These vegan arepas are savory with just a hint of sweetness, crispy on the outside, and perfect for adding all kinds of tasty toppings. Here’s how to make them, step-by-step!
You know whenever you find a recipe with just a few ingredients, it’s all about technique, and that’s true of these vegan arepas.
You only need 4 ingredients to make them, so using the best quality ingredients and following the recipe to the letter is key. But then, you’ll be rewarded with restaurant-style arepas at home!
What Are Arepas?
Arepas are a type of cornmeal flatbread integral to both Colombian and Venezuelan people and have indigenous descent from the time when Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela were all one country back in La Gran Colombia (thank you to reader Maria for this information!). They can be made with different types of fillings, either savory or sweet. Arepas can be grilled, baked, or fried, and are usually served as a side or snack.
Cheese is a common filling for arepas; these arepas are called arepas de queso or arepas con queso. Lucky for us, there are a lot of delicious, meltable plant-based cheeses available these days, so you can make arepas de queso without the dairy!
What Do Arepas Taste Like?
Arepas have a mildly sweet corn flavour. The dough is soft and slightly dense, and the outside becomes crispy when grilled, baked, or fried. They’re pretty much irresistible!
Notes on Ingredients
Please note that this is important information on the ingredients and instructions and the FULL recipe with amounts and details can be found DOWN BELOW (scroll to it) in the recipe card.
For the vegan arepas:
- Pre-cooked white or yellow cornmeal – Also known as masarepa. There is no substitute for this!
- Kosher salt
- Warm water
- Olive oil
For the arepa fillings:
- Vegan butter, shredded vegan cheese, black beans, curtido, slaw, pulled jackfruit
Is Cornmeal the Same as Masarepa?
They’re both milled corn, but the similarities end there. Masarepa is cooked then milled, while cornmeal is milled raw. This creates a completely different texture when used in recipes.
How to Make Vegan Arepas
Follow these step-by-step instructions for making arepas at home:
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Make the dough. Whisk the cornmeal and salt in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the water, whisking or mixing with your hands constantly. Just add enough water to make a soft, moist dough that’s not sticky.
Let the dough rest. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
Form the arepas. Divide the arepas dough into 8 equal portions. Shape the dough into balls, then press them into smooth discs about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, adding more water if needed to keep the dough from cracking.
Pan-fry the arepas. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add as many arepas as will fit without crowding the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Bake. Transfer the pan-fried arepas to a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re crispy on the outside and firm in the middle.
Serve. Serve the arepas hot with butter or your favourite vegan toppings. To fill, slice the arepas in half and add the fillings.
Tips for Success
These tips will help you make perfect vegan arepas every time!
- Use kosher salt. It has larger crystals than table salt; if you use table salt instead, your arepas will be too salty!
- Mix the dough until there are no lumps. The dough should be soft, pliable, and there should be no lumps of masarepa.
- Be patient. When pan-frying the arepas, don’t flip them until a crispy crust has formed on the bottom.
Serve arepas with:
- Mexican Street Corn Burrito Bowls
- Sofritas (Chipotle Copycat)
- Quinoa and Black Bean Burrito Bowl
- Black Bean Avocado and Corn Salad
- 30-Minute Quinoa Enchilada Skillet
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store leftover arepas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. They can be reheated in a skillet over medium heat with a bit of oil, or you can warm them up in an air fryer.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze arepas for up to 2 months. Place them in a freezer bag or airtight container with parchment paper between the layers. Let them thaw in the refrigerator, then heat in a skillet or air fryer, as directed above.
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan arepas recipe, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
- 2 cups pre-cooked white or yellow cornmeal, masarepa
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups warm water, you may not need all
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Fillings: vegan butter, shredded vegan cheese, black beans, curtido, slaw, pulled jackfruit, etc.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal and salt. Slowly add the water, whisking or
- mixing with your hands the entire time. Add just enough water until you have a soft, moist dough that’s not too sticky. Cover the bowl and rest for 8-10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
- Divide the dough into 8 balls, then shape the balls into smooth discs about 21⁄2 inches in diameter. Add more water if necessary to avoid cracking.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add as many arepas as will fit with about an inch of space between. Cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer browned arepas to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining arepas.
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until crisp on the outside and firm in the center.
- Serve hot with butter or fillings. Slice each arepa in half and add your favorite fillings.
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.