Arepas with Guasacaca

Arepas with Guasacaca | Gluten free Venezuelan corn cakes stuffed with carnitas and avocado sauce! Via Club Narwhal
The first time I had Venezuelan arepas was just before we moved to Michigan, when Warren and I stayed with our much cooler friends in New York City. They, of course, knew all the good places to eat and immediately trotted us down to an arepas shop and promised that we would not regret the eons-long line.

And, friends, we did not. We huddled in our little corner of the teensy joint and ate arepas like we were NomNom internet memes. We chowed down, arepa after arepa, until we were so full and delighted with life we just had to cram one more down for the team.
Arepas with Guasacaca | Gluten free Venezuelan corn cakes stuffed with carnitas and avocado sauce! Via Club Narwhal
So why did it take us so long to try our hand at arepa-making at home? It all boils down to one thing:

Pupusa failure.

We love those El Salvadoran cousins of the Venezuelan arepa so much and failed so incredibly when we tried making them at home that we just hung our head and mourned the loss of any homemade Latin-inspired corn cakes.

They were just not for us. Not for lack of trying, they just did not like us. Or our kitchen. And so we resigned ourselves to an arepa-free life.

Venezuelan Arepas with Guasaca | Via Club Narwhal
It was a sad life, I tell you. And one I’m sorry to say that I lived for too long.

And all it took was for our firstborn to blow past his due date for me to work up the gumption to say, “We are making arepas and that is final.”

In fact, we decided to make arepas for a whole crowd of people because when the child you grow in your womb for nine months decides to overstay his welcome by a week a lady gets desperate. Like, let’s throw a dinner party for our nearest and dearest and make a food that terrifies us because I, 41 Weeks Pregnant Lady, laugh in the face of danger!

Ha! Hahahaha! Heh…?

Arepas with Guasacaca | Gluten free Venezuelan corn cakes stuffed with carnitas and avocado sauce! Via Club Narwhal
Also, I really hoped that preparing a dinner party with a food that terrified me would be enough of a butt-kicking for the kiddo that it would induce labor and I wouldn’t actually need to cook said terrifying food.

Felix, of course, did not agree. He sat pretty all up in that womb while his mom and pops made arepas.

Arepas with Guasacaca | Gluten free Venezuelan corn cakes stuffed with carnitas and avocado sauce! Via Club Narwhal
It was surprisingly not terrifying at all.

In fact, it was kind of great. One might even say fun.

It turns out that we had used the wrong kind of cornmeal when we tried our hand at pupusas, which is why they failed so epically. It also turns out that if you use the right kind of cornmeal to make arepas (it’s called masarepa and it is pre-cooked corn flour that’s found in the Latin food section of your local box supermarket, arepas become–ever so magically–arepas.)

Venezuelan Arepas with Guasaca | Via Club Narwhal
We stuffed these delicious corn cakes with our new favorite Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas, sprinkled the little pockets with cotija cheese, and doused the whole kit and caboodle with guasacaca, which is a green sauce comprised of avocado, parsley and cilantro that will change your life.

I do not say that lightly.

I kid you not: you will want your whole life to be guasacaca-flavored after trying it.

Warren, an avowed avoado hater (how did I manage to marry a man who hates both avocados and shrimp?), even said it was–and I quote–“good.” High praise from that avocado hater of mine.
Venezuelan Arepas with Guasaca | Via Club Narwhal
I love that arepas are both naturally gluten free and demand you to be infinitely creative. We went to an arepas joint in Detroit (El Rey–so good!) a few days ago and got super giddy about trying breakfast arepas–corn cakes stuffed with scrambled eggs, copious amounts of cheese, and beans.

Such a good idea that I need to replicate immediately.
Venezuelan Arepas with Guasaca | Via Club Narwhal
Our arepas dinner party did not encourage Felix to get here any sooner but it did help me conquer my arepas-making fear. And now my only fear is that arepas-making will become an all-consuming obsession because I can’t stop thinking about different versions.

Blackened shrimp arepas? Shredded beef? What about beer battered fish arepas?

I am all in.
Venezuelan Arepas with Guasaca | Via Club Narwhal

5.0 from 1 reviews
Arepas with Guasacaca
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Venezuelan cornmeal griddle cakes get stuffed with crispy carnitas, creamy cotija, and fresh guasacaca. Gluten free and perfect for feeding big groups!
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Venezuelan
Serves: 8 arepas
  • For the Arepas
  • 2 cups white masarepa* (pre-cooked white corn meal. I used Goya band)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • butter for grilling
  • For the Guasacaca
  • 1 white onion, peeled and cut into fouths
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 3 tablespoons white rice vinegar (or other white vinegar)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • To Assemble Arepas
  • 1 batch Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas (link below)
  • cotija cheese, for crumbling
  • fresh chopped cilantro, for garnishing
  1. For the Arepas
  2. In a medium bowl, combine masarepa, salt, and water. Mix with your hands until mixture resembles playdough. Add oil and mix to combine. If the mixture is too dry after adding oil, add a tiny bit more water. Let mixture stand for five minutes.
  3. Form dough into discs 4-5 inches wide and ½ inch thick. Goat griddle or nonstick pan with butter and cook on medium until arepas are browned on each side (about 7-9 minutes per side). Cooked arepas will sound hollow when tapped. Let arepas cool slightly and cut horizontally ¾ of the way through to form a flap. Stuff with carnitas, cotija, and guasacaca!
  4. For the Guasacaca
  5. Toss all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If you have a cheap blender, you'll want to go in batches so it doesn't burn out he motor.
*Masarepa is pre-cooked enriched cornmeal and is usually found in the Latin section of the grocery store. Regular cornmeal and tortilla cornmeal will NOT work for arepas.

Arepas adapted from Goya
Guasacaca adapted from Use Real Butter
Our favorite Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas

Love tacos? Check out my Taco Tuesday Pinterest board for more ideas!

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos
Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

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Blackened Shrimp Tacos | Club Narwhal

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Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Hash

Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas
Easy Slow Cooker Carnitas | Via Club Narwhal

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  1. says

    Wow!! I’m still lusting over those pork carnitas you made last time…now this?? This is one sandwich of Latin delicioso goodness!! You are one brave chica for trying your hand at the recipe again for a load of guests, but then again, I guess you didn’t have much to worry about with this GORGEOUS meal that came out of your kitchen as a result. You’re like oh yeah…arepas…psh, no brainer! All I want to know is, how do I become one of your nearest and dearest friends so that you make one of these for me too?? Poor Felix can’t enjoy these yet, but he will be one lucky boy once he’s old enough to be eating solids! 😀

  2. says

    These look beyond amazing, Amy! I’ve never heard of guasacaca before, but it has some of my favorite ingredients, so it must be delicious 🙂 And yes, 41 weeks pregnant can make us do incredibly ridiculous things, and being a mama will make you laugh in the face of fear all.the.time!

  3. says

    Hi Amy,
    I came here a week ago to comment while I was at work and somehow got pulled away before I could read your whole post. It made me smile because I love to challenge myself too with food. I always think – what’s the worst that can happen? We order pizza? lol Almost always it turns out just fine….except there was that ill fated home made pasta that we won’t talk about!

    These look so delicious and though I’ve never heard of them I am also thinking of different versions now. I love your idea with the shrimp! Your photography always inspires me, Amy. I wish I could be brave enough to shoot with dark backgrounds. I guess that’s next on the list of challenges 🙂

    I’m off to enjoy the pool on this steamy day. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for a recipe filled with deliciousness!

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