Gluten-Free Brazilian Cheese Buns

star rating (52) rate this recipe »
gluten free, quick-n-easy
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 18 to 20 buns

Recipe photo

Soft, chewy Pao de Queijo rely on tapioca starch (a.k.a. tapioca flour) for their structure, and garlic and cheese for their wonderful flavor. They're gluten-free, but don't reserve them for your friends and family living the gluten-free lifestyle. These fast and easy buns will quickly become your go-to bread to serve alongside soup, or with salad or pasta.

Follow our step-by-step photos for making these buns at our blog, Flourish.

Gluten-Free Brazilian Cheese Buns

star rating (52) rate this recipe »
gluten free, quick-n-easy
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 18 to 20 buns
Published: 02/18/2010


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups tapioca flour or gluten-free tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • heaping 2/3 cup grated Parmesan, Romano, or aged Asiago cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Tips from our bakers

  • These rolls reheat nicely in the microwave. Microwave briefly right before serving; test one first, to see how long it needs.
  • Note: For a dairy-free version of these buns, substitute margarine for the butter, and soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk for the milk called for in the recipe. Results may vary from the original.


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1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets; or line with parchment.

2) Put the butter, water, milk, and salt in a saucepan, and heat till the butter has melted and the mixture has come to a full boil. While the mixture is heating, put 2 cups of tapioca flour into a mixing bowl.

3) Pour the boiling butter mixture over the tapioca flour, beating to combine. Beat at high speed till the mixture becomes smooth and elastic-looking; this will happen very quickly.

4) Beat the garlic and cheese into the dough till well combined.

5) Stick your finger into the dough. If it's uncomfortably hot, let it sit for a couple of minutes to cool a bit; you don't want to cook the eggs when you beat them in. If it seems hot but not burning hot, continue with the next step.

6) With the mixer going, gradually dribble in the beaten eggs, beating till well combined and smooth.

7) Drop the mixture in 2-tablespoon balls (about the size of a golf ball) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2" apart. A level tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.

8) Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, till they have a freckled appearance (from the browning cheese), and they're beginning to color a bit. Remove them from the oven, and serve hot.

Yield: 18 to 20 buns.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 bun, 33g Servings Per Batch: 20 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 105 Calories from Fat: 33 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 36mg Sodium: 163mg Total Carbohydrate: 10g Dietary Fiber: 0g Sugars: 0g Protein: 2g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


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  • star rating 04/26/2015
  • Kristine from California and Japan
  • I've made this twice now (without garlic), experimenting with the amount of tapioca starch to get the consistency right. Both times the batter was so wet that we got medallions with a texture exactly like mochi (chewy Japanese rice cakes). Not what yours look like, but absolutely delicious. I think this is what other reviewers were thinking of as "eggy" and undercooked. If I ever get them to come out like yours I'm sure that will be delicious, but we love our cheesy mochi too.
  • 03/19/2015
  • Alice from Chevy Chase, MD
  • Just wanted to point out that your tip from the bakers (below) on rendering the recipe "dairy-free" shows substitutes for the butter and the milk. But your bakers seem to have forgotten about the cheese! It's a recipe for cheese bread, after all. I send this in the spirit I would tell a good friend she's got poppy seeds stuck in her teeth. "Note: For a dairy-free version of these buns, substitute margarine for the butter, and soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk for the milk called for in the recipe. Results may vary from the original."
    But of course, Alice - in our quest to offer the milk and butter free version we neglected the cheese! Perhaps a dairy free cheese will help complete the DF trifecta? Happy Baking! Irene@KAF
  • star rating 03/17/2015
  • Averyclaire from Chicago, IL
  • Laurie I baked them again and tried pricking the buns with a small paring knife before they finished baking, but the insides were still not right. I LOVE these buns, as I have had them at a famous restaurant, but can't seem to get them to come out well at home. I am not giving up. I will try other oven temps, etc. to try to make them work. I cannot recommend this recipe until I figure out why it doesn't come out right.
  • star rating 03/16/2015
  • Averyclaire from Chicago, IL
  • The recipe is easy to make, went together nicely, baked nicely. However, the inside of the puffs were "eggy"...seemed like it was not cooked, but cooking longer did not change it. When cooked longer the outside only became more firm! I love these puffs...can this egg-like inside be fixed? HELP.

