cheese
Region / culture: Colombia, Venezuela | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 10



Arepas, a staple in Latin American cuisine, particularly in countries like Venezuela and Colombia, are a delightful and versatile dish that has been savored for generations. These round, flatbreads made from corn flour are not only delicious but also incredibly simple to prepare. Whether you're enjoying them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, arepas offer a comforting taste of home for many and an exciting new flavor for others. This recipe will guide you through the steps to create your own arepas, filled with the warmth and tradition of Latin American kitchens.


The history of arepas dates back to the pre-Columbian times when indigenous tribes in the area of present-day Venezuela and Colombia ground corn to make a dough, which they then cooked on a griddle. This ancient food has evolved over centuries but has remained a cornerstone of local diets. Arepas serve not only as a testament to the endurance of indigenous culinary practices but also as a symbol of cultural identity for Venezuelans and Colombians alike.


How to prepare

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and white cheese.
  2. Stir in water to make a firm dough.
  3. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 10 pieces and shape each piece into a ball.
  5. Flatten each ball slightly.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  7. Lightly oil a griddle and heat it over medium heat.
  8. Cook the arepas on the griddle for about 5 minutes on each side.
  9. Transfer the arepas to a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.


  • Experiment with adding different ingredients to the dough, such as sweet corn, herbs, or spices, for a unique twist. Arepas can also be made with other types of flour, like masarepa or pre-cooked cornmeal, for different textures and flavors.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your arepas turn out perfectly, consider the following tips:

- The consistency of the dough is key; it should be pliable but not sticky. Adjust the water or flour as needed.

- Letting the dough rest before shaping the arepas allows the flour to fully hydrate, resulting in a smoother texture.

- Use a cast-iron skillet or griddle for an even cook and authentic taste.

- If the arepas are browning too quickly on the stove, lower the heat to ensure they cook through without burning.

Serving Suggestions

Arepas can be enjoyed in numerous ways - split open and stuffed with your favorite fillings, such as shredded beef, black beans, avocado, or cheese, or simply served as a side to complement any meal.

Cooking Techniques

Aside from griddling and baking, arepas can also be cooked on a barbecue for a smoky flavor or deep-fried for a crispy exterior. Each method offers a distinct taste and texture, allowing for endless culinary exploration.

Ingredient Substitutions

For a dairy-free version, omit the cheese or use a plant-based cheese alternative. If corn flour is not available, try using masarepa or another fine cornmeal, though the texture and flavor may vary.

Make Ahead Tips

The arepa dough can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Form and cook the arepas when ready to serve for the freshest taste.

Presentation Ideas

Serve arepas on a colorful plate with a side of salsa or guacamole for a visually appealing and flavorful meal. Garnish with fresh herbs or a sprinkle of cheese for an extra touch of elegance.

Pairing Recommendations

Arepas pair wonderfully with robust coffees or tropical juices in the morning. For lunch or dinner, enjoy them with a cold beer or a refreshing cocktail like a mojito or margarita.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover arepas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat in a toaster oven or on a skillet to restore their crispy exterior.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each arepa contains approximately 150-200 calories, making them a relatively light option that can be part of a balanced diet. The final calorie count can vary based on fillings and toppings.


Each serving of arepas primarily provides carbohydrates, with approximately 30 grams per arepa. The corn flour used in arepas is a good source of energy, making them an excellent choice for breakfast or before physical activities.


The fat content in arepas is relatively low, with about 1.5 grams per serving, coming mainly from the small amount of oil used for cooking. Including cheese increases the fat content slightly, adding both flavor and richness.


Arepas contain a modest amount of protein, about 4 grams per serving, primarily from the corn flour and cheese. For a higher protein meal, arepas can be filled or topped with meats, beans, or additional cheese.

Vitamins and minerals

Corn flour is a source of several vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, which are essential for energy metabolism, and minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. The cheese added to the dough also contributes calcium for bone health.


The primary allergen in arepas is dairy, due to the grated cheese. Individuals with a dairy allergy can omit the cheese or use a dairy-free alternative. This recipe is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.


Arepas offer a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. They are a versatile and nutritious option that can be adapted to suit various dietary needs and preferences.


Arepas are a versatile and nourishing dish that can be enjoyed at any time of day. With their rich history and simple preparation, they offer a delicious way to explore Latin American cuisine. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with your own variations, arepas are sure to become a cherished addition to your culinary repertoire.

How did I get this recipe?

I can still remember the exact moment I discovered this recipe for arepas. It was many years ago, when I was just a young girl living in a small village in Venezuela. My grandmother, Mama Rosa, was known throughout the town for her delicious cooking, and she had a special talent for creating mouthwatering dishes that were full of flavor and tradition.

One sunny afternoon, Mama Rosa called me into the kitchen and handed me a bag of cornmeal. She told me we were going to make arepas, a traditional Venezuelan dish that she had learned to make from her own grandmother many years before. I watched in awe as she expertly mixed the cornmeal with water and salt, forming a smooth dough that she then shaped into small patties and cooked on a griddle until they were golden brown and crispy on the outside.

As the aroma of the freshly cooked arepas filled the kitchen, Mama Rosa explained to me the history of this beloved dish. She told me that arepas had been a staple in Venezuelan cuisine for centuries, dating back to the indigenous tribes who first inhabited the region. They were simple yet versatile, and could be filled with a variety of ingredients such as cheese, ham, or avocado.

Mama Rosa's arepas were unlike any I had ever tasted before. They were light and fluffy on the inside, with a crispy exterior that gave way to a warm, comforting center. She served them hot off the griddle, with a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of salt, and we devoured them together as we sat at the kitchen table, savoring each delicious bite.

From that day on, I was hooked. I begged Mama Rosa to teach me her secret recipe for arepas, and she was more than happy to pass down her knowledge to me. We spent many hours together in the kitchen, mixing and shaping the dough, cooking the arepas until they were just right, and experimenting with different fillings and toppings to create new and exciting flavors.

Over the years, I continued to perfect my arepa-making skills, drawing inspiration from Mama Rosa's teachings and adding my own twist to the classic recipe. I learned to make arepas with a crispy crust and a soft, pillowy center, stuffed with savory meats and cheeses, and topped with fresh herbs and sauces.

As I grew older and started a family of my own, I passed on Mama Rosa's recipe for arepas to my own children. They too fell in love with this traditional Venezuelan dish, and I watched with pride as they carried on the tradition, making arepas for their own families and friends.

To this day, whenever I make arepas in my own kitchen, I think back to that sunny afternoon with Mama Rosa, and I am filled with gratitude for the knowledge and love she passed down to me. The recipe for arepas is more than just a list of ingredients and instructions – it is a connection to my past, a link to my heritage, and a reminder of the joy and comfort that food can bring to our lives.

As I sit down to enjoy a hot, freshly cooked arepa with my loved ones, I am reminded of the power of food to bring us together, to nourish our bodies and our souls, and to create lasting memories that will be cherished for generations to come. Mama Rosa's recipe for arepas will always hold a special place in my heart, a reminder of the love and tradition that has been passed down through my family for years. And as I take a bite of the warm, delicious arepa in front of me, I am grateful for the gift of cooking and the joy it brings to my life.


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