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Arepas con queso being cooked in a pan.

Arepas con Queso

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 5 reviews
  • Author: Kelli Avila
  • Prep Time: 00:15
  • Cook Time: 00:12
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pan Fry
  • Cuisine: Colombian


Arepas con queso are corn cakes stuffed plump with cheese and either pan-seared or griddled. They're a staple in many Latina American cultures but this recipe is for a Colombian-style arepa. 


Units Scale
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cup amount of masarepa (really heartily recommend P.A.N brand)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (you can also use sliced mozzarella)
  • 1/4 cup oil, for frying


  1. Add hot water, softened butter and salt in a bowl. Stir together until the butter is mostly melted.
  2. Add in the masarepa, about ½ cup at a time, and mix together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  3. Mix together until it is fully combined, making sure to hydrate all of the masa. It should be the consistency of playdough. It should be soft, but it shouldn't be so wet that it sticks to your fingers. If for any reason the dough is too wet, add in a tablespoon more of masa at a time until it has reached a soft non-sticky batter. (See notes for troubleshooting.)
  4. Portion the dough into roughly 10 (¼ cup) balls.
  5. Make an indentation in the ball, and stuff it with about 1 tablespoon shredded (or sliced) mozzarella. Gather the dough to close up the arepa, making sure to cover the cheese with the masa dough. Once it’s sealed, roll the ball to smooth it out.
  6. Then pat the ball between your hands to make a flat cake, about 3” wide and ½” thick. To even out the edges, roll the corn cake on a hard surface (see video for how to do this).
  7. Moving quickly (so the dough doesn’t dry out) repeat with remaining arepas.
  8. Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Once hot, add arepas. Cook for until lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. Moderate the heat as needed.
  9. Flip and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until arepa is golden on both sides. The cheese might begin to bubble at this point. Remove from the pan, and repeat with any remaining arepas.
  10. Let the arepas drain excess oil on a paper towel. If desired, sprinkle with flaky salt.
  11. Serve immediately.


Masarepa is not interchangeable with any other masa or flour. I recommend PAN brand.

The dough should be soft, like playdough, but it shouldn't be so wet that it sticks to your hand. After the dough has rested, pick it up and see if it's still very sticky. If it's too sticky, add in 2 tablespoons more masa at a time until the dough is just dry enough. The dough is more likely to be too wet than it is to be too dry, but it is possible for it to be too dry. If you haven't added enough water, the dough will easily crack as you form it into it's shape. In this instance, add 1-2 tablespoons more water at a time until the dough is easily formed into an arepa without cracks.

The arepas can be griddled/grilled or lightly pan-fried as the recipe suggests. To grill, preheat an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill (not a smoker) and grill on each side about 5-7 minutes, or until the masa is dry and the cheese has started to bubble.