Once you've prepared the dough (one of the easiest things you'll ever do, here's how), you must pick a cooking method.
There are many ways to cook an arepa and I am here to teach you the best of the best "baking methods" (none are fried), plus I review each.
WHAT IS THE AUTHENTIC WAY?
Truth is, the real authentic way to make an arepa is by making the corn paste from scratch, outside, at 3 am, then cooking them over fire - how our indigenous ancestors used to.
Today, the way an arepa is cooked varies from country to country, house to house, person to person, sister to sister. Amigo to amigo. Opinions vary too bc everyone thinks their way is the best.
There are many ways to skin this cat but in summary, you prepare the dough (takes about 10 minutes). You cook it. And then you stuff it with something like cheese or any other savory filling, sandwich or gyro-style.
THE STORY WITH FRIED VS. BAKED
In Venezuela, arepas are typically cooked on a griddle and they are NOT fried (unless you're on the coast 🏖️). In Colombia, the same goes - their fried arepa game is strong in the coast (shout-out to arepa de huevo), and inland, they tend to bake them but IMO those baked Colombian arepas taste like chalk. Hate to offend anyone but that's just what my taste buds tell me.
So now that you have prepared the dough (again, here's how), we must cook it.
Here are ways of cooking it my style (not fried)
1. GRIDDLE + AIR FRYER! AKA, THE BEST WAY
If I were you, I would stop reading the rest of this blog post, WATCH the video below and just MAKE the damn things in the air fryer. I discovered this after years of searching how to make these things at home.
But if you don't have an air fryer, keep reading.
2. THE FASTEST WAY - EL TOSTIAREPA
The fastest way to cook an arepa is with a tostiarepa (an instant arepa maker, here they are on on Amazon). I just don’t love the taste though or the way they come out.
The Tostiarepa was a revolutionary invention. When I was a child, it would take about an hour to cook arepas, then the tostiarepa came around with it's "ready in 8 minutes" promise in the early 2000s. The thing is that it doesn’t really taste like an arepa. It tastes like a different, delicious food, just how a frozen pizza doesn't taste like the real deal. My mom and sister say that is nonsense - a house is divided.
I have a Holstein tosti but I never use it (Amazon). Word on the street is if you get a tostiarepa in Venezuela the voltage is better and they come out nicer, but be careful because one time an entire arepa exploded on my arm while I was using one of them, lol.
3. GRIDDLE, THE MODERN "LEGIT" WAY
Using a Budare (the same thing as a Mexican comal, a flat griddle) is how a real arepa is cooked, IMO and according to many Venezuelans. You make the dough, flatten the arepas into their shape and cook on the griddle for about 25 mins.
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Practical: If you have a budare, yes but difficult to get it right.
4. GRIDDLE + OVENThis is how my I grew up eating them. You cook the arepa for a bit on the griddle first, so they're crispy on the outside, then you bake them at 350F for 20 minutes or 30, depends. I think they come out too dry.
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Taste: Too dry.
- Practical: Kinda.
5. BBQObviously not for every day but good to know. Just pop the arepas on the grill and let them cook 10 – 15 minutes on each side. Eat them w BBQ meat. YUM.
- Time: 25 minutes
- Taste: Excellent.
- Practical: Not really.
6. GRILL PAN + OVEN
Grill pan– Heat the grill pan over high heat, place coconut oil, then place the arepa once it is super hot. 3 – 5 minutes on each side. Then, you place them in the oven set at 350F.
- Time: 60 minutes
- Taste: Excellent
- Practical: No but don’t be lazy.