Quick Brazilian Cheese Rolls {Pao de Queijo}

CATEGORIES: Brazilian, Gluten Free, Rolls, Sara

Of all the foods I fell in love with in Brazil, Pao de Queijo (literally
translated to ‘bread of cheese’, how can that not be delicious?) is right up there at the top.  And it’s been tormenting my soul for the past 10 years as I’ve tried recipe after recipe trying to duplicate the taste and texture I love.  You can buy pre-packaged mixes, but they’re not quite the same as homemade.  The problem is that there are several different methods to making these little balls of heaven.  A lot of them involve lots of hard to find ingredients, and methods like heating a mixture on the stove, kneading a big messy dough, etc.  When I was in Brazil, I learned how to make the most quick and easy version- an ultra fast liquid batter that you just poured into a muffin tin.  It’s been driving me crazy that I couldn’t find my recipe or one that was like it.  And then a few weeks ago something magical happened.  My husband walked in after organizing some junk in the garage and asked me if I wanted a little pink notebook.  I knew immediately what it was. It was bursting with little scraps of papers.  Scraps of papers with recipe notes on them.  I heard the hallelujah chorus.  We ate Pao de Queijo about 25 minutes later.  And it was heavenly.

If you’ve never had this type of Brazilian cheese bread, it’s tricky to explain.  It’s actually not “bread” at all- at least not like we’re used to here in the US.  It’s almost more like the texture of a cream puff shell or popover, but with more substance on the inside. The outside is slightly crisp and browned and the inside is airy and chewy.  If you’re not familiar with them at all then I want you to be fully informed so you don’t expect an actual yeast bread “roll”.  If you do, then you’ll probably think these are super weird and gooey.  They’re served at popular Brazilian restaurants, but honestly, while I adore those restaurants, I’ve yet to have a really good Pao de Queijo at any of them.  So trust me when I tell you that if you like those (or any of the pre-packaged mixes), you will probably love these homemade ones.  And if you know anyone who has ties to Brazil like I do, you are sure to melt their heart with these.  Once you see how quick and easy they are you’ll be making them all the time!

The best part is that I have 99% of the ingredients in my house pretty much at all times.

The only semi-strange ingredient in there is Tapioca Flour, and it’s actually easier to find than you might think.  It’s a really smooth, soft flour that feels much like cornstarch.  It’s made from the ground roots of the cassava plant and it’s gluten free for those of you that care about that 🙂

You can grab it off Amazon and have it delivered to you, but a lot of normal grocery stores carry a good selection of Bobs Red Mill products which is the brand I use.  Here in Idaho I can always find them at Fred Meyer, near the health food/specialty foods isle.  You can also find tapioca flour at Asian markets as it’s used in a lot of Asian cooking, and also at health food stores and places like Whole Foods where you can find a good selection of wheat flour alternatives.  Definitely check the gluten free isle of well stocked store.  If you live in an area with WINCO grocery stores, people are telling me you can find it in the bulk section (how did not know this??  Thank you readers!) You can’t substitute any other type of flour– the tapioca flour is key, so when you find a good place to buy it, stock up!

Okay, ready for easy?  You can prep these in about 60 seconds.  Seriously.  Put everything but the cheese in the blender (I adore my Blendtec) and blend until smooth.

Then add in your cheese and pulse the blender one or two times.  I like to break it up a bit and mix it in, but not pulverize it. And you can be creative here.  I like a mixture of Parmesan and sharp cheddar.  It’s important to use cheese that has a stronger flavor because it’s really  the only flavor you’re putting in there and if it’s too mild I’ve found the rolls turn out pretty bland.   But play around with it and find your perfect mix.  You can also add more or less cheese, it’s pretty flexible.

Now just take your blender and pour the batter into little mini-muffin tins.  It’s a very thin batter so pour slowly!

I like to sprinkle a little more parmesan on top.  Because I like to sprinkle a little parmesan on top of just about everything.  I inherited that from my father, who puts parmesan on just about everything he makes. A little sprinkle of kosher salt is also yummy.

