arepas

homemade arepas

One of the gifts of going gluten-free, continuously, is discovering foods I never knew existed.

This strange paradox strikes me, nearly every day: when I thought I could eat everything, my diet was fairly limited. I ate the same twelve or fourteen meals, in some semblance of order, over and over. Restaurant experiences provided me tastes that puzzled my mouth until I figured out what they were. But that’s where adventurous eating stayed: restaurants and visits to other countries, occasionally. At home, I ate tentatively, safely.

(I never felt well enough to dance in the kitchen.)

Now, knowing that I cannot eat any gluten, I reach out my hands for foods I may never have seen before. If I know a food does not have gluten, I’m trying it. And how my world has broadened.

Sometimes people write to me and say, “Your recipes sound lovely. But sometimes they just seem so…exotic. And extravagant. Why do I need all those extra ingredients?” Well, you don’t need ume plum vinegar or teff flour or pomegranate molasses to live well. But once you’ve had a taste, you might never return to that narrow place you were sitting.

And the funny thing is — once you taste the foods that seem “exotic,” you realize that some of them are so simple in their preparation that can’t imagine how you haven’t been making them all your life.

Like arepas.

arepas - white cornmeal

I heard about arepas first through Matthew, who remembered a visit to Caracas with his grandfather. Corn cakes? No gluten? I want some. But I couldn’t quite picture them, having never eaten one. I stored the idea in the bulging file closet in the back of my mind, and moved on.

And then, a few weeks ago, our friend Karen placed a basket full of oven-hot arepas before us when we went over for dinner. The warm corn smell, the steam rising to my nose, and the thick little hockey-puck shape made me lean toward that basket, willing dinner to be ready, now, so I could eat some.

A single bite with butter and cheese made me hunger for one of these, every day.

Yesterday, Karen kindly invited me into her kitchen again, and allowed me to take photographs as she prepared some arepas. She and I both agreed: everyone should be eating these, and not just those of us who are gluten-free.

(Except, of course, for the folks who cannot eat corn. Sorry about that one.)

Karen’s mother is from Venezuela, where people eat arepas with every meal. These little cakes made of white cornmeal show up on every table, all day long. Karen spoke eloquently of little roadside stands with a perpetually fresh batch of arepas, where people who need a little hit between meals can stand outside and sigh in that smell.

When Karen’s mother moved to New York from Venezuela, when she was about 10, she hungered for her daily arepas. But her family couldn’t find the pre-cooked cornmeal needed to make these, the way their hands remembered. Karen’s mother only ate her arepas when her family came from Venezuela for a visit. And as she grew older, and she returned to her home, she always come back to New York with a suitcase stuffed full of foods she needed for meals to feel familiar.

Luckily, now, the pre-cooked white cornmeal is fairly easily available in the US now. Karen told me to advise you: look for P.A.N. in Latin markets in your town, and online. If you like what you see here, I suggest you find some. (Here in Seattle, the little Mexican market in the middle of Pike Place generally carries this brand.)

So, how do we make them?

arepas - making the dough

“Start with 2 1/2 cups of lukewarm water,” Karen told me. “Not so hot to burn your hand, but not at all cold.”

Add a pinch of salt, a burble of vegetable oil. And then start pouring in the cornmeal.

“Why are you mixing it with your hand, instead of a spoon?” I asked her.

She looked at me over her shoulder, with a devilish grin. “You know already. You’re the same kind of cook as me. You need to feel it.”

With your hand, you can feel the lumps dissipating into the water. Just get in there and do the work.

“Ladies, take off your rings. This is messy work.”

Be sure to keep one hand out of the water while you’re mixing, so it’s not sticky with dough as well.

arepas - use your hands

“I’m just guessing this,” said Karen, “because I don’t know the scientific reasoning. But I just know from my hands that you don’t want to overwork the dough.”

You don’t want the dough too dry and starchy, because even when it seems to be entirely mixed, it stiffens as it sits.

The final mound that you pat into place should feel like wet clay, but a bit grainy.

arepas - this dough is too wet if it sticks to your hand

And if your dough is too wet, it will stick to your hand, like this.

Avoid that.

arepas - rolling the dough

If you want, you can allow the dough to sit for awhile before making the arepas. (I don’t really know why you wouldn’t eat them right away, however.) Be sure to lay a wet cloth over the top of the bowl, so it doesn’t all dry out and crackle.

This dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. But no longer. After awhile, you can smell it fermenting, and that’s rarely appetizing.

Once you start making them, says Karen, you will eat them every day. So it’s good to have a mound of ready dough within easy reach.

When you are ready to make the arepas, form a small ball in your hands, about the same size you see above.

arepas - flattening the ball

And then flatten the ball into a little puck, like the one you see above.

If the dough is too dry, the edges of this cake will start to crack. Start again, add some more water, and form a coherent and easy-to-work-with ball this time. If the dough is too wet, add a small amount of flour, just a touch, and mix it in. “If you add too much, you’ll have to add more water, and then more flour, and then more water. You could go that way all day long.”

“It takes practice,” said Karen. “It really does. You might not get this the first time. Don’t worry. Try again.”

arepas - smooth the sides with the side of your hand

“It took me until I was in my 20s until I started learning how to make these well. I was always intimidated by the process. And I knew I could always get my mom to do it, if I was hungry.”

Karen told me this as she deftly smoothed the edges of the arepa with the side of her hand. I just loved watching the care she took, how slowly she paid attention to every inch of the edge.

Making food by hand like this? It’s an entirely different process than eating convenience food.

arepas - this is what they look like when they are ready to cook

This one is ready.

The finished arepa cake should be nice and round. “Not too thick, or it will take you a million years to cook the damn thing,” Karen laughed.

arepas - put them on the griddle

Put them on a griddle pan, if you have one. “My mom uses cast-iron, with just enough oil to wipe the bottom of the pan.” But if you don’t have one of those, a good non-stick pan will work fine.

