Colombian buñuelos or cheese fritters, are a mouthful of textures and flavors. They have a soft crumb and a crispy crust with a hint of sweetness and are a typical Colombian Christmas treat.
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Christmas In Colombia
Christmas in Colombia begins on December 7th with the celebration of Día de las Velitas (Day of the Candles) where people place hundreds of candles at the doors of their homes and in their neighborhood to guide the way of the Virgin Mary.
Friends and families gather together to sing Christmas carols and enjoy Christmas treats.
Although Colombian buñuelos are enjoyed all year around, these little balls are an iconic food for the holidays.
You can find buñuelos all around South America. Sweet or savory. Made with white flour, corn flour, cassava flour, or mashed cassava.
What Are Colombian Buñuelos?
Colombian buñuelos are made with a mixture of cassava flour and cornstarch. The ratio of these two starches varies from house to house.
Cassava, tapioca or yuca, is a root very much used in South America. From this root, we get cassava flour or starch that has a similar texture to cornstarch and is a great option for gluten-free treats.
Some recipes for Colombian buñuelos are made with only cornstarch. I find that cassava flour adds a little bit of chewiness to these fritters.
My Buñuelo Recipe
Queso costeño is the traditional cheese used for this recipe. It’s a semi-hard and very salty cheese.
Cassava flour and cornstarch absorb liquids very easily. So, mix all your dry ingredients, cheese, egg, and butter first, before adding the milk.
If you are using mozzarella cheese, add 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheese. Because this cheese is semi-soft, you’ll only need to add 2 tablespoons of milk.
Another option is to use ¾ cup feta cheese + ¼ cup queso fresco. You might need to reduce the salt to ¾ teaspoon. Now you have two soft cheeses, that means more moisture for the dough. You’ll need to add 1 teaspoon milk at a time until you have a playdough like dough.
Or, use 1 cup of feta cheese and adapt your recipe to option above.
Once you have your dough ready, you can either keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, freeze it for up to 2 months, or use it immediately.
Frying Buñuelos (Cheese Fritters)
The oil temperature to fry these buñuelos is very important. If your oil is too hot, the fritters will pop open, splashing hot oil everywhere, and they will not cook all the way through.
If the oil is too cold, the buñuelos will absorb too much oil.
If you own a candy thermometer, the oil should be between 320 – 340 F (160 – 170 C).
But, if you don’t have a way to measure the oil temperature, heat the oil on low and after 3 minutes add 1 buñuelo. The buñuelo should rise to the top in the next 5 to 8 seconds. If it doesn’t, the oil is not hot enough.
Once you have the right temperature, cook 3 to 4 buñuelos at a time. There is no need to turn them, as these buñuelos cook, they turn around by themselves.
During the holidays, buñuelos are served with Colombian Natilla (custard). Those two go hand in hand. An amazing combination of crispy, chewy, savory buñuelo and a cold, creamy, cinnamon custard.
Colombian Buñuelos (Cheese Fritters)
- 1 cup (140g) cassava flour
- ½ cup (65g) cornstarch
- 1 cup (150g) shredded cheese *
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons (14.2g) butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- In a big mixing bowl, add cassava flour, cornstarch, cheese, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter and egg. Mix with the tip of your fingers.
- Bring the dough together with milk. The dough has a playdough texture.
- In a medium pan, heat oil on low or keep between 320 – 340 F (160 – 170 C).
- Divide the dough in 32 equal portions. Roll the dough into balls.
- Fry 3 to 4 buñuelos at a time, for 5 minutes.
- Place them on a paper towel. Serve immediately.