An easy Venezuelan Arepas recipe that only takes 3 ingredients! It’s a delicious Venezuelan food that results in a gluten-free bun that’s also vegan! We love stuffed arepa sandwiches with a variety of fillings!
A couple of years ago, I bought a bag of cornmeal for my favorite Blueberry Upside Down Bread and had quite a bit leftover. The back of the bag had a recipe for arepas that were only made with cornmeal, water, and salt! It looked simple enough, and I figured I would only be out less than $1 in ingredients if we didn’t like them.
But we LOVED them!!
They were the perfect complement to grilled pork plus so many other sandwich fillings! There were many, many requests for me to not only make them again but make them frequently!
But aside from seeing the word “arepa” on the P.A.N. cornmeal bag, I wasn’t too familiar with these little gems.
What is the difference between Venezuelan Arepas and Colombian Arepas?
Arepas are a traditional food in both Venezuela and Colombia, but they’re often served a bit differently. The word arepa is derived from arepa, which actually means corn. These corn patties made with corn flour have grown in popularity, and I’m so thankful for that since that means they made their way to our house in Central PA!
Colombian arepa is a staple side dish and is often just served as bread to accompany the meal. (the same way we do in American cuisine, often to serve a roll as a side dish). They’re a little flatter than a Venezuelan arepa. While they can be split and filled with cheese or eggs, often toppings are just piled on top rather than eating it as a sandwich.
A Venezuelan-style arepa is a bit more doughy and often split in half, filled, and served as a sandwich! This is how we pretty much always eat arepas when we make them and what I’m focusing on for this post!
Arepa Sandwich Fillings
We normally fill our arepas with thinly sliced grilled pork or shredded beef, onions, sour cream, and sliced avocados. I really don’t know why this is our go-to arepa sandwich other than it’s how I made it the first time, and we love it so much that we’ve stuck to it!
Don’t feel obligated to make it the way I’m picturing it, though! There are so many amazing things you can fill an arepa with!
Venezuelan Arepa Fillings:
- pulled beef
- fried plantains
- black beans
How to Make Venezuelan Arepas
The key is to make sure you get pre-cooked cornmeal so you don’t have the gritty taste of regular cornmeal. Masarepa and P.A.N. are both pre-cooked cornmeal options that work well for this simple arepa recipe.
The only arepa ingredients you need are cornmeal, water, and a bit of salt. Some recipes use a pinch of sugar or a bit of butter, but I love the ease of a 3-ingredient recipe, so I just stick to the basics.
I start with 2 cups water in a bowl. Then I slowly add 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of cornmeal. I usually start mixing the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, but as the dough starts to form, I switch over to using my hands.
I usually keep about an extra 1/4 cup warm water nearby in case I need to add a little more to bring the dough together. You want your dough to form nice smooth balls. If you have a lot of dry, cracked edges, then add about a tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together.
Once you have your arepa dough all smooth, let it rest for about 3-5 minutes.
Then separate the arepa dough into about 8-10 smaller arepas. Roll each portion into a smooth ball and then press between your palms to form a patty.
I heat a little bit of vegetable oil up in the skillet over medium-high heat. Once that’s hot, add your arepa patties to the skillet—Cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
You want your arepas to have a crispy, golden brown crust and a fluffy center. After they’ve fried for about 5 minutes on each side, remove them from the pan.
- 2 cups P.A.N. Corn Meal
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 cups Warm Water
- In a medium size bowl, add the warm water. Slowly add the salt ant corn meal. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hand until a soft dough forms. If necessary, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough is smooth and no longer dry.
- Let dough sit in bowl for 5 minutes.
- Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron over medium heat. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion in a ball and then flatten between palms to make a disc.
- Fry each dough patty in the skillet for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
- Use a serrated knife to slice each arepa in half and then fill with your desired fillings. You can also leave it whole and eat as a side dish.
black beans and rice
eggs and cheese
guacamole To reheat, wrap arepa in foil and reheat in 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until heated through.