Arepas with Chicken Avocado Filling and Aji Salsa

I’ve been meaning to make Arepas forever, and when I saw an old Diner’s Drive In and Dives Gone Global rerun featuring these from La Caraquena I took it as a sign…and I’m glad I did. The combination of the still warm, fragrant Arepa with the cool, creamy, slightly tangy Chicken and Avocado filling is indescribable.

Arepas with Chicken & Avocado - Arepas Reina Pepiada
Arepas with Chicken & Avocado – Arepas Reina Pepiada

With no recipe from the show, I had to wing it – I think you’ll love this recipe as much as we do! I use this filling for sandwiches and wraps, now, too, even when I don’t make the Arepas!

The Chicken and Avocado filling was named Reina Pepiadais, in honor of Susana Dujim, Miss World 1995. (Reina means “queen” in Spanish, and pepiadais, I understand, is perhaps most politely translated as “curvy.”) The Arepas, though, can be filled and stuffed with all manner of things, served plain, or maybe dragged through a salsa.

In my find, the equation for bread is flour plus water equals mess, but the dough for these little gems is so well-behaved I had them formed and in my cast iron skillet in seconds (excepting the short rest time.) It was like working with play dough – even a child could make these and they would be fun way to get the kids (or in my case grand kids) in the kitchen.

Aji Salsa
Aji Salsa

The only trick here is to make sure you have the right type of corn flour – you want to use a precooked flour, masarepa or masa precocida. I found it in my supermarket, but if not, check a Latino market or the internet. Pan seems to be the preferred brand.  Masa Harina (for tortillas or tamales) just isn’t the same thing and just won’t work properly.

That these little Arepas are inexpensive is beside the point – they are so delicious I’m a little dumbfounded that this was an under $5.00 meal. I served my Chicken Avocado Arepas with my own interpretation of Aji Salsa as a side.

I’ve fallen in love with this salsa – so much so that I ate the rest of mine with a spoon when I finished with my Arepa! Cost for the Arepas and the Chicken Avocado filling was around $3.24, and 1/2 recipe of the Aji Salsa about another dollar.

Arepas, still warm and fragrant
Arepas, still warm and fragrant


  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 cups precooked corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups very hot or boiling water (1/2 cup of this could be milk or buttermilk)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (part can be melted butter)
  • oil for skillet

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except the oil for the skillet. Don’t worry if this looks too wet, the cornmeal will absorb the water. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Check your dough – it dough should be smooth and not stick to your hands. If it appears too dry, add a little water and knead it in, then let it rest another five minutes. If too wet, knead in a little additional flour and let rest.

Using your hands, form balls of dough out of about  1/2 cup of dough and press to form a cake about 4 inches wide and 3/4 inch tall. If the dough cracks at the edges, mix in a little more water and then form the cakes.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Sauté the patties, a few at a time, to form a light brown crust on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side. Don’t cook these too fast or they won’t be done in the middle.

When all the patties have been browned, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they sound lightly hollow when tapped. Serve immediately with the Reina Pepiadais (Chicken and Avocado Salad filling.)

from the kitchen of

This arepa dough is still a bit dry; I'll add a bit more liquid
This arepa dough is still a bit dry; I’ll add a bit more liquid

Chicken & Avocado Filling

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or use leftover chicken)
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • scant 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 jalapeno seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup seeded and diced (1/4-inch) red bell pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, finely chopped

To make the filling, place the chicken breasts and onion in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool chicken in liquid, if time allows (It helps to keep the chicken moist.) Roughly dice or shred.

In a bowl, add the chicken with the rest of ingredients together and mix (best done with clean hands.) You’ll want to “mush” the avocado and break the chicken up a little. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar if needed. The filling should have a slight pleasant, but not sour, tang. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fill the still warm arepas with the cool, creamy filling and serve with salsa, if desired.

Note: In the photo, above, I forgot to “mush” in the avocado, and other times I’ve remembered. I decided I almost like it better with the chunks rather than the mush.

from the kitchen of

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Kitchen & Cooking Hacks:

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  • Nutrition for Arepa:  Cal 193 cal from fat 51, 26%; fat 5.9g; sat fat .98g; chol .63mg; sod 180.95; tot carb 32.65; fib 2.74g; sug .69g; prot 3.98g
  • Nutrition for Filling: (1/4) Cal 215.93; cal flr fat 113.78 58%; tot fat 13.2g; chol 40.37mg; sod 143.99mg; tot carb 10.6g; fib 3.8g; sug 2.38g; prot 14.89g

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • The filling is just an avocado chicken salad – no reason you couldn’t add almost anything you’d like.
  • The recipe I found used red bell pepper, but I’m guessing that a red aji dulce pepper would be the more authentic version.
  • The filling is wonderful served in lettuce cups if there is any left over.
  • I imagine that any number of salads or “salsa” with mangoes, pineapple and such would be wonderful with these little arepas.
  • Of course, there are many arepa fillings to choose from – I’ll be trying a black bean filling next.

Recipe made June 2012; Repriced February 2014

5 thoughts on “Arepas with Chicken Avocado Filling and Aji Salsa”

    1. Reagan, oops — I’m editing my reply because I thought you were talking about crusty bread. These Arepas are good, but they are more like a sandwich thing, at least I think so, and I don’t like them that well on their own. Maybe if I were from Venezaula!!

      Here’s a bread that I think is simple and delicious and can be made the day before and reheats well! With Thanksgiving or any Holiday, I’m always looking for recipes that 1) can be done ahead and 2) are simple, since so many other things are going on!

      Depending on how many people you’re serving, you might want to make 2. I don’t have a real large oven or huge trays, so I make this and lay it out kitty corner so they’re not too short.

      To tell you the truth? I usually buy rolls for Thanksgiving!! 🙂

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