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Arepa asada.JPG
Cheese-filled arepa
Region or stateNorthern South America
Main ingredientsTortillas (maize meal or flour)
Cookbook:Arepa  Arepa
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Arepa asada.JPG
Cheese-filled arepa
Region or stateNorthern South America
Main ingredientsTortillas (maize meal or flour)
Cookbook:Arepa  Arepa

Arepa (Spanish pronunciation: [aˈɾepa]) is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela.[1] It is eaten daily in those countries and can be served with various accompaniments such as cheese (cuajada), avocado, or (especially in Venezuela) split and used to make sandwiches. Various sizes, maize types, and added ingredients are used to vary its preparation. It is similar in shape to the Mexican gordita and the Salvadoran pupusa. Arepas can also be found in Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Canary Islands.


The arepa is a flat, round, unleavened patty made of soaked, ground kernels of maize, or—more frequently nowadays—maizemeal or maize flour which can be grilled, baked, fried, boiled or steamed, etc. The characteristics vary by color, flavor, size, and the food with which it may be stuffed, depending on the region. Arepa is a native sort of bread made of ground maize (or flour), water, and salt which is fried or grilled into a thick bread. It can be topped or filled with meat, eggs, tomatoes, salad, cheese, shrimp, or fish depending on the meal. Breakfast egg or cheese are the most common arepa fillings. There are several recipes for fillings.


The dough can be prepared two ways. The traditional, labor-intensive method requires the maize grains to be soaked, then peeled and ground in a large mortar known as a pilón. The pounding removes the pericarp and the seed germ, as only the endosperm of the maize seed is used to make the dough. The resulting mixture, known as mortared maize, or maíz pilado, was normally sold as dry grain to be boiled and ground into dough.

The most popular method today is to buy cooked arepa maizemeal or flour. The flour is mixed with water and salt, and occasionally oil, butter, eggs, and/or milk. Because the flour is already cooked, the blend forms into patties easily. After being kneaded and formed, the patties are fried, grilled, or baked. This production of maize is unusual for not using the nixtamalization, or alkali cooking process, to remove the pericarp of the maize kernels. Arepa flour is lower in nutritive value than nixtamal, with its niacin value reduced by half.[citation needed]


Arepa flour is specially prepared (cooked in water, then dried) for making arepas and other maize dough-based dishes, such as hallacas, bollos, tamales, empanadas and chicha. The most popular brand names of maize flour are Harina PAN in Venezuela and Areparina in Colombia. Arepa flour is usually made from white maize, but yellow maize varieties are available. Arepa flour was first developed and produced by Empresas Polar of Venezuela, owner of the PAN brand and the primary distributor in the country.[citation needed]

Electric arepa makers[edit]


In Venezuela, various kitchen appliance companies sell appliances such as the Tostyarepa and Miallegro's MiArepa, similar to a waffle iron, which cook arepas using two hot metallic surfaces clamped with the raw dough inside. In Venezuela, the arepa is traditionally grilled on a budare, which is a flat, originally nonmetallic surface which may or may not have a handle. Nowadays, it is common to follow the grilling process that forms a crust, known as a concha, with 20 to 25 minutes of cooking at high heat in an oven. Electric arepa makers reduce cooking time from 15 to 25 minutes per side to seven minutes or less.


The predecessor of the arepa was a staple of the Timoto-cuicas[citation needed] , an Amerindian group that lived in the northern Andes of Venezuela. Other Amerindian tribes in the region, such as the Arawaks and the Caribs, widely consumed a form known as casabe made from cassava (yuca). With the colonization by the Spanish, the food that would become the arepa was diffused into the rest of the region, known then as Viceroyalty of New Granada and later became La Gran Colombia (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama) at the time of Independence.

The term arepa comes from the word "erepa" which means corn bread in the language of the Indigenous people of Venezuela and Colombia.

Venezuelans view the arepa as a traditional national food with diverse local recipes.


Varieties of native maize or corn

In eastern Venezuela, the most common variety is usually about three to eight inches (7.5 to 20 cm) in diameter and about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Larger arepas can be found, made with either white or yellow maize. In the western Andes they are flatter, are typically quarter of an inch (0.6 cm) or less in thickness and three to four inches in diameter, and are made of wheat flour. An arepa can be eaten with a filling or with a topping. A filled arepa is called an arepa rellena or a Venezuelan tostada, although the latter term is not commonly used today. Also, there are plenty of sauces to season them while eating them, such as guasacaca and picante (hot sauce).