Make sure you use something that can go into the oven. Oh, and turn that on, at this point.

The heat of the burner should be mild, no more than medium. Too hot and the arepas will scorch. You don’t want that. The outsides should form a little brown crust, a firm surface, but the insides need to cook as well.

“Be patient,” Karen said. “It’s worth it.”

arepas - time to turn these over

When the bottoms have become firm and lightly golden brown (on Karen’s stove that was about seven minutes), flip them over, carefully.

The second side will take awhile, too. Perhaps another ten minutes. If the arepas are starting to smell strongly of corn, turn the heat down. You need those insides to cook as well.

arepas - you need some butter and cheese

And then the arepas have to cook in the oven for awhile. (Oops. I forgot to tell this. Set the oven on 350°.) Sigh. There’s that patience thing again.

While they are baking, sit down at the table with your friend. Karen sliced up tomatoes and covered the juicy redness with fresh garlic and basil. The sun appeared outside, from behind clouds. Life was fine.

Especially when she put butter and cheese on the table.

arepas - the inside is a little doughy

Finally (okay, they were probably fifteen minutes in the oven), the arepas were done. Karen sliced one open with a small, sharp knife. (I think it’s possible she only uses it to cut open arepas.)

See how the insides are slightly doughy? Enough that just a bit sticks to the knife? That’s what you want. Baked any more and the rest would taste dry.

And you can tell when the arepas are done by tapping on them. If they sound hollow, it’s time to eat.

arepas - and some cheese

“I always, always put butter on them,” said Karen. “Not matter what else I put on top, it’s butter first.”

Really, you could stuff your arepas with anything you want. The morning after we ate dinner with Karen and Shawn, the Chef and I filled our leftovers with the corned beef we had intended to eat for St. Patrick’s Day. Oh god. We also dipped these into cumin-spiced black beans that had been simmered for hours. Karen said her mom makes a sweetened version of arepas with anise seeds and brown sugar. “It will rock your world.” So, apparently, will the traditional tangy chicken salad with avocado called reina pepiada.

But really, the possibilities are limitless.

“Arepas taste like crispy fluffy pockets of joy to me,” said Karen, laughing at her inability to express it in any other terms. “When I eat one, I think of all my visits to Venezuala with my mother. They taste like those visits, a reminiscence. Every visit comes out in each bite.”

Watching her face settle into calm as she talked made me want to visit Venezuela, with her, as soon as possible.

“I’m so satisfied by the fact that I can do this for myself and other people,” Karen told me. “I’ve very recently become proud of my ability to make them.”

We both hope that, soon, you will be proud of your ability to make them too.

Addendum: Since I wrote this post in 2008, PAN changed its packaging. It now says that PAN could contain wheat. Please do not buy PAN if you have celiac. I’m looking for a suitable substitute. Any suggestions? I want to make arepas again! 

arepas - these were fresh from the oven

AREPAS

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pre-cooked white cornmeal (Karen recommends P.A.N.)

As far as the technique goes, oh, I’m not going to write it all out again here. Check out the photos above and follow along. This is a physical experience, not one of words. Try these, and then try them again.

You won’t be disappointed.

128 comments on “arepas

  1. Ms. George

    The dough sounds very much like a recipe Rick Bayless has in one of his cookbooks (Everyday Mexican?) except that you lay a stick of cheese in the middle of the dough and then lightly fry them until golden.
    I need to make your arepas and then find that other recipe.
    By the way, I just got your book and though I’m not gluten free, I am so glad I did. You write like a friend…

  2. kitchenmage

    Oooooh! It’s like little cornmeal english muffins. I’m definitely adding this to my to-bake list.

  3. Kitt

    Oh, I’d forgotten about arepas! I had a dorm-mate in college who had spent time in Colombia and made these on a hotplate. They were a little more tortilla-like, which may be a regional variation.

    What temp should the oven be? I’d like to try my hand at these as well. Thanks!

  4. 4ddintx

    Is the pre-cooked cornmeal just like Masa? I can find that easily where I live. It would be yellow not white, but I’m wondering if that is the only difference.

  5. Nick

    Yum, yum, yum. The instructions and pictures are so excellent, it makes me want to go make them right now. I’ve seen “arepas” at street fairs in NYC and Hoboken, but they’re usually two flat corn cakes with mozzarella smooshed between them. I like the idea of plain ones better that you can do with as you please. I just recently got into polenta, do they taste anything like that? because I’m loving this polenta stuff!

    - The Peanut Butter Boy

  6. Anonymous

    Oh yum, I can’t wait to go find the P.A.N. and make these. But Shauna I don’t seem to see the temperature you had the oven at???
    Eileen

  7. Aryn Kennedy

    I don’t know whether to hug you or curse you! I was still conservative in my eating the first few years I was GF, but after reading your site for a couple years and your book, I’m inspired to broaden my horizons! Now I see everything on here and think: I have to make that. My waistline does not appreciate it (but my tummy does)!

  8. Deborah Dowd

    Are these like corn biscuits? They look delicious, and I can’t wait to give them a try. I especially love the photo-recipe, hands are really the best tool to play with food!

  9. Sheri

    Guess what I just added to my grocery list! I sure hope I can find some nearby because, holy cow, those look amazing. My mouth is watering just thinking of what these will taste like.

  10. Unbalanced Reaction

    Wow, with such great photo documentation, even *I* feel like I could make them…and I’m a terrible cook!

  11. mamster

    Goya also makes arepa flour, and I see it at QFC. I haven’t compared with the P.A.N., but I will soon, since I’m out of masarepa and hungry for arepas.

