Arepas con Queso
Arepas con Queso

A traditional Colombian dish, arepas are round, savory corn cakes that are so easy to make. This version is stuffed with cheese and can be served for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or a light dinner.

In this recipe

  • Types of Colombian Arepas
  • Colombian vs. Venezuelan arepas
  • Make arepas with masarepa
  • How to serve arepas con queso
  • Plan Ahead: Freeze Arepas!

When Mirabel said that her mother could heal anything with an arepa in Encanto, Disney’s latest animated film set in Colombia, I really believed it. After all, arepas are the backbone of Colombian gastronomy. You are the first thing I turn to when I’m homesick. Most Colombians grew up eating arepas almost every day.

Arepas can be grilled or fried, stuffed or served plain, savory or sweet, large or small, and every region of the country seems to have a specialty. Arepas con queso — with cheese — are perhaps one of the simplest but most delicious versions. They’re a blank canvas for adding toppings and fillings, although they’re delicious with just a little butter on top.

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 chócolo, known as cachapas in Venezuela, are corn pancakes covered in cheese and folded in half.
  • The dough for Santandereana arepas contains small pieces of pork crust.
  • Arepas paisa are very thin, with no cheese in the dough. It’s served with a salty cream cheese similar to ricotta called quesillo on top.
  • Arepas de huevo, a traditional Caribbean dish adopted by Colombians, is stuffed with an egg and deep fried.

Colombian vs. Venezuelan arepas

There has always been a friendly debate between Colombians and Venezuelans about the origins of arepas. While the answer isn’t certain, I like to think that arepas belong to both nations and that it’s something that unites us rather than divides us.

However, there are certain differences in our arepas. In Colombia, arepas are often eaten as is, and they usually have cheese in the dough, as a filling, or both. Milk is often added to the batter — it’s believed to be the secret to fluffy, pillowy arepas.

Venezuelan arepas are often sliced ​​and stuffed, sometimes with cheese. For example, the Venezuelan Reina Pepiada is filled with a delicious chicken and avocado salad. Another popular version is filled with the ingredients of pabellón, a hearty dish made with beans, shredded beef, rice, and sweet fried plantains.

Make arepas with masarepa

Arepas are round savory corn cakes made with a pre-cooked cornmeal known as masarepa. Most households used to grind their own corn to make the masarepa; Nowadays they buy the arepa flour.

Masarepa has a mild corn flavor and is naturally gluten free. It is available in most grocery stores – 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 don’t have the same flavor or texture. Masa Harina is not the same product and cannot be used as a substitute.

How to serve arepas con queso

Arepas con queso are typically 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 variety of fillings such as shredded carnitas, chicken, or just ham and cheese to create a sandwich.

Plan Ahead: Freeze Arepas!

While most Colombian homes make arepas fresh every day as they’re quick and easy, it’s 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 between them to keep them from sticking.

Do not store the raw dough as it can ferment.

Cheese stuffed goodness

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  • Italian grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Black Eyed Pea Salsa with Cheese Quesadillas

Arepas con queso

preparation time
15 minutes

cooking time
15 minutes

rest time
5 minutes

total time
35 minutes

up to 8 servings

10 (3 inch) arepas

Use a fresh, mild cheese that melts well. In Colombia we use semi-fat mozzarella or a cheese called double cream, but Monterrey Jack works too. Grate the cheese fresh as it melts better. Pre-shredded cheese is often coated with starch to prevent clumping, which prevents it from melting evenly.


  • 2 cups (348G) masarepa

  • 2 teaspoon Salt

  • 2 teaspoon sugarplus more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons (28G) unsalted butterat room temperature

  • 2 cups (200G) freshly shredded partialLean mozzarella cheesedivided

  • 1/4 Cup (50g) whole milk

  • 2 1/2 cups (590 g) lukewarm water

  • nonstick cooking sprayfor the pan


  1. make dough:

    In a large bowl, whisk together the masarepa, salt, and sugar until well combined.

    Add the butter and 1 1/2 cups (150g) mozzarella, then slowly drizzle in the milk and 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water while kneading the dough with your hands. It is important to use lukewarm water to avoid lumps forming in the batter. Milk gives the batter a smoother texture and richer flavor. Colombians claim that milk is the secret to fluffy, pillowy arepas.

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

  2. Let the dough rest:

    Let the dough rest uncovered for about 5 minutes to allow the starch to absorb the moisture. The dough will feel a little wet; it will dry out when it rests.

  3. Divide the dough:

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

  4. Fill with cheese (optional):

    For a nice cheese train, you can fill the arepas with the remaining 1/2 cup (50g) of mozzarella, although they’re without much cheese. Take a ball of dough and press your thumb in the center to create a small indentation. Fill it with about a tablespoon of cheese, then shape the dough to cover and roll into a ball again.

  5. Shape arepas:

    Using your hands, press the dough balls into round patties that are a little less than 1/2 inch thick. As an alternative, you can place a ball in a ziplock bag or between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then gently press it down with a pan to flatten it evenly.

  6. Cook the arepas:

    Place a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray liberally with cooking oil. A griddle would also work perfectly.

    Fry the arepas in batches, about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. The arepas should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Serve immediately.

    I do not recommend using butter to cook the arepas as it burns too quickly. If you like the taste of butter, cook the arepas with oil and smear some salted butter on top once they are fully cooked.

    Leftover arepas can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Heat them in a pan over medium-high heat with a little oil until warmed through. I also find that the hot air fryer works great when in a hurry.

nutritional information (per serving)
227 calories
5g Fat
36g carbohydrates
12g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!