Venezuelan Arepas are flat, round, savory corn flour patties made with only five ingredients for crispy on the outside and tender on the inside delights. This Latin-American staple can be enjoyed plain, on the side, or stuffed with meat, cheese, or almost anything you like!
You know, I truly love cooking and blogging because I get to travel all over the world, trying different foods. And whenever I find a fantastic new recipe, I can’t help putting my little spin on it. Then I get anxious and excited to share it with you.
These patty-shaped arepas are my latest discovery and are pretty spot-on addictive. And the best part is they pair well with almost anything you like! Especially with carnitas and guacamole. Aah! They are so heavenly!
What Are They?
What are Arepas?
Arepas are flat, fried corn cakes made from a special precooked corn flour called masarepa (a.k.a areparina or arepa flour), salt, and water. Traditionally, people made arepas by soaking and pounding dried corn kernels in a pilon or mortar and pestle, then shaping the dough into flat, slightly thick rounds. Kinda like a thick tortilla. Good thing the ready-made flour is available in the U.S., huh? 😉
Arepas have a somewhat crispy exterior and a soft, slightly creamy inside. And they are effortless to make with only a few ingredients.
- Masarepa – You can find this specialty flour in the Latin section of your favorite supermarket. You’ll usually see brands like Areparina (which I use), Goya Masarepa, and Harina PAN – among others.
- Butter – Besides adding creamy and rich flavor to these corn patties, butter creates a light and tender texture to our arepa dough.
- Mozarella – This is optional, but the gooey, chewy, and warm, melty cheese makes these masa arepas even tastier. So, why would you skip it?
How to Make Venezuelan Arepas
Make the Dough
- Combine – In a large bowl, mix arepa flour and salt until fully combined. Make a well in the center and add the melted butter and water.
- Adjust Consistency – Gradually stir using a wooden spoon until no dry lumps remain. Adjust the consistency by adding more flour or water as needed. The dough is ready when it doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl or your fingers. Let it rest for about 5 minutes to hydrate.
- Shape the Dough – Grab 3 tablespoons of the dough and form a ball. Gently press the dough between your palms to flatten, forming about a ¼-inch thick patty. Pay attention to the edges so it doesn’t leave cracks. If you are using cheese, make a little well in the center of the dough ball before flattening. Place flattened dough on greased parchment paper and repeat the process for the remaining dough.
Fry the Dough
- Fry Them – Heat oil in a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the arepas in batches, flipping once, until golden brown for 5-8 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel.
- Cool – Transfer the arepas to a wire rack and let them cool. Split them and stuff them with your desired filling; shredded chicken, shredded pork, guacamole, butter, maple syrup, or enjoy them as they are.
- Plain Arepas – If you are not fond of cheese, you can still enjoy the arepas without it because it’s already delicious enough with butter and salt. 😉
- Grilled Arepas – Complete your outdoor party with arepas grilled instead of fried. The added smoky flavor and beautiful charred lines will surely level these guys up.
- Baked Arepas – Does too much oil scare you? Luckily, this corn dough can be baked, too. You can bake them in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes at 350℉177℃.
Tips and Tricks
- To substitute masarepa with masa harina, I highly suggest adding ½ cup of gluten-free flour to 1½ cups of masa harina to achieve the same consistency as masa arepa. You could also add a teaspoon of baking powder to give it some rise. Feel free to add more gluten-free flour or arrowroot starch until you get the desired consistency – moldable and not crumbly.
- If you opt to grill or bake the arepas, I recommend cooking them at a high temperature for 3-5 minutes on each side to give them a nice golden color and crunchy exterior. Then, cook on medium-low for 8-10 minutes per side on the grill or 18-20 minutes in the oven to ensure they are thoroughly cooked inside.
Arepas are best enjoyed straight from the pan to enjoy the warm and crispy. However, you can make the dough ahead to have some ready for frying for emergency cravings.
To properly store uncooked arepa dough for later, simply wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for three days or freeze it for two months. Thaw and cook as instructed when ready to serve.
Serving and Storing Instructions
Serving – I could actually make a long list for you. First off, that crispy exterior and soft, creamy, doughy inside is pure heaven on its own! To serve it for breakfast, you can go for butter or jam, eggs, or ham and cheese. Simply cut it in half to create two pieces, as you would for an English muffin, and slather it with whatever you like.
Storing – You can store leftover arepas in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days, 4-5 days in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer.
Reheating – Bring the arepas to room temperature while preheating the oven to 350℉/177℃. Thaw overnight inside the fridge if frozen. Then brush the arepas with water or melted butter, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes or until warm.
Both countries use the same ingredients, although Venezuelan arepas tend to have more fat in their dough, making them heavier but tastier and rich in flavor. They’re also thicker than the Colombian arepas. Venezuelan arepas are usually filled, while the thinner, lower-fat Colombian arepas are topped.
Masarepa is precooked corn flour that is starchier than the more well-known masa harina used for tortillas and tamales. Because it’s precooked, your arepas will cook faster than the Mexican version (gorditas).
Regular arepas have a milder corn taste than tortillas or tamales. They’re an excellent tool for soaking up all delicious juices and flavors from cooked meat, beans, and salsa. To add more flavor to these easy Latin corn cakes, you can add a few tablespoons of butter and cheese just like I did.
Authentic arepas are gluten-free because the flour is 100% corn. However, if you’re enjoying them in a restaurant, ask to make sure because some people add white flour to the mix.
What to Serve with Venezuelan Arepas
Arepas make a wonderful appetizer, side dish, or breakfast, lunch, or dinner, especially when you fill them with the following recipes.
More Mouthwatering Bread Recipes to Try
If you love trying different cuisines, these arepas make an excellent starter to enjoy Venezuelan dishes. I love my arepas filled with cheese and topped with meaty fillings, too. What delicious fillings do you use? Please let me know in the comments. 😉
Watch How to Make It
This blog post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated with additional tips, new photos, and a video.
- 2 cups (228g) masarepa flour (or areparina)
- 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
- 2 tablespoon (28g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups (474ml) warm water
- ½ cup (66g) mozzarella cheese (optional)
- 2 tablespoons (28g) cooking oil
- In a large bowl, combine arepa flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the center and add the melted butter and water.
- Gradually stir using a wooding spoon until no dry lumps remain. Adjust the consistency by adding more flour or water as needed; the dough is ready when it doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl or your fingers. Let it rest for about 5 minutes to hydrate.
- Grab 3 tablespoons of the dough and form a ball, gently press the dough between your palms to flatten, forming about a ¼-inch thick patty. Pay attention to the edges, so you don't leave cracks. If using cheese, make a little well in the center of the dough ball before flattening. Place flattened dough on greased parchment paper and repeat the process for the remaining dough.
- Heat oil in a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the arepas in batches, flipping once, until golden brown in batches, for 5-8 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel.
- Transfer the arepas to a wire rack and let them cool. Split them and stuff them with the desired filling; shredded chicken, pork, guacamole, butter, maple syrup, or enjoy them as they are.
Tips & Notes:
- You can store arepas covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag for about a month.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.