Like corn bread, arepas will dry out faster than many baked goods.  To refresh them, simply wrap them in a damp paper towel and warm in the microwave.  

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 cup masarepa (precooked cornmeal*)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella, cheddar, or Mexican blend cheese**
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water (plus a little more as needed)
  • 1/2 tablespoon each butter and olive oil
  • Optional: 1 egg yolk****


  1. Mix the precooked cornmeal, cheese, salt. Add the water and stir until combined, getting rid of any lumps and adding just enough extra water, as needed, to moisten the mararepa. Cover and let the mixture rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Using your hands, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten gently to create a disk, about 3/4-inch thick.  (The arepa will be similar in size to an English muffin. You want just enough thickness to be able to slice it in half after cooking. If the dough isn’t totally smooth when shaping, wet your hands and smooth out any cracks.)
  3. Heat the butter and oil in a 9- to 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat.  (Cast iron works well.  It’s fine to use a bigger skillet than stated; you may simply need a little more butter and oil to lightly coat the surface.) Add the arepas and cook for 5 minutes on the first side. Flip and cook for 3-5 minutes on the second side. Try not to disturb them too much while cooking.  Peek underneath towards the end of the cooking time to check for patches of golden color.  The arepas should have a slightly crispy exterior without being overly brown. This way, the insides will be cooked but tender with a bit of moisture.
  4. Cut the arepas in half and stuff with your filling of choice***…or spread the halves with a little butter and serve instead of a roll or biscuit as a side to soup, salad, or your morning eggs.  Arepas are delicious served hot but can also be enjoyed at room temperature.


  • *Masarepa is precooked cornmeal and is also called arepa flour, harina precocida, or masarepa. It can be found in the Latin section of most supermarkets in white or yellow varieties.  I use yellow, but they can be freely substituted. Popular brands include Goya and P.A.N.  This is not the same as masa harina, which I have used–it works but the arepas aren’t quite as good.
  • **The cheese enhances the flavor and texture of the arepas, although it may be omitted if a dairy-free option is needed.  In this case, add an extra pinch or two of salt and use all olive oil when sautéing.
  • ***Arepas can be enjoyed as we first enjoyed them–with a filling of melty cheese–or stuffed with a variety of fillings from chicken salad to avocado slices or pulled pork. They are especially tasty served like an English muffins with a thin spread of butter. I often eat them for breakfast as the “bread” for an egg sandwich with slices of avocado.  Sweet versions with jam or honey would also be good.
  • ****I have made a version that included stirring in an egg yolk after the hot water has been added.  I can’t decide if I prefer the arepas with or without it.  It adds a little creaminess…feel free to offer an opinion on this if you try both ways!
  • Tip: Like cornbread, arepas tend to dry out after the first day.  To remedy this, I wrap and store any uneaten arepas in the fridge. (Cool first.)  Before serving, I wrap the arepa in a damp paper towel and warm in the microwave.  This imparts moisture and magically refreshes the arepa.

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