Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arepas: A Tutorial

Arepas are a Venezuelan corn cake. They are made from pre-cooked cornmeal, sold as P.A.N. It can be found in the hispanic foods aisle in most grocery stores.  They are very simple (and inexpensive) to make and can be served any time of day with a variety of toppings--really, whatever suits your fancy. My favorite is sharp cheddar or monterey jack cheese. They can be made larger for a whole meal or smaller for a side or appetizer.

All you need for arepas is the P.A.N., salt, and water.

First, preheat the oven to 350*.

Then, measure out 2 1/2 cups of luke warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Next, add 2 cups of the Arena Pan. Stir it all together. At first, it will be really liquidy, but the cornmeal will absorb the water pretty quickly. The dough should be moist and workable. Now, you're ready to shape the arepas. Get a handful of the cornmeal mixture and make it into a ball. Then flatten it out a little bit. You want it to be thick enough to cut in half to make a sandwich out of it.

Next, heat up a skillet. Cast iron works best, but you can use any skillet. Oil it, but spread the oil around with a paper towel so it's not "standing" oil. To tell whether the skillet is hot enough, sprinkle a little bit of water. If it sizzles, the skillet is ready. Reduce the heat to medium and brown each side of the arepas until they're golden, 3-5 minutes. You want them to have a nice crust on each side. They should look somewhat like this, though darker is fine.

Once they're browned, put them in the oven directly on the rack for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through the time. When you take them out, they should feel hollow when you tap on them. Take them out of the oven and let them cool for a minute or so. Then, slice in half and put whatever toppings you want. They can be eaten at any temperature.

One recipe makes about 6 arepas. It doubles well. I recommend refrigerating them to extend the shelf life. Also, make sure they are completely cool before storing them to avoid condensation in the container.

This post linked to:


  1. Mary Jo and I had so much fun making these while packing to make it to the airport in time for her flight at 12:10 p.m. today. They turned out delicious. You can put strawberry preserves on them as well; ham and cheese tastes great on these too. Add butter on the arepas right out of the oven,and they are soooo good.

  2. I love Arepas, especially with cheese. YUM!

  3. this sounds fun. My daughter is doing a "Nation Notebook" and for whatever reason she chose Venezuela. I told her one thing she'll need to do is put together a menu with Venequelan foods for us to make and try. Maybe we'll put this on the list.

    By the way I can't remember if you said how hot to heat the oven.

  4. Oh this sounds good, I'll have to try these :)

  5. That sounds very good and so simple.. Thanks

  6. So I tried making them and they stayed all gummy in the middle. They didn't look all puffed up like yours. Any idea what I did wrong?

  7. It's normal if the consistency is somewhat gummy on the inside. It shouldn't be like bread. The outside should be like a shell, and sound hollow when you tap on both sides. They could cook a little longer on the castiron skillet so you have some dark spots rather than just a golden color. They don't have to be perfectly puffy but just thick enough to put some filling into it. A cousin of mixes butter into the dough. I don't know how much, although they are so good. My mom used to wet her hands with milk, and rub the outside of the arepa with the milk just before putting into the skillet, and they turned into a nice dark golden color. I've seen arepa makers on the market that make them in a short amount of time. Just haven't wanted to spend the money:) You'll have fun the more you make them:)

  8. Hey Mom! Thanks for your helpful comment. :)

  9. I like reading your site for the reason that you can always get us fresh and cool things, I feel that I should at least say a thank you for your hard work.

    - Henry