To put it simply, arepas are basically sandwiches … but the “bread” is crispy and made out of cornmeal. Arepas are a popular dish in northern South America, most notably in Venezuela and Columbia. You usually fill these with meat, eggs, and/or cheese, but there are many alternatives to this. If you have dietary restrictions but want a warm, yummy breakfast sandwich, give this vegan arepas recipe a try!
Arepas Ingredients (Dough)
- white cornmeal (I use P.A.N.)
- garlic powder (optional)
How to Make Vegan Arepas
Arepas are pretty easy to make, but it might take some practice to get them just right. The first step is to make the dough. You technically only need water and cornmeal to do this, but I like to add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to give it a little extra flavor.
To make the dough, start off with a bowl of water and mix in the spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder). Then, start sprinkling in the cornmeal little by little while mixing with your hand. Keep adding cornmeal until your dough is soft but will hold its shape if formed into a ball. You might not use all of the cornmeal, and that’s okay.
Before you do anything with the dough, start heating a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add some avocado oil to the pan so it starts heating as well. You can use vegetable oil if you want, but I’ve found that avocado oil works best. It has a much higher smoke point, meaning it won’t burn and start smelling smokey at high temperatures.
Depending on how much dough you’ve made, separate the dough into four equal-sized pieces. You can really make these any size you want, but just remember that thinner arepas will be crispier than thicker ones.
While your pan is heating up, roll these pieces of dough into balls and then begin flattening them with your palms. You want to get them pretty flat, but not too thin. You will eventually cut these in half, so make sure that they are at least a half of an inch thick after you flatten them.
Place the flattened arepas onto the pan and start frying. Cook time will vary, but you should aim to cook each side for about 6–10 minutes. Flip when the arepas are golden brown and crispy on the bottom.
After both sides have been fried, remove the arepas from the pan and place them on some paper towels to absorb any excess oil. You should let them cool a little before trying to cut them in half. Once the arepas have cooled down, slice them in half down the middle. This will form a top and bottom for you to fill.
There are endless fillings you can use for your arepas. Feel free to use any combination of the ones listed!
Vegan Arepa Fillings
- avocado slices
- black beans
- grilled veggies (peppers, mushrooms, onions)
- nutritional yeast
- tofu scramble
- vegan sour cream
- vegan cheese
How to Make Soft Vegan Arepas
If you follow these instructions, you will get arepas that are crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. If you would rather them be completely soft, bake them after you fry them! Heat your oven to 350°F and bake the arepas for an additional 10-15 minutes. To make them extra soft, cover them with tin foil before baking.
Vegan Arepas Recipe
- 2 cups water
- 1-¾ cup white cornmeal pre-cooked
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic powder (optional)
- toppings of choice
- Add spices to a bowl of water. Little by little, sprinkle in the cornmeal while mixing by hand. Keep adding more cornmeal until the dough is soft but can hold its shape.
- Heat a pan of avocado oil on medium heat. Separate the dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten into a patty. (should be no thinner than ½ inch.)
- Fry each side until golden brown and crispy. Each side should take about 6–10 minutes.
- When each side is cooked, remove the arepas and let them sit on some paper towels to cool down and absorb any excess oil. Then, slice each arepa in half.
- Fill with toppings of choice!