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 a 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 serve them with black beans, red onion, homemade guacamole or vegan sour cream, or enjoy them just by themselves. This vegan arepas recipe is my favorite one.
Although they are best when fresh, you can keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.