Venezuelan arepas filled with pulled beef, avocado and cheese

How to Make Arepas

Follow the recipe below for Arepas with Venezuelan fillings of pulled beef, avocado, queso blanco and plenty of fresh coriander and lime.
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Olivia Higgs
Mar 2
3 mins
Mar 2
3 mins

These cornmeal cakes are known as arepas and are often made at home but are also a popular street food. They originated from the indigenous tribes in Colombia and Venezuela and are made using ground maize. This one below is more in the Venezuelan style, stuffed with meat, cheese and avocado. The dough is simple to make, all you need is maize flour, water and a dash of salt which you combine to form a dough. They’re then flattened into patties, given a quick flash fry to form a slight crust before popping in the oven. You’ll end up with a crispy outside and a fluffy inside. For the meat, we went for pulled beef, slow cooked in peppers, clove, coriander, tomato and a meaty broth. And topped with an avocado cream, a squeeze of lime, plenty of fresh coriander and queso blanco.


For the dough:

  • 480ml warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300g maize flour (e.g. Harina PAN or Areparina)

For the filling:

Pulled beef

  • 500g flank steak
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 litre meat broth

Avocado cream

  • 1 avocado
  • juice of 1 lime
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 1 garlic clove

Extra lime, fresh coriander and queso blanco for garnishing

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  • Slice your flank steak into chunks and sear in a large pot with a little oil, salt and pepper until brown.
  • Remove the meat and add the onion, red pepper, garlic, tomato and Worcestershire sauce to the same pot. Cook for a few minutes before adding back in the meat along with the broth (your meat should be fully immersed in the broth). Simmer for 1 hour.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked meat from the pot and shred with two forks. Add your shredded meat back to pot until ready to serve.
  • Moving onto our avocado cream, blend together your avocado, lime juice, coriander and garlic.

Arepa Dough:

  • Preheat oven to 176C/350F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine your water and salt and stir until fully dissolved.
  • Gradually add the flour a little at a time using a wooden spoon to stir together. Feel free to mix with your hands once the dough is less sticky to handle. You're looking for a dough that's malleable and moist but not sticking to your hands (you might find you don't need to use up all of the flour). Cover your bowl and leave the dough to sit for around 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, grab a large handful of dough and roll into a ball before flattening into a patty shape, about 1cm thick. If your dough cracks a little you can smooth down the cracks with your fingers but if it cracks a lot your dough may be a little too dry so you can add another teaspoon or two of water to your dough. Once you're happy with your dough, repeat the shaping until you've turned the remainder of your dough into patties.
  • Add a little vegetable oil to a pan and bring to a medium-high heat. Cook your patties for around 2 minutes on each side until they get a golden brown crust (don't worry if you get a few blackened spots whilst doing this).
  • Add your patties to your baking try and cook in the oven for around 15 minutes. They should puff up slightly and color a little more in the oven. Once cooked, leave to cool slightly so they're not too hot to handle.


  • Slice your arepas in half, in preparation for filling them like you would a sandwich.
  • Smear your avocado cream on to the inner sides of your arepa bread slices. Add your pulled beef, then sprinkle on your cheese, followed by a squeeze of lime and fresh coriander.

Storage note: The arepa bread should last 3-4 days in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer.

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