Arepitas de Maiz (Cornmeal Fritters)

Arepitas de maiz (Cornmeal fritters)

Julia Alvarez, a Dominican and one of my favourite writers, once wrote that as a child in Santo Domingo the first thing anyone would ask when she or one of her sisters complained of a stomach-ache, was ‘did you eat anything in the street?’*

Dominican street food has a bad image. As it’s often unhygienic and sometimes unhealthy, that’s not surprising. There is no public health control over vendors, so eating ‘en la calle’ is at your own risk – you may be buying more than you bargained for, like a touch of amoebic dysentery to go with the snack. It’s up to the customer to exercise judgment: look closely at the state of the stall and the vendor before you decide to purchase. It’s worth the effort because along with all the grime and insects there can be some perfectly tasty and harmless treats.

Arepitas (torrejas) de maiz

A range of foods can be bought from street vendors: steaming corn on the cob, Middle Eastern-style kibbes (known as quipes in the DR), fried ‘chicharron’ (pork rinds) with casabe (cassava bread), pasteles en hoja (the Dominican version of ‘tamales': meat and vegetables wrapped in a plantain leaf), empanaditas y pastelitos (savoury pasties), freshly squeezed orange juice. These vendors often congregate round public buildings, catering for the visiting members of the public who are compelled to spend hours waiting for the slow grinding wheels of bureaucracy to turn, as much as for the employees.

Arepitas de maiz (Cornmeal fritters)

Chimichurris the Dominican version of the hamburger, a popular late night snack for people out on the town. At night, ‘chimichurri’ vendors and many others set up shop – as it were – in the main entertainment areas of the capital, most famously in the case of Avenida Lincoln north of Avenida 27, an upper middle class part of Santo Domingo, which has become a magnet for late night revelers much to the disgust of local residents.

Popular street food stalls line the Avenue, in contrast with the expensive bars and restaurants in the area. The clientele appear to blend effortlessly between the two types of fare on offer, in a rare meeting of rich and poor social classes.

Arepitas de maiz (Cornmeal fritters)

Frituras – deep fried snacks like pasties – are the subject of much criticism, but their popularity as street food endures. On the healthy end of the scale, most street corners in the cities are graced by a ‘frutero’ – a fruit seller offering the most popular Dominican fruits: bananas, oranges, papaya, melon, passion fruit, mangoes and whatever else is in season. These are sold peeled and in portions as a street snack, or whole for you to take home. In my neighbourhood the ‘frutero’ calls every afternoon at 4:00.

I try to remember that this is a luxury not to be taken for granted.

Aunt Ilana

*Julia Alvarez – Picky Eater – in Something to Declare, Algonquin Books, 1998

Arepitas de Maiz Recipe (Cornmeal Fritters)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Arepitas de Maiz Recipe (Cornmeal Fritters) is a delicious side dish that can also be served as hors d'oeuvres. It is very easy to prepare and can be made by even the least experienced cook.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 cup of oil for frying
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • 1½ teaspoon of sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of aniseed
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Mix cornmeal, milk, eggs, salt, aniseed and sugar.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Pour the mix one spoonful at a time into pan, making small thick pancakes.
  4. Fry till golden brown on both sides.
  5. Serve hot.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 fritters

Receive Aunt Clara’s Updates
Find out about new recipes, articles, and sometimes exclusive content.

{ 24 comments… add one }

  • graissly April 21, 2015, 11:50 AM

    Alguien que conozco le echa aceite de maíz a la mezcla y queda muy ricas crees que sea poco saludable?

    • Aunt Clara April 26, 2015, 1:43 AM

      Es posible, pero con franqueza prefiero no agregar más aceite a un plato que de por sí ya tiene bastante.

