Cheese arepas

I absolutely love arepas! They are easy to make and so versatile. You can top them with a little butter or soft cheese and eat them like a bread roll or you can top them with your favorite meats and vegetables and eat them like a flatbread. No matter how you choose to eat them, arepas are great! And cheese arepas are even better!

This recipe for cheese arepas is entirely gluten free. In addition to being gluten free, this recipe is also vegetarian, egg free, and nut free. 

cheese arepas - gluten free, vegetarian

What are arepas made of?

What are arepas made of? Arepas are made of a pre-cooked corn flour called masarepa. Masarepa is made by grinding corn to break down the parts of the corn that are difficult to digest then cooking the resulting product. After the corn is cooked, it is dried and ground into a fine powder. 

The only ingredients required to make arepas are masarepa and some water. It is also common for arepa dough to contain small amounts of salt and oil. 

What is a cheese arepa?

What is a cheese arepa? A cheese arepa is an arepa that has cheese added to the dough. Many kinds of cheeses can be added to arepa dough. Some cheeses can be added at room temperature, whereas other cheeses need to be heated and partially melted before they can be incorporated into the dough.

If you are looking for cheese stuffed arepas, which are arepas that are made with standard masarepa dough then stuffed with a melty cheese you should check out our recipe for cheese stuffed arepas

What cheese to use in arepas

What kind of cheese should you use in cheese arepas? There are two types of cheese that work best in cheese arepas – crumbly cheese and melting cheeses.

Crumbly cheeses can be added to arepa dough at room temperature. This is because you can crumble them into fine pieces that are not much larger than the masarepa grains themselves. In this recipe I use queso fresco, but some other possible choices are ricotta salata and cotija.

Melting cheeses need to be warmed up so that they can fully incorporate into the arepa dough. If you are adding melting cheeses to your arepa dough you should mix your masarepa and cheese in a bowl then microwave your water before adding the water to the mixture. This heat from the water should be enough to break the cheese down. Mozzarella cheese and Oaxaca cheese are good options for melting cheese to use in arepa dough.   

How to shape arepas

How cheesy are these arepas?

These arepas are made with a mild flavored cheese so they do not have a strong cheese flavor. I would say the flavor of these arepas is just as much creamy as it is cheesy. 

If you are looking for a stronger cheese flavor in your arepas you should consider using a melting cheese like mozzarella rather than a crumbly cheese like queso fresco.

Cheese arepas

These delicious cheese arepas are gluten free, vegetarian, egg free, and nut free.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Colombian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: egg free, gluten free, nut free, vegetarian
Servings: 8 arepas


  • 1 cup masarepa
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp oil


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Seperate the dough into 8 equally sized balls then flatten the balls into thin disks. The disks should be around 1/4 inch - 1/2 inch thick.
  • Preheat a griddle or flat skillet over medium heat then cook the arepas for 3-5 minute per side until the arepas start to brown.
  • Put the arepas on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and cook them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Other recipes you might like

How to shape arepa patties

If you have any questions about how to cook arepas or how arepas are typically eaten you should check out our comprehensive guide on how to cook arepas.

Vegetarian plantain arepas

If you are more familiar with sandwich style arepas and want to make an absolutely delicious sandwich style arepa you should check out our recipe for sandwich style arepas with fried sweet plantains and creamy mashed avocado.

Columbian cheese stuffed arepas

If you are looking for an arepa that is filled with cheese rather than an arepa that has cheese incorporated into the dough you should check out our recipe for cheese filled arepas.

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