Anyone that watched Disney’s movie Encanto is probably wondering right now what kind of bread the Madrigal family was eating -the answer is Colombian Arepas de Queso, “Cheese arepas”. Yum! We love exploring the food from Encanto!

Arepa Con Queso Recipe finished and shown on a table with corn and cornmeal - 5 round arepa con queso breads
Let’s make a delicious arepa de queso!

Making Arepa

In short words, arepas are a type of food made of white corn flour that is highly popular in Colombia and Venezuela, although they can also be found anywhere across South America, from El Salvador to Mexican markets. It’s one of the most popular Colombian recipes across South America.

Arepa con Queso

Food plays a major role in the movie Encanto. The family bonds over the traditional Columbian food. In addition to the Arepas Con Queso, the family eats Bunuelos which are Columbian cheese fritters, Papaya, Dragon Fruit, Empanadas which are a fried dumpling type food made with corn flour and a filling of meat and potatoes, Avocados and Ajiaco Colombiano which is a soup of chicken, potatoes and corn.

Columbian Arepa Recipe

With arepas rellenas de queso being one of the most popular Colombian foods, it’s no surprise they were family Madrigal’s favorite meals in Encanto. Just watching the movie is enough to make anyone want to have one, so we completely understand why you’re here.

Arepas are so important to Colombian culture, that in the movie Encanto, Julieta Madrigal makes arepas con queso to heal the ill. Arepas might look like regular bread, but they actually use different ingredients and taste different.

In fact, if you have ground corn meal, water, salt, cheese, and butter, plus common kitchen appliances, you’re more than ready to make this recipe and taste the magic of El Encanto right in your own kitchen.

What are Arepas?

Arepas can be eaten plain but most are made into what we would called stuffed arepas or sandwiches. My favorite is the cheese filling that we are making today, but some other favorite fillings include (find recipes here):

  • Chicken, avocado and peas mixed together like a chicken salad called Reina Pepiada
  • Shredded beef with onion called Carne Mechada
  • Black beans and cheese called Domino (this is my second favorite and super easy to make)
  • Tuna salad with cream cheese, avocado, onions and tomatoes called Atun
  • Shredded chicken with onions, peppers and spices called Pollo Guisado

Are you ready for this easy recipe to make arepas con queso? Here’s what you’ll need:

Arepa con Queso Recipe Ingredients

ingredients needed for arepas con queso recipe shown on a table - butter, salt, organic masa harina flour in bag and fresh mozzarella
Let’s gather the ingredients for our arepas de queso, cheese arepas.

This recipe makes 6 full-sized arepas or 9 smaller arepas.

Note: We used pre-cooked masa harina, but you can buy regular arepa flour or even cornmeal and use a food processor to create cornmeal flour

  • 2 cups pre cooked corn meal masa harina
  • 2 cups hot water or warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon soft butter 
  • 12 slices of mozzarella cheese

How to Make Arepas con Queso

Step 1

Pour the masa harina, salt, butter, and mix water (it doesn’t have to be boiling, we used the hottest water that came out of the faucet) in a medium bowl.

Step 2

With damp palms, knead the mix for 3-5 minutes until you get soft dough and it looks like in the picture below.

Step 2 - arepas de queso recipe - consistency needed for dough
Make sure your ingredients are properly mixed!

Step 3

Step 3 - Arepa Con Queso recipe - balls of dough shown on a cookie sheet
Wet hands are key for our recipe today!

Then, divide dough into 9 small balls. You can make 6 balls of the size of a medium orange if you want bigger arepas – 9 palm-sized balls worked best for us because the pre-sliced cheese fit them perfectly.

Step 4

Step 4 - arepas con queso recipe - flattened balls of dough on parchment paper
Arepas should look similar to this.

Place each dough ball between plastic bags, paper towels or parchment paper, and use whatever flat object (a flat pot cover works great) you have at hand to flatten the balls to 1/3 inch.