  • Elizabeth Melo April 10, 2015, 11:10 AM

    Elizabeth I come from the south and These are not called arepitas de maiz Instead they are called arepitas de Harina de maiz because fresh corn is not use in the actual preparation,which is fine because that is the way many towns will make them.fresh corn was not available all year around and it was more time consuming you had to grate the corn by hand the arepitas de maiz are made with grated fresh corn salt sugar anise seed and egg and dont need the addition of any flour if the corn is maiz lleno or full meaning is mature, but fresh. It is also use for arepa de maiz verde a corn cake that is a delicacy eaten with avocado and salt once again no flour, and for majarete a fresh corn custard without no thickening agent whatsoever since the corn is full lleno it thickens natural, although this versions are accepted since for many people is the only one they have seen in there local towns or the home they grow up but either way they are delicious.

    • Aunt Clara April 10, 2015, 8:15 PM

      Yeah, it’s pretty hard to get 10 million people to use the same nomenclature. Many dishes have more than one name.

  • Nancy January 30, 2015, 10:35 AM

    What type of cornmeal you use? Arrina fina, regular, precooked?
    Thank you

  • Stephanie January 8, 2015, 5:51 PM

    I just discovered your blog and I’m instantly in love. I’m Dominican and I don’t find too many recipes on the net. These right here have always been a favorite of mine growing up. Thanks for sharing all of these recipes!

  • elizabeth November 13, 2014, 11:04 AM

    Hi, do you think these could be baked instead of fried? if so at how many degrees and for how long. thanks

    • Aunt Clara November 22, 2014, 8:43 AM

      I haven’t tested it that way, and I am pretty sure it won’t work. But you can do some experimenting and report your results if you feel adventurous.

  • Johanni January 12, 2014, 5:59 PM

    My family always made these minus the anise seeds. Never heard of adding that, I always saw it as our way being the standard way. We added a little bit of fresh onions for flavor and they were amazing! Has anyone else done it this way?

  • lisa February 20, 2013, 9:47 PM

    Can someone please verify the Tsp vs TBSP sugar/salt measurements? The spanish version mentions cucharadita for all. I think i added too much salt lol

    • Aunt Clara February 20, 2013, 10:10 PM

      It’s all teaspoons. If you are not done yet, just double the remaining ingredients and you will just have a lot of arepitas (reheat in the oven next day). :)

      I hope this helps, and sorry about the confusion.

  • Wendy July 18, 2012, 2:01 PM

    Regardless of what people say I actually like this without aniseed. Its still yummy con carne =)

  • Nathaly June 20, 2012, 9:57 AM

    Im really trying to make these, but the basically melt wen i pour them in the pan

  • Carmen Cardoza June 14, 2012, 2:50 PM

    I can't wait to try these tonight. Thanks for the recipe and beautiful pictures. What camera do you use?
    My recent post Blog Name Change: Carmen's Canvas

  • Michy May 2, 2012, 5:49 PM

    Me gustaria saber k tipo de cornmeal se usa en esta receta por favor. Se usa el k es finito o el grueso? Gracias!

  • Michy May 2, 2012, 1:49 PM

    Me gustaria saber k tipo de cornmeal se usa en esta receta por favor. Se usa el k es finito o el grueso? Gracias!

  • Jesica @ Pencil Kitc April 9, 2012, 10:53 PM

    How I wish to take pictures like yours one day… :')

  • Dee April 9, 2012, 10:37 AM

    This recipe reminds me so much of my grandmother. She used to make them all the time for us.

  • Tonia April 9, 2012, 10:15 AM

    I don't have any aniseed on hand, but want to try these! I love corn. Is there anything you'd suggest as a substitution that would be comparable? Or, would it be better just to omit for now? Thanks!

    • Aunt Clara April 9, 2012, 12:13 PM

      Aniseed is the key ingredient of this recipe. I can't imagine it without it, and there are no substitutes for it. Can you check if your local supermarket carries it?

      • Tonia April 9, 2012, 12:46 PM

        I will. I was just home and wanted instant gratification. :-)

  • Carmen July 29, 2011, 8:48 AM

    Me encantaron las arepitas de maiz. Son super facil de preparar y divertido de hacer con los ninos… Gracias!