Arepa The arepa is a dish made from ground corn dough or precooked cornmeal popular and traditional in the gastronomies of Colombia, Venezuela and Panama (where it is known as tortilla and changa). It is one of the traditional and emblematic dishes of Colombia and Venezuela.


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  • 1 Story
  • 2 Arepas consuming countries
    • 1 Colombia
      • 1.1 Regional variants
    • 2 Venezuela
      • 2.1 Regional variants
    • 3 Panama
      • 3.1 Changa
    • 3 Guinness Record
    • 4 Nutritional information
    • 5 Preparation of arepas
      • 1 Gradients
        • 1.1 Preparation
      • 6 Sources


The arepa was prepared and consumed by the aborigines of the current territory of Colombia , Venezuela and Panama since before the arrival of the Spanish; at present it is considered a gastronomic icon of Colombia and Venezuela , and a common heritage shared by these nations. The oldest reference to the word arepa is provided by Galeotto Cei in his «Journey and description of the Indies (1539-1553)» They make another kind of bread with corn as tortillas, a finger thick, round and large as a plate to the French, or a little more or less, and put them to cook in a pan over the fire, smearing it with fat so that they do not stick, turning them until they are cooked on both sides and this class is called areppas and some fecteguas.

Some sources assure that the word comes from the cumanagoto —language of the Amerindian people of the Caribbean ethnic group of the same name that inhabited the ancient province of Nueva Andalucía called Cumaná today , and whose descendants currently inhabit the north of the Anzoátegui state , Venezuela- , in the that the word erepa means ‘corn’, a basic ingredient in the preparation of the arepa.

Pedro Cieza de León, before dying in 1554, had written his “Chronicle of Peru”, the second part of which, “The Lordship of the Incas”, published in 1871, records the consumption of arepa in the province of Cartagena .

“Among these Indians I am dealing with, and in their towns the best and tastiest corn bread is made in most of the Indies, so tasty and well kneaded that it is better than some wheat that is considered good.”

Pedro Cieza de León

In addition, Friar Pedro Simón, in his work “Historical News of the conquests of Tierra Firme in the West Indies”, and Bernabé Cobo, in “History of the New World”, wrote that:

“in America the aborigines made cakes as thick as a finger, which are called arepas”

Regarding the indigenous origin of the arepa, the academic and historical essayist Mariano Picón Salas highlights its similarity to the shape of the solar disk, “as without them the noble races that created it wanted to venerate that first and most visible God who warms the earth ».

The French scientist Jean Baptiste Boussingault traveled the Colombian territory between 1823 and 1832 by order of Simón Bolívar , and wrote in his book Memorias, page 235: «The Chamis lead a vagabond existence: they love the jungle and the currents of their rivers, where they fish . For weeks they leave their wives to cultivate corn and cassava ; the first is the phase of its vegetable feeding, as in all of South America and Mexico. When the cob is not yet ripe, they put it to cook under ash and then it is a slightly sweet mealy food called “corn”; when the grains are ripe, they dip them in water and crush them into a stone, to make a paste that they shape like a biscuit and cook in an earthenware dish: this is how they obtain the “arepa”, a kind of unleavened bread. »

Swedish traveler Carl August Gosselman, who toured Colombia through the Antioquia and Viejo Caldas regions , wrote in his book “Journey through Colombia 1825-1826” on his return to Stockholm .

“What is most abundant [in the Medellin market] is corn , the basis of food, which is sold in the form of arepas, thick cookies with very good flavor, healthy and somewhat more nutritious than bread, regardless of the portion of water they contain … Today, the rich and the poor eat the tasty arepas with pleasure. The food is served again between seven and eight at night, and at the beginning it looks like breakfast. It puts on bread soup, minced meat or fried, fried eggs and chocolate , reinforced this with mazamorra and preserves. At this time everything is accompanied with two kinds of bread, wheat bread and arepas. The first would be very similar to ours if it were less acidic and had a little more salt. This bread is obtained in various forms, either soft or hard, the latter under the name of sponge cake. Corn bread arepa is made in the same houses, and it turns out to be the most complicated of the domestic tasks. Corn kernels should be wetted and placed in a mortar where the husk is loosened. Then they are cleaned and placed in a pot to parboil ”

Arepas consuming countries


The arepa is a recognized icon of Colombian gastronomy. According to research carried out by the Colombian Academy of Gastronomy, “The arepa is part of our cultural heritage and can be considered a symbol of national gastronomic unity.” In the Paisa Region, the arepa accompanies all the meals of the day and a necklace of arepas is awarded to decorate famous people. In 2006 , the arepa was nominated as a cultural symbol of Colombia in the contest organized by Semana magazine.

