Francheska Cermeno’s Arepas Recipe

Heirloom Eats

heir·loom (noun):
a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations

From furniture and faith to collectibles and character traits, there are a lot of things that get passed down over the course of a family’s history, and recipes are no exception. But a recipe nurtured by generations of love and care is so much more than the food it creates. It’s also a reminder of the laughter and light that can happen when a family comes together. 

Photography by Rich Smith

“When I was 8, my grandma Graciela taught me how to make arepas. I used to wake up at 5 a.m. and make coffee for my grandma and grandad. My grandma noticed how much I liked making the coffee, so one of those mornings she asked me if I wanted to make arepas. I asked my grandma why we ate arepas all the time, and she said it was because they were fast (can be made in less than 5 minutes!) and you can just add any filling you want. Arepas have been a staple breakfast in our family for generations, and they bring our family together every morning. When my grandpa was alive, he used to make big meals in the house. He has been my inspiration, and that’s how I got my love for cooking.”


Francheska Cermeno with daughter Stella

Francheska Cermeno with daughter Stella

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Francheska Cermeno’s Arepas


Francheska Cermeno
Cook Time 14 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Colombian, Venezuelan
Servings 3 servings


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. oil or lard colored with annatto (optional)
  • 2 cups pre-cooked cornmeal


  • Combine water, salt, sugar, and oil in a medium bowl. Gradually mix in cornmeal with your fingers until a soft, malleable dough forms.
  • Create eight 2-inch balls and flatten each into a 3/8-inch patty.
  • Coat the bottom of a large skillet with an additional teaspoon of oil and cook arepas over medium heat for 4-7 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Once cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to slice horizontally halfway through the arepa and add desired filling.


Filling options: cheese, ham, beef, beans, eggs, chicken, sausage, plantains, sauces (such as nata, guasacaca, or sweet pepper sauce), etc.
Keyword arepas, arepas con queso, colombian arepas
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