Venezuelans prepare arepas depending on personal taste or preference and the region in which they are made. Venezuelan varieties include:

  • Traditional corn (maize)
  • Maize flour (arepa blanca or viuda)
  • Wheat flour (preñaditas in Venezuelan slang)
  • Sweet (arepa dulce)
  • Cheese (arepa de queso)
  • Coconut(arepa de coco)
  • Andean (arepa andina)
  • Manioc (arepa de yuca)
  • Reina pepiada - filled with avocado, chicken, and mayonnaise
  • Baked (arepas horneadas)
  • Fried (arepa frita)
  • Arepa pelúa - with yellow cheese and pulled beef
  • Arepa con queso guayanés - with soft Guayanés cheese, similar to mozzarella
  • Arepa con queso de mano - with firm white cheese from eastern Venezuela
  • Arepa catira - with yellow cheese and shredded chicken
  • Arepa de chicharrón - with crisped pork skin
  • Arepa de dominó - white cheese and black beans
  • Arepa de Perico - made with perico, a Caribbean type of scrambled eggs
  • Arepa viuda ("widow" arepa) - an empty arepa usually eaten with soup
  • Arepa rumbera("party" arepa)- with pork meat
  • Arepa llanera - with cuts of beef (parrilla or barbecue), tomato slices, avocado slices and fresh white cheese
  • Arepa con cazón - with school shark

Other fillings include guacuco (a shellfish), ham, quail eggs with pink sauce, and octopus. Specialized areperas can be found across Venezuela, serving a wide array of fillings.


Colombian arepas: choclo (front) and quesito (back)

In Colombia, the arepa has deep roots in the colonial farms and the cuisine of the indigenous people. While its preparation was once a tedious process of processing and cooking raw maize, today, they are usually bought already prepared or made from "instant" flours. These "instant" flours are now made using corn that has been genetically modified (GMO-corn), as clearly stated in the package.

Arepas are usually eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Common toppings include butter, cheese, scrambled eggs, condensed milk, Colombian chorizo, and hogao.

In the western part of Colombia, especially around Bogotá, Cali and Medellín, a traditional breakfast includes an arepa with hot chocolate.

Companies, such as Don Maíz, have started to market new, less traditional varieties in Colombian grocery stores that are growing in popularity. These include cassava-flavored arepas (based on the more traditional pan de yuca) and whole-grain arepas made of brown rice, wheat germ and sesame seeds.

Similar dishes[edit]

In Colombia, the arepuela is similar to the traditional arepa. It is made with wheat flour and sometimes anise, and when fried, the layers expand and the arepuela inflates, similar to miniature tortillas or pancakes. This is very common in the interior of Colombia. In the north, bollos are popular for breakfast and made with the same dough as an arepa, but boiled rather than fried, giving them a texture similar to matzo balls or Czech bread dumplings.

In Costa Rica, Arepas can be made from batter, and may be similar to pancakes. There are at least two sorts, the "pancake" arepa, which is made with baking powder, and the "big flat" arepa, which is made without baking powder. These big flat arepas are, in size, not unlike the big tortillas one finds in Guanacaste (northern Costa Rica), (i.e. some twelve inches in diameter) and are made of white flour and are sugary. Once perfectly cooked, they should resemble a "giraffe skin", or a "jaguar skin" (i.e., white/yellowish with brown spots).

In Mexico, Gorditas are a similar fried dish, but are different from tortillas.

In Puerto Rico, arepas are made with maize meal, coconut milk, lard, butter, flour, and baking powder. Preparation and cooking varies according to city and family tradition.

In El Salvador, Pupusas are similar flat cakes, but the most important difference is the traditional dough is made from nixtamal. It is also filled before it is cooked, usually some pork, white cheese or black beans. Other stypes of pupusas are now made from rice dough, particularly in the town called Olocuilta in the department of La Paz. There are also some newer versions of the dish based on plantain dough.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Arepas". whats4eats. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  2. ^ * Adriana Lopez, Bringing the Arepa to the World