In Colombiathe arepa is marketed for its preparation in neighborhood stores, chain supermarkets and market places in the form of white or yellow corn dough ready for roasting or frying, or in the form of industrially obtained corn flour, which requires hydration. In the country there are no restaurants specialized in stuffed arepas such as the Venezuelan areperas, only street sales of stuffed arepas. Aside from households, the dish is available from stationary street sales, coffee shops, and neighborhood stores. They can also be purchased in frozen supermarkets, ready to heat or roast. In popular food restaurants it is available as one more item on the menu, and in the Paisa Region it is available in all types of restaurants, including restaurants that offer it with garnishes in the style of stuffed arepa.

Every year, the “Colombian Arepa Festival” is held in the five main cities: Bogotá , Medellín , Cali , Barranquilla and Bucaramanga . According to the scheduled calendar, the organization of the festival takes place in each city between the months of August and December.

Regional variants

  • Coastal Arepas:Typical of the Caribbean Coast, they are eaten mainly for breakfast, as dinner or as fast food. They are prepared fried and roasted, the first ones are generally of grated coastal cheese or stuffed with fried or scrambled egg; They can also be sweet (sweetened with panela molasses or sugar) and with anise. In the Cesar arepuelas are prepared, sweet arepas to whose dough milk is added. In La Guajira a fried arepa is prepared with chichiguare or cariaco tender corn that gives them their characteristic purple color; In Machobayo, the canchafa arepa, made from ground corn, is prepared, grilled on an almond banana leaf. The most representative of the arepas on the coast is the egg arepa, originally from Luruaco, Atlántico.
  • Arepas paisas:Typical of the Paisa Region, they are mainly white or clean, they are prepared without salt and are served without filling to accompany any meal. Chocolo arepas are typical, as are the muleteers (of threshed corn soaked in water for several days) and mote (prepared without removing the corn bran).
  • Arepa santandereana:The arepa consumed in Santander is prepared with a yellow corn dough cooked with ash dissolved in water, which gives it its characteristic flavor. Then the corn is ground with greaves, the arepas are formed and browned in a clay pot without any fat. Other varieties combine cassava with corn.
  • Arepa ocañera:Typical of the Ocaña region. One of its peculiarities is that it has a ‘skin’ where the filling is added: cheese, cheese with butter, avocado with cheese, barbatuscas with ground meat, scrambled eggs with shredded meat, chicken, roast meat, grilled fish or salad.
  • Boyacá Arepa:Typical of Boyacá, it is achieved by toasting a dough of wheat and corn, mixed with ground curd, butter, salt and panela. In some towns, corn is used two or three months after harvest, so that it dries without lowering it from the bush.
  • Arepa valluna:Typical of Valle del Cauca, it is also eaten in the neighboring departments of Cauca and Nariño.
  • Tolimense-Huilense Arepa:Corn is cooked with bleach, typical of the Tolima Grande (Tolima and Huila).
  • Arepa orejeperro or angú:Typical of Huila. They are made with threshed corn, soaked for three days and crushed in an iron mill. The arepas are roasted on banana leaves in a clay pot. Guarruz (cooked rice) can be added to the dough for greater consistency. They can be filled with meats or scrambled eggs.
  • Sarapas:Typical of Huila. they are made with cob, cornmeal, butter and salt. The dough is roasted in a clay pot.


Arepa is the typical Venezuelan dish par excellence next to the Hallaca. It is consumed throughout the country, it is usually eaten almost every day for breakfast or dinner, either as a main course or as an accompaniment. It is marketed primarily in areperas, restaurants specializing in arepas, very popular throughout the country, where you can find arepas filled with countless stews that have become popular in the population, such as the “Reina pepiada”, arepa that contains a stuffing with chicken or chicken and avocado with mayonnaise. Also popular are the arepa of shredded or shredded meat with yellow cheese, called “La pelúa” or the arepa of caraota or whole black beans with grated white cheese, popularly called “Domino” among many others. In all the national geography there are the popular “areperas” that work 24 hours, and it is a very common practice at dawn,

The Venezuelan fillings of the arepas range from butter, through cheeses (white and yellow), sausages, serums, ham, mortadella, avocado, egg, beans, tuna, chicken stews, meat, fish and even seafood.

Empresas Polar in the year 1960 and under the slogan “The piladera is over!” Launches the pre-cooked corn flour, Harina PAN, that it represented in those times, an important alternative to avoid the cumbersome and long process of making arepas in a traditional way with a pylon. From that moment, thousands of women trained by the company went out to teach housewives how to prepare the arepas with precooked cornmeal, and these, in turn, were in charge of passing the generation in the easiest way to make arepas. As a result of this, the main image of the PAN Flour packaging is a woman in a white turban with red dots and dressed in a typical Venezuelan costume, very similar to those who were in charge of teaching and publicizing PAN Flour, to the present day,

