Sopes vs Arepas: Can You Spot These Differences?

Many people are fans of food but have never heard of sopes and arepas. They see no difference between them, even when they’ve tried them both! 

This article will help you understand what makes these delicious street foods distinct from one another.

Quick Facts


  • Origin: central and southern parts of Mexico
  • Dough: masa made from water and nixtamalized cornflour
  • Toppings: piled on the base
  • Cooking method: fried to perfection over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side


  • Origin: South American in parts of Venezuela and Colombia
  • Dough: special corn flour, cooked and dried (and not soaked in lime water or not nixtamalized)
  • Fillings: stuffed in the middle of the arepa, like a sandwich 
  • Cooking method: seared in a hot pan and then transferred to the oven to bake

Related: My favorite list of the top 30+ Mexican foods

Sopes vs Arepas: 4 Main Differences


Sopes — one of many famous, traditional Mexican dishes — originated in Mexico’s central and southern parts. People also sometimes called this food “picadita,” but not commonly. 

Arepas, rather, are flatbreads typically found in the South American regions of Venezuela and Colombia. They are pretty similar to the Mexican pupusa and gordita

Don’t be one of those who gets them mixed up! Keep reading to learn about their differences. 


As for gorditas, tamales, and tortillas, the dough called masa, a mixture of water and nixtamalized cornflour, is a must for making sopes. 

However, the dough of arepas is different. It requires special corn flour. This type of flour differs from masa harina, which is used to make sopes, tortillas, and gorditas. The corn flour used for arepas is not soaked in limewater or nixtamalized. Therefore, it would be best if you cooked and then dried it before use. 

Also, the dough base of the sopes is not too thick (but thicker than tortillas) and has the sides pinched to create a ridge. In contrast, the dough cake of arepas is very thick and is round.


Overall, these two dishes can come with a variety of topping combinations. Hence, how the food tastes depends on what fillings and seasonings you add to it. 

However, the ways you top sopes and arepas are different. While you add fillings on top of the base of the sopes, you need to stuff toppings into the middle of arepa bread. In the end, its overall appearance will resemble a sandwich. 

Cooking Method

You need to fry sopes to perfection over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn them! When a sope becomes light brown and crisp, transfer it to a paper towel to drain excess oil.

For arepas, you need to sear them in a pan brushed with hot oil for about four minutes on each side. Then, bake them in the oven for 18–20 minutes until the food has puffed slightly and sounds hollow when tapped. Allow them to cool down for ten minutes before slicing and stuffing. 


How do you make sopes from scratch?

You don’t have to feel nervous about the cooking procedure, and it is super easy to make sopes from scratch! After a few practice tries, you will get used to the process. 

  • Mix water and masa harina to create the masa dough, then divide the dough into golf ball-sized portions and press each portion into 0.25–0.5 inch thick discs with sides rising, like a shallow cup.
  • Fry the discs at medium-high heat and top them with creme, salsas, cheese, lettuce, meat, and refried beans. 

Are plain arepas healthy?

A plain arepa is not harmless to your health. But when stuffed with toppings, you might have to consider its impacts on your body weight. 

A serving of one plain arepa can take up 150 calories of your daily diet. Meanwhile, the traditional version stuffed with cheese introduces a high amount of calories — 270. In addition, both plain and stuffed arepas contain two grams of saturated fat — an unhealthy fat type that contributes to heart disease.

Moreover, plain arepas provide five percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. They also provide a fair amount of vitamin A — the three percent required each day. 

With 19 grams of carbohydrates and five grams of protein in one plain arepa, it makes for a good pre-workout snack. 

How can I reheat frozen arepas?

To reheat frozen arepas in an oven, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit first. Then, place them on a baking tray to bake for about 15 minutes or until their outer layer is crispy and turns golden brown and the cheese has melted. 

For a pan-fried or grilled preparation, bring a skillet or grill to medium heat. Then, cook the frozen arepas for five to eight minutes. Next, flip each one and cook for another five to eight minutes, until the cheese has melted and the arepa is crispy and golden brown on both sides.

Which country has the best arepas?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the best arepas vary depending on your personal preference. However, some countries like Venezuela and Colombia are known for their especially delicious arepas, so it’s worth checking them out if you’re looking for the perfect version of this snack food.

What are arepas called in Mexico?

In Mexico, arepas are called arepas de maíz. They’re typically made with cornmeal instead of flour, and they’re often served as a side dish or appetizer.

What is the difference between an arepa and a tortilla?

The main difference between an arepa and a tortilla is that tortillas are made with wheat flour, while arepas are made with cornmeal. Tortillas are also typically thinner and larger than arepas.

Are huaraches and sopes the same?

They are both Mexican dishes that consist of a flat, round tortilla-like base topped with various toppings. However, the two dishes have some key differences. Huaraches are typically larger and have a more complex topping selection, while sopes are smaller and feature a more limited toppings selection. Additionally, huaraches are typically cooked on a griddle, while sopes are typically cooked in a skillet.

What is the difference between an arepa and a pupusa?

The main difference between arepas and pupusas is that pupusas are made with corn flour and cheese, while arepas are made with cornmeal and no cheese. Pupusas are also typically thicker than arepas.

What country do arepas come from?

Arepas are thought to have originated in Venezuela, but they are now popular throughout Latin America. In fact, the variations on this dish are so widespread that it’s hard to say definitively which country has the best arepas. However, Venezuela and Colombia are both known for their especially delicious versions of this snack food.

Is maseca good for arepas?

Some people prefer to use maseca for their arepas, while others find it too grainy. If you’re not sure whether you like the taste or texture of maseca, it’s worth trying a batch with it and one without it to see which you prefer.

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