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Arepas are a delicious cheesy bread made out of cornmeal! This super simple Colombian treat is sure to win the hearts of your family.

Cornmeal is such a delicious ingredient to use in baking. Not to mention, it’s gluten-free! Try it in pancakes, corn fritters, and cornbread!

Arepas on a wooden serving platter with one ripped in half.

Colombian Cheese-Filled Arepas Recipe

If your kids are as obsessed with Encanto as mine are, then you likely know what arepas are! These tasty, cheese-filled treats are used in the movie for healing. To be honest, I think they have a similar effect in real life! My family has been nothing but pleased by these morsels of warm, cheesy goodness. The good news is, they only take a handful of simple ingredients to make. Also, they’re so easy to throw together and a perfect activity for the kids. I won’t judge if you still have Encanto on in the background. Your kids will have fun eating along with the Madrigals!

Also known as arepas de queso, this Colombian treat has been around for quite some time! They date back to the late 1400s. It’s no surprise that they’ve stayed around so long considering how tasty they are! They can also be found with other fillings such as meat, beans, and avocado. You’ll have to try those variations too! With how easy arepas are to make, expect them to be a regular in your household. Crispy on the outside, soft melty goodness on the inside. Everything you could want from a snack and more!

Everything You Need to Make Them

This recipe is my go-to for those times when the kids want a treat but I don’t want to make a trip to the store. These ingredients are so simple! You’ll be surprised at the delicious bread they combine to create! Measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card below.

  • Salt: Keeps your arepas from tasting bland.
  • Pre-Cooked Cornmeal: You can use either white or yellow cornmeal here! This is also known as masarepa.
  • Warm Water: Helps your dough mix together smoothly.
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese: I love using mozzarella because it’s so creamy and melts down to perfection. Nothing better than ripping open an arepa to reveal a warm, stretchy cheese filling!
  • Vegetable Oil: Use as needed for cooking arepas on the stove.
Process shots of preparing dough and shaping into discs.

How to Make Arepas From Scratch

It only takes a few minutes to form your arepas and then it’s off to cook them to golden brown perfection! Anyone can make arepas. They’re so easy and absolutely delightful!

  1. Preheat Oven: To begin, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare Dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the salt and corn meal. Add the warm water and mix until a soft, moist dough forms.
  3. Form Arepas: Divide the dough into 8, even-sized balls, about 2 ½ tablespoons per ball. Use your fingers to press the balls into round discs, about 5-inches. If you would like to make them cheese filled, carefully add a heaping tablespoon of cheese to the center of the disc and press the dough around the cheese to form a dough ball. If you do not want to fill the arepas, make the discs 3-inches with and ½ inch thick.
  4. Disc Shape: Carefully press the ball until it’s a disc about 3-inches wide and ½ inch thick.
  5. Bake: In a large skillet, bring 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Cook the discs for 5 minutes on either side, transferring to a baking sheet. Bake all the arepas in the oven for 10 minutes, until the outside is crisp and golden. These are best served warm.
Disc-shaped breads on a baking sheet.

Making the Best Arepas

Perfect this Colombian snack with just a few easy tips and tricks. You’re going to love how they turn out!

  • Adjust Consistency: If you’re finding it hard to shape your arepas or they’re too sticky, and a pinch of cormeal at a time until you reach your desired consistency. On the other hand, if your dough feels too dry and begins to crumble when shaped, add a tablespoon of water until it’s malleable.
  • Using Different Cheeses: I love using mozzarella because it’s creamy and melty. Other mild cheeses like monterey jack work great too. If you want more traditional flavor, add in cojita or queso fresco cheeses as well.
  • More Fillings: In addition to cheese, ground beef and pork, shredded chicken, and black beans are all great fillings for your arepas. Mix and match fillings to create your perfect arepa!
An arepa broken in half on a wooden board.

Storing Leftovers

Although arepas are best served fresh, they can be stored and enjoyed for a few days after!

  • In the Refrigerator: Store your leftover arepas in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • In the Freezer: Cooked arepas can be stored in the freezer for 1 month. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
  • Reheating: To keep the outside of my arepas crispy, I always like to reheat them in the oven for a few minutes at 350 degrees F.
Holding an arepa that has been torn into 2 pieces.

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Arepas

3.67 from 3 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
Arepas are a delicious cheesy bread made out of cornmeal! This super simple Colombian treat is sure to win the hearts of your family.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 Arepas

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Salt
  • 2 Cups Pre-Cooked Corn Meal White or Yellow
  • 2 ½ Cups Warm Water
  • 4 Ounces Mozzarella Cheese Shredded, Optional
  • Vegetable Oil as Needed

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the salt and corn meal. Add the warm water and mix until a soft, moist dough forms.
  • Divide the dough into 8 even-sized balls, about 2 ½ tablespoons per ball. Use your fingers to press the balls into round discs, about 5-inches. If you would like to make them cheese-filled, carefully add a heaping tablespoon of cheese to the center of the disc and press the dough around the cheese to form a dough ball. If you do not want to fill the arepas, make the discs 3-inches with and ½ inch thick.
  • Carefully press the ball until it’s a disc about 3-inches wide and ½ inch thick.
  • In a large skillet, bring 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Cook the discs for 5 minutes on either side, transferring to a baking sheet. Bake all the arepas in the oven for 10 minutes, until the outside is crisp and golden. These are best served warm.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 7gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 530mgPotassium: 139mgFiber: 4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 96IUCalcium: 76mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, Bread
Cuisine: Colombian
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About Alyssa Rivers

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Alyssa Rivers and the food blogger behind The Recipe Critic. The blog launched in 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family. Each recipe is tried and true, family-tested and approved.

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18 Comments

  1. Hello, I have two questions. First, do I only cook the arepas on one side before transferring them into the oven to finish baking? And second, if I wanted to add chicken, should I add already cooked chicken? I am thinking that would be the case but wanted to double check. Thanks a bunch. Looking forward to trying these out.

  2. I measured carefully and my dough is complete soup!
    How long do I need to stir? I am using Bob’s Red Mill yellow corn Polenta.
    Help!