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Colombian Arepa

Colombian Arepa

Considered as an icon of Colombian gastronomy, arepa is a fundamental part of the Colombian diet, it is usually consumed at breakfast, but it can be eaten at any time of the day as a part of the main food or as a snack.


Arepa is a food made from corn in a circular and flattened shape. The main ingredients for its preparation are precooked cornmeal, butter, cheese, and salt. Depending on your tastes, you can add other ingredients such as panela, eggs, and milk. It is a versatile food since its way of cooking can be roasted, fried or baked, and its size can vary from being very thick to thin or from large to small. They can be eaten with toppings or flat as a bread.

Its preparation is simple if you can to do it yourself, you can follow these steps:

  1. Put the cornmeal in a medium bowl.
  2. Add butter, cheese a little salt and start mixing.
  3. Slowly add warm water and until it is absorbed.
  4. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.
  5. Divide into small portions, from balls and flatten them with your hands.
  6. Cook the arepas on a preheated grill (you can use a little butter or oil).
  7. Served as desired.

At first, the dough may be a little sticky when touched, but the flour absorbs as it is mixed, also to reach the desired point you can add more cornmeal or warm water. If you want to make filled arepas it is recommended that you make them a little thicker since if you make them very thin they can break when opened to add the filling.

You can eat the arepa with hot chocolate, coffee or juice.

Origin of the Arepa

The origin of the arepa is uncertain since it was consumed by the aborigines in the present territories belonging to Colombia and Venezuela, they used to call “erepa” the cornbread with round shape. In spite of these two nations dispute their origin, the truth is that each culture has given an endless recipe that you can try and enjoy depending on the taste of your palate.

Colombian arepas usually incorporate butter or oil to the dough, they are simple, flat, and without filling. On the other hand, Venezuelan arepas are usually open and filled adding any local ingredient.

Which Countries Eat Arepa?

Arepa is popular in Latin America with different names, textures, processes, types of corn, and flavors. For example, in Mexico, they are called “gorditas” and in El Salvador “purpusas”.

Due to the current world immigration phenomenon, arepas can be found in countries such as England, the United States, and Australia.

Types of Colombian Arepas

You can find more than 42 kinds of Colombian arepas which are distinguished by the type of dough, the way to cooking, and the toppings. From a flat corn arepa without any addition to a filled arepa, with meat, chicken, eggs, cheese, sauces, vegetables, among others. In some Colombian regions, it is more popular than others.

Here are some of the most popular kinds of arepas:

Arepa Paisa

Arepa paisa is characterized by being thin and is made from threshed corn, its preparation approaching that consumed by natives. It is a simple arepa without salt or any topping, varying only for its size.

This arepa is originally from the department of Antioquia located in the northwest of Colombia, its capital is the charming city of Medellin, the Antioqueños are called paisas, hence the name of arepa paisa. Paisas accompany all meals with arepa, deserving of the famous phrase “more paisa than the arepa” the paisas even decorate famous people with a necklace of arepas.

Arepa Boyacense

If you prefer sweet over salty, we recommend trying the arepa boyacense, they are made with pre-cooked yellow corn flour, wheat flour, butter, curd (made from milk, it is a softer type of cheese with less fat), milk, salt, and panela.

The department of Boyacá is the land of independence and freedom since this territory was battle that opened the doors to sovereignty, it is located in the east center of the country and its capital is the city of Tunja. Also known for its beautiful landscapes and gastronomic richness.

Arepa Santandereana

This arepa is particular and unique, it’s made with corn, cassava, and pork rinds! It is characterized by being thin and crispy.

The department of Santander is located in the northeast of the country, its capital is Bucaramanga this wonderful land offers endless tourist attractions to rest and ecotourism.

Arepa Valluna

This arepa is similar to the arepa paisa, but a little thicker, it is prepared with corn, butter, and grated cheese.

Valle del Cauca is home to the world capital of salsa, Santiago de Cali!, wherever you look at it, it has a lot of “sabor” and not only when dancing, it has wide gastronomy among which the cholao, the lulada, the pandebono among many more stand out.

Arepa de Choclo

If you enjoy the contrast between sweet and salty, this arepa is perfect for you. Made with sweet corn, milk, butter, panela, salt, and cheese, there are those who enjoy eating it for breakfast or simply as a snack at any time of the day. It is very easy to prepare and enjoy your favorite drink.

Arepa de Huevo o Arepa Costeña

This delicious arepa is very famous on the Colombian coast, if you want to prepare it yourself you need to practice since it’s not very easy, but it worth trying. Unlike the other types of arepa, it must be fried so it needs a lot of oil, you can prepare it with cornflour or chopped corn and you will need eggs, salt, and water. Due to the egg goes into the arepa, the success of this preparation is the precision when it is fried.

Arepa Rellena

The arepa rellena has endless additions depending on your taste! The base is a white or yellow corn arepa and you can add as many ingredients as you like, among the popular ones are, chicken, meat, cheese, eggs, tuna, beans, avocado, tomato, and sauces. This option is perfect for lunch or dinner.

Arepa con Jamón y Huevo

This kind of arepa can be included within the arepa rellena, but we decided to give it a special place since it is very popular in street sales in Bogotá. Without being more than an arepa filled with ham, eggs, and cheese, if you want it. It has been the breakfast of thousands of capitalists who due to the bumpy rhythm of the city decide to have breakfast on the way to work. You can find this delicious arepa in the corner of your house or your work or better yet prepare it yourself!

Where you can buy them?

You can buy the chilled arepas ready to grill or fry at supermarkets. If you prefer to buy the arepa ready to eat, you can go to neighborhood stores, coffee shops, or street sales.

Since Bogotá is the city of all Colombians, you can find any type of arepa in the capital, dare to try and delight in our delicious cuisine, and with this cultural icon.

Fun Facts

  • The second Saturday of September is the International Arepa’s Day.
  • The Royal Spanish Academic recognized the word arepa in 1884.
  • There are more than 350 types for filling an arepa.
  • Currently, you can find modern preparations of healthy arepas, such as arepa with linseed, chia seed, carrots, oats, among others.