Are Arepas Vegan or Vegetarian? + Filling Ideas

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If you’ve ever had a freshly made arepa hot off the skillet, then you know just how addictive they can be.

Overhead of arepas with cheese for are arepas vegan

What Is Arepa?

Arepas or cornmeal cakes are made with pre-cooked cornmeal, turned into arepa dough, and then formed into a disc.

The arepas are then cooked on a cast iron griddle or large skillet on medium heat, opened like a pita pocket, and stuffed with all sorts of delicious fillings, both vegan and non-vegan.

Arepa Shapes

The most common arepa shape is a round, flat disc ranging from small to large. Forming arepas into flat discs makes it much easier to cook the arepa dough thoroughly.

Colombian Arepas, Venezuelan Arepas vs Ecuadorian Arepas

In South America, before Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador became independent countries, these countries were all known as La Gran Colombia.

This is perhaps why you’ll notice that the homemade arepas from all three are somewhat similar and only slightly different.

Colombian arepas are slightly thinner, and they’re savory, like this Colombian arepa con queso recipe. They also have sweet arepas called arepas de choclo. 

Venezuelan arepas are slightly thicker and stuffed with heartier fillings. In Ecuador, arepas are similar to Colombian arepas but are thinner than Venezuelan arepas.

Pre-cooked Corn Meal vs Masa Harina

Both corn meal and masa harina are made with ground corn, but they’re used for entirely different recipes. Mexican masa harina is used to make corn tortillas. The pre-cooked corn meal is used to make arepa dough, both vegan.

However, it’s also important to note that the type of cornmeal matters. There’s a corn meal to make polenta, so it’s important to use a pre-cooked corn meal or arepa flour to make a corn dough or arepas dough.

Are Corn Arepas Vegan or Vegetarian?

Arepa dough is made with corn, warm water, and a little oil, making it naturally vegan. Some arepa recipes may include butter instead of neutral oil like avocado oil or vegetable oil, which would make them vegetarian, not vegan.

If you love vegan arepas or are simply looking for a vegan corn-based arepa recipe, then you can simply substitute the butter for all vegan ingredients.

My Favorite Fillings For Delicious Vegan Arepas

Corn flour or corn dough has somewhat of a neutral flavor profile, which makes it so easy to pair with all sorts of fillings. You can also serve arepas as a side dish or main dish.

One of my favorite fillings that brings back childhood memories is hogao, a traditional Colombian arepa sauce made with green onions and tomatoes.

The hogao is slow-cooked until it’s slightly reduced, resulting in a caramelized and somewhat tart and sweet flavor.

This hogao recipe calls for butter, but you can substitute It with avocado oil or your favorite vegetable oil.

A more classic and common filling is butter and cheese.

Make it a perfect vegan arepa with these filling ideas.

  1. Avocado for the perfect avocado vegan arepa recipe
  2. Black beans
  3. Vegan cheese
  4. Tofu Scramble
  5. Refried beans
  6. Hogao – my favorite filling

The most common and classic arepas are arepas con queso. And if you’re looking for gluten-free recipes, arepas are gluten-free.

Overhead view of arepas with hogao for are arepas vegan


Are Arepas Gluten-free?

Arepas are made with pre-cooked cornmeal, warm water, and little oil, making them naturally gluten-free.

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