  12. Shauna

    Oops! Thank you to those of you who caught my omission. I’ve added it into the text now — that oven should be at 350°.

    And for those of you who wonder if masa is a substitute, it’s my understanding that it’s not. The texture relies on pre-cooked white cornmeal. Seek it out. It’s worth it!

  13. Ms.Sinn

    Ohh, I love arepas. I first had them at a cafe in Palo Alto, Ca. I asked them three times for the ingredients. “No, really, they don’t have wheat?!” They have all the best “fillings” for the sandwiches they make with them. I was in heaven.

    And, if you ever are in the area, check out Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto. How often can you get great food and great coffee in the same place?

  14. Pille

    Some 7 years ago a Columbian friend of mine in Edinburgh introduced these delights to me. He missed them badly, then called his mum in Bogota and asked for instructions. I remember them being very, very delicious.
    Thank you for detailed instructions — I might just make these one day soon.

  15. Sho

    Aaaaahhhh! They sound devine. I have been frequenting the Latin American section of our grocery store for corn tortillas (that I use for pizza crust.) I am going to look for the arepas.

  16. LizKnits

    Wow… thanks to you and Karen for sharing this with us. It looks fabulous and I can’t wait to try it.

  17. peteathome

    I just ran out and got some corn flour. The brand the store had is “la Venezolana”, harina precocida masa al instante ( precooked corn meal or flour). Someone asked if this was the same as masa harina used to make tortillas. I’d say not.

    It’s much coarser and does not appeared to have been alkalied the was tortilla flour is.

    I made it up. It looked and tasted just like the corn grits I ate as a kid.

    I pan fried mine and then baked them. I think I was a little impatient as I couldn’t really get mine to split. So I made open-faced ham and cheese sandwiches with them.

    They taste like grits on the inside but with a hard crust on the outside.

    I doubt I really did mine right but my wife and I just ate up the entire batch.

    –Pete

  18. Ross

    Arepas are awesome! Years ago, I used to get handmade arepas (topped with chicken and cheese) at Pico de Gallo in Philly. I used to go for lunch on weekends, as soon as they opened, so I didn’t have to worry about what else they were cooking on the grill.

    Ross

    Triumph Gluten Free!

  19. Anonymous

    Having been to Venezuela, I have to agree, arepas are wonderful! You can stuff them with anything! I think I will make some soon.

  20. Liz

    I love these! I had them with a gentleman I dated from Venezuela in college. He wasn’t so great, but the arepas were! I’m so excited to finally have a recipe.

  21. Hippy Chick

    Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for your recipes — can’t wait to try this one! BTW, read your book and fell in love with you, the Chef, and the way you caress food with your words! I don’t have to be “gluten free,” but love your recipes. More importantly, you’ve given me courage to try, experiment, and savor food again. Thank you, and best of luck with “little bean.”

  22. marisa

    I made some for the first time a few weeks ago — from what I understand you want to look for masa arepas — not masa harina (although that might work…).

    Be careful — the Goya brand says it may contain wheat on the back.

    Haven’t found PAN brand yet — will keep looking.

    They were a big hit at our house!

  23. The Mighty R&R

    Hello! and thank you for this post! You reminded me I have an unopened bag of P.A.N. in my cupboard! A friend from Caracas gave it to me after she hosted an empanada party. To make, assemble your dough and stuff with (all homemade, of course) beans & cheese, chicken, or beef and fry ‘em up, baby! They’re delish.

    Love your site.

  24. The Mighty R&R

    Hello! and thank you for this post! You reminded me I have an unopened bag of P.A.N. in my cupboard! A friend from Caracas gave it to me after she hosted an empanada party. To make, assemble your dough and stuff with (all homemade, of course) beans & cheese, chicken, or beef and fry ‘em up, baby! They’re delish.

    Love your site.

  25. The Mighty R&R

    Hello! and thank you for this post! You reminded me I have an unopened bag of P.A.N. in my cupboard! A friend from Caracas gave it to me after she hosted an empanada party. To make, assemble your dough and stuff with (all homemade, of course) beans & cheese, chicken, or beef and fry ‘em up, baby! They’re delish.

    Love your site.

  26. The Mighty R&R

    Hello! and thank you for this post! You reminded me I have an unopened bag of P.A.N. in my cupboard! A friend from Caracas gave it to me after she hosted an empanada party. To make, assemble your dough and stuff with (all homemade, of course) beans & cheese, chicken, or beef and fry ‘em up, baby! They’re delish.

    Love your site.

  27. The Mighty R&R

    Hello! and thank you for this post! You reminded me I have an unopened bag of P.A.N. in my cupboard! A friend from Caracas gave it to me after she hosted an empanada party. To make, assemble your dough and stuff with (all homemade, of course) beans & cheese, chicken, or beef and fry ‘em up, baby! They’re delish.

    Love your site.

  28. The Mighty R&R

    Hello! and thank you for this post! You reminded me I have an unopened bag of P.A.N. in my cupboard! A friend from Caracas gave it to me after she hosted an empanada party. To make, assemble your dough and stuff with (all homemade, of course) beans & cheese, chicken, or beef and fry ‘em up, baby! They’re delish.

    Love your site.

  29. Julia

    I stumbled upon the goya brand of masarepa in the supermarket about a year ago. I followed the instructions on the package, but they didnt say anything about putting them in the oven, so i guess they were all undercooked. I made them virtually every day for a while though and haven’t made them recently. I like to stir some parmesan or other grated cheese into the mix. I usually serve them with fish braised in tomatoes and olives, or with my black bean and shrimp soup, or any time in need a snack. I’m gonna have to go out and make some today.

  30. Diane

    Excellent pictorial! Like you, I’m a “cook by feel” kind of gal, so this is extremely helpful to me. I love hand-me-down recipes. They always feel like such a treasure.

