Nurturing Your Soul With Wholesome Vegan Arepas Recipe

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A vegan arepa recipe brings a delightful twist to the traditional South American staple. Using plant-based ingredients, this version ensures a delicious, guilt-free experience. The dough, made from pre-cooked cornmeal, water, and salt, is shaped into patties and grilled to perfection. Filled with a vibrant mix of avocado, black beans, and spices, it promises a nutritious and flavorful meal.

Why It Works?

  • Nutrient-Dense Ingredients: Avocados and black beans provide essential vitamins and fiber.
  • Quick and Easy: Simple preparation and cooking process, perfect for any meal.
  • Versatile Fillings: Easily customize with your favorite vegan toppings.
  • Allergen-Friendly: Free from common allergens, suitable for a wide range of dietary needs.
  • Authentic Taste: Maintains the beloved flavors of traditional arepas, while being entirely plant-based.

Don’t have time to read the full blog post? JUMP TO THE RECIPE HERE!

Discovering a delicious, vegan-friendly meal that satisfies both your taste buds and nutritional needs can often feel like a daunting task. When I first embarked on my plant-based journey, I struggled to find recipes that were not only wholesome but also packed with flavor.

That’s until I stumbled upon the vegan arepa recipe, a game-changer in my culinary adventures. This traditional South American dish, reimagined with vegan ingredients, became the answer to my dining dilemmas.

The combination of a crispy, golden exterior with a soft, flavorful filling makes it a must-try for anyone looking to diversify their vegan meal options. Through this recipe, I’ve discovered the perfect balance of health and taste, making mealtime a moment to look forward to.

vegan arepa recipe

What Is Vegan Arepa? 

A vegan arepa recipe transforms the classic South American cornmeal cake into a plant-based delight. By omitting animal products, this recipe calls for mixing pre-cooked cornmeal, water, and a pinch of salt to create a dough.

This dough is then shaped into patties and cooked until they achieve a crispy exterior with a soft, warm center. The arepas are then split open and stuffed with a variety of vegan fillings such as avocado, black beans, tomatoes, and spices, offering a nutritious, satisfying meal that caters to vegan dietary preferences.

Fact– Arepas, originating from the indigenous tribes of Venezuela and Colombia, are versatile cornmeal cakes enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, adaptable to countless fillings.

vegan arepa

Recipe Directions 

  • Prepare the Creamy Vegan Sauce: Use a food processor to blend the ingredients until smooth. For an extra flavor kick, consider incorporating arugula and caramelized onions into the sauce.
  • Marinate and Grill Tofu: For the protein component, we recommend grilled marinated tofu. You can find detailed instructions on marinating and grilling tofu in our “How to Prepare Tofu” post.
  • Prepare the Arepa Dough: In a large bowl, combine pre-cooked cornmeal, water, and salt. Knead the mixture for 2 minutes, then let it rest for 5 minutes to hydrate the cornmeal fully.
  • Shape the Arepas: Divide the dough into four equal parts. Roll each portion into a ball, then flatten them into discs approximately three inches in diameter, shaping the edges thinner than the center to resemble a flying saucer.
  • Cook the Arepas: Heat a grill or skillet over medium heat. Cook the arepas for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they develop a golden crust.
  • Caramelize Onions (Optional): If desired, caramelize some onions in the same marinade used for the tofu to add a sweet and savory component to your arepas.

Recipe Directions 

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 

Vegan arepas offer a canvas for countless variations, add-ons, and toppings, making them a versatile option for any meal. Here are some popular choices:


  • Black Bean and Avocado: A classic filling that combines creamy avocado with seasoned black beans.
  • Mushroom and Spinach: Sautéed mushrooms and wilted spinach for a hearty and nutritious option.
  • Spicy Tofu Scramble: A spicy tofu scramble can mimic scrambled eggs, perfect for a vegan breakfast arepa.
  • Sweet Plantain: Caramelized sweet plantains add a natural sweetness that contrasts beautifully with savory fillings.


  • Vegan Cheese: Many varieties of vegan cheese can melt beautifully inside an arepa for added creaminess.
  • Sautéed Vegetables: Bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and tomatoes can add flavor and nutrition.
  • Vegan Sour Cream: A dollop of vegan sour cream can add a tangy twist to the fillings.
  • Pickled Onions or Jalapeños: For a bit of acidity and spice, pickled onions or jalapeños are excellent.

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 


  • Fresh Cilantro: Chopped cilantro can bring a fresh, herbal note to the dish.
  • Hot Sauce: A drizzle of your favorite vegan hot sauce can spice things up.
  • Avocado Slices: Fresh avocado slices on top add creaminess and rich flavor.
  • Lime Wedges: Serving lime wedges on the side allows for a bright burst of citrus when squeezed over the arepas.

