Arepas with Carnitas and Sweet Potato Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Arepas with Carnitas and Sweet Potato

35 reviews / 4.9 average

Arepas - fried cornmeal pockets stuffed with all the fillings you could ever want, like carnitas, spicy chicken, sweet potatoes, black beans, sauces, and more. THESE ARE SO GOOD!

On the menu today and forever: arepas arepas arepas.

Just warning you in advance that you're about to make a hot arepa mess and your life will never be the same.

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These are a really big deal in my life right now.

Arepas! Have you had them? Let's talk about what they are.

What Are Arepas?

Okay, these gems are South American pockets of fried cornmeal-like dough (harina precocida if you want to get technical) and they're stuffed with every possible good thing you could ever want stuffed in a pocket of fried cornmeal-like dough. You most commonly find them being made in Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Panama.

Dream with me for a minute here. Slow cooked carnitas. Chipotle chicken. Shredded beef. Grilled sweet potatoes. Slices of avocado and tomato and other vegetables that I can't think of right now because THE MEATS. So distracted by the meats. Chimichurris and aiolis galore. Halloumi (except that one little detail that I've never actually made halloumi, but this idea is just coming to me right now and I sense that it would be so epic). Black beans. Fried plantains. Pickled red onion. Magic Green Sauce, but I mean, obviously.

In This Post: Everything You Need For Arepas

Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?

Arepa on a plate with a fork.

One Thing You’Ll Need To Make Homemade Arepas

I first jumped on the arepa train when my friend Melissa moved to Minneapolis and introduced me to Hola Arepa which is an arepa hot spot here in our little city. Funny (or sad? can't think about it too much) that sometimes it takes someone else moving into your area to really show you what you've been missing out on. Like I've lived here for... EVER? and never really knew about this place? WHAT? Major heartbreak. Sometimes I just get so zoned in on the sushi takeout situation that I forget about other foods.

If you live in Minneapolis, spare yourself this heartbreak and pls run to Hola Arepa and get the Carnitas and Sweet Potato Arepa with yucca fries and spicy green aioli. Go now. Tonight. This is not a drill.

Truth: anytime you come across a recipe that requires just *ONE* special ingredient, it can seem daunting and overwhelming and like you can't even do it because WHAT IS THAT INGREDIENT.

But another truth: friends do not let friends miss out on food this good, so I'm gonna push you.

You're going to need just ONE new ingredient. It's called harina precocida or in more familiar terms, pre-cooked cornmeal.

Everything You Need To Know About Harina Precocida (Or Masarepa), a White Corn Meal

I am generally not super pumped about buying food things online, but in this case I make an exception because overloaded carnitas sweet potato lightly fried arepas and straight-to-my-front-door 48 hour delivery - these are not things I take lightly. I buy this harina precocida on Amazon. For $8, you get a big bag of this stuff that makes you many arepas for many days, and it ships right to your front door in two days because Amazon loves us like that. You could also drive to a grocery store that specializes in Central or South America foods. But honestly. God bless Amazon Prime.

Now, this is important - this is not the same as masa harina which is uncooked. This version is COOKED which means you don't need to bake it all the way through in the same way as you would with masa harina. I am not sure how substitutions would work - but from what I've read, the arepa flour really does get a better texture both inside and outside. #worthit

Let's Make Arepas

Here's what the arepa flour / precooked cornmeal looks like:

Arepa Flour.

And here's the sweet potatoes after you saute them and before you stuff them in the arepas with all your other toppings to the point where they become unrecognizable in the delicious mess:

Sweet Potatoes for Arepas.

And here's where you form the dough discs into little 2-inch thick circles and pan-fry them over medium-high heat in a large skillet. You can fry them in vegetable oil or butter. Flip the arepas once they turn golden brown. If your pan is small, it helps to do this part in batches.

Frying Arepas in a pan.

And here's where the delicious arepa mess makes its way to your hungry mouth.

Like ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡.

Zero percent regrets. This is food straight from heaven. Pillowy and loaded with flavor.

Arepa on a plate with a fork.

Arepas: Frequently Asked Questions

This looks delicious! Any vegetarian protein ideas to put inside the arepas?

Shredded chipotle jackfruit would be delicious! Otherwise, the black beans will provide a protein boost, too.

What is the texture of the arepa like?

The texture of these is a little corn-cakey, so if the insides are a little sticky that's okay and good.

How long do arepas last?

You can store any leftover fried arepas in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

How do I make the pickled onions that go on top?

Thinly slice 1 red onion. Place the sliced onion in a jar and fill it about 1/3 of the way with white vinegar and the rest with water. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, give it a good shake, and toss it in the fridge for a couple hours to pickle them.

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Arepas with sweet potato, carnitas, and black beans.

Arepas Recipe

  • Author: Skillful Cook
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 arepas 1x


Arepas - fried cornmeal pockets stuffed with all the fillings you could ever want, like carnitas, spicy chicken, sweet potatoes, black beans, sauces, and more. THESE ARE SO GOOD!


