recipe

You can find this recipe and many more in our cookbook Gaby's Latin American Kitchen.

safety
  • Uses the microwave
  • Uses the oven
  • Uses the stovetop
difficulty
  • Intermediate
yield
  • Makes 8 arepas

A note from Gaby Melian:

My first taste of an arepa was as a grown-up living in New York City, at a Venezuelan restaurant in the East Village. I went with friends, and we shared a lot of different kinds of arepas. My favorite on that day was a reina pepiada, a sandwich-like arepa stuffed with shredded chicken, mashed avocado, mayonnaise, and chopped cilantro. The warm arepa tasted slightly sweet from the corn and paired so well with the savory chicken. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to try as many arepas as possible—and let me tell you, there are many to try. At its most basic, an arepa is a blank canvas made of masarepa (a precooked corn flour), salt, and water. Different countries specialize in different types of arepas. In Venezuela, arepas are often filled like sandwiches. In Colombia, some varieties are griddled or toasted with cheese or eggs. At home, I make my arepas in the Colombian style and like to fill them with melty cheese.

Prepare Ingredients

2 cups
room-temperature water
2 tablespoons
unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon
kosher salt
2 cups (10 ounces)
masarepa blanca (white masarepa)
1 cup
shredded gouda cheese (or any semisoft cheese such as cheddar or block mozzarella) (4 ounces)

Gather Cooking Equipment

  • Medium bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Dish towel
  • Ruler
  • Large plate
  • 12-inch cast-iron skillet or nonstick skillet
  • Spatula
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Butter knife
  • 1-tablespoon measuring spoon
  • Oven mitts
  • Cooling rack
1
 
2 cups
room-temperature water
2 tablespoons
unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon
kosher salt
2 cups (10 ounces)
masarepa blanca (white masarepa)

In a medium bowl, combine the room-temperature water, melted butter, and salt. Slowly add the masarepa to the bowl while stirring with a wooden spoon (or go straight in there with your hands). Continue mixing until the dough comes together, no dry lumps remain, and the dough releases from the sides of the bowl.

There is no risk of overmixing this dough. Masarepa is made of corn and has no gluten, the proteins that create structure in wheat doughs and get tough if mixed too much! To mix with your hands, make a bear-claw shape with your fingers and stir clockwise until the dough releases from the sides of the bowl.

 
2
 

Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes.

 
3
 

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

 
4
 

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll 1 portion into a ball. Flatten the ball until you have a disk about 3½ inches wide and ½ inch thick and place the disk on a large plate. Repeat with the remaining dough to make a total of 8 disks of dough.

 
5
 

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes.

 
6
 

Place 4 disks of dough in the skillet and cook until spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the arepas and continue to cook until spotty brown on the second side, about 5 more minutes. They should look dry, with some brown spots.

 
7
 

Transfer the arepas to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat cooking with the remaining disks of dough.

 
8
 
1 cup
shredded gouda cheese (or any semisoft cheese such as cheddar or block mozzarella) (4 ounces)

Split each arepa in half using a butter knife (ask a grown-up for help—the arepas will be HOT!). Fill each arepa with 2 tablespoons gouda and close them.

 
9
 

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Use oven mitts to remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a cooling rack (ask a grown-up for help). Let the arepas cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Serve.