Grilled Arepas: A Delicious Latin American Dish

Are you ready to embark on a culinary journey through South America? Look no further than this delicious grilled arepas with salsa recipe. This traditional South American dish, made with fresh corn flour or cornmeal cake, has become a staple food across the continent. It’s often found on street corners and in markets, smelling divine and lifting the spirits of all who indulge.

Arepas can be traced back to indigenous tribes in present-day Colombia and Venezuela. Their simple but delicious corn cakes made from pre-cooked sweet corn or cornmeal have since spread throughout Latin America and beyond, inspiring countless variations in each region.

But today we’re featuring grilled arepas con queso – where cheese-filled arepas meet a spicy salsa with sweet bell peppers, onions and lime juice. The result is like nothing else you’ve ever tasted – crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside with a burst of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.

No matter if it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just as a snack, these grilled arepas will remind you that in South America, food is not just fuel – it’s a way of life. So join us as we fire up the grill and embark on an unforgettable culinary experience with this amazing recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Grilled Arepas With Salsa (South American Corn Cakes)
Grilled Arepas With Salsa (South American Corn Cakes)

If you’re looking to experiment with Latin American cuisine, this grilled arepas with salsa recipe is a must-try! Hailing from Venezuela, Colombia, and other South American countries, arepas have become increasingly popular in North America, thanks to their mouth-watering taste and simple preparation.

What makes this recipe stand out is the smoky flavor that grilling adds to the corn cakes, as well as the freshness of the homemade salsa. Whether you’re a meat-eater or a vegetarian, you’ll find that arepas are a versatile food that pairs well with many different fillings and toppings.

But don’t just take my word for it; what really sets these corn cakes apart is the perfect balance between texture and flavor. The outside is crispy and slightly charred, while the inside remains soft and chewy. And when combined with the tangy salsa made from fresh lime juice, garlic, cilantro, bell peppers, and onions, your taste buds will be in for a treat!

Not only is it delicious, but arepas are also budget-friendly because they can be made using gluten-free cornmeal or pre-cooked corn flour. And with endless variations to try out––from cheese-filled to zucchini-stuffed–– this recipe can provide inspiration for cooks of all levels.

So come along and discover the magic of South American cuisine with this grilled arepas with salsa recipe! Perfect for any occasion or meal, it will be sure to delight your taste buds and leave your guests asking for seconds.

Ingredient List

 Sizzling hot and ready to be devoured!
Sizzling hot and ready to be devoured!

To make these grilled arepas with salsa you will need the following ingredients:

  • Corn flour
  • Salt
  • Warm water
  • Butter
  • Sweet onion
  • Red bell pepper
  • Green bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Fresh lime juice

Note that corn flour is different from cornmeal, as it has a finer texture and yields smoother arepas. You can find it at Latin American or international food stores. For this recipe, pre-cooked corn flour works best.

For the salsa:

  • Sweet corn
  • Zucchini
  • Red bell pepper
  • Chopped sweet onion
  • Black beans (optional)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Garlic powder or minced garlic
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Feel free to customize your toppings with cheese, avocado or any other veggies you like.

The Recipe How-To

 Smoky and charred arepas fresh off the grill.
Smoky and charred arepas fresh off the grill.

Grilled Arepas With Salsa Recipe

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 cups of pre-cooked cornmeal
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • Salt (1 tablespoon)
  • Melted butter (3 tablespoons)
  • Fresh cilantro (chopped, for garnish)
  • Garlic (peeled, for salsa)
  • Red bell pepper (seeded and diced, for salsa)
  • Green bell pepper (seeded and diced, for salsa)
  • Sweet onion (diced, for salsa)
  • Cilantro (chopped, for salsa)
  • Distilled white vinegar (1 tablespoon or to taste for salsa)
  • Fresh lime juice (2 tablespoons or to taste for salsa)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pre-cooked cornmeal with salt and melted butter.
  2. Gradually add warm water to the mixture until a soft dough takes shape. Mix well until there are no lumps.
  3. Knead the dough by hand on a flat surface until it is smooth and elastic.
  4. Form balls of dough and gently flatten them by hand to form ½ inch-thick cakes.
  5. Start the grill on medium heat and brush each cake with melted butter.
  6. Place each cake on the grill grates and cook for five minutes on each side or until crispy and golden brown.
  7. For fresh salsa: Combine red bell pepper, green pepper, sweet onion, peeled garlic in a food processor until finely chopped but still chunky.
  8. Transfer to bowl and stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar or more as needed, fresh cilantro and lime juice.
  9. Plate freshly grilled arepas cakes and top them up with salsa before serving.

