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a basket full of gluten-free brazilian cheese puffs

Brazilian Cheese Puffs (Pao de Queijo)

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
These are naturally gluten-free baked snacks from Brazil using tapioca or potato starch and strong cheese. Enjoy these cheese puffs at breakfast, as an afternoon snack or at parties. Children love them too!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Dough Resting Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Appetizer, baking, Breakfast, Kids' Snacks, Party Food
Cuisine Brazilian, Vegetarian
Servings 28 puffs


  • 150 g Emmental cheese, grated (or Monterey Jack or mature Cheddar)
  • 200 ml milk
  • 100 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 250 g  tapioca or potato starch
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten


  • Gather all the ingredients together.
    ingredients displayed to make gluten-free brazilian cheese puffs

Preparing the dough

  • In a large pot, heat the milk, oil, salt, white pepper and nutmeg on medium heat for 7 minutes. It should reach 90°C/195°F. If you don’t have a food thermometer, after 7 minutes you will know it has reached the right temperature as the milk mixture will appear frothy with some light bubbling.
    Heating the milk to the right temperature using a thermometer
  • Add the tapioca starch and mix well using a wooden spoon until the mixture is just combined. Don’t be put off if you notice the dough looking straggly and crumbly.
    adding the tapioca starch to the warm milk mixutre
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Add the eggs and grated cheese to the tapioca mixture.
    adding the eggs to the tapioca mixture
  • Beat well for around 5 minutes using a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. You could use a stand mixer for this step if you prefer.
    The gluten-free brazilian puff dough in a stand mixer
  • Cover with a tea towel and rest for 20 minutes.

Baking the Cheese Puffs

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  • Line several baking trays with baking paper or silicone mats. Using a small 4cm ice-cream scoop or large tablespoon, place each dough ball 5cm apart.
    scopping balls of cheese puff dough on to a baking sheet
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. 
    several brazilian cheese puffs baked on a baking tray
  • The bottom of each puff should have a nice crisp finish.
    showing the bottom of the cheese puff to indicate how crisp they look
  • Serve immediately as a snack or a side to salads or soups.


  • Best eaten on the same day
  • Can be reheated in the oven for 5 minutes covered with foil
  • Suitable to freeze unbaked dough balls. No need to defrost. Can be baked straight from frozen
Try different fillings by adding small pieces of ham, green olives or small pieces of pickled artichoke together with the cheese. If you fancy some spice, adding some chopped pickled jalepeños will give a nice heat.
Keyword gluten-free brazilian cheese puffs, gluten-free pao de queijo
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