Bunuelos Colombianos (Colombian Cheese Fritters)

Bunuelos Colombian cheese fritters

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 20 bunuelos (10 servings)

Bunuelos are part of local cuisine all over Latin America. These delicious sweet-savory doughnuts came to Latin America from Spain and have evolved into various forms in different regions.

These Colombian-style bunuelos are made with cottage cheese or farmers cheese, which are substitutes for a traditional Colombian soft fresh white cheese called queso costena and tapioca starch. 

Colombian bunuelos are round and less sweet than some of the other varieties, such as Mexican bunuelos. They are a popular Christmas treat in Colombia where they are typically served with a pudding called natilla.

Bunuelos are great party food, whether for a Christmas celebration with friends or family or ringing in the new year. Because they are mostly savory, but a little bit sweet because of the brown sugar and a dusting of powdered sugar, finding a festive drink to serve that will harmonize with the fritters is a head-scratcher.

If you tend in the sweet direction, serve up hot chocolate, coffee spiked with Irish cream whiskey or Irish cream on the rocks. Hot toddies with honey are a bit less sweet and might be more to your taste. Or serve spicy orange tea spiked with Grand Marnier for a more neutral taste. It's all good on a cold winter's night.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups drained cottage cheese (or whole milk ricotta cheese or shredded queso fresco)
  • 1/2 cup white salty cheese (such as feta or farmers cheese)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sweet yuca starch (or tapioca starch)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter (softened)
  • 6 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • Optional: powdered sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for bunuelos cheese fritters
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Crumble or grate the two cheeses together, making sure that they are grated very finely. 

    Cheese curds
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Mix the cheese, cornstarch, tapioca starch, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, and butter in a large bowl until well-blended. 

    Mix the cheese
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Knead the dough until it is smooth. It will be soft but should not be sticky and firm enough to shape into balls. Add more cornstarch if the dough seems too wet. If the dough seems too dry or crumbly, add a small amount of milk (1 to 2 teaspoons at a time) until it is smooth.

    Knead the dough
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  5. Take about 2 tablespoons of dough into the palms of your hands and shape the dough into a very smooth ball.

    Roll into balls
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Heat several inches of oil in a heavy pot to 325 F.

    Heat oil
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Add the bunuelos, a few at a time, and cook. They will sink to the bottom, then rise and expand.

    Add the bunuelos
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or longer if needed, turning them occasionally until they are golden brown.

    Fry
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  9. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired

    Drain on a plate
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Serve warm
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga