How to make Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Balls)

by Madeleine Teo July 04, 2017

How to make Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Balls)

This is our most requested recipe at The Waffle Brunch Club. Everybody loves it! As intimidating as they may seem, these super delicious cheese balls are actually super easy to make at home. All you need is a stove top, a saucepan, oven and a few simple ingredients and you'd have these heavenly cheese balls that's crispy outside but amazingly soft and chewy inside.  

Pão de Queijo and their French cousin, Gougères both start on the stovetop and eggs are gradually added in one at a time using the choux pastry technique. The biggest difference is that Pão de Queijo are made with Tapioca Flour and Gougères are made with All-Purpose Flour (aka Plain Flour for those who are new to baking). Also, Pão de Queijo recipes use a lot less eggs than Gougères, but nonetheless, both will produce perfectly crispy hollow puffs that is guaranteed to create that "WOW" factor.


Tapioca flour is the secret ingredient that gives Pão de Queijo its soft chewy texture. When mixed with hot milk, it will inevitably turn lumpy and so sticky that you'd think something has gone terribly wrong with the recipe. But just hang in there and continue mixing until the batter becomes uniform again without streaks of beaten eggs. The use of Parmesan cheese is what lends Pão de Queijo a very mild cheesy flavour so that it doesn't become overpowering cheesy but you could also substitute any other cheese you'd like for a more pronounced cheese flavor.

I love serving Pão de Queijo fresh from the oven because the smell of it baking in the oven is so insanely heavenly ... just imagine the aroma of cheese and bread filling the entire room! The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it ahead and all you need to do is freeze batches of dough and just bake them whenever you want to serve them. 

Moms ... if you want to surprise your kids, you've got to try this. Ladies ... if you want to impress your friends at a dinner party, this is a must-have recipe under your belt.

Recipe makes 20 puffs 
100ml whole milk
100ml water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g tapioca flour
1 large egg
85g grated Parmesan cheese (less or more if you like!)

  1. Preheat oven to 200°degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or use a non-stick baking tray like the one I'm using above.
  2. Place the milk, oil and salt in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat as soon as you see big bubbles forming.
  3. Add all of the tapioca flour and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is blended into the milk mixture and there are no more lumps of dry flour. It is perfectly normal for the dough to be grainy and sticky at this point.
  4. Let the dough cool slightly and then slowly add in the beaten egg and continue stirring vigorously until the egg is fully incorporated. Alternatively, you can also use a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to do this.  
  5. Add in the cheese and mix thoroughly. The resulting dough will be very sticky, stretchy, and soft with a consistency between cake batter and cookie dough. It will not be completely smooth.
  6. Have a bowl of water ready. Portion the puffs using a spoon or an ice cream scoop (which I find the easiest with this type of sticky dough). Scoop the dough with 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop, spacing them about 2-inches apart. Dip your scoop in water between scoops to prevent sticking to the dough.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until the puffs have puffed, the outsides are dry, and they are just starting to turn golden-brown on the bottoms (the tops will not brown much). Cool for a few minutes and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: You can store leftover puffs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and re-crisped in a warm oven.
  • Freezing: Portion the dough onto the baking sheets and freeze until solid. When you are ready to bake, let it thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Madeleine Teo
Madeleine Teo


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