    If you check out the blog post about these, it seems most difficulties arise from using different brands of tapioca starch. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  • star rating 01/26/2015
  • member-nprollins1 from KAF Community
  • This is an extremely easy recipe with so much satisfaction in the end. You can mix up so many varieties; cheddar with jalapeno peppers; swiss with crumbled bacon; swiss with spinach....the list is endless.
  • star rating 01/16/2015
  • Imluvd622 from KAF Community
  • Let me first say that I LOVE KAF and have had great results with most recipes...... That said, I see many had great results with the original recipe as written above. I followed the recipe to a T. At step #3 I poured boiling mixture over the tapioca flour. My mixture never got smooth and elastic-looking, instead it was dry and crumbly/gritty. I realized I was going to need a lot more liquid to get the desired consistency. I added another batch of 1/2 cup butter(I used salted) 1/4 c water and 1/4 milk and added to the dry crumbly mix. I was pressed for time, and had I thought it out better would have realized it was a bit too much liquid. It did come out too thin, so I gradually added 8 tablespoons (one at a time) more of the tapioca flour(Bob's Red Mill) which thickened up the mix. I had originally planned to put the batter into a lightly buttered 24 count mini muffin pan, so was glad I had that ready for the thinner than expected batter. I used a cookie scoop that filled each perfectly. Then put the pan into my convection oven at the 375 F , which was 350 F convection. My oven auto sets when you input the standard oven temp. Then I prayed =)) Twenty minutes later I had perfectly light tan freckled Cheese Buns. Woo Hoo. I'm happy that with the modifications they came out delicious. Not sure were the issue is with the original recipe, I kept thinking I missed something and used the wrong amounts........Interesting,that many had great results with that original recipe and some had similar results as I did. I always really appreciate the reviews and comments others have! What do you think the problem is KAF?? I will definitely make again. I will try 2/3 cup butter, 1/3 water and 1/3 milk next time and see what happens, because the cheese buns are definitely worth making again! I'm giving 5 stars because so many had great results and I was able to make the recipe work with modifications and they turned out beautifully. BTW there were 4 of us for dinner and there are 3 cheese buns out of 24 left. Thank You!
    It may be the brand of tapioca flour you used as PJ did notice a difference in results, depending on the type of tapioca flour used. Check out her blog on this recipe. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 01/14/2015
  • Robin from New Hampshire
  • I tested these at a party and had to make some. The first time the batter was thick and baked nicely on parchment in a pan. This morning, on another very cold dry day, the batter was very thin. However, baked in mini-muffin pans, they worked out very well. I probably used more garlic, as my homegrown garlic cloves are pretty big. They rose up tall and pretty, almost like little popovers.
  • star rating 11/23/2014
  • mystinsonfarm from KAF Community
  • The taste was good at first, but the centers were doughy or gelatinous, even after baking longer. The good taste faded as they cooled, as well, because of the centers. It wasn't like a cheesy center, more eggy, maybe? Perhaps I needed to bake even longer, but the last few were in quite awhile extra with no real change. They are simple and quick to put together, though. I used KA tapioca. Thanks to Jon for helping me to troubleshoot.
  • star rating 08/08/2014
  • Sara from San Diego, CA
  • This my second time making these and second review. I use Bob red mill's tapioca flour. This time I omitted the water to have a stiffer dough. The balls of dough didn't spread before baking this time but the result is not still the same as picture. They are rather flat. But the taste is very good. Next time I won't omit the water and pour the batter in mini-muffin pan since I know it will be soft and more like cake batter. The taste is perfect, I only want them puffier.

    Hi Sara- I would definitely recommend putting the water back in, and if you are still having trouble, you could always give our tapioca starch a try, which is linked into the blog, since we know that should work well for you. Hopefully the third time's the charm! Happy GF Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  • star rating 06/28/2014
  • Sara from San Diego,CA
  • The dough was actually more like cake batter so I added more tapioca flour. The result were the buns almost flat not like picture plump and ball like. They're supposed to taste cheesy and buttery but they didn't because of more flour that I had to add up. Still I recommend this because I am sure that the result will turn out very good if you omit water and use a med size or small egg rather than large size. I'm trying these putting a review again.
    We found that tapioca flours vary quite a lot from brand to brand. One cup of one will weigh - and behave - quite differently from one cup of another brand. Please take a look at the blog for this recipe for more advice on specific tapioca flour brands.~Jaydl@KAF
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