Quick Brazilian Cheese Rolls: Pao de Queijo

Of all the foods I fell in love with while living in Brazil, Pao de Queijo (literally translated to ‘bread of cheese’) is right up there at the top of my favorites list. If you’ve never had this type of Brazilian cheese roll, it’s not the same type of bread or roll we’re used to here in the US.  It’s made with tapioca flour, as opposed to all purpose flour, so it’s almost more like the texture of a cream puff shell or popover, but with more substance. The outside is slightly crisp and browned and the inside is soft and chewy. In the US, you can find them regularly served in Brazilian restaurants, and in Brazil, they’re in every corner store and bakery.  

Below, I’ll show you 2 different methods of preparing the exact same recipe:

1. The traditional method (shown above, R) where the wet ingredients are first heated and then beat together with the dry ingredients and scooped into little dough balls before baking. This results in: A traditional roll with a slightly crisp outside and a soft chewy center.

2. The shortcut version (shown above, L) where you put all ingredients in a blender and pour the ultra thin liquid batter into a muffin tin.  This results in: A flavorful roll with the same chewy texture, but not as much density. These often puff up with hollow centers, and shrink after baking. The outside is a little thinner, but still delicious.

Here in this photo you can see the blender method roll on the right and the traditional method on the left. Both super delicious!

Ingredients and Equipment List

  • Tapioca Flour– look for tapioca flour in the specialty flour section of the grocery store, or online. I have also found it sometimes in the bulk foods area of stores like WINCO. It’s a naturally gluten free flour. If you happen to be serving these to a person who needs to avoid gluten for medical reasons, avoid purchasing from bulk bins where there can be risk of cross contamination.
  • Egg – Egg acts as a binder and helps produce the chewy texture. I’ve never tried these with any egg substitute.
  • Milk – You can use any milk in this recipe, though I prefer one with a higher fat content, like 2% of whole. If you don’t have those, use whatever is in your fridge, including a plant based option if you need to do that for dietary reasons.
  • Salt – without salt, these will turn out quite bland! I use kosher salt. If subbing table salt, decrease the amount slightly.
  • Cheese – feel free to vary the cheese and discover new combinations. I prefer to use medium or sharp cheddar and parmesan, but most cheeses work well. Stronger flavored cheeses will produce a more flavorful roll.

Instructions

BLENDER METHOD

  1. Put all ingredients except cheese in the blender and blitz it up!
  2. Add cheese and pulse just a couple times
  3. Quickly pour into prepared muffin tin (I say quickly, so cheese stays distributed.
  4. Optionally, you can sprinkle a little more cheese on top
  5. Bake until puffed and just barely golden.
  6. 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.

TRADITIONAL METHOD

Pay attention to the photos and my explanation here, because while I have made these a ridiculous number of times over the years, the finished dough, with the exact same ingredients and measurements (even weighed to be sure) often turns out with completely different consistencies. And it’s okay!

  1. First you’ll heat your milk and oil on the stove until just simmering.
  2. Then you’ll add this to your tapioca flour. You’ll notice in the photos below, I’m adding the flour directly to the pot, but often I put the flour in my mixer, and pour the hot liquid over it and that’s fine too.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Sometimes this mixture comes out smooth and silky like playdough. Other times it’s crumbly like wet sand. You’ll notice the smooth version in the pan below left, and the crumbly batch (with the egg on top) on the right. The lack of consistency has driven me crazy for years, but after trying other people’s recipes and encountering the same thing, I think it’s just part of the fun haha. I know that different brands of tapioca flour have different levels of absorbency, but even with the same bag of flour, I find this still happens, so now I just go with it. Bottom line- either of these outcomes is okay!

3. The next step is beating in the egg, and then the cheese. Ideally, your mixture should look like a wet cookie dough:

Brazilian Cheese Bread dough

4. You can then use a cookie scoop to drop it on a baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden.

SOS!

But let’s say your batter is super runny! There’s no way it will hold its shape. Guess what? Happens to me too! Sometimes it just does that. No problem! If it’s just slightly too wet, you can simply add a bit more tapioca flour and even a bit more cheese. If it’s really loose, simply spoon your batter into a muffin tin (mini OR full size) as opposed to the baking sheet, and they will bake right up and be absolutely delicious. They’ll be a little crispy on the outside and soft, tender, and chewy on the inside. 

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.

