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Arepas con Queso

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Arepas con queso are savory, cheese filled corn cakes cooked on a griddle. This South American treat is delicious with any meal!

This post first appeared on Savory Experiments, where I am a contributor.

girls hand pulling apart arepa con queso

Arepas con queso are crispy on the outside, tender and cheesy on the inside, sooo satisfying to eat and so easy to make! Your family is going to love making – and eating – these arepas!

Try these other great side dish bread recipes that are perfect to add to a meal:

arepas stuffed with cheese

What are arepas?

Arepas are soft cornmeal cakes that originated hundreds of years ago in the areas that now make up Colombia, Venezuela and Panama. 

What’s the difference between Colombian and Venezuelan Arepas?

Just like any food that spans  Venezuelan arepas tend to be smaller and thicker, and Colombian arepas are sweeter, thinner, and stuffed with cheese.

arepas con queso piled on plate

What do I need to make these corn cakes?

This recipe is simple, both in its ingredients and equipment needed. Here is what you need:

Ingredients needed:

You do need some specific ingredients for this recipe. Please note; specific ingredients that might be new to you doesn’t necessarily mean scary and crazy and hard to find. It just means new. 

  • Precooked White Cornmeal. This is different from just regular cornmeal, it needs to be precooked cornmeal that is dehydrated. It is often called “masarepa” or “harina precocida” or “masa al instante”. Seeing words on the packaging that include precooked or instant are clues that you have the right thing. Don’t confuse it with “masa harina”, which is a different type of cornmeal you use to make tamales. They are different types of cornmeal that are made with different processes and have different textures and tastes. Make sure you get the right kind, you can’t substitute here! Popular brands are Goya or P.A.N.
  • Soft Melting Cheese – You will use shredded cheese both in the dough of the arepa but also to stuff in the middle. You can use mozzarella or a “mexican blend” of melting cheeses that are sold pre-shredded in the grocery store. Mozzarella is also an acceptable replacement. 
  • Cotija cheese – This is an aged, crumbly cheese that is sold in a white wheel. It has a salty and milky flavor that kind of resembles a cross between feta and parmesan cheese. Find this in the speciality cheese section of your local grocers. You can also substitute queso fresco.
  • Butter – You will use melted butter in the recipe to make the dough, but you also need some butter to grease the skillet with for cooking. Unsalted butter works best here.
  • Warm water – Warm tap water will help you make the dough.
  • Salt – use regular table salt or kosher sea salt (affiliate link)

Equipment needed:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Cheese grater, if needed
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Kitchen towel
  • Cast iron skillet, griddle, or greased panini press.
  • Spatula
  • Wire cooling rack
stack of arepas on plates

How to make arepas

These arepas are so easy to make, which means you can easily make them any time!

Make the dough

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, cotija cheese and 2 cups of shredded cheese.
  2. Stir in the water and melted butter to form a soft dough. It should feel like a soft homemade playdough consistency. Use your hands to mix to make sure you have the right consistency. Trust me, its better this way! If the dough cracks and feels dry when you work it, add a little more water.
  3. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and soft. It should hold its shape, but be easily worked.
mixing dough for arepas

Shape and fill with cheese

  1. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls.
  2. Pat each ball of dough into a 5 inch circle that is about ¼” thick. 
  3. Place a few tablespoons of shredded cheese in the middle of the patty.
  4. Fold and wrap the dough around the cheese, ensuring all the cheese is well sealed inside.
  5. Pat the dough into a patty that is about 3 inches wide and ½” thick. 
  6. Repeat with remaining balls of dough.
shaping arepas

Cook

  1. Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium high heat. If you have an electric griddle, this works well, too, because you can cook more than 1 at a time!
  2. When the skillet is hot, place a small pad of butter on the skillet and spread it around to coat the surface.
  3. Place the arepas on the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, until crispy and golden. 
  4. Flip and cook on the second side for 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you continue cooking the rest.
cooking arepas

Storage information

Leftover fried arepas can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.

To reheat leftover arepas, you can put them in a 350F oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes. You can also reheat them in the microwave, but you lose a little of the crispy and tender texture this way.

girl pulling cheese stuffed corn cakes

How to serve this to your family

Arepas are so versatile and work well in a variety of ways. They are great as a snack, or part of any meal. 

These arepas are amazing on their own, served beside a meal or stuffed with all kinds of awesome fillings.

How to stuff an arepa:

To stuff an arepa with fillings, simply use a thin serrated knife to slice ⅓ of the way through the corn cake.  Use the knife tip to then cut downwards in the center to form a pocket. 

Make sure you wipe down your knife in between each cut.

Ideas for fillings:

We play a game in my family called “Will it taco?” and if the answer to that question is YES, then you can bet your foodie heart it will go in an arepa, too. Think about it – breakfast arepas? Heck. Yes. 

arepa con quesos in pile with some split open showing melted cheese inside

How your kids can help you cook these

Arepas con queso are a great recipe to make with kids because there are only a few steps and they are simple. Here are some ways that your little ones can help you make these!

  • Kids aged 1-3 can help you measure ingredients and stir together the dough.
  • Kids aged 4-6 can do everything above plus help you shred the cheese and stuff the arepas .
  • Kids aged 7-10+ can help you do everything above, plus help you cook the arepas on the skillets.

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.

plate of arepas beside platter piled with more

Food tastes better when its shared! If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and rate below!

Yield: 16 servings

Arepas con Queso Recipe

girl pulling cheese stuffed corn cakes

Arepas con queso are savory, cheese filled corn cakes cooked on a griddle. This South American treat is delicious with any meal!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups precooked white cornmeal
  • 4 cups shredded melting mexican cheese blend, divided (or mozzarella cheese)
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 3 ½ cups warm water
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, slat, cotija cheese and 2 cups of shredded cheese.
  2. Stir in the water and melted butter to form a soft dough. It should feel like a soft homemade playdough consistency.
  3. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and soft. It should hold its shape, but be easily worked.
  5. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls.
  6. Pat each ball of dough into a 5 inch circle that is about ¼” thick.
  7. Place a few tablespoons of shredded cheese in the middle of the patty.
  8. Fold and wrap the dough around the cheese, ensuring all the cheese is well sealed inside.
  9. Pat the dough into a patty that is about 3 inches wide and a ½” thick.
  10. Repeat with remaining balls of dough.
  11. Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium high heat. If you have an electric griddle, this works well, too, because you can cook more than 1 at a time!
  12. When the skillet is hot, place a small pad of butter on the skillet and spread it around to coat the surface.
  13. Place the arepas on the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, until crispy and golden.
  14. Flip and cook on the second side for 5 minutes.
  15. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you continue cooking the rest.

Notes

Leftover fried arepas can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.

To reheat leftover arepas, you can put them in a 350F oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes. You can also reheat them in the microwave, but you lose a little of the crispy and tender texture this way.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 264Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 255mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 11g

Nutrition information is an estimate and is provided for informational purposes only. For the most accurate information, please calculate using your specific brands and exact measurements.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram, and don't forget to tag #gingeredwhisk.

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Laura Reese

Friday 29th of April 2022

We loved this recipe! Loved making something new. They were really delicious.

Jennifer

Thursday 28th of April 2022

Sooo good!! 10/10 recipe, we loved it!!

Narcissa

Thursday 28th of April 2022

I have a question related to the arepa. In the area of the ingredients. #1 it mentioned "slat", I wonder if you meant salt.

Jenni

Thursday 28th of April 2022

Oh, good typo catch! Thanks!

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