Naturally gluten-free, arepas are crispy cornmeal cakes that can be customized to suit many dietary needs. Traditionally a part of Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine, and thought to have originated in pre-Columbian South America as a regular part of the indigenous peoples’ diet, arepas are traditionally fried or cooked on a griddle. In this recipe, arepas are cooked with a small amount of fat, and made thinner and crispier, for a lighter take on this traditional recipe. A small amount of shredded chicken adds easy-to-digest protein, and a topping of guacamole and colorful vegetables makes for a festive and satisfying New Year’s meal.


For the dough:

3 c. masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal, available at most grocery stores)

1 c. water

2 t. salt (or salt to taste)

¼ c. Chihuahua cheese

For the chicken:

2 T. sofrito (jarred tomato-based seasoning, available at most grocery stores)

1 c. cooked, shredded chicken


To prepare:

1 t. butter

1 t. olive oil

Serving suggestions:

Mashed avocado + salt or guacamole

Slivers of sweet red bell pepper

Pickled onions

Sliced chiles or chili pepper flakes


  1. Combine masarepa, water, and salt in a bowl, and mix until well combined. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  2. While dough sets, heat 2 T. of sofrito in a pan until warm, and add chicken until well mixed.
  3. After the dough has rested and the chicken has cooled slightly, mix the chicken and cheese into the dough.
  4. Heat butter and oil in a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. (Electric griddles work especially well.)
  5. Using your hands, make 8-10 golf ball sized balls of the arepa dough.
  6. Place the balls of dough on the pan, and flatten with the back of a spatula.
  7. Cook 4 minutes per side or until crispy, then turn the arepas like a pancake to cook the other side.
  8. Serve warm, topped with guacamole and garnished with red pepper, onion, or chiles. Traditional accompaniments include butter, cheese, and salt.