Pao de queijo in a bowl

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can these be made ahead? These are best eaten fresh, but you can absolutely make the dough/batter ahead of time. With the traditional method, refrigerate dough in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Chilling also helps it set up if it’s a little runny.
  • Can you freeze Pao de Queijo? The baked breads aren’t as good after freezing, but if you use the traditional method of preparation, you can scoop the dough onto parchment and then freeze. Place frozen dough balls in an airtight container or zip top back for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes onto baking time.
Pao de queijo in a bowl

Brazilian Cheese Rolls | Pao de Queijo

5 from 4 votes
Traditional Brazilian cheese bread.  These little rolls have a unique texture as they are made with tapioca flour.  They're chewy and flavorful and a perfect snack or side!  This recipe includes 2 different methods to make them. 
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings16

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup tapioca flour sometimes labeled tapioca starch no substitutions
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese preferably medium or sharp
  • 1/4 cup 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!

Instructions

Quick Blender Version:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray or rub with butter.
  • Place egg, milk, oil, tapioca flour, and salt in blender and blend until smooth. Add cheeses and pulse just a couple times.
  • Immediately pour batter into a mini muffin tin , filling each well about 3/4 full. If desired, sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top.
  • 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. 

Traditional Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or* spray a muffin tin with non stick spray or rub wells with butter (*see note).
  • Place milk and oil in a small pot and heat until just simmering and remove from heat. 
  • Place tapioca flour and salt in a mixing bowl and pour hot milk and oil over top.  Beat to combine. 
  • NOTE: At this point, your mixture might look crumbly and grainy, this is okay.  
  • Beat in egg. 
  • Add cheese and beat to combine. 
  • Scoop dough into balls (I use a cookie scoop, you can do any size you like, I aim for golf ball size) onto parchment-lined baking sheet* and bake until puffed and set on the outside, just slightly golden. Time will vary depending on size, but usually around 15 minutes. 
  • *NOTE: I've made this recipe a million times and have found at this point, sometimes the finished dough is scoop-able like cookie dough, and other times it's kind of runny like thick pancake batter. Tapioca flour differs in absorption levels and this isn't unusual. If your dough is not scoopable, you can always add a little bit more flour.  But what I usually do is just bake the mixture in a muffin tin as opposed to a baking sheet.  They still turn out great!

Notes

  • *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- sharper, stronger cheeses will make for a more flavorful roll. 
  • Keep in mind, these actually don't re-heat well, so I recommend making and eating fresh.
Keyword: brazilian food, cheese bread
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Hoorah! I love you for posting this recipe! I am like you and had a notebook of recipes or notes on how to make all the delicious Brazilian bites from the time I spent in Brazil…but unlike you I was never able to find mine!

    Thank you so very much for sharing this! I cheered for joy when I saw this recipe (I think my husband thinks I’m nuts…at least he will until I make these bad boys for him)!

    I am grabing my keys and am heading to the market to find tapicoa flour, we will be enjoying pao de queijo shortly!

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

  2. YES! I always have a big brazilian feast for my husband (who lived in Brazil for 2 years) in December. These will be a wonderful addition!

  3. Saddest story ever. The first 2 times I made these they turned out perfect! Delicious and round and yummy. The next 3 times they completely flopped!!! They all sunk and came out gooey-chewy and a big on the greasier side, with or without Pam. I tried 2 different ovens and 2 different pans and I have yet to accomplish that same first delicious result. Any ideas anyone?!

  4. I made this last weekend. I used a combination of gruyere and pecorino romano, soooo good. I used butter instead of oil, not sure if that made any difference in flavor.

    1. We love them with rice and black beans (the Quick and Easy Black Beans on this site) and any type of grilled meat; that’s a pretty classic Brazilian meal. Also the Black Bean Soup is a fave!

      1. Oh good! I made them with the quick and easy black beans, cilantro-lime rice and the taco chicken. Once the weather cools down, I will have to try them with the soup! I also made the rolls in a regular muffin tin (don’t have a mini one), do they cook more evenly in the mini muffins tin? I think mine were a bit overdone on the outside but possibly undercooked inside…still yummy though! Thanks for another great recipe!!!

        1. I’ve tried them both ways and they definitely work better in the mini muffin pan, so give that a shot!

          1. Where did you get your mini muffin pan? I have looked in several stores and cant find one anywhere!

          2. Just saw your response to another comment, I will try and look at the store again, thanks!

  5. I tried the recipe you shared for pao de quiejo up above because I had such a craving for them. So easy and quick too. Tasted delicious! Just wanted to say thank you for sharing and making my day with as little as yummy Brazilian bread! CHEERS!!!

  6. L O V E this bread! My husband went to Brazil on his mission too and we have been making this ever since I found the recipe. THANKS!

  7. My Brazilian husband loved these!!! I have made them before, but they always took a while to mix up and roll out by hand. Love the quick way and they taste awesome! Going to make some of your other brazilian recipes tonight! Thanks!

