Take a trip to South America with this three-ingredient arepa recipe you’ll want to add to your next brunch menu spread. This versatile Venezuelan staple is made using precooked cornmeal, oil, salt, and water and can be eaten any time of day. Traditionally, you’ll find arepas stuffed with perico (scrambled eggs with onions and tomatoes), reina pepiada (chicken avocado salad) or even ham and cheese. That being said, this crunchy, delicious dish pairs well with just about any type of filling imaginable. Get creative and try this simple, comforting recipe that you’ll find yourself craving from now on.

Maki Yazawa

Gallery

Credit: Getty Images

Recipe Summary

prep:
10 mins
cook:
20 mins
total:
30 mins
Yield:
8 servings
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine 2 ½ cups warm water and salt; stir until dissolved. Add oil and mix. Taste test the water; it should taste salty like the sea.

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  • Gradually add the cornmeal while stirring the mixture in the bowl with fingertips, breaking down any lumps that may form. Continue to add the cornmeal and knead until the dough begins to solidify (it should be slightly mushy, but not dense and should not stick to your fingers or crack on the sides when shaped into a disk). Allow the dough to rest for 1 minute before forming into arepas.

  • Lightly grease fingers with oil or water and mold a scoop of dough into a tennis ball-sized sphere. Keeping one hand still as the other gently rotates in a clockwise motion, apply pressure to one side of the dough ball and shape the arepas into a disk similar to an english muffin. It should be about 3 ½ inches in diameter and about 1 centimeter thick. 

  • In a warm skillet over medium heat, add a thin layer of oil. Soak up any excess oil in the skillet with a dry paper towel. Gently place arepas in the pan, making sure they do not touch one another. Do not move the arepas once they are in the pan, as they may break. Cook each side for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown and a crunchy crust begins to form.

  • Remove from the skillet and place the arepas directly on your oven racks or on a sheet pan lined with a cooling rack and bake for 4-5 minutes or until the arepas are slightly puffed. Pro tip: to ensure an arepa is fully cooked, give it a tap with your fingertips—it should sound hollow and empty. 

  • Slice open with a thin knife to create an opening or pocket to add the filling of your choice, making sure not to puncture the bottom half of the arepa. Optionally, you can remove some of the interior soft dough to make room for even more filling!

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