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 

Vegetable Substitutions

  • Zucchini or Summer Squash: These can be a great substitute for mushrooms, offering a similar texture but with a lighter flavor. They can be sautéed with garlic and herbs for a delicious filling.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Roasted or sautéed sweet potatoes can replace sweet plantains, providing a sweet and hearty element that complements any combination of savory fillings.
  • Kale or Collard Greens: These leafy greens can stand in for spinach, offering a more robust flavor and texture. They’re best when lightly sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
  • Butternut Squash: This can be an excellent substitute for carrots or peppers, especially when looking for a sweeter vegetable addition. It’s delicious when roasted and seasoned with spices like cumin and paprika.
  • Cauliflower Rice: For a lighter, grain-free option, cauliflower rice can replace cornmeal in the arepa dough, offering a different texture and flavor profile. It’s best when combined with a binder like flaxseed meal to hold it together.
  • Eggplant: Grilled or roasted eggplant makes a fantastic filling, offering a meaty texture that can substitute for less substantial vegetables. It absorbs flavors well, especially when marinated.

Quick Tip– To keep your vegan arepas moist and flavorful, brush them with a bit of olive oil before grilling. This enhances their golden crust and prevents sticking.

Vegetable Substitutions

Best Side Dishes

  1. Quinoa Salad A light and nutritious side, quinoa salad can be flavored with lime, cilantro, and diced vegetables for a refreshing complement.
  2. Black Bean Soup A hearty and warming soup pairs wonderfully with arepas, offering a satisfying and protein-rich option.
  3. Fried Plantains Sweet or savory, fried plantains add a tropical flair and a hint of sweetness that balances the arepas’ savory fillings.
  4. Avocado Cilantro Lime Rice This vibrant and flavorful rice dish brings freshness and zing, making it a perfect accompaniment to the richness of arepas.
  5. Vegan Ceviche Made with mushrooms or hearts of palm, vegan ceviche provides a tangy and refreshing side that cuts through the arepas’ denseness.
  6. Roasted Sweet Potatoes Seasoned with spices and roasted until caramelized, sweet potatoes offer a sweet and hearty side that complements any arepa filling.
  7. Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette A simple green salad, dressed in a light lemon vinaigrette, adds a crisp and clean side that balances the meal.

Best Side Dishes

How To Serve?

  • Split and Stuff: Cut the arepas halfway through to create a pocket, then generously fill with your choice of vegan fillings such as grilled vegetables, vegan cheese, and creamy sauces.
  • Open-Faced: Serve the arepas open-faced, topped with a heap of seasoned beans, avocado slices, and a drizzle of vegan sour cream for a knife-and-fork meal.
  • With Dips: Offer a selection of dips on the side, such as guacamole, salsa, or a homemade vegan pesto, allowing guests to customize their arepa experience.
  • As a Side: Serve smaller arepas as a side dish to accompany a main course like a hearty vegetable stew or a vibrant salad.
  • Layered: Create a layered dish by placing one arepa at the base, adding a layer of filling, and then topping it with another arepa. Slice into wedges for a shareable appetizer.
  • With Side Salads: Pair arepas with a light, fresh salad such as a quinoa or mixed greens salad to balance the meal.
  • As a Sandwich: Use the arepas as bread for a sandwich, filling them with layers of marinated tofu, lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayonnaise.

Quick Tip– For extra flavor, toast your arepa fillings—like vegetables or tofu—in the same pan after cooking arepas to absorb any leftover cornmeal and seasoning.

How To Serve

Storage & Make Ahead

  • Refrigerate: Store leftover arepas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Keep fillings separate to maintain freshness.
  • Freeze: For longer storage, freeze arepas individually wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed in a freezer bag. They can last for up to 2 months.
  • Reheat: Thaw frozen arepas in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through, or use an oven preheated to 350°F for about 10 minutes.
  • Make Ahead: Prepare arepa dough and shape into patties up to 1 day in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to cook. This saves time and ensures fresh arepas with minimal effort.
  • Fillings: Vegan fillings can often be made ahead and refrigerated, allowing flavors to meld and enhancing taste.

Fact– Arepas date back to the indigenous tribes of Venezuela and Colombia, serving as a staple food for centuries. Today, they are a symbol of national pride and cultural heritage.

vegan arepa recipe

Time-Saving Tips

  1. Prep Fillings in Advance: Chop and season your filling ingredients ahead of time. Store them in the fridge for quick assembly.
  2. Use a Food Processor: For sauces or dips, utilize a food processor to blend ingredients quickly and efficiently.
  3. Batch Cook: Cook a larger batch of arepas and freeze them. Reheat directly on the stove or in a toaster for a fast meal.
  4. One-Pan Fillings: When possible, cook your fillings in one pan to reduce cleanup time and streamline the cooking process.
  5. Pre-measured Ingredients: Measure out your dry ingredients for the arepa dough and store them in sealed containers. This way, you only need to add water when ready to cook.
  6. Utilize Leftovers: Arepas are great for encasing leftovers. They can turn almost any meal into a new and exciting dish with minimal effort.
  7. Grill or Bake in Batches: If you have a large griddle or oven tray, cook multiple arepas at once to save time versus cooking them individually.
Nurturing Your Soul With Wholesome Vegan Arepas Recipe

Nurturing Your Soul With Wholesome Vegan Arepas Recipe

Recipe by Julia

This vegan arepa recipe offers a delightful twist on a traditional South American staple, transforming it into a plant-based feast. The arepas, made from a simple mix of cornmeal, water, and salt, are grilled to achieve a crispy exterior with a soft interior. Stuffed with a variety of flavorful vegan fillings, they provide a versatile and satisfying meal for any occasion.