Recently I was browsing food blogs and was excited to see a nearly identical recipe on Bewitching Kitchen.  She mentioned putting rosemary in there, which at first I thought sounded a little strange.  Not because I don’t think it would taste good, but because I’d never had pao de queijo with any type of herb before.  I tried it just for kicks and man was it good!  You can either sprinkle a little dried or fresh rosemary on top, or blend it right in the batter.  Loved that addition.

Then you pop these babies in a hot oven and watch them do their magic.  They puff up into perfectly little bubbly golden balls of cheesy goodness.  How’s that for a descriptive sentence?

You want to cook them just until they’re set on top and barely golden.  If you over cook them, the tops actually look pretty similar, but you can tell by the bottoms.  Case in point:

And don’t be concerned if the rolls sink in the middle.  These photos are actually a bit misleading because I photographed them literally seconds after coming out of the oven. It’s perfectly normal for them to sink down in the centers and they taste exactly the same!

Eating Pao De Queijo warm is a definite must.   I’ll just say that right now.  As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, bust one open and eat it.

They’ll be a little crispy on the outside and soft, airy, and tender on the inside.  Almost a little chewy.  Some of them are even kind of hollow.  This version is definitely less dense than the kneaded dough variety. The yield is anywhere from 16-24 rolls, depending on how full you fill your muffin pan. I fill  mine pretty full (a good 3/4 full) and I generally get about 16-18.

I dare you to just eat one.  This recipe is a little dangerous.

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Quick Brazilian Cheese Rolls {Pao de Queijo}


Literally translates to “bread of cheese”…how can that not be delicious? Quick, easy, and fantastic every time.


  • 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
  • Optional: extra cheese to sprinkle on top and any herbs/flavorings you’d like to add. Try rosemary and or garlic powder, my favorites!


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place egg, milk, oil, tapioca flour, and salt in blender and blend until smooth. Add cheeses and pulse 2 times. Immediately pour batter into a mini muffin tin (if your muffin tin isn’t non-stick, spray lightly with non-stick spray first), filling each well about 3/4 full, or just slightly less. If desired (and I recommend), sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top and/or a tiny sprinkle of kosher salt.
  2. Bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before removing rolls from pan. Serve warm. {Que Gostoso!}


  • *Tip: You can play around with the cheese. I’ve used Monterey Jack, low-moisture mozarella, swiss, and even gruyere in place of the cheddar. All great!
  • Keep in mind, these actually don’t re-heat well, so I recommend making and eating fresh.


If you’re a fan of Brazilian Food, you might enjoy these too!
Dessert Wontons (like Brazilian Pastel)


  1. Sara,
    I eat about 40 cheese balls when I go to Brazilian restaurants. I happen to live in a heavy populated Brazilian area so these are served all the time at parties. I've gotten the recipe from the Brazilian ladies but it calls for all types of ingredients that I can never find so I gave up. Thanks for this recipe. They say if you use Costco cheese it makes for spongier balls than the regular grocery store cheese.

  2. I'm super excited to try this out. This is one of my very favorite foods ever. I usually just use the mix from the Asian store but these look even better. Thanks!

    1. Hi Suzzanne, I’m not Sara, but I just saw your comment and couldn’t help but answer it! You can’t substitute with normal flour, or any other kind of flour for that matter. I am from Brazil and have lived in many south/central american countries. You should try to see if they have local “Harina de Yuca” or “Almidon de Yuca” or “Harina de Casaba”. These are all spanish names for Tapioca Starch. Just make sure it is the white, powdery kind (that looks just like corn starch), and not the toasted brownish colored one. Hope this helps. Good Luck!

  3. We have pão de queijo for breakfast, snack time, dinner, anytime!! It's impossible to eat just one! I have a more difficult recipe but I'll definetly try yours. Isn't it interesting that you're teaching a Brazillian woman how to do it in an easier way? LOL!
    Hugs from Brazil!

  4. I just had the same thing happen to me. I made this out of this world cheesecake years ago and shortly thereafter misplaced the recipe. I have been trying to recreate that magical cheesecake for years (with no luck). And then I go visit my Mom today and pull out her recipe binder to look for a different recipe and low and be hold there is that cheesecake recipe (in my handwriting) that I have so desperately been searching for!

    Anyways, these little rolls look and sound amazing! I have never had Pao de Queijo before and can't wait to make them!

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