Finding the Perfect Flour: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Flour for Arepas

Best flour for arepas – A comprehensive guide

Are you thinking about making arepas from scratch at home? If so, choosing the right flour is essential to making the best version of this Colombian and Venezuelan corn cake delicacy. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the history and origins of the best flour for arepas, explain why other flours don’t work as well, and provide information on where to buy the recommended flour.

The best flour for arepas: Masarepa

The best flour for making arepas is masarepa, also known as masa al instante and harina precocida. Masarepa is a refined, pre-cooked corn flour commonly used in Colombia (known as “harina de maiz refinada, precocida”) and is the main ingredient that gives arepas their distinctive flavor. This type of corn flour can be found under various generic brand names such as Harina PAN, Areparina, Harina Juana, and Goya, which are readily available in major grocery stores throughout Europe and the United States.

History and origin of arepas

The origins of arepas can be traced back hundreds of years to various indigenous tribes in Venezuela and Colombia. These tribes made the first arepas using ground corn flour, and this food has since become a staple in the diets of the people living in these regions. The name “arepa” is derived from the indigenous word for corn, “erepa”.
Initially, arepas were eaten primarily as bread and a side dish. However, as their popularity grew, people began to get more creative with the fillings. Filled arepas, formerly known as tostadas, are now enjoyed with a variety of fillings, resulting in countless recipes that incorporate different flavors.
The main ingredient in arepas, masarepa, has remained unchanged throughout history. In the past, making masarepa involved a labor-intensive process of manually pounding dried corn after soaking it in water to remove the germ and outer shell. Today, this process has been automated on an industrial scale, making Masarepa more accessible to home cooks.

Why other flours don’t work

It is important to understand why other flours, such as regular cornmeal or masa harina (the Mexican version of cornmeal), do not work as well for making arepas.
While regular cornmeal is made from the same basic ingredient as Masarepa, it is ground raw and not pre-cooked like Masarepa. As a result, when mixed with liquid, regular cornmeal does not absorb the liquid and retains a different texture. In contrast, masa harina readily absorbs liquid, giving the dough a putty-like consistency that makes it easy to shape and cook.
Masa harina is similar to masarepa, but not the same. Masa harina is a corn dough that is treated with lime to remove germs and the outer shell before being dried and ground into fine cornmeal. It is commonly used in popular Mexican foods such as tortillas, pupusas, and gorditas. However, Masarepa is made without the use of lime, resulting in a milder flavor compared to masa harina. In addition, Masarepa’s starchier and finer texture makes it ideal for pan-frying or frying into arepas.

Where to buy Masarepa

If you would like to purchase Masarepa, you have several options:

  1. Amazon: While it is generally recommended to buy food from brick-and-mortar stores, Amazon offers convenience for those who prefer to shop online. You can find brands like Goya’s enriched white cornmeal or Harina PAN’s 100% gluten-free white cornmeal on the platform.
  2. Walmart: With its wide availability, Walmart is another option for purchasing Harina PAN, the specific type of masarepa needed to make arepas. With numerous Walmart locations worldwide, finding one near you should not be a challenge.
  3. Amigofoods: Amigofoods is an online Latin food e-commerce store that offers a variety of Latin food products, including Harina PAN, the exact flour you need to make arepas.
  4. Costco: If you have access to a Costco store with a significant Latino population, such as in Miami, you may be able to find Harina PAN for arepas.
  5. eBay: Individuals on eBay also sell Harina PAN corn flour, which is the same type of corn flour available in other locations. eBay may offer faster shipping times and possibly lower prices.

Using White Corn Flour vs. Yellow Corn Flour

There is no significant difference between using white corn flour and yellow corn flour to make arepas. The choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some people claim that yellow corn flour has a slightly more bitter or spicy taste than white corn flour. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, and the difference in taste, if any, is minimal.
When it comes to texture and cooking properties, there is no noticeable difference between white and yellow corn flour. Both types of flour can be used interchangeably in arepa recipes and the end result will be equally delicious.

Tips for making perfect arepas

To ensure that your homemade arepas come out perfect every time, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Use warm water: When mixing the masarepa flour with water to form the dough, use warm water. Warm water helps hydrate the flour and improves the texture of the dough.
  2. Let the dough rest: After mixing the ingredients, let the dough rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. This resting period allows the flour to fully absorb moisture, resulting in a more pliable dough that is easier to shape.
  3. Adjust the consistency if necessary: The dough should be soft and malleable, similar to the texture of Play-Doh. If the dough feels too dry, add a little more water. If it feels too wet and sticky, add a small amount of Masarepa until the desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Use a nonstick pan or griddle: When cooking the arepas, use a non-stick pan or griddle to prevent them from sticking. If you don’t have a non-stick surface, lightly grease the cooking surface with oil or cooking spray.
  5. Cook over medium heat: Cook the arepas over medium heat to ensure they cook evenly without burning. Cooking them too quickly on high heat may result in an undercooked center.
  6. Flatten the arepas evenly: When forming the dough into slices, be sure to flatten them evenly, about 1/2 inch thick. This will ensure even cooking throughout.
  7. Don’t overcrowd the pan: Cook the arepas in batches, leaving enough space between them in the pan. Overcrowding the pan can lead to uneven cooking and steaming instead of browning.
  8. Turn only once: Resist the urge to flip the arepas several times during cooking. Flip them just once to get a golden brown crust on both sides.
  9. Slice before filling: Once the arepas are cooked and slightly cooled, slice horizontally to create a pocket for the filling. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
  10. Get creative with fillings: Arepas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as cheese, shredded meat, beans, avocado, or eggs. Experiment with different fillings to find your favorite combinations.


Choosing the right flour is crucial to making the best arepas. Masarepa, a refined, pre-cooked corn flour, is the preferred choice because of its ability to absorb liquid and create a dough with the perfect texture. Other flours, such as regular cornmeal or masa harina, do not produce the same results.
When making arepas, consider purchasing masarepa from reputable sources such as Amazon, Walmart, Amigofoods, Costco, or eBay. These platforms offer convenience and accessibility for home cooks.
By following the tips provided, you can make delicious homemade arepas that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Enjoy filling them with your favorite ingredients and explore the endless possibilities of this delicious Colombian and Venezuelan dish.


What is Masarepa?

Masarepa is a refined, pre-cooked corn flour that is the best flour for making arepas. Commonly used in Colombia and Venezuela, it gives arepas their distinctive flavor and texture.

Can I use regular corn flour instead of Masarepa?

Regular cornmeal is not recommended for making arepas because it is not pre-cooked like Masarepa. Regular cornmeal does not absorb liquid in the same way, resulting in a different texture and consistency.

What is the difference between Masarepa and Masa Harina?

Masarepa and Masa Harina are similar, but not the same. Masarepa is specifically designed for making arepas and does not involve the use of lime in its preparation. Masa harina is used in Mexican cuisine and has a different flavor and texture.

Where can I buy Masarepa?

Masarepa can be found in major grocery stores, Latin food stores, and online platforms such as Amazon, Walmart, Amigofoods, Costco, and eBay.

Can I use yellow corn flour instead of white corn flour to make arepas?

Yes, you can use either white or yellow corn flour to make arepas. The choice between the two is largely a matter of personal preference, as there is no significant difference in taste or texture.

What are some tips for making perfect arepas?

Some tips for making perfect arepas include using warm water to hydrate the flour, letting the dough rest before shaping, adjusting the consistency of the dough as needed, using a non-stick pan or griddle, cooking over medium heat, flattening the arepas evenly, cooking them in batches without overcrowding the pan, turning them only once, and getting creative with different fillings.