Course: Snacks
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Ingredients List 

  • 2 Cups 2 White maize flour (pre-cooked corn meal)

  • 2 ½ Cups 2 ½ Water

  • 1 Tsp 1 Fine salt

  • As needed As needed Creamy Vegan Sauce (to serve)

  • As needed As needed Marinated Grilled Tofu (to serve)

  • 1 bunch 1 Arugula (optional)

  • ½ ½ Red onion, sautéed (optional)

  • 1 Pinch 1 Red chili (optional, if you like it spicy)

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Marinated Grilled Tofu: Begin by preparing the marinated grilled tofu according to the recipe. Ensure the tofu is well-coated in the marinade for maximum flavor.
  • Creamy Sauce Preparation: Follow the instructions for the 5-Minute Creamy Sauce found in the notes. This versatile sauce will add a delicious, creamy texture to your arepas.
  • Dough Preparation: In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of pre-cooked cornmeal, 2 ½ cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of fine salt. Knead the mixture for 2 minutes, then allow it to rest for 5 minutes, giving the cornmeal time to absorb the water and swell.
    vegan arepa recipe 2
  • Forming the Arepas: After the dough has rested, divide it into four equal parts. Roll each portion into a ball, then flatten with your hands to form discs about three inches in diameter. Shape the edges thinner than the center to mimic the appearance of a flying saucer.
  • Cooking the Arepas: Heat a grill or skillet over medium heat. Place the arepas on the grill, cooking for 5 minutes on each side, or until they are golden and have a slight crust.
  • Preparing the Filling: While the arepas cook, slice ½ a red onion and sauté it in a teaspoon of cooking oil. For added flavor, consider incorporating the leftover marinade from the grilled tofu, which should contain elements like ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.
    vegan arepa recipe 3
  • Assembling the Arepas: Once the arepas are cooked and have cooled slightly, carefully cut a pocket into one side of each arepa without slicing all the way through. Stuff each arepa with a generous amount of the creamy sauce, sautéed onions, fresh arugula, and chunks of the grilled tofu.

  • Equipment List
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Food Processor
  • Skillet or Grill Pan
  • Spatula
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Plastic Wrap (optional for storage)
  • Baking Sheet (if opting to bake)


  • The tofu should be pressed to remove excess water for the best texture.

  • Use warm water for the dough to ensure easier kneading and smoother arepas.

  • The creamy sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to a week.

  • If the dough cracks while shaping, add a bit more water to achieve the right consistency.

  • Arepas are best enjoyed fresh but can be reheated on a pan to restore their crisp exterior.

  • Experiment with different fillings to suit your taste preferences.

vegan arepa recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Vegan Arepas Gluten-Free?

Yes, vegan arepas can easily be made gluten-free because the traditional base ingredient, pre-cooked cornmeal (masa harina), is inherently gluten-free.

However, it’s crucial to check the packaging for any cross-contamination warnings if you’re particularly sensitive to gluten. Always ensure that any additional ingredients or fillings you choose are also gluten-free to maintain the dish’s gluten-free integrity.

What If I Don’t Have A Grill Or Skillet For Cooking Arepas?

If you don’t have a grill or skillet, you can still cook arepas in the oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C), place the formed arepas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for about 10-15 minutes on each side until they are golden and crispy. This method provides a convenient alternative while still delivering delicious results.

vegan arepa recipe

How Can I Store Leftover Arepas, And How Long Will They Last?

Leftover arepas should be allowed to cool to room temperature, then stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can last for up to 3-5 days. For longer storage, wrap each arepa individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer bag, freezing them for up to 2 months. Reheat them in a toaster or oven until warm and crispy.

Are There Any Nut-Free Options For The Creamy Vegan Sauce?

Yes, if you’re allergic to nuts or prefer to avoid them, you can make a nut-free creamy vegan sauce by using seeds like sunflower or hemp as a base, or opting for soy, oat, or coconut-based creams as alternatives. Avocado blended with lime juice, garlic, and herbs can also create a rich, creamy sauce without the need for nuts.

Can I Add Meat Or Dairy Products To Arepas If I’m Not Strictly Vegan?

Certainly, arepas are extremely versatile and can easily accommodate various dietary preferences, including non-vegan ingredients. Feel free to add cheese, shredded chicken, or pulled pork as fillings if you’re not adhering to a vegan diet. The beauty of arepas lies in their ability to be customized to individual tastes and dietary requirements, making them a beloved dish for many.

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Greetings from the heart of Vie De La Vegan, where each dish we share is a chapter in a larger story of discovery, wellness, and the transformative power of a plant-based diet. My name is Julia, and I am thrilled to be your guide on this delightful culinary adventure.

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