    I’ll be heading out to the Mexican grocery today, to see if they have PAN…

  31. rebelgirl7

    I recently discovered Pupusa’s which I think are a distant cousin of Arepas. They are from El Salvador and they are delicious. They are filled with items such as cheese and beans,even fiddlehead fern!

  32. sweetpea

    Practice, practice, practice. The first time I made these was right after I saw the photo on your blog. They were wonderful but I am grateful for this tutorial and the encouragement to perfect them. I just launched my new blog, “Sweetpea’s Gluten Free Kitchen”. It is a work in progress! I am anything but computer savvy and hoping Tina will give me a hand with some of the technical aspects of managing a blog. Today I got my first lesson on using our digital camera, so perhaps I’ll try and post a photo soon. If nothing else I am having a bit of fun and have a place to send people who ask for recipes.

  33. La Niña

    Being on an island with only Maseca (at least for this weekend…) makes you have to be creative. I did make the arepas– but with way less water. (about a cup and a half for two cups of masa…) The dough needed more masa, and then of course I put in a little too much. But the best way to moisten slightly dry dough, that I’ve found, is to just wet your hands as you form the balls, and that gives you great consistency.

    The Maseca arepa cakes were delicious with my homemade fava bean paste: cook about a cup of fresh favas, put them (peeled, obviously) in a processor with two cloves of garlic, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper– process until it is a gorgeous green paste. All of your friends will think it is guacamole, but wait until they taste it!

    Next time I’ll track down the P.A.N. I’m sure it will be better, but sometimes substitutes are just fine.
    Now I want to go back to Venezuela again and really taste the food… I must have been too focused on work the last two times I was there.

    BTW, I went to Google to read about the differences between Maseca and P.A.N. and your post was listed in the first ten site suggestions– and that was one day after you posted… wow– those web crawlers are FAST.

    Thanks for this great photo essay! –xo–

  34. Ann

    Those look absolutely delicious! I don’t need to eat gluten free, but who cares, these look divine.

  35. Allison the Meep

    Ohhhhh, I must have these. I went to my local grocery store today to look for P.A.N., but I had to chuckle to myself when the “hispanic section” had only salsa, some beans, and tortillas. I guess I’ll need to find a real hispanic market for this stuff!

    I can easily envision these becoming a staple of our household. Thank you for posting the recipe, as well as introducing me to a food I’ve never heard of before. Arepas are the new biscuit!!

  36. Jeanne

    Yay! I totally agree with you–going gluten free has really opened up my food world. I am actually happy to be gluten-free because I’ve had to search out new and different and I have been loving it. And my daughter has benefitted, too. And so bill Bean. He/she will have such a well-rounded diet–life will never be boring, food-wise. :)

  37. Emily

    Oh my lanta, if it weren’t almost 11 pm and I didn’t have to get up at 6:45 tomorrow I would do whatever I humanly could to make arepas right now. I do believe they will be in my dreams tonight. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  38. Anne

    oh my goodness, that looks absolutely amazing! I’m so upset we can’t get any cornmeal here (except polenta) — I’ve managed to get a few bags of regular corn meal now thanks to nice people lugging it from the US for me, but pre-cooked? Ah, a whole new quest for me. :)

    //Anne in Sweden

    1. alexandra

      Kara Anne,
      Ofcourse you can get cornmeal in Sweden:) Probably in some what larger cities with exotic foodstores (try a turkish bazar, for instance). Or you could try such a store on internet.

      In Sweden you have what we dutch are so jealous of: glutenfree oats, oatmeal and flower of oat.… I bought a staple last week on holliday in Denmark.. it will take me through the year, i hope.

  39. Babyfro

    Those look delicious. I’m always looking for more ways to use corn meal. I love making GF cornbread and my stuffing went over so well at Thanksgiving that many of my family members asked for the recipe. I can’t wait to try and make these and see how many I get asking for more.

  40. peteathome

    I tried these again and got much better results. I was able to slice them open, add ham and cheese and then grill them for delicious sandwiches. I refrigerated the rest and had them the next day. They’re great after a quick microwaving or grilling. I ate them with butter and jam for breakfast.

    But they are labor/time intensive. I’d like something like this everyday for sandwiches and whatnot but don’t have the time.

    Are the arepa makers any good? I found this Oster model that had good reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Oster-4798-Electric-Family-Size-Arepamaker/dp/B00022ALUU/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1208187989&sr=8–1

    Te alternative I thought of, to simplify the process, is maybe to make these the way we use to do grits/polenta: pour the cooked mixture into a small loaf pan, let it set up, and then cut it into slices which are baked or fried.

  41. downhomedieting

    That sounds awesome! I think they would be a great addition to this mexican black bean soup I make.

    Thanks for the recipe & pics!

    GREAT play-by-play.

    Have a great week!
    Amanda

  42. Michael Hallman

    I’ve never commented in your blog before, but I just wanted to thank you for keeping it. I’m 30 years old, and I was diagnosed with Celiac about three years ago. I cook most of my own meals, and your recipes are extremely welcome. My grandfather also has Celiac, so we are both benefiting from your blog. Thanks!

    Peace,
    Michael

  43. Shelby

    It’s 11:30 right now, and I’m THIS close to running into the kitchen and making these RIGHT NOW. But i think it might be better to wait it out…
    thanks, as always.

  44. Kayla

    How long do you need to cook these for in the oven? I didn’t see it within the post. Thanks!

  45. ChelB

    What a fantastic recipe using white corn meal! Biscuits! My husband will be in total heaven! I’m going to try this for my husband! ;) He’ll be so surprised when he sees them. The pictures and instructions are going to be VERY helpful! Thanks!

  46. Flanboyant Eats

    i love love this post! i love love arepas. i was like 12 the first time i had them–a good venezuelan family friend made us some cheese and black bean ones. i’m now going to try making them myself.

    another lovely set of pics.