Regional variants

  • Coconut Arepa:It is from the Zulia state. Its shell is hard and its interior is very soft. Its cooking is on a grill and budare or griddle. The dough is placed on a sheet of beach grape or banana. The dough has coconut and paper.
  • Chicharrón Arepa:It has crushed greaves mixed with the dough.
  • Sweet or anise arepita:It is prepared with anise and paper. They are thin and placed in boiling oil until puffed up.
  • Peeled corn arepa:Better known on the Venezuelan coast as “Arepa Pelada” or “Arepa Raspada” in the East, this kind of arepa comes from peeled corn, which is the one that preserves its husk and is softened by boiling it with lime. By grinding it preserves the nutritional components of the lumen and shell. Its flavor is very similar to that of Mexican tortillas.
  • Arepa frita and frita de huequito:As the name implies, they are fried in abundant oil and decorated with a hole in the middle. They are typical of the coastal states or eastern Venezuela.
  • Toasted carora:as their name indicates, they are indigenous to the city of Carora, Lara state. They consist of small arepas made the day before, which are filled with slices of fried cheese, coated in beaten egg and fried in oil. They are served covered with pink sauce and a shower of grated hard white cheese.
  • Arepa cabimera:They are typical of the city of Cabimas, in Zulia . They are fried arepas that are placed cut into squares at the bottom of the plate where they are served, and ingredients such as cheese slices and ham as a base are added to them, then chicken, meats, cooked eggs, among others.
  • Wheat arepa:In this the main ingredient is wheat flour instead of corn, it is typical of the Andean states ( Mérida , Trujillo and Táchira ).
  • Arepa de Coroba:Originally made by indigenous people, of pre-Columbian data, currently it is a daily culinary gastronomic element in the town of Caicara del Orinoco, it is made with the fruit of the palm (Attalea macrolepis) popularly called Coroba bush, the fruit called Coroba (Yesenia policarpa) named after the Coroiba indigenous group, ascendants of the current Panares and Maquiritares; from the fruit the pulp is used to make the dough and from the seed its very characteristic aroma and flavor oil.
  • Tumbarranchos:Typical of Maracaibo , Zulia State. They are arepas from the day before, which are opened, filled with mortadella, coated in a mixture of seasoned wheat flour and fried in oil until golden. They are usually served with the typical fast food dressing sauces (ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard) or you can add any additional filling of your choice (grated hard white cheese, shredded meat, frosted chicken, pork, etc.).
  • In some cities (as in the case of Valencia) it is popular to accompany the filling with vegetables as in a hamburger. In these areas they are better known as “Tostadas”.


In Panama this food is called tortilla and a distinction is made between «tortilla» (the native one) and «arepa», the Colombian one. It should be noted that the Panamanian tortilla should not be confused with the Mexican and Central American tortillas, since the latter are prepared from nixtamalized corn.


It is a large omelette, roasted in a circular dish on banana leaves, which in turn is placed on the stove. It is a food from the provinces of the interior of Panama. It is prepared with new corn, alone or with melted yellow cheese and served in a triangle. They also call it tortilla-changa.

Guinness record

On March 23, 2011 , the record was awarded to the making of the largest arepa in the world by Empresas Polar, in Caracas , Venezuela, using one of its flagship products, Precooked Corn Flour, Pan flour in the framework of the celebration of 50 years of the brand and 70 years of Polar Companies. The arepa in question required 230 kg of flour, salt, oil and 420 liters of water to achieve a mixture of 683 kg and obtain as a result 493.2 kg of perfectly cooked and ready-to-eat arepa after 50 minutes of cooking. The record was ratified by the official adjudicator of the Guinness Book of Records, Ralph Hannah, who savored the arepa and made the new brand official.

Nutritional information

Quantity per 100 grams

  • Calories 219
  • Lipid 5 g
  • Saturated fatty acid 2.9 g
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid 1 g
  • Monounsaturated fatty acid 1.5 g
  • Trans fatty acid 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol 5 mg
  • Sodium 270 mg
  • Potassium 88 mg
  • Carbohydrate 37 g
  • Dietary fiber 2.6 g
  • Sugar 0.9 g

Preparation of the arepas


  • 2 cups of precooked White Corn Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water
  • Oil
  • 3 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 butter spoons


Pour about a cup and a half of water in a bowl, add the salt and a splash of oil, gradually add the flour, diluting it in the water , sugar , milk and butterdissolve it avoiding lumps, knead with your hands adding little by little flour and water until you get a smooth dough that does not stick to your hands. Form medium balls and flatten them creating a slightly thick and symmetrical round. Heat a griddle and grease it with a little oil, place the arepas and cook on both sides, (until they detach themselves from the griddle), then take them to the oven previously heated to 350º and leave them until they are lightly tapped and sound when removed. to “hollow”, and they become domed and gilded. They are served immediately, accompanied or filled with cheeses, butter, stews, meats, beans, scrambled eggs, etc. At breakfast or dinner, it will be a magnificent encounter with the customs of Venezuelan cuisine.

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