Arepas with Cheese - Round Savory Corn Cakes that are so Easy to Make

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Arepas with Cheese - Round Savory Corn Cakes that are so Easy to Make

Arepas can be grilled or fried, stuffed or served plain, salty or sweet, large or small, and every region of the country seems to have a specialty.

Arepas with cheese are perhaps one of the most basic and delicious versions.

They're a blank canvas for adding toppings and fillings, though they're delicious just by spreading a little butter on top.

The many types of Colombian arepas

Colombian chef and author Carlos Gaviria estimates that there are more than 55 different types of arepas in Colombia. Here are some examples:

  • Arepas de chocolo, known as cachapas in Venezuela, are sweet corn tortillas topped with cheese and folded in half.
  • The dough of the Santanderean arepas has small pieces of chicharrón.
  • The arepas paisa are very thin, with no cheese on the crust. It is served with a fresh salty cheese called quesillo, similar to ricotta, on top.
  • Arepas de huevo, a traditional Caribbean dish adopted by Colombians, are filled with egg and deep-fried.

Colombian vs. Venezuelan Arepas

There has always been a friendly debate between Colombians and Venezuelans about the origin of the arepas.

Although the answer is not correct, I like to think that arepas belong to both nations and is something that unites us instead of dividing us.

However, there are some differences in our arepas. In Colombia, arepas are often eaten plain and usually have cheese in the dough, as a filling, or both.

Milk is often added to the dough; it is considered the secret to fluffy, fluffy arepas.

Venezuelan arepas are usually sliced and stuffed, sometimes with cheese. For example, the Venezuelan queen pepiada is stuffed with a delicious chicken and avocado salad.

Another popular version is filled with the ingredients of the pabellón, a hearty dish of beans, shredded meat, rice, and fried sweet plantain.

Arepas are extremely versatile and this is your permission to be as creative as you want.

Make arepas with masarepa

Arepas are round, salty corn cakes made with precooked cornmeal known as masarepa. Most of the families used to grind their own corn to make masarepa; today they buy arepa flour.

Masarepa has a mild corn flavor and is naturally gluten-free. It can be found in most supermarkets; the most popular brands are PAN and Goya.

There are yellow and white varieties, and both can be used interchangeably for this recipe; the yellow variety has a slightly stronger corn flavor.

There is no substitute for masarepa other than grinding the corn yourself. Other cornmeals do not have the same taste or texture.

Masa harina is not the same product and cannot be used as a substitute.

How to serve arepas with cheese

Arepas con queso are usually eaten for breakfast with frothy hot chocolate or coffee, or as a light dinner.

They can also be cut in half and filled with a multitude of fillings such as shredded beef, chicken, or simply ham and cheese to create a sandwich.

Plan Ahead: Frozen Arepas!

While most Colombian households make arepas fresh daily as they are quick and easy, it is also possible to make a large batch and freeze them for up to a month.

To freeze, place them in an airtight container with parchment paper in the middle to prevent sticking.

Do not store raw dough as it can ferment.


  • 2 cups (348 g) masarepa
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (200 g) low-fat mozzarella cheese, freshly grated, divided
  • 1/4 cup (50g) whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups (590g) warm water
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray for Frying Pans


Make the dough:

In a large bowl, beat the masarepa, salt, and sugar until blended.

Add the butter and 1 1/2 cups (150 g) of the mozzarella, then slowly drizzle in the milk and 2 1/2 cups of the warm water while kneading the dough by hand.

It is important to use lukewarm water so that lumps do not form in the dough.

The milk gives the dough a smoother texture and richer flavor. Colombians claim that milk is the secret to fluffy, fluffy arepas.

You can also use a rubber spatula to combine the ingredients. The dough will be quite sticky.

Rest the dough:

Let the dough rest uncovered for about 5 minutes to allow the starches to absorb moisture. The dough will be a bit wet; it will dry out while it rests.

Divide the dough:

Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and roll them into balls. Lightly wet your hands with cold water to prevent the dough from sticking.

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