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Colombian Arepas

Delicious Colombian arepas made with pre-cooked cornmeal, butter and mozzarella cheese.

Today, to inaugurate this new project I decided to start with Colombian arepas. I was thinking a lot of what could be the main ingredient that represents my birth country, and without a doubt is the much adored arepa. And what in the world is an arepa? For us Colombians the arepa is an essential ingredient of every dish in our country. We eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, with eggs, butter, meat, bacon, as a side dish for soups, stews, beans, in short, we eat it daily and to many, if their plate does not come with the blessed arepa, they’re not satisfied.

Versión en español

The arepa is a type of tortilla made from corn. The indigenous tribes who inhabited what is now Colombia and Venezuela were the creators of this product, which today is an integral part of our cuisine. But of course, back then they had to peel the cob, cook the corn, grind it, make the arepas and then cook them. In fact, I had the pleasure of watching my mom and my great aunt get up every day at 5 in the morning to make the arepas of the day, but I imagine that for them it was not as fun to get up so early in the day to make a whole bunch of arepas. Fortunately, today that corn meal is sold ready to knead and it comes not only already ground, but also pre-cooked. What could be easier than that?

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Water: It’s always best to use warm water because it makes it much easier to dissolve the cornmeal.
  • Salt: This is key to give the arepa good flavor.
  • Pre-cooked corn meal: You can use any brand to make this recipe. Use the one you can find at the grocery store.
  • Butter: This ingredient adds a delicious flavor and also helps to soften the dough.
  • Cheese: I love to use mozzarella cheese for this recipe, but you can use all types of cheese to change or enhance the flavor.

 

I cannot emphasize enough that the corn meal has to be especially for making arepas. You’re going to find all kinds of different brands and any of them will work as long as they are made especially for arepas. Don’t use the Mexican flour that is used for tamales. Don’t use regular yellow corn meal. And please, do not use pancake flour because then they wouldn’t be arepas, they would just be pancakes.

Where can you find the corn meal? In the US you can find it at most Latin grocery stores, almost guaranteed. You can also try to find it online.

In this video I will show you how I make arepas at home for my family. They’re very easy and quick to make, and absolutely delicious. Each person has his or her own way of making them, many make them with just
the corn meal and grill them on the stove, others use milk instead of water and others, like me, use cheese and butter so they can have a golden, delicious crust.

 

THE PROCESS:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and knead until the dough is soft and smooth. If you notice that it is a bit dry, you can add more water. And if you see that it is still too wet, you can add more corn meal.
  2. Shape the arepas anyway you want. They can be thin, thick, small, large, round whatever shape you like best. This step is not rocket science.
  3. Grill the arepas on a hot grill or on a buttered griddle or pan, the choice is yours. The key is to make grill them at a medium-high temperature to give them a golden brown crust. Remember that the corn meal is already pre-cooked and you are not grilling them to “cook” them, but to give them a golden brown color.

 

¡Buen provecho!

 

 

 

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Colombian Arepas

  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 4 to 5 arepas 1x
  • Category: Arepas, Breakfast, Colombian, Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Colombian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (240 ml) warm water
  • ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 cup (150 g) pre-cooked white corn meal
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup (100 g) shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Mix the water, salt, corn meal, butter and cheese in a bowl large enough to knead the dough.
  2. Knead until all the ingredients are mixed well and the dough has a soft consistency. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit more water. If it’s too wet, add more corn meal.
  3. Start forming balls the size of a medium orange and place them between two sheets of plastic. Flatten them with a rolling pin to your desired thickness.
  4. Cut the dough through the top plastic sheet with a bowl, glass, cookie cutter, etc., take off the plastic, the excess dough and now you have a perfectly shaped arepa.
  5. Cover a griddle or pan with butter spray or a stick butter. Turn on the stove on to medium high and when the griddle is hot enough, add the arepas and grill them for 5 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown. Serve immediately.

 

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32 Comments

  1. fitange
    July 17, 2013 / 2:18 am

    Hi there, I cant have access to the pre cooked cornmeal, is there something I can substitute it with? Will yellow corn meal be ok ( polenta) or will it not turn out well? thank you

    • Sweet y Salado
      July 17, 2013 / 5:49 pm

      Hi fitange, nice to see you here! Unfortunately, the only corn meal that works is the one specifically for arepas and the package will say that. I know there is a large Colombian community in Australia, so you may be able to find it in a Latin grocery store (maybe?); if not, then ordering from an web site such as Amigofoods.com or Amazon.com may help. But no, regular yellow cornmeal will not work and I've heard some people say that polenta works and others have said that it doesn't. I can't say because I have never used it, plus, I don't think the flavor would be the same.

    • Anonymous
      November 6, 2013 / 3:40 pm

      You can also used the goya brand

    • Anonymous
      December 20, 2013 / 11:00 am

      Hi fitange, there is van awesome Colombia deli on 215 Buthurst st , Sydney . You will find the flour and even frozen arepas!!!!!

      • January 10, 2022 / 7:37 am

        Thanks for this! My daughter is obsessed with Encanto so I thought we’d make some authentic Colombian arepas for her to try! Managed to find the flour in our grocery store (UK). She had so much fun mixing and cutting them and they tasted great. Thanks so much for the recipe x

    • Joshu
      January 30, 2022 / 4:58 pm

      I bought some on Amazon. I’m in Maine in the middle of the woods. But bc if Amazon i got some

  2. Nancy Gallego
    August 24, 2013 / 9:09 pm

    Hi, I'm Colombian and I feel so proud about your recipe because is a pretty good tribute to this delicious Colombian typical food.

