Prepare this quick and easy traditional Venezuelan arepas recipe so you will enjoy these delicious corncakes with your own choice of savory filling.
No oven needed, a frying pan works equally well. Fill your arepas simply with cheese or with any combination of savory meats, beans, plantains and/or again cheese.
What are arepas?
Translated from Spanish to English:
- Arepa – Cooked cornmeal pocket stuffed with various ingredients.
- Arepitas – Small fried arepas served as a starter to eat with nata (sour cream), or with soups and stews.
- Arepa de Trigo – Large arepa from the Andes region made from wheat.
An arepa is a grilled corn flour flatbread stuffed with any combination of savory meats, beans, plantains and/or cheese. Arepas don’t contain yeast. They can be grilled, baked, or fried.
Their characteristics vary from region to region. For example: a Colombian arepa or arepas con queso are – as the translation implies – cheese arepas. They are small and fit perfectly in your hand: plump little corn-cakes filled with thick chewy cheese, griddled until they are crispy on the outside.
Venezuelan arepa recipes are endless since they are Venezuela’s homegrown alternative to bread or rolls: cornmeal "cakes" about the size of a hockey puck that are crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.
In Venezuela you could encounter the following fillings:
- Aguacate – Avocado
- Aguita ‘e Sapo – Literally "Frog Water", but it’s actually pernil or roast pork in its juice, served with fried cheese. Found almost exclusively in Maracaibo.
- Atun – Tuna salad with onions and a squeeze of lemon
- Caraotas negras – Black beans
- Carne mechada – Shredded beef
- Chicharron – Pork crackling, also known in UK as pork scratching
- Chorizo – Spicy sausage
- Diablitos – Deviled ham
- Domino – Black beans and grated white cheese
- Ensalada de Gallina – Chicken salad
- Jamon – Ham
- Montaña Rusa – Quail’s eggs in mayonnaise (literally Russian Mountain, the term for a roller-coaster ride in Venezuela)
- Morcilla – Black pudding
- Orejas de Cochino – Snippets of pigs’ ears in sauce
- Pata-pata – Black beans, yellow cheese and avocado
- Pelua – Shredded beef and grated yellow cheese
- Perico – Scrambled eggs cooked with chopped tomato and onion
- Pernil – Roast pork
- Pollo guisado – Chicken cooked in a sauce
- Popurri Criolla – Shredded beef, black beans and white cheese
- Queso – Cheese
- Queso de mano – Literally "hand cheese", a traditionally-made soft white country cheese
- Queso Guayanes – Another soft white cheese
- Reina Pepiada – Chicken, avocado, mayonnaise and peas
Authentic Venezuelan arepa recipe ingredients
This authentic recipe video is easy to follow with the following Spanish ‘cheat sheet’ below, including all the ingredients mentioned in the video:
Ingredients to make arepas
- 1 cup of arepa flour per person. Arepa flour is also known as Maize flour, "Harina P.A.N." and White Pre-Cooked Corn Flour : available in all good groceries having ‘exotic’ Asian and especially Latin American products. When people talk about arepa flour, they actually mean 100% corn flour that is white in colour.
- water: 1/2 to 1 cup of water for each cup of arepa flour
How to prepare arepas
Read below and watch the video above.
- Mix arepa flour with water and salt and mix or kneed until a soft dough forms.
- If you used 1 cup of flour, then divide your dough into 4 big balls. Flatten them to approximately 1 cm (1/2 inch) and let them rest for about 5 minutes.
- Put in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes, deep fry in oil or in a pan with a thin layer of oil on a low fire.
- Pound your arepas softly. When you hear an empty, echoing sound – as if there is nothing inside – they are ready.
- Once ready, split them open, lightly butter the inside and fill it with your favourite fillings. The video uses white cheese (queso de mano) and butter, but they mention as well: ham and salad. As mentioned in the list above: anything goes!
Nothing more easy than "bake" your own arepas using water, corn flour and salt. Heat them in an oven, pan or deep fryer and when ready: fill them with cheese, ham, avocado or salad or… anything savory you love to eat!