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Vegan Arepas: Simple Recipe + 7 Filling Ideas

Vegan Arepas
Foto: Amy Mason / Utopia

Arepas are a staple food in South America, and are the national food of Colombia. Keep reading for a vegan arepa recipe with a tasty jackfruit filling — plus six more delicious ways to eat them.

Arepas are a South American street food made from a maize or corn dough and can be eaten alone, as a side dish or filled. Originating in the area of the world which is now Venezuela, Panama, and Colombia — the size, thickness, and exact method of preparation is different depending the region. Colombian style arepas tend to be thinner, and Venezuelen are a bit thicker, but all are delicious!

What is common in all arepas is the type of flour used. Areparina, masarepa or harina de maiz precocida — this is a pre-cooked cornmeal which comes white or yellow. Cornflour, maize flour or cornmeal is not quite the same thing, and is not suitable for making arepas. If you can’t find it in a local store, it’s available to purchase Amazon**. It might be difficult to source organic, but it is available. 

Griddled, fried or baked, they are crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle with a delicate taste of corn. They are naturally gluten free and because they are made with only pre-cooked corn flour, salt and water, and best of all, they are also vegan! 

Vegan Arepas: A Simple Recipe

Vegan arepas with a juicy, flavorful shredded jackfruit recipe.
Vegan arepas with a juicy, flavorful shredded jackfruit recipe.
(Foto: Amy Mason / Utopia)

Crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, it is quick and easy to make vegan arepas at home! All you need is two ingredients (plus water), a bowl and a skillet. Ready in less than 20 minutes.

This recipe can be easily doubled, and is suitable for filling, stuffing before frying or as a side dish. Keep reading for some delicious ideas on how to serve your vegan arepas. 

Ingredients for 4 thick or 6 thin vegan arepas:

  • 1 cup harina de maiz precocida, organic if possible
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • neutral oil, for frying


  1. Add the harina de maiz and salt to a bowl and mix together.
  2. Gradually add the water, and mix with your hand. You want a dough that isn’t too wet, but that comes together without being too crumbly. 
  3. Knead for around a minute. If the dough is a little too crumbly, you can add a little more water. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 or 6 pieces and form small balls. Flatten them into discs using the palms of your hands.
  5. Pour a little oil in to a skillet and fry the arepas on a medium heat. Cook for around 5 minutes on each side until golden. 

You can tap the arepas to check if they are cooked — they should sound hollow.

Shredded Jackfruit Filling

Jackfruit is an excellent vegan alternative to meat.
Jackfruit is an excellent vegan alternative to meat.
(Foto: Amy Mason / Utopia)

A vegan twist on a shredded meat filling. This jackfruit recipe is flavorful without needing hours simmering away on the stove. Juicy, lightly spiced, and loaded with fresh cilantro and lemon juice, it makes a great filling for your vegan arepas. As always, use organic, local ingredients wherever possible.


  • 19oz can organic unripe jackfruit in brine, rinsed and drained. 
  • medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup homemade vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili flakes
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • a big squeeze of organic lemon juice
  • neutral oil, for frying


  1. Shred the jackfruit and chop the slightly tougher pieces. Don’t worry about the seeds, jackfruit seeds are edible
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet and fry the jackfruit until it begins to brown. Set aside.
  3. In the same pan, fry the onion until it begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. 
  4. Add the bell pepper and cook for a few minutes. 
  5. Pour in the broth, and stir to release any browned onion stuck to the pan. Add the bay, pepper, paprika and ancho flakes.
  6. Stir the browned jackfruit in to the brothy mixture. Reduce the temperature and cook for 15 minutes. 
  7. Add the cilantro and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Split open the arepas as you would a pita bread, fill with the jackfruit and enjoy!

6 Additional Vegan Arepa Filling Ideas

Plant-based cheese would make an excellent vegan arepa filling.
Plant-based cheese would make an excellent vegan arepa filling.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / canliga)

Vegan arepas are delicious plain, filled or as a side dish to a stew or a vegan chili. Here are a few ideas for things to stuff your arepas with:

  1. Salsa! Fresh and healthy, it would be delicious alone or as an extra filling with the jackfruit recipe above.
  2. Avocado or guacamole. Be sure to buy only organic avocados to reduce the environmental impact.
  3. Arepas are often filled with a white cheese, not unlike feta. Simply make the arepas, split them open and fill with this homemade vegan feta.
  4. Grilled cheese is never a bad idea — and the same is true of melty, stretchy, vegan cheese arepas. When flattening the dough, simply form two discs from one portion of dough. Add some homemade vegan cheese to one half and sandwich the other over the top and seal the edges. Then fry for five minutes on both sides until golden.
  5. For a light, healthy and flavorful option, why not fill with vegan elote?
  6. Arepas don’t have to be savory — why not try making some thicker arepas, pancake style? Stack with vegan butter, organic maple syrup and freshly sliced fair trade banana.

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