The 9 Best Arepas Side Dishes

What are the best side dishes for arepas? The best side dishes for delicious, golden arepas complement the corn cakes’ mild flavor. Like tortillas, arepas work well with intense flavors, including sweet coconut rice, rich fried plantains, spicy chorizo, and garlicky shrimp. Fresh green salads create contrast and crunch, so choose a tomato and avocado salad, a tuna salad, or an orzo salad.

Traditional arepas complement Colombian and Venezuelan flavors: the sweet corn patties are best accompanied by zingy cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and chili. Let’s see how to combine these flavors in side dishes for arepas.

Scrambled Eggs With Onions And Tomatoes

Perico is a Venezuelan breakfast staple, served alongside soft cheese, butter, and warm arepas. You can also split the arepas and stuff them with the eggs.

Whisk together four to six eggs and three tablespoons of cream.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a non-stick skillet. Gently fry one medium onion or some scallions, finely chopped, until translucent. Add chopped tomato and chopped green pepper and cook until softened – over a low to medium heat. This will take about 10 minutes.

Add the eggs and cream mixture, and scramble the eggs, turning them slowly until they reach the desired consistency. Season to taste.

Rice With Coconut And Raisins

Arroz con coco is a classic Columbian side dish, sweet and light, that goes well with arepas, especially if they’re stuffed with pulled pork or beef.

Cook two cups of coconut milk over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Gently add a cup of long-grained rice and cook for a minute. Add a teaspoon of salt, two cups of water, two tablespoons of sugar, and ⅓ cup of raisins. Bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is tender.

Fried Plantains

Sweet, ripe plantains make a delectable side for plainer arepas.

Peel and slice four small ripe plantains. Heat two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of oil in a heavy frying pan. Cook the plantains in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). Fry until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.

Serve hot with salt, pepper, and fresh cilantro.

Sautèed Shrimp

Sweet and spicy shrimp works well with naturally sweet corn cakes.

Rinse and pat dry your shrimp. Heat half a cup of olive oil in a heavy saucepan on low. Fry one tablespoon of finely chopped garlic until golden, taking care not to burn it.

Increase the heat to medium and add the seafood. Cook until the shrimp turns pink, then turn. Add a teaspoon of finely chopped parsley or cilantro and another finely chopped garlic.

Once the shrimp is cooked through, sprinkle with a tablespoon of fresh lime juice and more cilantro.

Grilled Chorizo

Chorizo’s spiciness and coarse texture contrast with the crisp outside and pillowy inside of arepas.

Heat a grill pan to medium. Slice 8 oz of smoky, spicy chorizo into ½ inch slices. Grill the chorizo on each side for about a minute until crispy.

Combine the grilled chorizo with ½ cup of sliced white onion, the juice of a lime, and ¼ cup of chopped cilantro. Allow the flavors to steep for an hour before serving.

Classic Black Beans

These creamy, tangy turtle beans don’t need much more than a dollop of sour cream to make them a gorgeous side for arepas.

Rinse and drain a pound of black beans. Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Fry one diced medium onion until golden brown. Add the beans, two pints of water, a sprig of epazote, and one fresh, chopped jalapeno.

Simmer on low until the beans are tender, about an hour. Check the water level so that the beans are always well submerged. Season and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is a standard filling or topping for Venezuelan arepas. Unlike mayonnaise-rich American tuna salad, cream cheese creates a smooth texture, while the vegetables add freshness.

Drain a can of tuna. Combine with a tablespoon of cream cheese, ½ cubed avocado, ½ diced onion, four chopped cherry tomatoes, and the juice of half a lime. Season with salt and pepper.

Tomato And Avocado Salad

Top your arepas with this fresh, light salad for a color and crunch contrast.

Whisk together the juice of two limes, three tablespoons of white vinegar, one tablespoon of olive oil, and two tablespoons of diced fresh cilantro for the dressing. Season to taste.

Layer slices of tomato, red onion, cucumber, and avocado. Pour over the dressing.

Orzo Pasta Salad

This hearty, nutritious pasta salad makes a light lunch or midweek dinner paired with freshly made arepas.

Cook a pound of orzo pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a salad bowl, combine a cup of baby arugula leaves, a cup of fresh basil leaves, 1½ cups of pine nuts, and 1½ cups of dried cranberries. Add the orzo and mix.

Make a dressing using the juice of four lemons and ½ cup of olive oil. Add salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

Top with two cups of diced feta cheese and refrigerate until serving.

Best Wine Pairings For Arepas

The ideal wine or beverage for arepas depends on what filling, topping, or side you’re having with your corn cake.

Generally, arepas have an inherent sweetness from the cornmeal used to make them, which pairs well with white wine. If you’re having a light meal of arepas with cheese, salad, fish, or chicken, try a buttery Chardonnay – you don’t need acidity or a fruit-forward wine. Light lunches also lend themselves to sparkling wines, especially a rosé.

However, try a sweeter white wine to calm the palate if your arepas has a spicy accompaniment, like chorizo, pulled pork or beans with chili. A Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc is ideal, with warm undertones, while an Argentinian Torrontes’ floral and citrus notes are also delightful with aromatic dishes.

Lighter red wines are suitable, such as a bright, juicy Merlot or Pinot Noir, but avoid a heavy Cabernet.

In Venezuela, the traditional pairing for arepas is a bottle of ice-cold beer, usually Polar pilsner.

Best Sauce Pairings For Arepas

Arepas usually come with a sauce or topping, either avocado or tomato-based, to add zest to these plain corn cakes.

However, if you have arepas for breakfast, you will usually top it with quesito, a soft, white Colombian cheese, or simply with butter.

Guasacaca is a Venezuelan avocado salsa that adds bright freshness to arepas. In a food processor, combine the following, roughly chopped: two avocados, one small onion, one small green pepper, one medium jalapeno, two cloves of garlic, ½ cup of cilantro, and ¼ cup parsley. Add ¼ cup of white vinegar, one tablespoon of lime juice, and ⅓ cup of olive oil. Blitz until finely chopped, scraping the sides of the bowl. This sauce is usually chunky rather than silky smooth. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

Pico de gallo is a popular fresh salsa, typically served with corn cakes. Combine two finely chopped tomatoes, ¼ chopped onion, and two finely chopped serrano peppers. Add ⅓ cup finely diced cilantro, juice of ½ lime, and salt to taste. Refrigerate to enhance the flavors.