Man, oh man, is this a good one! Arepas are one of those snacks that I grew up eating but only had ever so often, so it was always a treat whenever my Nana would make them. You’ll notice the recipe for the arepa dough is the exact same as the dough for my Empanadas. I mentioned in this post that I sometimes call them Arepemanadas since they’re like a hybrid of the two.
Arepas are traditionally a Columbian staple and are akin to tortillas in Mexico. There is also the very popular Venezuelan arepa, which are very similar. They can be eaten with toppings, stuffed or just plain by themselves, which is personally, my favorite.
One thing different you’ll notice about this recipe is the addition of mozzarella cheese. Honestly, I’m not sure who in my family decided to add this in but thank GOD for them! The cheese adds a creamy flavor and texture to the dough that’s incomparable to those without it. Of course, you can choose to omit the cheese but I DO NOT recommend it. You need it, just trust me!
So, I fried the arepa bites in this recipe since this is traditionally how I grew up eating them but they can be baked as an alternative. All you’d need to do is brown them in a bit of oil to sear them, then bake for 12-15 minutes on an oven rack at 375 degrees F. Full disclosure, I have not actually tried them baked yet, but I can imagine they are still freakin delicious and healthier too!
I can’t wait to make these for the next get together because these bites are just so cute and delicious. Perfect little bite-sized hors d’oeuvres that’d be great for a summer cookout or picnic. The sautéed shrimp is so quick and easy and make an awesome topping for the arepas but, of course, feel free to experiment with it and switch up the toppings or just eat them plain!
Have you tried traditional arepas before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
*** Bonus tip: if you’re picky like me and prefer your arepas to be yellow but all you have is white flour (idk there might be some of y’all out there), just add a sprinkle of Sazón seasoning. It doesn’t change the flavor at all and it’s exactly what I did in this recipe!
- 2 cups masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal)
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup cool water
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tsp. adobo seasoning
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. vegetable oil, plus more for fryingShrimp
- 20-25 jumbo shrimp, peeled
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
- salt and pepper to tasteInstructions
- Prepare dough by heating 1 cup of water in a small sauce pan, until steaming. Water does not have to come to a boil. Remove from heat and add shredded cheese to the hot water and stir. Cheese should begin to melt and form a large clump.
- Mix masarepa, adodo seasoning and sugar in a large bowl. Add in hot water and cheese followed by cool water. Combine ingredients as much as you can with a large wooden spoon. Sprinkle a bit of masarepa on a flat, clean surface and transfer the dough from the bowl to the surface.
- Kneed dough until well combined. It might work best to separate dough into two sections, working on each separately. If dough is sticking to the surface, add more masa a little bit at a time. Ideal consistency should be slightly firm and easily rolled with a rolling pin without sticking to anything.
- Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, or equivalent, cut rounds into arepa dough. This recipe as written should yield about 25. Wrap dough in plastic wrap to prevent from drying out until ready to cook.
- Heat vegetable oil over medium heat until hot. Add a pinch of masa flour to oil. The oil will bubble when it's hot. Fry arepas until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side. Remove from oil to a paper towel-lined dish. Optional: sprinkle with a bit of salt while still hot.
- Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté onions and peppers for 2 minutes. Add in garlic and chopped cilantro and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add in shrimp and lime juice and cook until pink, about 5 minutes.
- Plate bites with one piece of shrimp on one arepa round. Top with onion/pepper and garnish with more cilantro.DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20-25 bites
Skill Level: Intermediate
- 1 tsp. adobo seasoning