  47. Juanita

    Hhhhmmmmmm. I got some funny looks in the shop when I asked for pre-cooked white corn meal. Then silly me realised it’s actually mealie pap (maize porridge). Will be making it this afternoon after work. My daughter is going to be so happy to get some “bread” in her mouth. Thanks for sharing

  48. Janel

    thank you for this recipe! my friend from venezeula is coming over to dinner later in the week and i can’t wait to surprise her with them.

  49. Angeline

    Yum!
    I can’t wait to try and make these. While staying in Colombia with a friend’s family, their maid would make us arepas with an egg in the center. She would cook the plain arepa in a cast iron skillet with enough oil to submerge it about half way. Once it had cooked a little she would take it out of the pan, open a little hole on the side and make a pocket inside for the egg and then fry it till it was done. They were amazing, but she said they’re really hard to make. Which is why I’ve never tried to make arepas, until now!

  50. Carrie

    i. cannot. wait. to. try. this!! Oh Shauna! Thank you SO much for sharing this recipe!!! I wish I could run home right now and make them! And if I can’t find P.A.N. in our local hispanic markets, I’m going to order some ASAP! This is an absolutely beautiful post!!

  51. jbeach

    Thank you for this post!
    After reading, I went to Caracas Arepa Bar in NYC and the arepas were divine. I can’t wait to try to make my own.

    I finished your book last week. It was such a fantastic read. Well done, and thank you!

  52. FatB

    Your right, you never know what you’re missing until you’re exposed to it. I couldn’t imagine making my own tortilla chips until I moved in with Mexicans who do it all the time, now I can’t stand the stuff in a bag. It’s all what you’re used to.

  53. babysteps

    yum!

    A venezualan cafe in Norwalk, CT serves them fried, and cuts just *most* of the way through so they’re easy to stuff

    when we first ask how to make them, they said the same thing — mix with your hands! Except they put the masa arepa in the pan first, then add the water.

  54. Nicole

    Thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial! I feel like I was there watching (and smelling and tasting)! I’ve heard of arepas but never tasted one and certainly didn’t know that it was something I could prepare at home. The cooking part reminds me a bit of making english muffins…seems similar except you don’t put them in the oven. Can’t wait to try these!!

  55. Evangeline

    Don’t listen to those reviews! Asparagus is ONLY worth eating fresh — there really is a big difference in taste! This recipe sounds great and I can’t wait to try it out with my boyfriend (the special Celiac in my life). Thanks!

  56. anneinnj

    Your blog has touched another world. My 3year old is severely anaphylactic to wheat, barley and rye and eggs. Being a southerner in New Jersey, I also find that going to other cultures is an awesome way to feed my family, live within our dietary boundaries and be happy and healthy. Your pictorial directions for arepas are great. A Venezuelean friend told me of arepas and gave me a bag of PAN harina. I made it and was glad to see it turned out like your pictures. The bag also lists some other things the dough can be used for like empanadas, halllacas, bollos pelones pupusas etc.
    I have also used MASECA Instantanea De Maiz for the arepas. It is acceptable if it is the only thing available. It is also precooked white cornmeal (mexican variety) but it is not as nutritious. Thank you for your blog. Even though our issues are allergies, we are so grateful for all the gluten free recipes that are posted by the celiac community.

  57. lauren

    thank you so much! a venuzuelan friend made me these as a drunken snack, split and stuffed with ham and cheese. he assured me i could make them at home in my sandwich maker (no griddle at home) but only if i could find “corn wheat.” now i know what to look for and some proportions.

  58. jmac

    I plan to make this for my friends next week but I’m wondering how much dough I need to make. Does anyone know about how many servings does this recipe make?

  59. peteathome

    My bag says that 1/4 cup ( dried) of the Pan is one serving. So the recipe is 8 servings. I’m not sure how many arepas it will make. It depends on the exact size you make them. I think I made 8 to 10 from this recipe.

    I typically eat “two servings” (1/2 cup dried Pan)in a sitting.

  60. ko

    After a first try disaster I will try again using your pictures and helps. Celiac for 8 years and still looking for an everyday fresh bread. Living in rural NE the only option is to learn to make things at home.

    ko

  61. Helios

    4 months later.. I finally got around to posting our success trying your recipe. We’re big arepa fans, and when I saw your post.… they were on the table within days.

    Thanks for sharing, and writing the experience up so beautifully!

  62. Anonymous

    you’re in Seattle?! uy, i could’ve told you about arepas years ago! very nice story about arepas. it’s also worth noting that many Venezolanos these days make arepas using a “tosty arepa”, an appliance similar to a waffle maker sold in Miami and Venezuela. (but they don’t turn out as tasty as the old fashioned way). :-) for those who were asking, you can also sometimes find Harina Pan at the little bodega on Greenwood Ave., on the same block as the driver’s license office but around the corner. finally, try making arepas a little thicker, as the inside for me is the best part. as a kid i always used to spoon the insides out of the crust and make mountains out of it, with the biggest being Mount Rainier of course. :-) (this was back in the day when our family actually had to send us packages of Harina Pan from Venezuela). thanks for the posting!

    ps — if your friend Karen dares to try, get her to make hallacas for Christmas! it also uses Harina Pan but Venezolanos make it only once a year for a reason…

  63. Anonymous

    Yes Arepas are so delicious and we the Venezuelans are so proud of them, we eat arepas everyday (sweet or salty ones), but read the labels of the packages to see that nowadays the arepa flour is made with same equipement that processes oats and wheat flour,(check the web site to see all the new mixes), so please be careful

  64. Mia

    I’ve tried 7 batches of these this weekend — all flopped– just found your site — i’m thinking maybe I’m grilling them at too high a temp, maybe on low since they need to cook for so long?

