Brazilian Cheese Balls: Pao de Queijo

My husband lived in Santa Maria, Brazil for a couple of years while he served a church mission, and while he was there, his Brazilian room-mate would make pao de queijo (cheese balls) fresh every morning for breakfast. Well, the other day I came across a recipe for them from, that looked so simple and delicious, I thought I would have a go at making some for him, and I think I found one of my all time favorite recipes!

You know how frustrating dinner rolls are to make? Mix them up, clean up, let them rise, roll them out (make a HUGE mess), clean up again, let them rise again. Bake them. Mess them up. Start all over again (okay maybe just for me)! Well, these cheese balls are even more delicious than a plain dinner roll, yet they’re SO QUICK and simple to make, it kind of blows my mind. They require no planning. No mess. No work. No skill. Just throw a few ingredients into a blender, pour the mixture into a muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes. They come out warm and fresh with melted puffy cheesy goodness… and they’re so divine and addictive, that I think I could get away with never making another dinner roll again!

The recipe I followed said to put them in a mini muffin tin, but after I had mixed them up, I realized I didn’t actually own one. So, first I tried making them in my cake pop pan with the lid on. They came out super round and were kind of cool looking, but the texture was all wrong. Then I made another batch in the same pan with the lid off, and they puffed up and tasted better, but they still weren’t “quite there.” Then my husband told me his Brazilian room mate would always just make them in a normal sized muffin tin…. so I tried it, and it was the BEST way to make them by far. The texture is amazing, and when you pull them apart you can just see strings of all that melted cheese. Mmmmm. Okay, enough hype (although I promise they will live up to it) here is the recipe already!

1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup tapioca flour (sometimes labeled tapioca starch) no substitutions
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 C grated cheddar cheese* (preferably medium or sharp)
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400degF.  Place egg, milk, oil, tapioca flour, salt and cheeses in blender and pulse to blend. (The mixture should be liquified but have little pieces of cheese still in it). Grease the muffin tin, and pour the batter to fill about 3/4 full.Sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese and kosher salt on top, then bake for 15-20 minutes (20 for regular sized, 15 for mini) until they’re puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of minutes. Eat warm, fresh out of the oven. 

I served them with some Brazilian rice and beans (feijoada) which was also divine (even though it may not look it). I will have to share that recipe later! 

What I also love about this recipe is that they’re GLUTEN FREE. I have a brother in law who can’t eat gluten, so I love having recipes on hand that I could make for him.

They’re pretty much perfect, there’s just ONE small problem…. they have to be eaten fresh and warm out of the oven, or they’re not that good. And they’re kind of bad reheated too. But if you’re in a pinch for time, and haven’t planned several hours ahead with dinner rolls, this is a GREAT recipe to fall back on! Or even for breakfast like the Brazilians do…. really, I am looking for excuses to eat these as much as possible, with as many things as I can think of, because they’re seriously that divine!

Hope you enjoy guys! And keep reading for that feijoada recipe coming up after thanksgiving! I’m so excited to share it, because it’s AMAZING in every way!
<3 Sarah