Vegan Arepas (+ Filling Ideas!)This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure.
These 3-ingredient vegan arepas are gently pan-fried and then baked for a crispy outside and fluffy inside! Made in just 30 minutes, this is an easy snack, appetizer, or main meal for any time of day. The best part? These healthy arepas are naturally gluten-free on top of being dairy-free and vegan!
Vegan arepas are a popular dish throughout Latin America, made with a blend of maize flour, salt, and water. They are essentially cornmeal cakes that are filled or topped with something savory and flavorful.
Common fillings for Venezuelan arepas include meat, beans, and cheese. On the other hand, Colombian arepas tend to have simpler arepas toppings which include eggs, cheese, or butter. In general through, traditional arepas tend to be cooked in butter or lard, which is why they’re not typically vegan friendly!
That’s why I decided to create a vegan arepa recipe that tastes just as good as the original! It’s made with 100% plant based ingredients, and is cooked in oil for some healthy fats.
Whether you serve these as a savory breakfast or protein-rich dinner, you’ll have a healthy meal the whole family will enjoy. This vegetarian arepas recipe is also super customizable so that you can add your favorite fillings or just enjoy it on its own!
With just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes of cooking time, there is really no reason to not give this tasty recipe a try!
👩🏽🍳 Why You’ll Love Vegan Arepas
- Quick & Easy: This convenient recipe makes for the perfect weeknight meal, while equally great for breakfast! You only need 3 ingredients and minimal time to whip up these easy vegan arepas.
- Customizable: I love that I can prepare a few vegan arepas filling options, so my friends and family can all have something they enjoy! There are so many different types of arepas, so feel free to get creative. They also work as a snack, side, appetizer, or light main depending on what you pair them with!
- Vegan & Gluten-Free: These arepas are naturally vegan and gluten-free! Everyone can enjoy them paired with whatever foods fit their diet.
Latest Recipe Video!
You only need 3 basic ingredients for these vegan arepas, not including water! See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the nutritional information.
- Pre-cooked Cornmeal: This type of cornmeal is commonly referred to as masarepa!
- Salt: You just need 1 ½ teaspoons of salt for a little boost of flavor.
- Water: It is best to use warm water for arepa recipes!
- Oil: You will use a little oil to cook the arepas before transferring to the oven.
🍲 Ingredient Substitutions
- Flour: Substitute masarepa for cornmeal or a blend of Mexican masa harina, coconut flour, and gluten-free flour/arrowroot starch.
- Oil: Any oil will work for this vegan arepas recipe, whether you want to use avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil.
🔪 How To Make Vegan Arepas
This vegan arepa recipe is super simple and comes together quickly with a few ingredients. Here is how to make vegan arepas:
Preheat Oven, Combine Dry Ingredients: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 C. Stir the precooked cornmeal and salt together in a large bowl.
Add Water: Slowly add the warm water while continuously mixing until a soft dough has formed.
Knead, Then Rest: Knead for 3-4 minutes before resting the dough for 15 minutes.
Divide Dough: Divide the dough equally into 6-8 pieces.
Form Discs: Shape into dough balls, rolling the pieces in the palm of your hand. Then, gently press to form a disc shape.
Cook Arepas: Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook 3 arepas for a couple minutes until lightly golden brown on each side. Repeat with remaining arepas.
Bake: Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Cool & Serve: Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Feel free to enjoy these arepas as is, or you can also slice them in half and serve with your favorite fillings!
💭 Expert Tips
- To Knead The Dough: Start mixing the corn dough with a spatula and finish using your hands to bring the dough together and to knead.
- Allow Time To Rest: It’s important to knead the dough for 3-4 minutes before resting for 15 minutes. Resting the dough allows the flour to absorb the water and for the arepas to be lighter on the inside once cooked.
- Arepa Size: You can evenly divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces depending on your preferred size.
- Disc Thickness: Don’t make the discs too thin, as you want to be able to slice it in half once cooked.
- Fix Cracks: When shaped into a disc the dough may begin to crack slightly around the edges. If this happens, use your hands to bring the dough back together.
- Cast Iron: For the most flavor, use a cast iron skillet or griddle instead of a common non-stick pan!
- Garlic Arepas: Add garlic powder to the dough for a subtle garlic flavor that will make these vegetarian arepas irresistible.
- Cheesy Arepas: Mix a shredded cheese of your choice into the dough before cooking for a cheesy take on these arepas! You can also use nutritional yeast for a similar flavor.
- Spinach Arepas: Add finely chopped baby spinach into the dough for a touch of green and added nutrients.
🍽 Serving Suggestions & Arepa Fillings
Serve these plant based arepas with a filling or topping of your choice! Here are a few of my favorite filling combinations:
- Arepa con queso: Fill with any cheese of choice!
