This Cheesy Treat From "Encanto" Lives In My Head Rent-Free, So I Made The 3-Ingredient Version (And I'm Fully Obsessed)

I recently rewatched Encanto and was absolutely ✨mesmerized✨ by the arepas con queso Mirabel Madrigal eats in that one scene.

Walt Disney / Via giphy.com

In case you haven't seen the movie, there's a part where the main character, Mirabel, has a wound on her hand. After eating her mother's cheesy cornmeal cakes, she completely heals.

Now, if that's not compelling enough to want to eat them, I don't know what is! And since it's Latine Heritage Month, I thought: What better time to share a recipe with everyone?

BESE / Via giphy.com

Arepas are commonly eaten as a snack, breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Colombia and Venezuela. They can be savory or sweet, and the key ingredient is masarepa, a type of cornmeal. The ones I made are filled with cheese and topped with a lime-avocado mash based on an Encanto-inspired recipe from Tasty. Here's how it all went:

And BTW, if you're more of a video person, I made a TikTok that you can check out here!

I started by gathering my ingredients. All you'll need is masarepa, water, salt, and a melty cheese. Since I couldn't find queso blanco — which is what the Tasty recipe recommended — at my local grocery store, I used low-moisture mozzarella, and I think they still turned out delish!

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

In a large bowl, I mixed 1 cup of masarepa, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.

The mixture was very moist and sticky at first, but after about four minutes of stirring, it started to form a cookie dough–like consistency.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

Once the dough was set, I spread it onto a cutting board and divided it into four sections.

Doing this will make four arepas. I actually divvied it up even further to make more of them, but note that the smaller the dough pieces, the more difficult it will be to stuff them with cheese.

Doing this will make four arepas. I actually divvied it up even further to make more of them, but note that the smaller the dough pieces, the more difficult it will be to stuff them with cheese.

Jen Adams

I then formed the dough into an oval-like shape. This part doesn't need to be perfect.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

Once the dough ball was formed, I grabbed about a tablespoon of cheese and packed it in the middle.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

Lifting the outside edges of the dough, I covered up the cheese so none of it was visible.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

I repeated that process until all of the dough balls were stuffed with cheese. I then put some non-stick oil spray on a pan and turned the heat on medium-high.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

I found that pre-flattening the arepa into a disc before placing it on the pan is the easiest and best way to cook them.

At first, I was pressing the arepa down on the pan to flatten them, but I would not recommend doing it this way because it messes up the shape.

At first, I was pressing the arepa down on the pan to flatten them, but I would not recommend doing it this way because it messes up the shape.

Jen Adams

After about 2 minutes, I flipped it over and found that they became perfectly toasted with nice light brown specks.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

I let the other side cook for another two minutes and repeated this process with all of the remaining arepas.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

After this step, you're pretty much done and are free to choose how to eat them. I cut up some avocado and mixed in some lime juice and salt for the topping. It's very simple, but if you're feeling extravagant, you can add some tomato, onion, corn, or even make a salsa to accompany these savory corn cakes!

I split one of the arepas open, and I was quite honestly in AWE. The texture did not disappoint — the outside was perfectly crispy while the inside was soft and cakey. Not to mention the cheese in the center was oozing everywhere.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

I actually recorded my reaction eating them (lol). If my face doesn't say it all:

The writer looking very pleased as they take a bite
Jen Adams

The nutty taste of the masarepa really shines through and combines amazingly with the cheese. These were 10/10 for me, honestly. I can understand how they healed Mirabel.

  Jen Adams
Jen Adams

I mostly loved how quick and easy this was! Altogether, this took me about 35 minutes to make (including the avocado topping), and it would have been way shorter had I not been taking so many photos. I also can't get over how flavorful the dough is, despite it being made of only three ingredients. I am excited to experiment with different toppings and fillings as well.

Do you have a favorite arepa topping or filling? I'd love to hear them! Let me know in the comments.

Or feel free to message me suggestions on my new food Instagram. Also, here's the link to the TikTok again, so you don't have to scroll all the way back up.

  Jen Adams / Via tiktok.com
Jen Adams / Via tiktok.com