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Arepas con Queso

Arepas con Queso are a delicious cornmeal-and-cheese concoction that is quickly going to become your new favorite snack. They’re like a combination of the best, moistest, slightly sweet cornbread-slash-homemade-corn-tortilla filled with ooey, gooey, melted cheese.

Overhead shot of a stack of arepas con queso.

What are Arepas con Queso?

Arepas con Queso or Cheese Arepas are delicious, cheesy corncakes that are a popular street food in Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and other parts of South America. The recipe uses with a special type of cornmeal or corn flour called masarepa or arepa flour.

They are like cheesy corn patties that are fried, griddled, or air fried!

They’re a great snack food to eat on the go, or even like a grilled cheese sandwich with a super moist and flavorful corn bread (and bonus! They’re gluten free!)

This Colombian arepas recipe or Arepas Paisas is slightly sweet and filled with cheese. There are similar recipes in Venezuelan and Bolivian cuisines.

In Colombia they are often (but not always!) filled with cheese, and they can also be piled with any number of toppings including scrambled eggs, beans, shredded meat, or seafood. Venezuelan arepas are often filled with shredded meat, beans, or seafood.

You will also see deep fried arepas, which are great when you don’t have to clean up the kitchen mess lol!

Once you master this arepas recipe, you should totally experiment with adding different fillings and toppings!

Low angle shot of a stack of arepas.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE ABOUT INSTANT POT TORTILLA SOUP


  • CRISPY OUTSIDEThey’re golden brown and crisp on the outside and Tender, moist and slightly sweet inside.
  • CHEESY INSIDE – These arepas con queso are like South American grilled cheese sandwiches. They crisp outer shell oozes with creamy melted cheese.
  • QUICK & EASY – These corn cakes take just minutes to make.
  • VERSATILE – They’re perfect for a quick snack or to pack into a lunch box. Fill them or top them with all sorts of things from eggs and cheese to shredded meat, seafood, and veggies.

What is the difference between arepas and pupusas

Arepas are similar to pupusas. Both are filled cornmeal cakes. But arepas are made with masarepa, which is a precooked cornmeal.

Pupusas are made with masa harina, which is an uncooked cornmeal that is nixtamalized or treated with lye. Pupusas are generally a bit thinner, less moist, and less sweet than arepas.

Arepas are like very moist, slightly sweet cornbread with intense sweet corn flavor. Pupusas are like thick, moist, filled corn tortillas.

Overhead shot of ingredients needed to make the arepas recipe.

Ingredients for Arepas con Queso

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

These delicious, cheesy snacks only require a few ingredients. Here’s what you need:

  • Butter – I use unsalted because that is what I keep on hand. You can use salted butter, but then you can leave out the added salt in the recipe.
  • Salt – I always use kosher salt.
  • Masarepa – Precooked cornmeal. You can use white or yellow masarepa or, even better, a 50-50 mix of the two.
  • Mozarella cheese – You can substitute any mildly flavored, melt-y cheese like Queso de Oaxaca or Queso Asadero.
  • Oil for cooking – You can use any high-smoke-point, neutral-flavored cooking oil. I like to use avocado oil, safflower oil, or grapeseed oil.

How to make arepas con queso

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

Even if you’ve never used masarepa before, this recipe is super easy to make. You can cook these Arepas con Queso either in a skillet on the stovetop or in an air fryer. I provide instructions for both methods. Here’s how to make arepas:

  1. Stir together warm water, butter, and salt. Add about half of the masarepa to the bowl and mix with your hands. Add the remaining masa and mix until to completely incorporat.
  2. Add half of the cheese and mix, kneading, with your hands to mix it in.
  3. If the dough is too dry, you can add more water, one tablespoon at a time. You can add more of the masarepa if the mixture is too wet or sticky.
  4. Make the dough into 6 baseball-size balls. Make a well in the center of each ball and fill with the remaining cheese, dividing equally (use about 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese in each). Close up the ball of dough around the cheese and then flatten it between your palms to a patty about ½-inch thick.
  5. To cook on the stovetop, heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet or a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the arepas and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until they are golden brown and crisp.
  6. To cook in an air fryer, brush the arepas on both sides with the oil and place them in the air fryer basket in a single layer (you’ll likely have to cook in batches). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, flip, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, until the outside is golden brown and crisp.
  7. Let cool for a minute or two before serving.

