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The A-MAIZE-ing Colombian Arepa

Gabby Hiestand Salgado shares her family's long history with arepas.


  • 2 cups boiling water (or half milk, half water if you want to get fancy)
  • 2 cups areparina (P.A.N. white corn meal or Goya)
  • Pinch of salt

Ideal Toppings:

  • Salt
  • Butter (a lot, open a new stick) 
  • Your favorite cheese (if you can, get queso fresco. If you can’t, cheddar will do. If you can’t find either, cream cheese will work in a pinch)

Possible Stuffing:

  • Eggs (if you’re into that)
  • Potatoes
  • Bacon
  • More cheese

What to do!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 F.

  2. Pour areparina and salt into a bowl while your water boils. 

  3. Add boiling water to the mixture and stir. If the dough is too dry, add more water. It needs to be a moist dough. After it becomes too hard to stir, dampen your hands with water and knead, forming meatball sized balls. Warning: the dough will be hot.

  4. Heat up a pan, use cast iron if possible. 

  5. Time to form the arepas! Make sure your hands are still damp. Try and shape them into thick round pucks about ? of an inch thick. 

  6. Place an arepa into the hot pan and sear it for about 30 seconds to 90 seconds on each side. You’ll want the outsides to be cooked, but the insides to be moist. 

  7. Once you’ve crisped up the outsides, put the arepa on a baking sheet and throw it in the oven until it puffs up. If it doesn’t, no worries. Keep it in for about five to eight minutes and try again with the next arepa. Ideally, the moisture in the arepa will cause the corn patty to expand and create a little pocket. 

  8. Once you’ve cooked your arepas, it’s time to eat them. You can literally do whatever you want now. Stuff them or don’t, or put so much butter on them that you can drink it off like a waterfall made of fat. Sometimes you’ll get tiny arepas for dinner or lunch. Sometimes you get giant ones for breakfast. I like to call these medium ones brunch arepas.

  9. Once you figure it out, enjoy!