Colombian cuisine is known for its rich and diverse flavors, and one dish that stands out is the traditional Colombian arepas. Arepas are a staple in Colombian households and are enjoyed by people of all ages. In this article, we will explore the history, ingredients, and step-by-step process of making authentic Colombian arepas. So, put on your apron and get ready to embark on a culinary journey!

The History of Colombian Arepas

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a moment to appreciate the history behind Colombian arepas. Arepas have been a part of Colombian cuisine for centuries and have deep roots in indigenous culture. The word “arepa” is derived from the indigenous language of the Carib people, who were the original inhabitants of the region.

Traditionally, arepas were made from cornmeal and were a staple food for indigenous tribes. They were cooked on hot stones or clay griddles, known as “comales.” Over time, the recipe evolved, and different regions in Colombia developed their own variations of arepas, each with its unique flavors and fillings.

The Ingredients for Colombian Arepas

Now that we know the history, let’s gather the ingredients needed to make delicious Colombian arepas. The basic ingredients include:

  • 2 cups of pre-cooked cornmeal (also known as masarepa)
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

These ingredients are easily available in most grocery stores, and you can also find pre-packaged masarepa specifically labeled for making arepas.

The Step-by-Step Process

Now that we have our ingredients ready, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making authentic Colombian arepas:

Step 1: Prepare the Dough

In a mixing bowl, combine the pre-cooked cornmeal, warm water, and salt. Mix well until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and pliable. If the dough feels too dry, add a little more water. If it feels too wet, add a little more cornmeal.

Step 2: Shape the Arepas

Divide the dough into small portions and shape them into round discs, about ½ inch thick. You can use your hands to shape the arepas or use a round cookie cutter for a more uniform shape.

Step 3: Cook the Arepas

Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the arepas on the skillet. Cook each side for about 5-7 minutes or until they develop a golden brown crust. Flip them gently using a spatula to avoid breaking them.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

Once the arepas are cooked, remove them from the skillet and let them cool for a few minutes. You can serve them warm or at room temperature. Arepas can be enjoyed on their own or filled with a variety of delicious ingredients such as cheese, avocado, shredded meat, or beans.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I use regular cornmeal instead of pre-cooked cornmeal?

A1: No, regular cornmeal will not yield the same results. Pre-cooked cornmeal, also known as masarepa, has been specially treated to remove the outer husk and make it more suitable for making arepas.

Q2: Can I make arepas without oil?

A2: While adding oil to the skillet helps in achieving a crispy crust, you can make arepas without oil if you prefer a healthier option. Simply use a non-stick skillet and cook the arepas without any oil.

Q3: Can I freeze the leftover arepas?

A3: Yes, you can freeze the leftover arepas. Once they have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer. To reheat, simply thaw them and warm them in a skillet or toaster oven.

Q4: Are arepas gluten-free?

A4: Yes, arepas are naturally gluten-free as they are made from cornmeal. However, it is important to check the packaging of the cornmeal to ensure that it is labeled gluten-free, as some brands may process their products in facilities that also handle wheat.

Q5: Can I make sweet arepas?

A5: Absolutely! While the traditional Colombian arepas are savory, you can experiment with sweet variations. Simply add a little sugar or honey to the dough and serve them with toppings like Nutella, jam, or fresh fruits.


Colombian arepas are a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. With their rich history and authentic flavors, they are a true representation of Colombian cuisine. By following the simple recipe outlined in this article, you can recreate the magic of Colombian arepas in your own kitchen. So, gather the ingredients, put on some Colombian music, and savor the taste of these delightful cornmeal discs!


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