In the kitchen: Venezuelan arepas recipe

Every day, more than 4,000 people enter a park in Danlí, Honduras, most of them Venezuelan migrants passing through. Honduras grants them a 5-day permit to cross the country, but those who lack the resources to finance their journey find themselves stranded in parks and streets.

Within this uncertain backdrop, World Vision has established Child-Friendly Spaces in Danlí’s parks, where children and their parents find support in an unfamiliar and often hostile environment. It was at one of these Child-Friendly Spaces that I met 7-year-old Dennys and his father, Xavier, a 30-year-old man with tired but positively determined eyes.

Xavier and Dennys had traveled a long road, mostly on foot, from Venezuela to Honduras, escaping the difficult situation in their home country. Before becoming a migrant, Xavier was a baker and a bakery teacher in Venezuela, where culinary art serves as a link to the culture, particularly through Venezuelan arepas.

A man cooks arepas over a fire in a park in Honduras. A smiling young boy kneels beside him, holding a stack of cooked arepas.
Xavier and his son, Dennys, enjoy arepas for lunch. (© 2023 World Vision/photo by André Guardiola)


As we chatted, Xavier’s wife and daughter were busy with immigration procedures to continue their journey. Meanwhile, Xavier cooked arepas for his family. “We made the arepas with the most similar ingredients we could find,” he said with a smile on his face. Those arepas, even when cooked far from home, served as a connection to their homeland and a way to keep their culture alive during their journey.

Amid our conversation, Dennys looked at me with curious eyes and said with enthusiasm, “Lend me the camera, please.” So, I handed over the camera. With a smile that brightened his face, Dennys became the photographer, capturing the details of their journey and the smiles of the friends he had made in the Child-Friendly Space.

A boy smiles and holds up a digital camera, showing a photo he took. In the background, a camping tent is visible.
Dennys smiles as he shows André Guardiola, a photographer with World Vision in Honduras, the photo he took on André’s camera. (© 2023 World Vision/photo by André Guardiola)


I couldn’t talk with Dennys and Xavier as much as I wanted. However, that brief encounter served as a reminder of how food can forge friendships and create bonds between people from different cultures and backgrounds, such as us. It was also a testament to the resilience and determination of a group of people who, despite the adversities they’ve faced, continue forward in search of a better future.

World Vision supports the thousands of migrants passing through Honduras daily with Mobile Information Systems, Child Protection Offices, and Child-Friendly Spaces.

Six children pose under a World Vision tent. Behind them, art hangs on display and other children play with toys.
Dennys (front) grins goofily for a photo with his friends at a World Vision Child-friendly Space for migrant children in Honduras. (© 2023 World Vision/photo by André Guardiola)


For the dough:

  • 2 cups of pre-cooked cornmeal
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Optional fillings:

  • Grated cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ham
  • Stewed meat
  • Shredded chicken
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Or any ingredients of your choice!


  1. In a large bowl, mix the pre-cooked cornmeal and salt. Gradually add the warm water while stirring with a spoon. Continue mixing until a smooth dough forms.
  2. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, to allow the water to absorb.
  3. While it rests, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. No oil is needed.
  4. Divide the dough into equal portions, typically 2-3 tablespoons of dough per arepa, and shape them into balls with your hands. Then, flatten each ball to form a round disk of about 1/2 inch in thickness.
  5. Place the arepas on the hot skillet and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are golden and crispy on the outside. You can cover the skillet to cook them faster and ensure they are fully cooked inside.
  6. Once they are golden brown on both sides, remove them from the skillet and let them cool slightly before slicing them open for fillings.
  7. Enjoy plain or filled with the ingredients of your choice.