Units Scale


Filling Ideas:

  • Carnitas (personal fave!) or Chipotle Shredded Chicken
  • Magic Green Sauce or other sauce (umm, what other sauce would there be?)
  • black beans
  • sweet potatoes, sliced into thin pieces and sautéed in olive oil and salt until softened
  • red onions (pickled? yum)
  • Cotija cheese


  1. Combine your ingredients: Mix the precooked cornmeal and the salt. Add the water and whisk remove any lumps, then stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Form the arepas: Using your hands, divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten in gently to create a disk, about 1 inch thick (see pictures).
  3. Fry the arepas: Heat a thin layer of oil (about 1/4 inch deep) in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the arepas and fry for about 6 minutes on both sides. The arepas should get a dry fried exterior without getting overly brown. Set on paper towels to drain and cool.
  4. Assemble: Cut the arepas in half and stuff with your fillings!


Nutrition info is just for arepas.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Colombian

Keywords: arepa recipe, fried cornmeal, carnitas

Try Our Other Sandwich, Wrap, and Burger Recipes!

*Note: I have studied arepa recipes a little bit to make sure I'm generally going in the right direction here, but as usual, I claim no authority or authenticity on my arepa skills other than THESE ARE DELICIOUS. If you want to share how YOU make arepas, I'd love to hear. Please leave a comment!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    as a Venezuelan who has been reading POY for a while now i feel super honored to see arepas in here! <3 this is my everyday breakfast -a lighter version though- It's never too late to jump on the arepa's train! 😀 Cheers!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Okay tell me all about your lighter version. Because I plan to eat these every day from here on out and I need to know how to not gain 50 arepa pounds.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Oh well, arepas are infinite things! you can make arepas dough with lots of different flavour (cilantro, basil, black beans, chili pepper), you can also add chia, oats or flax seeds to it to make it more toasty and crunchy <3 the lighter version has a lot to do to the filling though; for everyday arepas you can fill it with scrambled eggs or avocado and cheese or shredded chicken with avocado, or, if youre feeling a little creative, you can fill it with cheese and tajadas (wich are made with fried ripe plantains) POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS WITH AREPAS! 😀

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        I love arepas with carrot, Blend a carrot with the water that you’ll mix with the corn flour (best is PAN).
        For breakfast i love avocado and straight egg.
        Also like fried plantains in it (not for diets.
        but truly, arepas, avocado and the extra of your preference will add a pinch of “yumminess” to your tummy

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I don’t tend to last with email subscriptions but OH MY GOD the stuff you send over is so amazingly iwantitrightnow that i’ll never unsubscribe. This recipe is being done…twice!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh man, I think you would love them. Also not if but when you and Naomi make it to Minneapolis (it’s my dream to have you guys teach a workshop together in our studio), we will take you out to Hola Arepa. 😉

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG! I wouldn’t say no to these arepas! I have never even heard of them before but they just look so tasty! If I ever get my hands on precooked cornmeal I will definitely try to make them!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I rarely comment on blogs but OMG – THANK YOU for posting this recipe. Hola Arepa is a fav restaurant here in Minneapolis and the fact that I could possibly make arepas for days at home is the best thing ever!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hola Arepa is amazing! You are probably going to need to replicate their Yucca Fries now too….for good measure

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    yes please. yes please to all of those on your counter that you were making. all. of. them. I can’t think of a thing right now that doesn’t sound good stuffed into one of these beauties. The possibilities are endless….

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG I LOVE YOU FOR THIS. I went to Hola Arepa with Melissa and some other bloggers when I was in town for your workshop, and it was sooooo good. I’m pretty sure I got the carnitas/sweet potato one you’re talking about. LIFE CHANGING. Oh my god. I can’t wait to make this at home. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Likewise! As Venezuelan with a deep love for food, I’m really honored whilst reading at this post! (I’ve been also following POY for a while now)
    Another option to try with Arepas: fill it with octopus cooked in vinegar and a soft white cheese… It’s delicious!
    Cheers and keep posting good recipes!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Likewise! As Venezuelan and a food lover, I feel also honored whilst reading at this post! I’ve been following POY for a while and recipes are really great!
    Another option with Arepas; fill it with octopus cooked in vinegar and a soft white cheese, the outcome is amazing!
    Chhers and keep posting good recipes!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh my gosh, too bold for me I think!! If you were making it for me, I might feel differently, but myself cooking octopus doesn’t sound like a great idea. haha. Baby steps! Thanks for the comment Jose!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I LOVE arepas!! If you’re in DC, find the Arepazone food truck, or better yet, head to Union Market to feast on these amazing little creations. SO excited you shared a recipe Lindsay! Can’t wait to try them 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m Venezuelan and I’m so excited that arepas are featured on your blog! They’re the absolute best and I want EVERYONE to know about them. Also they’re so versatile and perfect for every meal. Breakfast? Arepas with scrambled eggs, avocado and bacon. Lunch? Ham and cheese arepas. Dinner? Arepas with beans, pulled pork and some fried plantains. All the yums. Also, eggs benedict (my fav) with arepas as the base? SO good.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Come on now, Lindsay. Now you’ve got this pregnant mama thinking about driving cross town at 9:15 p.m. for an arepa.
    In your research, did you stumble across any ideas for sauce alternatives beyond the magic green sauce?? I didn’t get a confident answer on if fresh basil exists in Hola Arepa’s sauce, and I felt a little itchy after trying it…would love to try this at home with a few alternatives.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    You speak to my sooooouull. Finally just got my better half out to Hola’s b-day party yesterday, and luckily he agrees we will be back often! Because yaaasss fried arepa dough. Now we can tide ourselves over between visits–woohoo!