- Avocado, sweet potatoes, & black beans
- Black beans, eggs, & vegan cheese
- Vegan chorizo, avocado, & pickled red onion
- Sauteed spinach, sliced miso mushrooms, vegan cheese
- Chipotle corn salsa & beans of choice
- Refried beans & vegan cheese
- Silken tofu scramble & veggies
- Plantains, avocado, black beans
- Pulled jackfruit, healthy guacamole & lime juice
🙌 Dietary Adaptations
This healthy arepas recipe is naturally vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free to accommodate many dietary needs! If you don’t want to use oil, you can cook them in vegan butter (or regular butter if not vegan) for an oil-free version.
- Refrigerating: Store leftover arepas, cooled to room temperature, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezing: Freeze these gluten free arepas either cooked or uncooked. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Allow to thaw before reheating.
- Reheating: Reheat the arepas in the oven at 350 degrees F, or on the stovetop if you prefer a crispier outside.
Arepas are a classic South American food, popular across Venezuela and Columbia. The texture is similar to the dough of an empanada, while they are visually similar to an English muffin and traditionally served like a pita pocket. You can find them at many street vendors but they are also commonly made at home.
The original recipe includes ground corn, water, and salt. They are then cooked in a hot budare pan with a little bit of butter for a crispy outside and fluffy inside. It is most common to stuff the arepas with a savory filling such as cheese, beans, avocado, or eggs. You may even see them served as a side dish, without any filling. They can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – any time of day!
Traditional arepa dough is vegan on its own, but can be cooked in butter or lard. To ensure the arepas are vegan simply cook them with oil or vegan butter! The popular fillings for arepas vary, with many including cheese. When making homemade arepas, you can easily customize the filling with vegan cheese or a combination of veggies, beans, avocado, lentils, and more. It’s up to you!
Arepas have a mild corn taste, since that is the main ingredient! They are slightly sweet and slightly salty, almost like fluffier corn tortillas. In truth, they really are not all that flavorful. That is where the filling comes into play! They offer the perfect base to accommodate a wide range of flavors, pairing well with so many combinations.
Arepa flour is also referred to as masarepa, which is refined, pre-cooked corn flour. If you are unable to find any masarepa you can substitute this for cornmeal or a blend of 2 cups mexican masa harina, ¼ cup coconut flour, and ¼ cup gluten-free flour/arrowroot starch. A popular choice is the masa harina P.A.N. brand, which is a pre-cooked white corn meal.
Similar to a pancake, arepas will be gooey inside if they are not cooked for long enough or if the pan is not hot enough. Make sure the pan or griddle is hot before starting to cook the arepa dough! If it is hot, you may need to turn up the heat and see if that resolves the issue. They will be tender on the inside, but should not be sticky or gooey.
Arepas are made with simple ingredients and are a good source of dietary fiber and carbohydrates. On their own, they might spike your blood sugar levels a bit but when filled with wholesome veggies, healthy fats, and proteins they can be considered a healthy option! They are gluten-free and provide a tasty way to sneak in some extra nutrients. Plus, they are fairly low in calories!
🥣 More Vegan Sides To Try!
- Vegan Egg Rolls
- Vegan Quinoa Patties
- Air Fryer Frozen Tater Tots
- Traditional Indian Samosas
- Vegan Flatbread
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries
- Vegan Bruschetta
- Mushroom Fritters
Love this vegetarian side dish recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page!
📋 Recipe Card
🎥 Watch How to Make It
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 C.
- Stir the precooked cornmeal and salt together.
- Slowly add the water while continuously mixing until a soft dough has formed.
- Knead for 3-4 minutes before resting the dough for 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough equally into 6-8 pieces.
- Shape each piece into a ball with your hands and gently press to form a disc shape.
- Heat ½ of the oil in a pan and cook 3 arepas until lightly golden on each side. Repeat with remaining arepas.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly before slicing in half and serving with your favorite fillings.
- Start mixing the dough with a spatula and finish using your hands to bring the dough together and to knead.
- It’s important to knead the dough for 3-4 minutes before resting for 15 minutes. Resting the dough allows the flour to absorb the water and for the arepas to be lighter on the inside once cooked.
- After the dough has rested evenly divide into 6-8 pieces depending on your preferred size.
- Use your hands to roll each piece into a ball and gently press between the palms of your hands to form a disc measuring approximately 3-4 inches (8-10cm) in diameter.
- Don’t press to make the dics too thin, you want to be able to slice it in half once cooked.
- When shaped into a disc the dough may begin to crack slightly around the edges, if this happens use your hands to bring the dough back together.
- Use a small amount of oil to cook the outside of the arepas before baking.