    Mine just don’t come out light and fluffy, the outside is dense and hardens quickly when cooled. If anyone has any advice — please email me — although I haven’t tried a receipe with oil yet — maybe that’s the answer?

  65. Kristen

    I’ve got a Venezuelan brother-in-law and these have long been a favorite of mine. P.A.N. really is the best flour for them. (and like someone else in the comments said, before the days of fancy imported food shops, his relatives used to mail it and we’d keep it in the freezer, along with banana leaves to make hayacas!) We stuff the arepas with shredded, poached & seasoned chicken breast, sausage, scrambled eggs and hot sauce (my personal fave), just cheese & butter — they’re great with anything really. My brother-in-law mixes mayo & ketchup together and slathers that on them. Totally inauthentic and pedestrian, but still delicious. I’m not gluten-free, but was so glad to see that you liked these that I had to comment :) Lovely photos.

  66. Anonymous

    I learned about arepas years ago from a boyfriend. I learned to make them then and have not tried to do it since. I just tried again with yellow corn meal and it does not come out right. The yellow is too heavy. It is a bit tricky to make correctly so I would recommend the cornmeal she suggests if you are trying them for the first time.

  67. Terri R

    Oh my. I first tried making these with the wrong kind of flour–Maseca instant. Today I found the P.A.N. pre-cooked cornmeal flour at a Vallarta Market in Los Angeles and whipped up a batch of these tonight. A swipe of butter and a drizzle of honey. I am in love.

  68. Nicole

    I couldn’t find the right stuff, so I used the Mesa that is easily available. I have been gluten free for 3 months, and these little round biscuits were heavenly! I loved it. Easy to make once you got the hang of it, and even my first feeble attempt came out edible and filled a place in my stomach that has been empty and aching for a long time. I’ve been following Shauna’s lead from her book and not just eating the flavorless gluten free food available in my area (I come from Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Lancaster PA). All of the food here is loaded in white flour. So I am cooking from scratch with lots of other areas as my base. This was the start to my latin American kick. So good, and always gluten free. Awesome!

  69. Kelly

    You just made me hungry for something I’ve never seen, heard of, or smelled. Now, that’s a gift, girl! Thanks for sharing! Now that all the ingredients are in my kitchen, I’m going to do my best!

  70. theknitist

    Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe and photo instructions! I saw this post when you first wrote it and kept intending to make them. I first had them in a little cafe, called Cuppa, in Palo Alto, CA. They stuffed them with eggs and bacon and cheese! But I’ll be darned if I couldn’t find PAN in the Bay Area, of all places.

    I finally found it today in Omaha, believe it or not, and made some arepas to go with the posole I made for dinner. They were absolutely amazing. I think I need to perfect the technique but I got a good start tonight.

    Thanks again! –Jeni

  71. Carol

    I was so excited to finally find P.A.N. after seeing your post for arepas that I bought it and didn’t even look at the ingredients until I got home. It says MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF WHEAT AND/OR OAT. What does “traces” mean? Does the bag that you make yours from say this Shauna? It seems that many here with Celiac/gluten intolerance have eaten this brand and been fine? Have you heard from anyone saying that they’ve had a reaction to this brand? I sooooo want to make these, but would feel better hearing from you and others before I do. Thanks a bunch!

  72. Shauna

    For Carol and others who have wondered about the P.A.N., the packages I have don’t say anything about could contain traces of wheat. But if I saw a package like that, I wouldn’t buy it. Use your best discretion here. It’s worth a call to the manufacturer.

  73. Peter

    Generally they say that if it is processed in a facility that also processes wheat, so that there is a possibility of some cross-contamination.

    I read in one GF site that two biggies for cross contamination are: using the same mill to grind corn and wheat — this, apparently, is VERY common for the smaller mills, especially the “gourmet” and specialty ones; and transferring corn in vehicles that also carry wheat, with just a “sweep out” in between.

    Unless something is tested to be certified gluten free you never really know. On the other hand, I have never had a noticeable problem eating any corn product.

  74. Carol

    Thank you Shauna and Peter! Looks like I could use some help here contacting the manufacturer…anyone fluent in Spanish? My bag says Visit us at: http://www.empresas-polar.com — I visited the site, but don’t see an option for English language. My bag also says For information call us: 571 800 05 15551 — not sure I’d get someone that speaks English. Rats, I knew I should have taken Spanish in school! Do your bags of P.A.N. give different contact information?

  75. Suncy

    Hello, I am actually from Venezuela and we always cook arepas at home, my daughter was diagnosed with celiac back on Sept. 2008 and I am concern because on the packet of Harina P.A.N says that it may contain traces of wheat and oats, do we need to worry about this?

  76. Suncy

    Hello, I am actually from Venezuela and we always cook arepas at home, my daughter was diagnosed with celiac back on Sept. 2008 and I am concern because on the packet of Harina P.A.N says that it may contain traces of wheat and oats, do we need to worry about this?

  77. Carol

    To Suncy: Yes, I think we DO need to worry about this (and from Shauna’s earlier comment, I think she agrees)! Suncy, do you speak Spanish? Could you call or e-mail the manufacturer and find out from them if they say their product is safe and free of gluten? With the package warning that it may contain wheat or oats, my guess is that they also process these grains in their facility? If so, the possibility of cross contamination is a definite risk for those of us with Celiac Disease. I wouldn’t feel safe eating it. Also, I’d like to know from Shauna where she got her bag of P.A.N. without this warning on the package and can she tell us where a source for purchasing it might be? Did they change their package labeling recently? Do they have different facilities to process P.A.N. — one is safe? One is not? I would love, love, love to make the arepas, but need a safe (gluten free) source for the pre-cooked cornmeal. We need help here!!! Anyone???

