Classic Carne Mechada for Venezuelan Arepas

carne mechada

”Carne mechada is one of the most popular fillings for arepas in my native country,” says Liliana Hernandez, one of our favorite Venezuelan homecooks. ”Everyone in my family loves this savory, rich mix of shredded beef, sweet ají chile, green and red peppers, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce—which we call salsa Inglesa, English sauce.”

She and her family now live in the Atlanta area, but Liliana keeps their family heritage very much alive through her cooking. Starting with arepas, which she takes pride in making almost every week. ”Arepas, of course, are the food most identified with my homeland—and our daily bread. Made with ground cornflour and cooked on a griddle or budare, we eat them plain, with butter, or stuffed with one of many delicious rellenos, including this one: carne mechada.”

”Another classic relleno for arepas is reina pepiada, named after a 1950s Venezuelan beauty queen, and made with avocado, shredded chicken and diced onion. I love both. Today, I am honored to share this recipe for my traditional carne mechada. Enjoy!”

To make authentic Venezuelan arepas, check out Liliana’s step-by-step master class here. For more of Liliana’s traditional family recipes from her homeland, try her life-changing bienmesabe cakeasado negro main dish for celebrations, party-starting melted-cheese tequeñosreina pepiada arepa filling, and her mother’s go-to ensalada rusa potato salad. All are 100% delicioso. And be sure to check out Liliana on her YouTube channel Mi Show de Cocina, where she is working her way through all her favorite Venezuelan dishes!

Ready to Make Liliana’s Carne Mechada Arepa Filling?

Classic Carne Mechada for Venezuelan Arepas

Recipe by Liliana Hernández Cuisine: Venezuelan


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1 lb 1 flank steak

  • 2 cups 2 water

  • 4 Tbsp. 4 olive oil

  • 1 large 1 onion

  • 4 cloves 4 garlic

  • 1 1 red bell pepper

  • 1/2 1/2 green bell pepper

  • 2 2 ají dulce or Venezuelan sweet pepper OR

  • 1/4 1/4 habanero chile (optional)

  • 1 tsp 1 Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 cans 2 tomatoes, peeled and with their sauce (28 oz each can)

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 white wine

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 beef broth

  • 1 tsp 1 cumin

  • 1 Tbsp 1 sugar or ketchup or smoked barbecue sauce

  • salt, to taste

  • pepper to taste


  • Place the flank steak, cut into 2-inch chunks, with the water, in a pressure cooker, crock pot or in a Dutch oven or caserola on the stove top. Cook for about 45 minutes, until it becomes tender and is cooked through.
  • Take out the meat and shred into small strips, about 1/3-inch across.
  • Dice the onion and slice the green and red peppers into julienned, tiny strips.
  • Add the oil to a large pan or caserola, on medium heat. Saute the onions until transluscent.
  • Add the garlic and sauté until it releases its aroma.
  • Add the red and green peppers, tomatos, and either the ají dulce or chile habanero (or both, if you like your carne hot).
  • Add the salt and pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce and the shredded beef. Stir and let it all sauté together for 5 minutes.
  • Add the white wine and let it reduce, releasing its alcohol.
  • Add the barbecue sauce to sweeten. Stir.
  • Add the cumin and beef broth. Stir .
  • Cover, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes to let all the ingredients and flavors meld. The meat should not dry out and should retain its liquidy base. Add broth if yours becomes too dry.
  • Serve hot, either as filling for an arepa or as a main dish, with a side of rice and plantains.


  • To add a touch of sweet, you can use 1 Tbsp of barbecue sauce—or sugar or ketchup. Your choice!

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