How to Make Perfect Arepas from Colombia or Venezuela

Arepas aus Kolumbien oder Venezuela

Finally I am introducing the basic recipe for arepas on my blog! Arepas are a flatbread made from cornmeal. They are most popular in Colombia and Venezuela. As a German I have to say that these countries offer the same kind of varieties of arepas as breads are offered here. I already introduced arepas boyacenses, however, so far the basic recipe was missing. The reason being simple, I just felt I still didn’t know how to make perfect arepas even though it only consists of three ingredients, cornmeal, water, and salt. But now the waiting is finally over, below I am offering many tips. Hopefully they will make you confident enough so that your first arepas turn out great from the start. If making the very basic recipe, arepas are naturally gluten-free and vegan.

Arepas aus Kolumbien oder Venezuela

Tip 1: The dough should be on the moister side instead of too dry

One of the main reasons I didn’t post the basic recipe was simple, I didn’t feel like my arepas were up to the standard. So I asked all of our Colombian friends to make them for me while I was watching. I quickly found the reason, I didn’t use enough water. Even when forming them you can moisten your hands with a little bit of water to get a smooth consistency.

Tip 2: Arepas can be grilled, fried, deep-fried, or baked

How you are going to prepare your arepas is up to you, the fastes ways are deep-frying them, or frying them in a regular pan. But you can grill them or even bake them. But be prepared, arepas tend to be a little bit dry, which brings me to the next tip.

Arepas aus Kolumbien oder Venezuela

Tip 3: Butter is usually generously spread on arepas

Since arepas are very mild in flavor, Colombians like to spread butter generously on it and may season with a bit more salt. My husband gets all upset because I personally like to eat mine with a little bit of jam. He says he has never seen anyone but me doing that, but hey, I won’t judge!

Tip 4: You can add spices or some additional fat to the dough

I have seen Colombians adding a pinch of sugar (yes, sugar), some dried herbs or finely cut chili in the dough. The options are endless to make this simple flatbread more exciting.

Tip 5: Colombians love arepas filled with cheese, especially mozzarella is very popular

If you want to give a sweeter type of arepa with mozzarella a change, check out the arepa boyacense, which is one of my favorite arepas. However, as stated, that one is a little bit sweeter, obviously you can also fill this basic recipe with cheese. Just punch a hole in the middle and add grinded cheese before properly sealing the arepa and continue as below.

Arepa mit Käsefüllung

Tip 6: For a traditional Colombian breakfst arepas are served with eggs and freshly pressed juice (arepas con revueltos y jugo)

You don’t really know what Colombians like to eat for breakfast? Arepas! Once when I was in Colombia in a hotel and asked the waitress to serve me some arepa for breakfast, she got offended as it is a given that you will get arepas. Arepas are usually enjoyed either with scrambled eggs or a sunny-side up plus some freshly pressed juice.

Typisches kolumbianisches Frühstück mit arepas und Rührei

Tip 7: Filled arepas are very popular in Venezuela

Arepas can serve as a kind of sandwich or burger, which can be filled with anything you like. Below recipe is an arepa filled with chicken and guacamole. Feel free to go wild with different fillings to serve this as the main course.

Gefüllte arepa mit Hähnchen und guacamole

Arepas, the basic recipe from Colombia or Venezuela

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Colombia or Venezuela
Serves: About 4 arepas
Prep Time: 10min Cooking Time: About 20min Total Time: 30min

Arepas are a Colombian or Venezuelan flatbread made from cornmeal and is naturally gluten-free and vegan

Ingredients

  • 300 grams of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Optional: 20 grams of butter
  • 230-250 grams of pre-cooked cornmeal

Instructions

1

Mix the warm water with the salt and if using butter in a large bowl. Add the cornmeal and knead with your hands until a soft ball forms. It shouldn't have cracks but be rather smooth. Add a bit more water if it is too dry. Arepas tend to be a bit dry, so rather have the dough a bit too moist than too dry. Let rest for about 5 minutes.

2

Divide dough into four parts, about the size of a tennis ball. Press down to form circles, smooth edges. If the edges have cracks, use a bit of water.

3

Possible methods: Most common is to grill the areaps for about 8 minutes on each side. You can also fry them with a bit melted butter in a frying pan, or grill them in the oven at about 230 degrees Celsius and the grilling option. They tend to take around 10 minutes on each side. Deep-frying also works, at about 180 degrees Celsius for a few minutes or until lightly golden.

4

Serve warm and spread butter on top, season with some salt. Colombians like to serve arepas with scrambled eggs and some freshly pressed juice or hot cocoa for breakfast.

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