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Arepa Con Queso (Arepas Colombianas)

Arepa Con Queso (Arepas Colombianas)

Arepas con queso are delicious corn cakes featuring a crispy corn outside and a gooey cheese inside. Whip up a batch of savory Arepa Con Queso in less than 30 minutes.

Arepas con queso pair perfectly with Caldo de Queso, Sancocho Dominicano, Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas or many other recipes. Keep reading for ideas!

Gif file of an arepa con queso being torn into two pieces.

What Are Arepas

Arepas are savory and soft corn cakes hailing from South America, namely Venezuela and Columbia. It’s a street food, made with a specific type of cornmeal, that tends to be fried or griddled. 

Considered a food staple in many regions, they’re served as a meal in itself or as a side dish. 

Arepa con queso recipes vary from region to region; the Colombian version is the most popular in the United States.

Two stacks of Arepa con queso with chives.

Here’s a breakdown of the two most popular varieties

Arepa Con Queso Colombia

Colombian arepas tend to be slightly sweet, thinner and usually stuffed with cheese (not always).

They make for the perfect Colombian breakfast as they’re often stuffed with scrambled eggs, shredded meat, or even beans.

Arepas Venezolanos

Venezuelan arepas tend to be smaller and thicker than their Colombian counterparts. Arepas Venezolanas are more likely to be stuffed with meat, seafood or beans vs. cheese.

Arepas Con Queso

Arepas con queso are arepas filled with cheese! Think salty, gooey, tasty cheese. 

There are two ways to “stuff” the arepas: cook the corn cake and then stuff the cheese inside or stuff the cheese inside before cooking.

This arepa con queso recipe opts for the latter route, as we find it easier to manage.

ingredients to make arepa con queso.

Ingredients

There are only 2 main ingredients to make arepas de queso you may not have on hand. For the complete list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.

Masarepa

Masarepa is pre-cooked yellow or white cornmeal (or a 50/50 mix). This is a mandatory ingredient with no substitutions. Masa harina or harina de maiz are not the same. 

Popular brands in the grocery stores are Goya or P.A.N. Look for the words “pre-cooked” or “instant” on the front of the package.

Arepas Queso

Use any mild flavored melty cheese. We usually opt for mozzarella or pepper jack as they tend to be on hand in our fridge.

Cotija cheese, queso fresco and Oaxaca cheese are other great options; you can always mix a blend.

Flattened arepa dough with a mound of cheese on top.

How to Make Arepas

Wondering how to make arepas con queso? Overall they’re simple to make, but can take a bit of trial and error the first few you make. The goal is to make sure to seal them up properly so the cheese filling doesn’t ooze out!

There are just 4 short steps to making Arepas con queso. Here are a few quick visuals for those who prefer seeing each step being made vs just reading it.

For the full detailed instructions, please reference the recipe card below.

Make the Batter 

Mix all the ingredients together and form a ball. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. 

side by side photo showing unmixed batter and mixed batter.

Form the Rounds 

Divide the batter into 6 equal balls and flatten with your hands or a tortilla press. Don’t go too thin as you don’t want them to tear.

side by side photos showing 6 balls of dough and 1 ball on a tortilla press.

Stuff with Cheese 

Once flattened, add 1/3 of the shredded cheese to the middle.

side by side photos showing a flattened arepa and an arepa with cheese.

Seal the Arepas

Place a second flattened ball directly over the cheese and pinch the edges to seal. Repeat until all 3 arepas are ready to go.

side by side photos showing cheese stuffed arepas.

Cook the Arepas

Cook the arepas con queso according to the instructions in the below recipe card.

Serving Ideas

Mexican Recipes Serve with carne asada, pollo asado, birria, pickled red onions, or pickled peppers.

Dip Recipes Instead of chips, serve Arepa con queso with your favorite dip: smoked queso, rotel dip, Chili Cheese Dip, 4 ingredient guacamole, smoked salsa, or pico de gallo.

Sweet – Bring out the sweetness by serving with honey or maple syrup. 

Side Dish – Serve on the side of your favorite soup recipes

Plain – These bad boys are delicious with a dab of butter and/or a little salt sprinkled over the top. Try it!

Stack of arepa con queso.

Expert Tips

Warm Water – use warm water as it helps soften up the dough.

Dough Too Wet? Add more cornflour, a tsp at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.

Dough Too Dry? Add more water, a tbsp at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. 

How To Refrigerate Leftovers – Wrap leftovers in an airtight container, separated by parchment paper, and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

How To Freeze Leftovers – Wrap the individual corn cakes in plastic wrap, so they don’t stick together, and transfer to a Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. 

Re-heat Leftovers – To re-heat thawed arepas con queso, just pan fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Or you can pop in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds.  Arepa torn into two with melted cheese oozing out.

Arepas vs Pupusas

While arepas are very similar to pupusas, as they’re both cornmeal cakes, they differ due to the cornmeal utilized to make.

Arepas are made with masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal). They’re sweeter, moister and often times more corn flavor-forward than pupusas.

Pupusas are made with masa harina (un-cooked cornmeal). They tend to be thinner and less sweet than arepas. 

Arepas Recipe

Two stacks of Arepa con queso with chives.

Arepa Con Queso

Arepas con queso are delicious corn cakes featuring a crispy corn outside and a gooey cheese inside. Whip up a batch of savory Arepa Con Queso in less than 30 minutes.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine: South American
Keyword: Cheese, Columbian, Venezuelan
Servings: 3 Arepas
Calories: 390kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 1 cup masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal) (*Note 1)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (*Note 2)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Add the cornmeal, water, butter and salt to a large mixing bowl and knead until a smooth ball forms. If too dry, add an extra tbsp of water. If too wet, add an extra tsp of corm meal. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Divvy the dough up into 6 equal size balls and flatten them with a tortilla press or rolling pin. They should be 5" in size.
  • Add mozzarella cheese to the center of a flattened dough ball and top with a second flattened dough ball. Pinch the seams of the dough together to ensure the cheese won't ooze out. Repeat until you have 3 equal size arepas.
  • Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.
  • Add the arepas when the pan is hot and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. The dough will be golden and the cheese will be melted.
  • Remove from the heat and serve immediately for best texture.

Notes

Note 1- Masarepa is pre-cooked yellow or white cornmeal (or a 50/50 mix). This is a mandatory ingredient with no substitutions. Masa harina or harina de maiz are not the same. 
Popular brands in the grocery stores are Goya or P.A.N. Look for the words "pre-cooked" or "instant" on the front of the package.
Note 2 -  Use any mild flavored melty cheese. We usually opt for mozzarella or pepper jack as they tend to be on hand in our fridge.
Cotija cheese, queso fresco and Oaxaca cheese are other great options.

Nutrition

Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 1041mg | Potassium: 200mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 369IU | Calcium: 193mg | Iron: 2mg
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