How do you serve them?

These Arepas con Queso make a great snack or quick meal on their own. You can eat arepas plain or dress them up with some Pickled Onions or some Mango Habanero Salsa.

If you really want to blow some minds, serve an Arepa Bar – Fresh from the skillet or air fryer arepas con queso with an assortment of sides and toppers like Curtido or cabbage slaw, fresh salsa or pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, shredded meat, and other toppings.

Arepas are also the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup. Try them with Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup. You can easily make the arepas in the time it takes for the soup to cook in the pressure cooker.

These Arepas are delicious on their own, but since I love spicy food, I think they taste even better with a splash of hot sauce (I love Valentina Extra Hot Sauce or regular Tapatio.

If you prefer a sweet approach rather than spicy, drizzle honey or maple syrup over the arepas.

If you want to accentuate the sweet-and-spicy combo, try drizzling with something like Mike’s Hot Honey.

close up shot of an arepa con queso split open to show the cheesy filling.

Arepas con Queso Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make arepas con queso ahead of time?

While arepas are best fresh, you can wrap any leftovers in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months. You can also freeze the uncooked arepas. Put squares of parchment in between the arepas to prevent them from sticking to each other. Then wrap them well in plastic wrap and put them in a resealable plastic bag. Uncooked arepas can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months.

How do you reheat leftover arepas?

If the arepas are frozen, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or by cooking them in the microwave for 1 minute (30 seconds per side). Once thawed (or if they were refrigerated), reheat them in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or in an air fryer at 350°F for about 5 minutes, until they are heated through. Or you can pan fry them over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side. To cook frozen, uncooked arepas, thaw them completely either in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave, and then cook as directed in the recipe.

Can you use masa harina to make arepas?

I don’t recommend using masa harina because your arepas will likely turn out more like pupusas (which is fine if you want to make pupusas!) If you can’t find masarepa in your supermarket or in a specialty market where you live, you can buy masarepa online.

Yield: Makes 6

Arepas con Queso

close up shot of an arepa con queso split open to show the cheesy inside.

Arepas con Queso are a delicious cornmeal-and-cheese concoction that is quickly going to become your new favorite snack. They’re like a combination of the best, moistest, slightly sweet cornbread-slash-homemade-corn-tortilla filled with ooey, gooey, melted cheese.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water, plus additional if needed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 ½ cups masarepa (precooked cornmeal—use white or yellow)
  • 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the warm water, butter, and salt. Add about half of the cornmeal to the bowl and use your hands to mix. Add the remaining cornmeal and mix until it is completely incorporated. Add half of the cheese and knead to incorporate it.
  2. Take a baseball size ball scoop of the dough and form it into a ball. Make a well in the center and fill it with about 1 tablespoon of the
    cheese. Close up the ball of dough around the cheese and then flatten it between your palms to a patty about ½-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining dough and cheese.
  3. To cook on the stovetop, heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the arepas and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until they are golden brown and crisp.
  4. To cook in an air fryer, brush the arepas on both sides with the oil and place them in the air fryer basket in a single layer (you’ll likely
    have to cook in batches). Cook at 375°F for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip the arepas over and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the second side, until the cheese is melted and the outside is golden brown and crisp.
  5. Let cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Notes

1. Arepas can be cooked and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat them in the air fryer, cooking them at 375°F for about 3 to 4 minutes per side if they are cold or about 2 minutes per side if you've let them come to room temperature before cooking.

2. Arepas can be frozen after cooking. Be sure to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and put them in a resealable plastic bag. You can cook them from frozen in the air fryer at 375°F for about 4 minutes per side.

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 267Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 54mgSodium 554mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 0gSugar 2gProtein 18g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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By on February 27th, 2022

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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2 thoughts on “Arepas con Queso”

  1. According to the research I have found, it appears that some Venezuelans actually make arepas with masa harina. Primarily they pan fry. But I’m curious to know your thoughts, if it is possible to make arepas with Masa Harina, I think it would be better to deep fry and/or air fry. Would you agree with this assessment?

    Reply

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