Step 5

Step 5 - arepas con queso recipe - dough shown in cast iron skillet sitting in oil to cook

Now, it’s time for the fun part! Using a nonstick pan, put the button over medium heat or medium high heat and distribute the arepas in the pan.

Step 6

Step 6 - arepas con queso recipe - each should be turned when brown and golden like shown in picture
It’s important that each arepa has enough space in the frying pan for consistent cooking.

Cook for 3 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown or get a crust around them.

Step 7

Step 7 - arepa con queso recipe - slice the arepa in half and add a round of cheese
Our cheese arepa recipe is almost finished…

Once cooked, use a knife to cut the arepas in half, and place 2 mozzarella cheese slices or shredded cheese between the two halves.

Step 8

Step 8 - arepas con queso recipe - finished stacked cheesy arepa con queso on plate
I think the Madrigal family would devour these in a second {giggles}

Finally, put the arepas back on the pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted. Your arepas are ready to be enjoyed!

One of the most interesting things about arepas is that they can be eaten any time of the day. They are perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner food – arepas are even great snacks!

arepas con queso receta on a plate ready to be served
We recommend eating arepas with the Encanto soundtrack playing in the background!

How to eat Arepa con Queso

While traditionally arepas may have been a breakfast food, the versatility of the arepa has made it a favorite for lunch, dinner and snacks. They can be eaten like a sandwich as the main part of a meal or created in smaller sizes as appetizers and snacks. Wrap them up in wax paper or a plastic bag and take them on the go.

How to store Arepas

Plain arepas can be stored at room temperature like a bread for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Stuffed arepas need to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Yield: 9 stuffed arepas

Arepa con Queso Recipe

Arepa Con Queso Recipe Feature Image

Inspired by the Encanto movie, we are making Arepa Con Queso or cheese arepas. Arepas are a traditional bread of Columbia and Venezuela and other South American countries. The whole family will enjoy this arepa con queso recipe that is surprisingly easy to make.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes


  • 2 cups pre cooked corn meal masa harina
  • 2 cups hot water or warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon soft butter
  • 9 slices of mozzarella cheese


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina, salt, butter and really hot water (doesn't have to be boiling, the hottest tap water will work).
  2. With damp palms, knead the mixture for 3-5 minutes until you get a soft slightly sticky dough.
  3. Divinde into 9 small balls.
  4. Place each dough ball between plastic bags, paper towels or parchment paper and use a flat object to flatten them to 1/3 inch depth.
  5. Over medium heat (or medium high heat if needed), place the dough into a large nonstick pan.
  6. Cook for 3 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown or get a crust around them.
  7. Once cooked, use a knife to cut the arepas in half so you have a top and bottom half.
  8. Place the cheese slice (or shredded mozzarella cheese) in between the top and bottom halves.
  9. Place the arepas back in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until the cheese is melted.

What is the green drink in Encanto?

While no one knows for sure, the general consensus is that the green drink featured in the movie Encanto is Lulo Drink or Lulada which consists of peeled lulos, lime juice, water and sugar. If you can find Lulos, here is a traditional Columbian recipe to try.

More delicious recipes from Kids Activities Blog:

Arepas con queso is just one of the many ways to eat arepas! What is your favorite way to eat arepas?

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  1. We just love this arepas con queso recipe. What a great way to bring our favorite fiction stories into real life!

  2. I have never had arepa con queso before. This would be such a fun activity to do with my kids and a great way to teach my boys about other cultures.

  3. I can’t wait to use this food from Encanto for family movie night. I’m always looking for ways to theme the entire night around the movie and this recipe will be perfect! Plus, it gives my kids a chance to try new foods. Win, win!

  4. Oooh, I’m so excited! This arepa con queso recipe looks like it’s gluten free! I usually have to make some adjustments to most recipes to adapt them to my daughter’s gluten free diet, but not this time! I am totally going to make some the next time we rewatch Encanto!