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 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 corn meal, 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 erepa which actually means corn. These corn patties have grown in popularity and I’m so thankful for that since that means they made their way to our house in Central PA!
In Colombia, arepas are a staple side dish and are often just served as a bread to accompany the meal. (the same way we in the United States often 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 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 grilled pork that is thinly sliced, 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:
How to Make Venezuelan Arepas
The base of arepas is corn. If you find a product at a Latin grocery that says “masarepa” you can also use that. In fact, you’ll have a more authentic arepa if you use masarepa but for the sake of convenience, I use P.A.N. cornmeal since it’s more readily available in my grocery stores or on Amazon.
The key is to make sure you get pre-cooked cornmeal so you don’t have the gritty taste of a regular cornmeal. Masarepa and P.A.N. are both pre-cooked cornmeal options that work well for this arepa recipe.
The only arepa ingredients you need are cornmeal, water and salt. Some recipes use a pinch of sugar or a little butter, but I love the ease of a 3-ingredient recipe so I just stick to the basics.
I start with 2 cups of warm 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 of 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 dough all smooth, let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Then separate the dough into about 8 portions. Roll each portion into a smooth ball and then press between your palms to form a patty.
I prefer to fry my arepas in a cast iron skillet. I’ve tried in a regular frying pan and it just isn’t the same as the cast iron skillet.
I heat a little bit of vegetable oil up in the skillet over medium 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.
We like to eat ours fresh from the skillet as opposed to at room temperature. I use a serrated knife to slice it open just like you would an English muffin. Then fill with your desired sandwich fillings and enjoy!
- 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.