Fried Colombian Arepitas

My mother-in-law is Colombian and makes the best arepas. She’s even been over to teach us how to make them. However, after the lesson I realized I didn’t really want to make them. It’s quite a process – a super long and drawn out one. The worse part being, cooking the arepas over an open flame with this contraption – one arepa at a time. I couldn’t see myself doing that.


She actually bought us two of these parillas asadoras.

So life went on happily and we accepted arepas whenever they were offered. Arepas freeze well and we always had a more than sufficient supply in our freezer. That all changed several months back when my daughter developed quite a taste for them and started requesting them several times a week. At one point when we ran out, I suggested we (meaning my husband) try making them ourselves and he responded, “I’ll just ask my Mom.”

And that’s how we’ve been sort of handling the arepa situation for the last few months. Then this past Thursday, I asked my daughter what she wanted for breakfast – a waffle OR toast? (It took me a while, but I’ve learned giving choices versus leaving it open ended works best with toddlers.) Her response, “I want Mita’s awepa.”

Of course, we were out. I’m sure I asked my husband to ask his mom for more and I’m sure he forgot. So I explained, “We’re out of Mamita’s arepas. Do you want a waffle or toast?”

“I want Mita’s awepa, please. Just call her. I want some.”

I shook my head, no.

Then she gave me her saddest, pouty face and well, it was really cute. So, I caved. I told her I’d try to make her some and that’s what I did.

Of course I couldn’t my find MIL’s recipe and besides, I didn’t want to use that contraption. So I googled, “easy colombian arepas” and found this recipe on Epicurious. We actually had everything, including the mas harina from the last time my MIL was over teaching us. I was good to go!

First I mixed the mas harina with cheese and a pinch of salt…


Then, I added the water, stirred everything together, and let it sit for a bit.


This wasn’t part of the original directions, but I thought I remembered my MIL kneading it  with her hands. So, I did that as well. Afterwards, I took an ice cream scoop that was almost equivalent to 3 tablespoons, scooped some dough, made a ball with the palms of my hands, and sort of flattened and smoothed them into little pancakes…


Finally, I fried them.


They were yum.


Happy toddler, happy mama. 🙂

Start to finish, I don’t think it took me longer than 30 minutes. Honestly, it wasn’t as much of a process as I had originally thought. They were pretty easy to make, actually.

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil for frying. I thought that seemed excessive and after reading the reviews, I ended up using significantly less. Next time, I think I’ll try grilling. I’d also love to try making them with fresh Colombian cheese which is also great crumbled on top of the cooked arepas with a little butter.

In the mean time, we’ll happily take my MIL’s arepas for as long as she continues to offer them. 😉


  • 1c masa harina (pre cooked cornmeal)
  • 1c riccota salata or grated mozzarella (I used mozzarella)
  • 1/8tsp salt
  • 1c, plus 2tbs water
  • vegetable oil


  1. Add masa harina, cheese, & salt to a medium sized bowl
  2. Add water and mix well
  3. Let stand until all the water is incorporated (about 1-2 minutes, dough will continue to firm up)
  4. Knead the dough to ensure everything is well incorporated
  5. Form 3tbsp of dough in hands, roll into a ball, and gently press them into discs measuring 1/4″ thick and 2 1/2″ to 2 3/4″ wide
  6. Gently press around the sides to eliminate cracks (I failed miserably here – mine were full of cracks but, I like to think it gave my arepitas some character! 😉 )
  7. Transfer to a wax lined paper surface
  8. Drizzle some oil onto a large non-stick pan
  9. On medium-high heat, cook arepas for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side.
  10. Drain on paper towels
  11. Enjoy!


These are best served warm, but can be reheated in a toaster oven.