2 ratings

Arepas "El Diablo"

With black bean and queso fresco filling
Photo by Michelle K. Min

Arepas are corn pockets, like pitas, that have origins in the indigenous tribes of South America. A popular street food or snack in Venezuela and Colombia, they can be eaten plain but are usually split and stuffed with savory fillings. This filling is a classic combination of black beans and queso fresco, but you can fill these with anything you like. Other suggested fillings include shredded cooked chicken or pork, corn salad with onion and fresh herbs, tomatoes, and avocado. Note that this calls for arepa flour, which is precooked yellow or white cornmeal. Sometimes sold as masarepa or harina precocida, it can be found in Latin American markets and some supermarkets, and is not the same as masa harina. This recipe is gluten-free and, if the cheese is left out, vegan. -Linda Shiue 

Excerpted from SPICEBOX KITCHEN: Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes by Linda Shiue, MD. Copyright © 2021. Available from Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Ready in
1 h and 4 m
15 m
(prepare time)
49 m
(cook time)
Calories Per Serving


For the filling:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons minced white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added black beans (drained but not rinsed)
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 Teaspoon oregano leaves

For the arepas:

  • 2 Cups arepa flour
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 Cups warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 Ounces queso fresco (available from Latin American markets) or mild feta, to serve
  • lime wedges and cilantro sprigs (for garnishing)


For the filling:

Step 1: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons minced onion and 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 cans beans, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano, cook for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside, covered.

For the arepas:

Step 1: Combine 2 cups arepa flour and 2 teaspoons salt in a medium-size bowl. Make a well in center and add 2 1/2 cups warm water. Using a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate dry ingredients, stirring until no dry lumps remain. Let rest for 5 minutes to hydrate.

Step 2: Knead dough a few times in bowl, then divide into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball on a work surface, then gently flatten to about ½ inch thick.

Step 3: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, nonstick skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add four arepas, cover, and cook until bottoms are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Uncover, flip, and cook (keep uncovered) until other sides are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. (When they’re done, you’ll get a hollow sound when you tap on the arepa.) Transfer arepas to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining dough.

Step 4: When ready to serve, split arepas by slicing horizontally almost all the way through, as you would a pita, and stuff with prepared bean filling and 4 ounces queso fresco; serve with a squeeze of lime juice and some cilantro.