  78. econhead

    I can’t get them to turn out right. I’ve done this recipe and about 10 others, and each time I seem to end up with these very dense flat disks that no one but me will eat (I’ll eat just about any kind of corn). My nanny used to make them and they were so fluffy and light. How can I replicate the fluffiness? I’m at such a loss! (If anyone here knows the secret, please email me!)

  79. Guayana

    Best explanation ever I’ve seen from abroad. I am venezuelan, live in northern california, and love arepas.…
    cheers,
    G.

  80. Scubagirl1

    Thank you so much for your excellent instructions for making arepas. I just made them for the first time and they came out PERFECT. I also served them to people that had never even heard of them. They were a HUGE hit. I served them with a variety of fillings: pulled pork, fontina cheese, arugula, asparagus, avocado, sliced grape tomatoes and 2 types of sauces. I live in Denver and it was tough finding the PAN Harina but definitely worth the trek. For those who need to know it can be found at Rancho Librio. Thank you again!

  81. Kristin

    I just got PAN and noticed the rather alarming disclaimer of wheat and oats as well. It is my great fortune to just be wheat intolerant due to over-exposure rather than celiac so it is of little concern to me. I can have traces of wheat, just not an entire hit. But this is bad news for very sensitive celiacs. Shauna, did you have a reaction to this flour?

    Probably bad form but I have two questions. The first inspired by the comments above. The real reason for my post is I have a question about how gooey the insides of the finished bread should be. I made a batch this morning and cooked three small ones that I decided were too thin. The dough was too wet and they took forever to cook. They actually never firmed up much in the middle but were really tasty. I added a little flour to the remaining dough until I got a consistency that didn’t crack and didn’t stick. Then I made another one a little larger that was about 5/8ths inch thick. I cooked it for 10 minutes each side and then in the oven for 15. It was again still gooey in the middle. A lot sticks to the knife. Should I wait for them to cool more? It tasted great so perhaps it is supposed to be more gooey? Or did I make it too thick this time?

  82. anais

    Pretty good ! However , u can skip stove top and oven thing, and buy an “arepera” , you just put your little rounded dough balls in there , normal one has 4 spaces , its kind of like a waffle maker , they come out perfect everytime , taste the same and takes like 10min. Averages about 14 dollars .. Bestt filling is boardhead turkey and munster cheese.
    Or chiken.

  83. Ivan Morales

    Hello All

    I am Venezuelan but living in Canada, recently my daughter has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, so, as we eat arepas almost everyday; Today, I contacted Empresas Polar in SPANISH. As soon as I hear from them, I will post the response in this blog.

    Kindly Regards

    Ivan Morales

  84. Mary

    I just read in a forum from Spain (Foro de Celiacos) http://celiacos.mforos.com/69519/7169978-harina-de-maiz-marca-p-a-n/
    that the Venezuelan company, Polar, which produces PAN flour for arepas had to move to Colombia a couple of years ago. That is when the label changed. They used to have a gluten-free certificate when they were exporting from Venezuela. I’m really bummed because I just had to start a gluten-free diet and have eaten arepas, as I spent several years living in Venezuela growing up!

    Mary

    1. IT

      P.A.N. masa is contaminated with barley. A Latina told me she uses P.A.N. for empanadas not arepas though. She uses MASAREPA for arepas.

      Bob’s Red Mill has Gluten Free Golden Corn Masa now! It makes great arepas.
      http://www.bobsredmill.com/gf-golden-masa-harina.html
      I think it would make good tortillas and possibly empanadas too.

      This is DIFFERENT from Bob’s Red Mill Golden Corn Mas Flour, which is older and not free of gluten contamination.

      1. Steve Johnson

        Dear IT!

        So if I understood you correctly, the link you gave to Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Golden Corn Masa, is a certified Gluten Free cornmeal I can use to make Arepas? Have I understood you correctly?Why I‘m asking is because I really want to make Arepas. The only problem I have here is it contains lime which I‘m sensitive to. Is there maybe any other certified Gluten Free pre cooked cornmeal on the market wich isn‘t cooked in lime and therefore doesn‘t contain any lime?

        The only one I found is this one(link below) but I don‘t know if I could trust this one and I‘m not sure if it‘s cooked in lime or only water. Could you check it up?Here‘s the link(it‘s in spanish though so I don‘t understand but it says “Sin gluten” which means Gluten Free I think):

        http://elrincondelpaisa.bligoo.cl/content/view/837076/PARA-COMENZAR-Y-POR-APERTURA.html#content-top

        I would be very thankful for your answer!

        Regards,

        Steve Johnson

        1. Hanson GF Four

          I would definitely trust the Bob’s Red Mill newer line of GF corn products. This manufacturer has a history of being very careful and truthful in their labeling regarding gluten concerns. The ‘lime’ is used to make hominy of the corn — this is not the fruit lime, it is the chemical (like the lime they use to put the white lines on a sports field). The lime-processed corn does digest and behave differently.

          We (all 3) are extremely sensitive and have reacted to corn flours that have been packaged by companies claiming ‘good manufacturing processes to prevent cross-contamination with wheat and gluten’. We really enjoy a stone ground corn meal from TX by “Lamb’s Grist Mill”. They only grow, harvest, grind, and package corn. They label as Gluten Free. I grind it finer for a soft flour (coffee grinder works).

          For those of you in Northern CA — check out a restaurant called ‘Pica Pica’ in San Francisco. We just returned from there, and ate two meals with them. The first meal was an unprecedented experience — from a food booth at an outdoor fair — meat stuffed arepas and deep fried yucca! They advertise that all meals (the entire kitchen) are Gluten/Wheat free. The AREPAs are made with the PAN precooked corn flour. I bought a couple bags and read the disclaimer.…oh no! However, so far none of us has had any adverse reactions.

