This is the traditional Venezuelan arepas recipe. Or the recipe for the authentic arepas venezolanas. These are the arepas that we have for breakfast and dinner. The same that are perfect for school and office lunches. The same that we used to eat in the areperas across the country. And I would say these are also the Colombian arepas. Keep reading and I will tell you why…
What are arepas made of?
Arepas are to Venezuelans and Colombians, what tacos are for Mexicans, or sandwich bread is for Americans. They are our daily bread. They are made with three ingredients: corn flour, water and a pinch of salt. And because of that: they are gluten-free too! BINGO!
My favorite arepa flour is Harina P.A.N. This brand is Venezuela’s most popular pre-cooked corn flour. We use this arepa flour to make not only arepas, but also hallacas, hallaquitas, bollos, mandocas and so on.
However, you have to be careful. This arepa flour should not be confused with the cornmeal that we use to make cornbread in the U.S. Neither with the Mexican masarina used to make tortillas and tamales.
How do you cook arepas?
In Venezuela, we cook arepas on a pan or griddle called budare. We first cook them in the budare and we may finish them in the oven. I personally use a non-stick griddle and that’s it. Arepas can also be fried. More recently it’s very common to cook them in pretty convenient arepa makers.
There are other varieties of arepas like the sweet ones, that we also fry.
Lately, there has been a boom of flavored and colored arepas. A good example of this type of arepa is the ones I make by adding carrots, spinach, and beets to the dough.
You can incorporate almost any flavoring and coloring agents to the dough. In that sense, your imagination is the limit. This post, however, is about plain and simple Venezuelan arepas.
How do you Eat Arepas?
Due to their neutral flavor, arepas are the perfect vehicle for all kinds of stuffings. Think of arepas as a pocket. That pocket can be stuffed with all kinds of fillings (but peanut butter and jelly, and Nutella). One of the most popular arepa fillings is a chicken and mayo salad. That is the glorious arepa “Reina Pepiada”.
Other popular fillings are: asado negro, pernil de cochino (roasted pork leg), and carne mechada (shredded beef). In fact, any Venezuelan animal proteín goes perfect with arepas.
My favorite fillings are tuna salad with mayo, white fresh cheese with butter, and Muenster cheese with tomato and crunchy bacon (and avocado if I have it handy). I also love arepas with perico (Venezuelan scrambled eggs).
With or Without an Arepa Maker?
Traditionally, the authentic Venezuelan arepas are shaped by hand. For us to give the arepas their perfect round flat shape is a piece of cake. I don’t consider myself a good arepa shaper, though. So, for the video in this post, my good friend Luisa Chesneau was in charge.
There are two known ways to solve the shaping “problem”. The first one is by practicing.
The second one is with an arepa maker. These days, arepa makers are becoming more and more popular. With them, you just make a little ball of dough. The arepa maker will do the rest of the job, including shaping perfect circumferences and perfectly cooking them.
In fact, some of the arepas in the pictures that illustrate this post were made in an arepa maker.
Where to Buy Arepa Flour?
Harina P.A.N. is sold in Latino stores across the U.S. and in major grocery stores where it can be found at the international food isles. More recently (January 2020) and to my happiness, I saw it at Costco in Miami! As a result of the increasing Venezuelan diaspora, Harina P.A.N. is also sold in Central and South American countries, as well as in most of Europe.
Besides that, you can buy Harina P.A.A. online through my Amazon Affiliate Program. At Amazon you can also get the arepa maker. If your choice is the traditional non-arepa maker method, also at Amazon you can get a double griddle or even better, get the classic budare (something that cannot be missed in any Venezuelan kitchen)
How to Make Arepas from Scratch?
The recipe for these arepas is printed on the Harina PAN package. If you follow those directions, you will get the perfect dough. This is exactly what I do. My only “secret” is that sometimes I don’t add any salt. But the salt thing is a personal choice.
One simple trick: add the flour to the lukewarm water in two parts and stir with your hands so there are no lumps.
For those of you unfamiliar with the art of making arepas, here is the not so secret formula to make the best plain ones! By the way, this is the same recipe used yesterday by Empresas Polar in my home country to celebrate the 50 anniversary of Harina PAN. They entered the Guinness record book with an arepa weighing 493.2 kilos! Isn′t it incredible?
- 2 ½ cups of luke warm water
- 2 cups of Harina PAN pre cooked arepa flour
- Pour the water in a bowl.
- Add the flour and mix with your hands until well incorporated.
- Let stand for 2 minutes.
- Form dough balls according to the size of your arepa maker.
- Cook following the instructions of the arepa maker. In the case of my Miallegro arepa maker, it takes 12 minute to have the arepas done.
Hungry for more arepa recipes? Check these out: