The Serving Options Are Nearly Endless with These Delicious Corn and Cheese Arepas

If you are looking for an easy, made-from-scratch recipe that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner in a variety of ways, this is the dish to try.

Corn and cheese arepas arranged on a tan plate with a reddish brown rim, with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro on about half of the cakes, with a small pinch bowl of chopped green herbs and a bowl of sour cream in the background.

I have been a fan of homemade arepas ever since I first tried them from a fantastic little food truck I randomly stumbled upon in the park. I remember that they were giant, warm, and topped with sour cream, jalapeno, and freshly chopped cilantro.

It was such a simple idea and I started imagining all the delicious possibilities that dough could create.

Some of you may be asking, what are arepas?

Top-down vertical shot of just-cooked yellow and golden brown arepas, about half of which are topped with sour cream and chopped cilantro, on a beige serving dish with a brown rim, with a small dish of chopped green herbs on a beige cloth in the background.

They are a traditional recipe from Colombia, and each region actually has their own take to mix things up. A precooked and dehydrated corn flour called masarepa is most commonly used as the base, in either white or yellow.

Part of what makes this versatile recipe so wonderful is that it can be enjoyed at any time of day. The corn cakes can be prepared in so many different styles, and a variety of sizes as well.

Our recipe calls for finely ground traditional cornmeal to form the base of the dough, and I think it gives the cakes a more robust flavor. You could also try a white cornmeal, or even try making your own if you have a grain mill at home.

Four corn and cheese arepas are stacked and topped with a dollop of sour cream and some chipped cilantro, on a tan plate with a brown rim, with more corn cakes arranged behind them, with a small white dish of chopped cilantro and a bowl of sour cream on a beige cloth in soft focus against a robin's egg blue wall.

I love to give the cakes their own unique taste instead of making them with a plain dough that you stuff or top with a variety of more flavor-intense ingredients. Rather than making a smooth batter, I also like my arepas to have some serious texture going on inside, making them that much more flavorful as a vehicle for other ingredients to be piled on top.

They are crispy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside, with little gems of corn, jalapeno, and cheese throughout each tasty morsel.

The pop of fresh corn paired with the buttery richness of the cornmeal really brings life to every single bite. The spice of the jalapeno and the bite of sharp cheddar cheese are truly the icing on the cake of these delightfully easy-to-make cakes.

Yellow and golden brown corn and cheese arepas on a brown and beige serving platter, some of which are topped with sour cream and cilantro, with a bowl of crema and a small dish of chopped herbs in the background on a beige cloth, with a robin's egg blue background.

It’s really incredible how easy this recipe is to make. Usually, made-from-scratch recipes can be a little intimidating, especially if you aren’t familiar with the food type itself.

However, even if you aren’t familiar with arepas, you can make these little golden rounds of dough unbelievably easily, even if it’s your first time. You simply mix the batter, let it rest (while you enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, of course), and cook them up.

Once they are cooked, then you get into an endless slew of possibilities for serving.

Vertical image of a corn and cheese arepa on a white plate with a fork, topped with sour cream and cilantro, with more of a corn cakes on a tan serving plate in the background, with a bowl of crema and a small white dish of chopped herbs, with a blue background on a brown wood table.

I love to eat these particular arepas simply, with a dollop of sour cream on top and an extra sprinkle of chopped cilantro. But you can get as adventurous as you want with these cakes.

Top them with guacamole or salsa, or spice them up with a few dashes of hot sauce. Another option is topping them with the roasted tomatillo salsa you have leftover from these homemade shredded chicken tacos. You can even use the chicken with these as well.

Keep reading after the recipe for even more delicious suggestions!

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Ten corn and cheese arepas arranged on a brown and tan serving platter, half of which are topped with sour cream and cilantro.

The Best Corn and Cheese Arepas


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 8-12 arepas
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Latin American

Description

Have you ever tried homemade arepas? Corn and cheese come together to make the most delicious version you’ll ever taste.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (or frozen kernels, thawed)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • Optional Toppings: sour cream, cilantro, salsa, black beans, shredded chicken or pork, guacamole

Instructions

  1. Add cornmeal, salt, and cheese to a large bowl. Stir to combine, and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until steam rises. And butter and stir until it is melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Pour milk mixture into cornmeal mixture. Stir until a thick batter is formed.
  4. Fold in corn, scallions, cilantro, and jalapeno.
  5. Let batter rest for 15 minutes. It will form a soft dough.
  6. Gently form dough into 3 to 4-inch balls, and flatten them into discs with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
  7. Heat oil in a large skillet. Working in batches, cook the arepas for 5 minutes on one side over medium heat. Once golden brown, flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Remove from skillet to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve warm with butter or sour cream on top.
  9. You can also slice them in half and fill them with a variety of ingredients like shredded meat, black beans, and guacamole.