          I have an electric arepa maker (Big Lots) and will plan on using the Red Mill masas, if the PAN brand I hauled back doesn’t “pan” out.

  85. Eliecer Marquez

    Hello Karen, my english is very bad.. But I can tell you, tha I“m from Venezuela, and I read how you cooked the arepas, and I can tell you, Very, Very, Very Well… No everybody knows how realy to make arepas, and you tought us in a simples words how to do them… I“m sure that many people after read your recipe, are going to try to make it… And they will enjoy making arepas, filling with something (salad, meat, Chiken, etc.) and tasting them… My Greetings and so long… Eliecer from Caracas — Venezuela…

  86. none

    I’m from Venezuela. I felt very proud of my roots reading this. Arepas is the typical most popular Venezuelan dish!
    Thank you!

  87. Tara C

    My husband if from Venezuela and I love arepas and P.A.N. We just found out my 2 year old is wheat intolerant.… The back of the ingredients says “may contain trace amounts of wheat” I want to make arepas but I’m afraid of her getting sick.… What is your opinion? We are very new to this.…

    1. shauna

      Tara, when I first created this post, the P.A.N. bag did not say that. Now, unfortunately, I won’t use it. We all have to keep looking.

  88. Arepa

    For any beginner recipe of arepa is tough but after reading and watching this pictures recipe to create arepa is very easy but, the main thing is quality and test of arepa. Now through this blog detail anybody can make arepa.

  89. Cathy

    I’m Venezuelan too and arepas is my favorite dish
    Try filling with “reina pepiada” chicken, avocado, mayo and salt
    Yummmy

  90. Gloria

    If you topped with Italian sausage, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), rice, beans, or anything else you want to add, you will be eating the best meal of your life, nothing like those combinations and hot chocolate to make the perfect combination.

  91. Joanne

    Hello
    I was glad to read all the comments about the wheat contamination on PAN. I too bought a few bags before carefully reading the label. I live in Australia — not sure about Bobs here, (we also pay hideous premiums for imported goods) but has anyone had much luck making Arepas with other flour? I have 3 young boys, one who is coeliac and I need easy healthy carbo loaded snacks for the hungry little fellows when they come home from school (actually they are always hungry).

    Any ideas?

  92. Lori Drexler

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I have been wanting to try to make arepas for some time and I keep reading that PAN Harina is the way to go. But as much as I’ve tried, I have found nothing on whether PAN uses non-GMO corn. Does anyone know?

  93. wendy

    Hi Shauna, We searched for and found PAN pre cooked white corn flour. It says that it contains gluten and is a low gluten food. Is this new from them?

    1. shauna

      This is new from then. I assume that they have changed their manufacturing practices since this post. I’ll add a note on the post itself.

  94. Afra

    The Arepas are so good and yummi, BUT if you are celiac or try to eat without gluten, be careful, the arepas prepare with Harina Pan are no gluten free, this meal have gluten. Better use is Dona Arepa, is 100% corn and is gluten free…

  95. Yaky

    As a Venezuelan, I am really happy to read this! I live in Finland now and of course arepas make part of my regular diet; you just can’t live without them, they are so versatile! I make them to my nordic friends and they go absolutely bananas about them!

  96. Egadams11

    FYI. Called PAM to make sure their PRE-cooked white corn meal was Gluten free. This IS NOT a gluten free product.

  97. jose

    Hello there! long long time no see, I love your post on arepas.
    Are you in LA or the Pacific North west?
    See you soon at the cafe if you are in Cali
    besos,
    jose

  98. Rosemary

    Any idea if the flour can be obtained in the UK. I had a recipe which contained masa harina and I had awful trouble trying to get that. Hope this will be easier. Love the recipe. Looks very similar to our English crumpets but not as holey

  99. Lynn

    Has anyone ever seen packages of arepas sold in Latino food stores in the U.S.? After trying some in Key West, Fl last week during the Fantasy Festival, I ask one of the gentlemen making them and he showed me a package that they com premade in, but there were to many people around to find out anymore info about where to purchase the packages. The wrappers looked alot like the bags that English muffins come pre packed in. They made cheese arepas and they looked like they contained cream corn or whole corn and were sooooo fabuloous that I won’t rest until I find them somewhere in the U.S. I have a hard time baking due to arthritis in hands and arms, so I’m trying to find arepas in prepacked form. Can anyone lead me in the right direction?
    Lynn

  100. Garrin Boudreau

    Hey my fellow foodies, you know you don’t need to put these in the oven after they are slowly fried for 6 minutes per side, all you need to do is put them in your toaster highest setting for 2 cycles… perfect Arepas. We also reheat them in the toaster as well.

  101. Robin

    Your instructions were perfect. Started making arepas this weekend using another recipe but didn’t think they were coming out quite right. Found your site and your pictures and step by step answered all my questions and the next batch turned out wonderful. The personal comments were most helpful. Thanks so much. And they are so pretty just like your picture, I’d almost like to make a batch just to leave out on the counter to show off with!!! :)

  102. Adalnika

    PAN is not gluten free flour! IT says on the package it may contain soy and WHEAT! Also the orange version contains gmo corn!!!! I used PAN to make arrepas. Now I am lookng for gluten free, NO GMO version. I didn;t find any yet. :( Maybe somebody can help me here?

  103. Judy Fusco

    We had these for the first time the other night in NYC — a place called Guacuco, I think. They were absolutely amazing. We were there with friends from Venezuela and Peru, so they knew what to expect — but we didn’t. So good. I got a safe but delicious ham and cheese combo; one diner is vegan; another vegetarian; one was adventurous with seafood — a shrimp, mussels, and squid combination. He said it was amazing. What a terrific discovery. I’m planning on making these with my grandchildren in a few weeks. Now that will be an adventure! Thank you for this site and your suggestions.