Learn how to make arepas. It’s a simple recipe that only requires 3 ingredients. Stuff them with your favorite fillings or enjoy them just by themselves.
Arepas are corn cakes made from precooked cornmeal, also known as masarepa (the most popular brand is called harina P.A.N.) and a staple in Venezuelan and Colombian cuisines.
They’re made with 3 simple ingredients: precooked cornmeal, salt and warm water. Some people also add a little bit of oil, but it’s completely optional.
Arepas are extremely easy to make and you only need a bowl, your hands and a skillet, that’s all!
Most arepa recipes are pretty similar. Some people add more or less water or flour, and others add 2 teaspoons of salt instead of 1. I prefer to add less salt to reduce the amount of sodium in the recipe and also because I think they taste amazing with just 1 teaspoon.
To cook the arepas you just need a skillet or even a griddle and a little bit of oil. If you want to make an oil-free version, just use a non-stick skillet. You could also fry the arepas, but I think it’s not worth the extra fat.
Baked arepas are also great. However, I prefer to use a skillet because this way I can save time and money. In addition, you don’t need much oil to cook them and you can even make an oil-free version by using a non-stick skillet and omitting the oil in the dough.
If you’d like to fill the arepas, split them in half with a serrated knife, but you can also enjoy them just by themselves with your food, it’s up to you. I’ll show you my favorite filling in the next recipe, so stay tuned!
ingredients for arepas
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this arepas recipe:
- Warm water.
- Salt – I always use Himalayan pink salt. Any type of salt is okay, though.
- Extra virgin olive oil – I’m Spanish, so I use extra virgin olive oil to cook most of my dishes. However, any type of oil is okay. I always use extra virgin oils when possible because they’re healthier. Oil is optional in this recipe, you can omit it to make the dough, and use a non-stick skillet.
- Precooked cornmeal – You really need to use precooked cornmeal to make this recipe. I used white, but yellow or a mix of both are also okay.
how to make arepas
- Add the warm water, salt and oil (optional) to a mixing bowl and stir.
- Add the precooked cornmeal, a little at a time and stir with a spoon or your hands (I prefer to use my hands).
- Mix for about 2 minutes.
- Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Wet your hands to make the arepas and divide the dough into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and carefully press each ball between the palms of your hands to form a disc.
- Add a little bit of oil to a large skillet (use a non-stick skillet for an oil-free version), and when it’s hot add the arepas. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes each side or until the arepas are golden brown.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. If you’d like to fill the arepas, split them in half with a serrated knife, but you can enjoy them just by themselves.
- Best when fresh, keep leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
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- 2 and 1/2 cups warm water (625 ml)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil + extra oil for cooking, optional
- 2 cups precooked cornmeal (320 g), see notes
- Add the warm water, salt, and oil to a large mixing bowl and stir. The oil is optional, so feel free to omit it.
- Add the precooked cornmeal, a little at a time, and stir with a spoon or your hands (I prefer to use my hands).
- Mix for about 2 minutes. You’ll get a moist and moldable dough that doesn’t easily stick to your hands and can be rolled into a ball. If your dough is too watery, add more flour and if it’s too thick, add a little bit of water until you get the perfect consistency. However, if you follow my recipe, you should get a perfect dough.
- Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Wet your hands to make the arepas, that way the dough won’t stick to your hands. Divide the dough into 10 pieces, roll each piece into a ball and carefully press each ball between the palms of your hands to form a disc of about 1/2-inch thick (about 1 cm). If the arepa cracks a lot, your dough may need more water (add some a little at a time). A little cracking is normal, so just use your wet hands to close the cracks by gently patting along the surface.
- Add a little bit of oil to a large skillet (use a non-stick skillet if you don’t want to use oil), and when it’s hot add the arepas. I usually cook them in two batches to give them a little room in between so they don’t touch. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes each side or until the arepas are golden brown and cooked in the inside.
- Transfer the arepas to a cooling rack and let them cool for about 10 minutes.
- If you’d like to fill the arepas, split them in half with a serrated knife and accompany them with black beans, red onion, homemade guacamole or vegan sour cream, or enjoy them just by themselves.
- Although they are best when fresh, you can keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
- Serving Size: 1 arepa (of 10)
- Calories: 125
- Sodium: 233 mg
- Fat: 1.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 25.6 g
- Fiber: 3.2 g
- Protein: 2.1 g