    • Sweet y Salado
      August 24, 2013 / 11:27 pm

      Thank you, Nancy! I feel the same way you do, very proud of being Colombia and the great variety of foods you can find all over the country. =)

  3. Anonymous
    September 22, 2013 / 4:22 am

    Hello my name is enelvia first time on your web site I was wondering if we can deep fry them?

    • Sweet y Salado
      September 23, 2013 / 5:39 pm

      Hi enelvia! Yes, you can deep fry them if you want, in fact, there is a Colombian arepa called "arepa de huevo" that is deep fried. They make it thick, fry it, then they cut a hole on the side, put a whole egg and deep fry it again. It's amazing!

  4. Diego
    November 8, 2013 / 7:47 am

    Greetings from Dubai where Colombian food/restaurants and Panaderias are non existent. This morning my 10 year old daughter and I used the Arepa recipe and we really enjoyed what we made. I like you was born in Colombia raised in the US and now working overseas. Finding Colombian food or ingredients sometimes becomes a challenge, nevertheless where there is a will there is a way. Keep the recipes coming!! Thanks,Diego

    • Sweet y Salado
      November 8, 2013 / 7:58 pm

      Hi Diego, I love that you were able to make the arepas with your daughter! What a great way to share a Colombian recipe with her, I'm so glad you enjoyed them. And yes, I know it can be hard to find some of the ingredients when you're so far away but like you say, where there's a will, there's a way. Thanks for stopping by! =)

    • Juli Ana
      June 19, 2015 / 4:09 pm

      Awesome.. I'm also Colombian, living in Abu Dhabi and I miss our food soooo much!As a matter of fact, I just made some arepas myself for dinner.. Amazing!I will gladly look more into these recipes..I might not find all the ingredients here but, hey, similar works as well when you're so far away :)Congrats on the blog

  5. francesca
    March 4, 2014 / 3:15 am

    Hola Diana! Gracias por tu recieta! I just made these for my fiancee and he loved them! I used to have to buy the refrigerated arepas, and they did not taste very good. I was able to try arepas out at a street fair with many Colombian cooks, and I simply feel in love with all the cooking! I am so grateful for you site, because I can try out these wonderful dishes and I do not have to wait for a festival! Un million de gracias! Francine!

    • Sweet y Salado
      March 4, 2014 / 4:58 pm

      ¡Hola Francine! What a beautiful name you have, love it! I'm so glad that you're finding the blog useful and I'm even more glad that your boyfriend liked the arepas. And I agree, I've never been a big fan of the frozen ones because for one, who knows how long they've been frozen and two, they're way more expensive than making them fresh at home. Same goes for empanadas, I won't ever find the frozen ones when I can make them even better at home.Let me know if you have any questions about any of the recipes I have uploaded, I'm here to help! =)

  6. Alexandraechavarria32@gmail
    December 26, 2015 / 6:49 pm

    Hola DIANA . I was born in Colombia and raised in Toronto Canada. Thank you for your recipe's I just tried the recipe to make Colombian arepas wow so delicious I loved it.looking forward to cook more of sweet y salado recipes.

  7. Diana Z
    February 5, 2017 / 1:56 pm

    Hi Diana, have you ever tried using the food processor to mix the ingredients like with your pandebono recipe?

    • Sweet y Salado
      February 6, 2017 / 6:05 pm

      Hi Diana, I haven't but this cornmeal is so easy to work with that a food processor is not needed.

  8. Grace
    April 19, 2020 / 7:41 pm

    Can you freeze these? Wondering how

    • sweetysalado
      Author
      April 20, 2020 / 10:06 am

      You sure can. I recommend putting a piece of parchment paper in between so they don’t stick together. You can also pre-grill them for a couple of minutes to harden the outer shell, that also prevents them from sticking.

  9. jay
    May 12, 2020 / 8:11 am

    would like to make an arepa with a 7-9 inch base to fold over into a sandwich of sorts.. or a 5-7 inch base on top of another 5-7 inch base like a sandwich, would this be unhealthy and would it work or fall apart?

    I am tempted to try it.. would it be as simple as multiplying the ingredients? So 3 cups instead of one and times the amount of oil?

    Can i also bake them in an oven? thank you for any direction you can give and thanks for sharing the recipe

    • sweetysalado
      Author
      May 12, 2020 / 1:26 pm

      For arepas you can make them as big or small as you want. A very large arepa will be hard to eat though. You can also not toast it too much so it’s easier to fold and fill it like a quesadilla. You can also make them thicker and fill them like I did in this recipe: https://sweetysalado.com/2018/03/arepas-de-jamon-y-queso.html. Is it unhealthy? Depends on the amount that you eat and what you fill it with.

      Yes, you can also double the amount of ingredients to make more arepas or to make bigger arepas.

      I don’t recommend baking them because it tends to dry them out completely ruining the texture.

  10. Jack Booker
    July 26, 2020 / 4:03 pm

    Hi I love Colombian arepas, and mine come out pretty decent. I mix 3/4s to 4/5s
    Maseca white cornmeal and 1/4 to 1/5 yellow cornmeal. I like the taste of the yellow cornmeal the texture and color of the finished product. If you put too much yellow it gets too sticky and is too hard to work with..

  11. Anisha
    June 1, 2021 / 12:51 pm

    Hi thank you for posting this recipe. I’d never heard of arepas until this evening and never cooked Colombian cuisine before so I’m very excited to try this.

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  18. Althea
    February 11, 2022 / 2:06 pm

    Hola, I am doing a create-a-menu project in my Spanish, and my assigned country is Columbia, do you have some other Colombian recipes you would recommend?

    • sweetysalado
      Author
      January 4, 2023 / 2:55 pm

      I know this is a bit late but you can plug in the word “Colombian” in the search box and you will see of the Colombian recipes that I have on the blog. https://sweetysalado.com/en/?s=colombian

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