Enjoy this South American delicacy straight off the grill. Try out this recipe and don’t be afraid to get creative with your south american corn cakes! From stuffing them with cheese or black beans, to trying out different types of salsas such as spicy salsa or even pairing them with zucchini arepas, the options are limitless.

Substitutions and Variations

 A colorful and flavorful dish to impress your guests!
A colorful and flavorful dish to impress your guests!

One of the great things about cooking is that you can customize recipes to your liking. Here are some substitutions and variations you can try with this grilled arepas recipe:

– Cheese-filled arepas: Instead of serving the arepas with salsa, mix some shredded cheese (such as queso blanco or mozzarella) into the dough before forming it into patties.

– Black bean and corn salsa: If you don’t have red bell pepper, green bell pepper, or sweet onion on hand, you can still make a delicious salsa by combining canned black beans, canned corn (drained), fresh cilantro, garlic, a splash of fresh lime juice and distilled white vinegar. This would go great as a topping for the grilled corn cakes.

– Zucchini arepas: Incorporate grated zucchini into the basic arepas recipe for added flavor and nutrition. Simply mix grated zucchini in the dough before forming into discs and grilling until golden brown.

– Spicy salsa: Add some heat to your salsa by incorporating diced jalapeño peppers or other hot peppers of choice. Adjust the amount according to your taste.

– Colombian-style arepas: For those who prefer Colombian-style arepas, use pre-cooked cornmeal (masarepa) instead of corn flour (harina de maíz) in this recipe. Pre-cooked cornmeal has been precooked with lime and produces a softer texture compared to traditional Venezuelan-style arepas.

– Arepas de Choclo: Known as “corn cakes” in Colombia, Arepas de Choclo uses fresh sweet corn as its base instead of corn flour. If fresh sweet corn is available in your area or in season, give this Colombian speciality a try!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create a dish that suits your taste buds. The possibilities are endless!

Serving and Pairing

 The perfect summer snack to enjoy with friends and family.
The perfect summer snack to enjoy with friends and family.

Grilled Arepas With Salsa is a dish that can be enjoyed any time of the day, making it versatile enough for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can serve the grilled arepas on their own or pair them with other dishes to create a complete meal.

For breakfast, consider serving the grilled arepas with a fried egg, avocado slices and fresh salsa. The creamy egg and juicy avocado perfectly balances with the crispy arepas and tangy salsa, making for an energizing meal to start your day.

For a light lunch, pair the grilled arepas with a crisp coleslaw salad or a bowl of black bean soup. The refreshing crunch of coleslaw adds texture to the softness of the corn cakes, while the earthy tones of black bean complement their mild flavour.

To make a flavour-packed dinner, try stuffing the grilled arepas with savoury fillings such as shredded chicken and cheese, sautéed zucchini and bell peppers or spicy beef tacos. Aromas of melted cheese, juicy meat and tangy salsa meet in this mouth-watering dish that will leave everyone satisfied.

No matter what you choose to serve with your grilled arepas, don’t forget to add a side of fresh lime wedge or cilantro for extra zing. Pair it with a refreshing South American beer or homemade sangria to complete the Latin American culinary experience.

This grilled arepas recipe is not only delicious but also versatile enough to adapt to your taste preferences and dietary needs easily. So unleash your creativity and enjoy your delicious customized version of this classic South American dish!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A taste of South America on your plate.
A taste of South America on your plate.

Are you looking to prep this dish ahead of time or store it for leftovers? Good news, these grilled arepas with salsa can be made ahead of time and reheated without losing their flavor and texture.

To make ahead, prepare the arepas as directed and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat them on a grill or grill pan until they are heated through and crispy again.

Alternatively, if you have leftover grilled arepas, there’s no need to let them go to waste. Simply pop them into the fridge or freezer for later use.

If you will be storing this delicious South American corn cake delicacy in the fridge, allow it to cool completely before placing it into an airtight container. It can last for up to 3 days, but keep in mind that the texture may differ slightly after reheating.

If you’d like to freeze the grilled arepas, wrap each one individually in plastic wrap before placing them in a sealable bag. They will last for up to 2 months. To reheat frozen arepas, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or defrost them in the microwave before reheating them on a grill or grill pan.