  8. Bless you for this! My Brazilian friend gave me the best recipe for Pao De Queijo which I have made but it is so hard! And it the ingredients are a lot more expensive than this one! (like a cup of feta along with all the other cheese!) Anyway, this one looks great! And seems much faster! My husband will be thrilled! Now I have one more reason to by a mini muffin tin, which I want to much!

  9. We tried this recipe and we were not disappointed disappointed! By we I mean my husband did the cooking and I did the shopping. The bread was soft and light and must admit better than the ones I had at a brazilian bbq restaurant which introduced me to these great cheese rolls. These will definitely be part of our recipe collection

  10. Just made these for the second time and we love them! I just wanted to mention that in Australia I use Arrowroot which says it is interchangeable with tapioca. I found it right next to the baking powder. Maybe that will help those who can’t find the Tapioca. It sure turns out great!

  11. Made these tonight and the family loved them. I did kind of have a hell of a time trying to find the flour though. But it was worth it. Thanks!

  12. I’m neither LDS nor have I have been to Brazil but these rocked my socks!!!! I made them last night and they were a hit!! I think I underbaked them in fear of overbaking but they were still some cheesy goodness! I followed your recipe to a T and did not deviate with cheese selection. I will admit I’m a sharp cheddar fan over parmesan so I sprinkled half with cheddar and the other half with parmesan and believe it or not the parmesan ones won my affection the most!

    Thanks for your most fabulous recipes!!!!!

  13. These things are soooo easy and so yummy! I’ve already made a bunch of variations of them (toppings) and they are soooo good! THANKS!!!!!!! I am from Louisiana but live in Utah now, and I love your blog! I love food blogging and have my own as well! So fun! Congrats on all your success!

  14. I have never tried or heard of pao de quiejo before, but the simplicity and uniqueness intrigued me…wow! So light, fluffy, spongy, and delicious, but not too strong in flavor… I took the few that were left over to work and popped them in the microwave for about 5 seconds, they were good, but not as good as they were when they were fresh out of the oven. I can’t wait to make these again for a tapas-themed potluck tonight 🙂

  15. These are so awesome! They are very similar to the ones I’ve had at a Brazilian steak house. Very easy to throw together!

  16. I’m so happy to find this recipe. My husband served his mission in Brazil too & these are his favorite! I found tapioca flour in the bulk section at Winco for $1.48/lb, I can’t wait to surprise him tonight with your brazillian black beans, rice & these rolls!

  17. Love these! As a fellow girls with Brazilian ties, my other addiction from Brazil is catupiry (com frango pizza–YUM!!) After much searching and many failed attempts, I found a substitution that is close enough to satisfy a craving I thought I’d share: melt equal parts meunster cheese and cream cheese together over low heat. When it cools, I slice it on pizza, in coxinha… delish!

    1. ooh, great tip about the Catupiry! I usually use straight cream cheese in my coxinhas, I’ll have to try that!

  18. Amazing! I am married to a Brasilian and we both agreed these were delicious and authentic! Yum!

  19. I wish I could hug you! I have a gluten-intolerance so I can’t eat those delightful cheese-breads at Tucanos. I already have tapioca flour on hand so I will be making these tonight.

    THANK YOU sooooo much for sharing this recipe.

  20. LOVE THIS RECIPE. I found a similar recipe a few months back because I had a craving….so I went on the hunt. I have made them several times since and they go quickly. Everyone always LOVES them and they are super easy. Instead of chedder I use Queso Fresco (mexican cheese) and its delish! I coudn’t find Queso Fresco at a specialty or health food store but I have found it at King Soopers and Albertsons.

  21. Thanks so much for this recipe! Absolutely love it! I have to eat gluten free and have now made these twice. Even hubby and 2 sons love them. I’m going to try and convert some of your other recipes to gluten free…I’ll let you know how I go. I live in Sydney, Australia and tapioca flour is easy to get here.

  22. can i use fat free milk? what about sandwich cheese if i dice it up? or string cheese?..yes i don’t usually have much “good” cheese at my house.

    1. Yes you can use fat free milk. As for the cheese- no, I wouldn’t use string cheese or sandwich cheese. Just normal cheddar works great!

  23. I made these and they turned out perfect….and delicious!

    I’m making them again tomorrow for a friend that I am taking dinner to. She has to eat gluten free, and these will be perfect to go along with the dinner!

  24. I missed the linked comment to here, sorry. These were really great. My wife made these and they were excellent. We just subbed Gryuere for Parmesan. You can kill my previous comment, because I am an idiot.