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Pao de Queijo (Cheesy Puffs of Gluten Free Goodness)

A few months ago a new restaurant popped up in the Arena District called Rodizio Grill, which is a brazilian steakhouse. If you’ve never been to a brazilian steakhouse before, it’s basically a meat lover’s dream. Waiters bring out dozens of different kinds of meats on long skewers and as long as your belly can still hold another bite, they’ll keep loading your plate with meats. Steak, chicken, pork, fish, they’ve got it all. Not to mention a 25+ item buffet on the side.

We went for Father’s Day this year (because what says “I love you Dad!” like unlimited skewers of meat?) and all of us thoroughly enjoyed it. But while the men gushed over the bacon wrapped steak, mom and I could not get enough of the cheese puffs they brought out as an appetizer.

Golden, cheesy, lightly crisped on the outside, AND gluten free, these were dangerously addictive Like, send us another free refill of cheese puffs, please addictive! Like, I’ve officially lost count of how many cheese balls I’ve managed to scarf down in the past 10 minutes addictive. Like, I must get the recipe for these so I can have them all the time addictive.

So of course I came home and turned to the Internet to save me from a dangerous cheese puff withdrawal. The official name for this poppable treat is Pao de Queijo. It’s a traditional Brazilian cheese bread made from tapioca flour, egg, oil, milk, and cheese. The dough comes together quickly, but I’ll admit at one point it looked like something I would never, ever want to put in my mouth. Fortunately, by the time the mixture takes a spin in the mixer, it smooths into a shiny, sticky uniform dough.

Out of the oven they’re crisped on the outside, soft and puffy on the inside, and filled with pockets of savory,  chewy cheese. In other words, amazing.

These are a perfect appetizer for a party or munchies for a weekend football game (though I’ll warn you, having a tray of these around during a stressful game is just asking to move up a pants size). You can switch up the cheese (I’d like to try pepperjack next) and even use different oils. These are best straight out of the oven, but they can be kept in an air tight container for a few days and then reheated in a toaster oven to crisp up.

Pao de Queijo (Cheesy Puffs of Gluten Free Goodness)

Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time Total Time
Yields 12


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup queso fresco shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (You can use any combo of cheese...all parmesan, some cheddar, switch it up!)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine milk, oils, and salt in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil (just a little one! It'll boil over quickly if you let it go!) over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir tapioca flour into milk mixture. It will be sticky and look like something you'd never, ever want to put in your mouth. That's okay. Keep on going!
  4. Transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes or until dough begins to smooth out and is cooled. You should be able to pinch the dough between your fingers without feeling like your thumbprints are being singed off.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until the egg is fully incorporated. Beat in cheese until fully combined.
  6. Scoop mounded tablespoons of dough onto the parchment lined pan, leaving approximately an inch of space between each one. If the dough becomes too sticky, just dip the spoon in warm water between scoops.
  7. Place the puffs in the oven and turn heat down to 350 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until balls are puffed and lightly browned. Serve warm. Puffs stay good for 3-4 days. Simply reheat in a toaster oven.


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Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

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