hand holding an arepa from my arepa recipe

4 Ingredient Fried Arepa Recipe That’s Gluten Free

Fried. Baked. Stuffed. Topped. I bring you the arepa… vehicle of endless flavor combinations. Always delicious. AND they happen to be gluten free. My arepa recipe is a blend of 3 beautiful cultures and one I know you’ll love as much as I do!

I grew up in South Florida surrounded by a literal sea of culture. From the Cuban lechon asado, to Puerto Rican and Dominican mofongo stuffed with shrimp, Colombian tamales, Venezuelan arepas, Jamaican style oxtail, to a good ol basket of Miami Subs French fries… you have to work HARD to find a meal that isn’t great in 305 – 786 – 954 area codes.

But the arepa. Made with just cooked cornmeal, water, and salt forms something heavenly, called- maize dough. It’s the perfect crossing of tortillas and pancakes. Is there anything more humble yet so delicious? I think not. And so I decided to stop just eating them and learned how to make them.

My 4 Ingredient Arepa Recipe

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Recipe by Susanna Grace Course: MainCuisine: Latin AmericanDifficulty: Easy


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  • 2 cups 2 Arepa flour- I used the PAN brand of maize (cooked cornmeal)

  • 2 1/2 cups 2 1/2 Warm water

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Salt

  • 1 cup 1 Shredded cheddar, off the block

  • Vegetable oil to coat bottom of skillet

  • Additional slices of cheese for stuffing


  • Start by heating your skillet to medium low.
  • Next, measure out all your ingredients so you’re ready to go. 
  • Grab a dish or paper towels and dampen, setting close to your mixing bowl. Grab a large plate and line with a paper towel or two, setting close to the stove.
  • Add the PAN, water, salt, and shredded cheddar to a bowl and mix until combined, adding little splashes of water as needed. The dough should be smooth and not dry, but not so wet it cakes to your hands.
  • Add the layer of vegetable oil to your pan and allow to warm while you begin forming the arepas.
  • Start by grabbing a hunk of dough to fit your hand. Roll into a ball and then press between both hands until flattened like a thick pancake. I tend to keep mine about an inch thick.
  • When not using your dough, place the wet dish or paper towel over the dough so it does not dry out. 
  • Carefully place in oil- you should hear a sizzle and immediately see tiny bubbles! (Set timer for 4 minutes if you tend to burn food) Repeat, leaving space between each arepa. I typically fry 4 or 5 at a time.
  • Flip once golden brown on one side. Cook for another 4 minutes or until golden brown on the other side. Remove and place on the paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all of your arepas are cooked! 

Recipe Video


  • While I enjoy the brand PAN for it’s texture (a Harina)… there are a number of other brands/styles of maize that yield similar results- to include Masarepa. Masarepa is typically viewed as the most authentic arepa flour. PAN tends to yield a softer center which I actually enjoy and prefer! Moral of the story. Experiment and have fun with arepa flours! 
  • If you notice your dough starting to crack or dry out when you press flat, simply coat your hands in a bit of water. (I keep a small bowl with water on my work station for this reason) Roll into a ball and then press flat again. Cornmeal can dry out FAST which is why I also recommend you covering your dough with a damp towel.
  • While I enjoy making mine about an inch thick and about the size of my hand, you can opt to make thinner, smaller, or thicker. No harm in playing around and finding what you prefer!
  • I enjoy stuffing mine with butter and cheese, but these little corn pockets will support any ingredients you throw their way. Whether that’s leftover veggies, shredded rotisserie chicken, leftover pork, or scrambled eggs. You seriously can’t go wrong.
  • Not a fan of frying in oil, no problem. Line a pan with parchment paper, line the little pancakes up and pop in an oven at 350f/176c for 18-20 minutes. 
  • Please note the nutritional information below was calculated using a calculator designed by: Verywell Fit. This information is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but should not be taken as medical advice 🙂 

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Nutrition Facts

12 servings per container


  • Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 7.6g 12%
    • Saturated Fat 2.7g 14%
  • Cholesterol 10mg 4%
  • Sodium 254mg 11%
  • Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
  • Total Carbohydrate 21.8g 8%
    • Dietary Fiber 2.1g 9%
    • Sugars .1g
  • Protein 5.5g 11%
  • Calcium 5%
  • Vitamin D 6%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Colombian Arepa Recipe

First up was my Colombian Father in Law, which was going to be a challenge. He’s NOT the type to enjoy company in the kitchen. The man enjoys his space and a cold Corona with salt, hot sauce and lime. I knew it was a gamble asking him to teach me… I had nothing to lose so I went for it! Reluctantly he said yes, but only if I could keep up and didn’t make too many mistakes HAHAHA.

Challenge accepted.

He taught me his arepa recipe. I learned how to mix, press, and grill large, very thin, white corn arepas that were then immediately slathered in butter and topped with farmers cheese. Served, of course, with a hot cup of cafe con leche. I did well enough to earn my own cold Corona AND the promise of learning how to make empanadas next. Which is another story for another time! I did almost get banished from the kitchen during that lesson…

Venezuelan Arepa Recipe

Next, I asked my best friend, who is Colombian American married to a Venezuelan, to show me how they make arepas. A similar arepa recipe, but also, quite a bit different. She got to mixing the maize (cooked cornmeal) the same way my Father in Law had… but then added shredded cheese. Pressed into a much smaller and thicker pancake shape and pan fried with nothing more than a spray of oil. Her family often bakes them as well.

She whipped a whole basket full of those bad boys up and we got to stuffing with butter, cream cheese, ham and avocado. Just a little incision at the top of the arepa and those guys pop right open when they’re warm. We enjoyed with cafe con leche and orange juice and chatted about childhood memories until it was time for lunch. Which we decided should be- more arepas! I mean why work harder when you can work smarter?

My Arepa Recipe

Eventually, I decided it was my turn. And for years now this is how I make my arepa recipe- as a Gringa, married to a Colombian American, taught by a Colombian, a Colombian American, and a Venezuelan. And I’m proud of it.

I made the decision to stick with yellow cornmeal, to keep them thicker for stuffing, to mix shredded sharp cheese straight into the batter, and to fry in oil. There’s a whole new level of crispy-crunchy-glee that happens when you add cheese and oil. A joy that can’t compare to stuffing more cheese into an arepa while it’s piping hot. Making these corn cakes the perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinnertime meal. Consumed solo or enjoyed as a side!

My favorite way to enjoy this arepa recipe is on a cool morning, windows wide open, with a cup of spiced hot chocolate in hand. Followed by a French press, some fried eggs, and a random conversation about space travel with my husband. I’m not sure a moment in time gets more perfect than that.

Let Me Know

I had eaten my fair share of arepas since childhood, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I made a point to learn how to make them for myself. I’m so glad I did! To share food is to share family is to share culture is to share history.

Are there any foods that you’ve enjoyed for years but never attempted to make? I’d encourage you to pick one and get to it! See if there’s anyone in your family or friend group who might be able to show you how. I can guarantee you’ll learn more than a recipe. You’ll discover a deeper sense of your own history OR a better understanding of theirs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed and been inspired. Let me know down below if you’ll be giving this recipe a try!

While you’re at the sharing and commenting, please Save to Pinterest or Share on Facebook. I need all the support I can get to keep on growing this dream of mine. A place where practical beats perfect- and simple, delicious food is a lifestyle. A place where together, we can begin filling homes and tables with joy.

Hugs, because handshakes are awkward~

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