Whatever method you choose, these grilled arepas with salsa is a dish that only gets better with time. So go ahead and make extra because it’s always great to have leftovers on hand!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Bring the heat with these spicy salsa topped arepas!
Bring the heat with these spicy salsa topped arepas!

To ensure perfect grilled arepas with salsa every time, here are some essential tips:

1. Choose the Right Corn Flour

A good arepa begins with the right corn flour. Look for an authentic South American brand and avoid using regular cornmeal or corn flour. Also, make sure that the flour is pre-cooked, as this will save you time and effort in cooking.

2. Mind Your Measurements

Accurate measurements of ingredients like flour, salt, and water can have a significant impact on the final taste and texture of your arepas. Follow the measurements provided in the recipe to ensure perfect results.

3. Keep Your Hands Moistened

Making arepas involves working with moist dough that can stick to your hands. To prevent the dough from sticking, keep your hands moistened throughout the process by dipping them in water or oil.

4. Allow the Dough to Rest

It’s essential to let the dough rest properly before molding it into the desired shapes. The resting time allows moisture to be absorbed uniformly by the dough particles, resulting in fluffy and light arepas.

5. Cook Slowly Over Low Heat

To get crispy and golden brown arepas, cook them slowly over low heat. This method also ensures that they’re cooked evenly throughout without leaving any raw spots.

6. Brush Arepas With Melted Butter

To add more flavor to your grilled arepas, brush them with melted butter before grilling them. This technique will also help prevent sticking to the grill grates.

7. Experiment With Fillings

While grilled arepas with salsa is already a delicious combination, feel free to experiment with different fillings such as cheese, black beans, zucchini, or anything else that suits your fancy.

By following these tips and tricks, you can rest assured that you’ll have perfectly cooked grilled arepas that everyone will love!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, encountering new flavors and textures can be a delightful experience. The recipe for Grilled Arepas with Salsa is the perfect representation of how culinary cultures blend together in delicious ways. This Latin American-inspired dish is not only flavorful but also versatile, as it allows for customization to suit personal preferences. Whether you’re an adventurous foodie or simply enjoy trying new things, this recipe is a must-try.

Making arepas may be a little intimidating at first, but it’s an enjoyable process that yields results that are definitely worth the effort. As you roast the corn cakes on the grill, they develop a beautiful texture and flavor that can’t be matched by any other method of preparation. Once you master the basic arepas recipe, you will have the freedom to experiment with different fillings and toppings to create your unique arepas variation.

Furthermore, this recipe is budget-friendly and easy to make using locally sourced ingredients. The combination of the savory grilled corn cakes and the tangy salsa sauce will tantalize your taste buds and leave your guests impressed. You can serve these arepas with black beans or stuffed with cheese and zucchini for a light meal or as appetizers for parties.

To sum up, this recipe is a perfect addition to any food lover’s repertoire due to its balance of authentic South American flavors and North American influences that define modern American cuisine. It is time to take your taste buds on a trip around South America! Don’t hesitate; try this recipe today for an unforgettable gastronomic journey!

Grilled Arepas With Salsa (South American Corn Cakes)

Grilled Arepas With Salsa (South American Corn Cakes) Recipe

This is a bit easier than the other grilled arepa recipe I posted, as it uses premade arepas. Some supermarkets and Latino markets carry these, in the dairy section. They can also be found online. Adapted from Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue! The salsa ingredients can be chopped in a food processor. NOTE: I have used "corn cakes" as the ingredient name, because the software does not recognize arepas as an ingredient.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine South American
Servings 7 arepas
Calories 65.1 kcal


For the salsa

  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, very finely diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, very finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, very finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (approximately)
  • salt

For the arepas

  • 7 corn cakes, thawed if frozen (arepas)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, divided


  • Combine onions, peppers, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, and lime juice.
  • Toss to mix.
  • Season with salt to taste.
  • Add more lime juice if desired. There should be about 1 1/2 cups of salsa.
  • Salsa can be made several hours in advance.
  • Preheat grill to high.
  • Brush and oil grill very well.
  • Lightly brush both sides of arepas with some of the melted butter.
  • Arrange arepas on grill, and and grill until toasted and brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn over with a spatula or tongs and grill on other side about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer arepas to a platter and brush with any remaining butter.
  • Top each arepa with some of the salsa.
  • Serve immediately.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 328gCalories: 65.1kcalCarbohydrates: 4.8gProtein: 0.8gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3.1gCholesterol: 13.1mgSodium: 37.6mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 1g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Colombian, South American
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You

None found



Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.