Notes

Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman.

Keywords: arepas, corn, cheese

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

If it isn’t already prepped, grate the cheese. An aged sharp cheddar adds excellent flavor.

Get out a sturdy cutting board and your trusty chef’s knife. Wash the vegetables and herbs.

Remove the seeds from the jalapeno (or keep some in if you like a spicy meal), and mince it.

Remove the stems and roughly chop the cilantro. Chop the scallions as well, both the white and green parts.

Measure the remaining ingredients. Be sure to set the ingredients out in the order they are listed to make it easier to grab each as you go along.

Step 2 – Make Batter

Top-down shot of a stainless steel bowl of yellow cornmeal, salt, and orange shredded cheddar cheese, on a brown wood background.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, and cheese.

Top-down closely cropped shot of a yellow cornmeal batter mixture in a stainless steel bowl with a white rubber spatula.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it is steaming. Stir in the butter until it is melted.

A stainless steel bowl of cornmeal, yellow corn kernels, and chopped jalapeño and cilantro, with a white rubber spatula.

Add this warm mixture to the cornmeal mixture. Stir until a thick batter forms, then fold in the corn, scallions, cilantro, and jalapeno.

Step 3 – Let Batter Rest

Set the batter aside in a room temperature location for 15 minutes.

A yellow batter mixture studded with fresh herbs, for making areas, in a stainless steel mixing bowl and being stirred with a white rubber spatula.

This will help the batter to form into a soft dough, giving the cornmeal some time to absorb the water.

Step 4 – Form Patties

Using your hands, gently scoop out 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mixture at a time. Form each into a ball, then flatten them into patties.

Set them on a lightly greased platter or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until you are ready to cook, so they won’t stick together.

Step 5 – Cook

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties in batches, frying them on one side for 5 minutes.

Closeup closely cropped shot of four cornmeal patties on a black nonstick frying pan, with a brown wood background.

Flip and cook them on the other side for about 3 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

Remove from the skillet to a paper towel lined plate to drain any excess oil.

Step 6 – Top or Fill

Serve the arepas warm. You can top them with dollops of sour cream and chopped cilantro, or give butter and fresh pico de gallo a try.

Ten corn and cheese arepas arranged on a brown and tan serving platter, half of which are topped with sour cream and cilantro.

An alternate serving method is to slice the cakes in half, and stuff them with shredded chicken or pork, black beans, cotija cheese, or guacamole. Get creative with your own ideas!

Always a Good Idea for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner

I gave you a lot of ideas above about how to serve up these arepas up for lunch or dinner, but let’s take a quick moment to talk about how arepas can easily be served up as a delightful breakfast.

Since these cakes are so versatile, they go with any savory combination you can think of.

A small stack of four yellow corn and jalapeño arepas, fried until golden brown, topped with a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of chopped cilantro, with more of the corn cakes, a small dish of chopped herbs, and a bowl of sour cream on a tan plate and a tan cloth in the background, against a blue-green wall.

Consider topping them with a fried egg, salsa, and hot sauce for a spicy start to the day.

Alternatively, try splitting them in half and building an easy bacon and egg breakfast sandwich.

A corn, cheese, jalapeño, cilantro, and scallion arepa with a bite taken out of it, alongside a fork on a white plate, on a brown wood table.

Another option is to spread them with a heaping helping of butter and raspberry preserves, giving you a sweet, savory, and spicy kick to pair with your morning coffee.

Endless options, right?

Tell us what topping or filling you would try first in the comments below or if you’re a corn lover, be sure to check out some of our other tasty recipes:

And be sure to give our recipe five stars if you’re a fan, to let other readers know how much you enjoyed it.


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of images from a corn and cheese arepa recipe.

Photos by Meghan Bassett, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon and Kelly Carámbula on September 25th, 2009. Last updated: June 5, 2018 at 18:43 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

9 thoughts on “The Serving Options Are Nearly Endless with These Delicious Corn and Cheese Arepas

  1. Oh! Must have one of these now. They look delicious, and that is compounded of course by all the sweet corn and salty cheese.

  2. I literally have been staring at the all day. I must make this! A perfect savory gluten-free cake. Love that!!! Thanks sooo much for sharing.

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