My first experience biting into a glorious arepa was at the Pearl Street Farmer’s Market back in 2011. We would wander the Farmer’s Market on Sundays and I would buy nothing because I was far too broke for curated jams and creative sauces. BUT when I found the Quiero Arepas food truck, I moved money around…meaning I saved all week for my $12-15 arepa because I had no money in my account to move around. But that arepas was always worth the splurge. ALWAYS. Food trucks were a big thing back in 2011, but Quiero Arepas was a whole different level above the rest. And since I’ve tried many arepas around the country all because of Quiero Arepas, I can safely say that no other arepa has come close to theirs. Not even mine, meaning definitely not mine. But I tried my best, ok?? I’m also not Venezuelan like one of the owners of Quiero Arepas. He knows what he’s doing.

PaleOMG Shredded Beef Arepas

PaleOMG Shredded Beef Arepas

If you don’t even know WTF an arepa is, it’s quite simple – imagine an english muffin, but it’s made from white corn flour to make a lovely little sandwich pocket. It’s a Venezuelan or Colombian dish that’s stuffed with all kinds of different meats and cheeses and whatever else. My favorite arepa is a Reina Pepiada, which is similar to a chicken salad made with mayo, avocado, and cilantro. But a Pabellón is a close second with stewed beef, black beans, sweet plantains and cheese…which is what inspired this recipe! When you look at this recipe, it definitely has a good amount of ingredients, but you can always prep the meat and the ranch the day before and then just make the arepa and build the day of! OR you can just put some shredded cheese in your arepa for simplicity that makes life worth living. However you stuff these little corn pockets, you’ll be quite happy with your meal. And if you’re ever in Denver, RUN to Quiero Arepas. You won’t regret it.

PaleOMG Shredded Beef Arepas

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Shredded Beef Arepas

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5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: juli
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 7-8 arepas 1x



For the shredded beef

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2.53 pounds beef boneless chuck roast, cubed
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 ounces beef bone broth
  • 16 ounces salsa
  • 8 ounces mild green chiles

For the cilantro lime ranch

  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil mayo
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of salt

For the arepa


  1. Press Sauté function on instant pot. Once hot, add avocado oil and chuck roast and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes. Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine. Press cancel, secure lid, close off pressure valve then press manual to high pressure and press the up button until the time hits 30 minutes. Once time is up, let the pressure release on its own for 20 minutes, then remove lid.
  2. While the beef is cooking, place all the ingredients for the cilantro lime ranch in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside in the fridge for now.
  3. Once the pressure is releasing in the instant pot, begin making the arepa dough. Add water to a large bowl then slowly begin to pour the cornmeal in, using one hand and your fingers like a claw to break up the cornmeal so it doesn’t get clumpy. Once you’re adding your last bit of cornmeal, add the salt as well. Mixture will form into a slightly sticky dough. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. To cook the arepa – I like to use a food scale so all the balls of dough are the same size (5-6 ounces), but you can also use an ice cream scoop to get a slightly smaller amount. This will create 7-8 balls of dough. Flatten each ball with your hands into a patty. Place on a nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes per side, until each side begins to brown and crisp.
  5. Once beef is done cooking, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and onions, and place on a cutting board. Use two forks to pull apart the meat. Place meat and onions in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and scoop out about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the instant pot then add to the pan with the meat. Cook for 5 minutes until liquid reduces down and thickens.*
  6. Now all you have to do is build your arepa – cut into the arepa to create a pocket, making sure you don’t cut all the way through it. Add a scoop of meat, some beans, a couple slices of avocado, grated cheddar cheese, then drizzle the cilantro lime ranch on top! Eat up! She messy, glorious, and absolutely delicious!


*Use the extra liquid reserve to marinate other meat you have in the fridge! That’s exactly what I did for another meal!

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PaleOMG Shredded Beef Arepas

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PaleOMG Shredded Beef Arepas


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  1. Elaina says:

    Long time follower here and I just need you to know that I was recently stuck in Denver for 7 days and I jumped on an electric scooter from my hotel, riding 2.5 miles each way to Quiero Arepas 3 separate times because of you! Well, the first time was because of you. The second and third times was because of the arepas! SO FREAKING GOOD!!

    1. juli says:

      yesssssss! so freaking worth it!

  2. Marissa says:

    I CANNOT wait to make these! Quiero Arepas was hands down the best food I tried in Denver (after Wolf Taylor, of course!). Thank you for all that you do and create on this corner of the internet- your positivity, creativity, and outlook on life is truly admirable.

  3. Amy Duhaime says:

    Making this now. It seems like the water corn meal ratio is off. Is 2.5 cups of water right?

    1. Amy Duhaime says:

      After some googling, it looks like I used the wrong kind of cornmeal. I just used regular white cornmeal. I didn’t realize there was a special kind for arepas. I’ll try again!!!

      1. juli says:

        oh no!! that’s exactly why I linked the exact product I used in the recipe haha! so sorry about that!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Last year when I was in Denver, I went to Quiero Arepas and I still think about it at least once a week. Ugh, out of this world good.

  5. Kellie says:

    What would you suggest for a side dish to go along with the arepas?

    1. juli says:

      fried sweet plantains (maduros) are always my favorite with arepas!

  6. Haley says:

    I made these last night and they were AMAZING! So much flavor and the beef turned out so, so tender. I bought the wrong kind of cornmeal originally (error on my part) so my dough didn’t turn out, but I went back and got the correct kind and they turned out perfectly! I will definitely be making this again…like probably next week!

  7. Paige says:

    Hey Juli – I don’t have an Instapot but can make it in the slow cooker. How long should I cook the meat on high for?

    1. juli says:

      around 4-6 hours!

  8. Lisa says:

    Ok so i have a funny story! I want to Quiero Arepas in October 2017 to celebrate my first wedding anniversary! I was confused by their menu and i thought you could order a side of plantains and i tried to. LITERALLY THE NEXT WEEK they were like “by popular demand, new side item added!” and it was plantains.

    I like to think i singlehandedly influenced plantains becoming the perfect side dish for arepas. You’re all welcome 🙂