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. Our daughter requested I try this recipe after trying them at the Texas de Brazil in Denver. I tried 3 different kinds of mini muffin pans — one scalloped, one regular mini muffin and another one that was just a little larger than the regular muffin pan. All three sunk in the middle. I don’t know what I did wrong except that I did not use a blender. The taste is great though. Can you help me make the next batch as good as the picture? Thank you and I’m glad I found your site with help from our grandaughter.

    1. Toni, no worries- it’s actually completely normal for them to sink down in the centers- mine were just photographed seconds after coming out of the oven. They taste exactly the same!

  2. I made these yesterday for my family, one of my daughters is coeliac so I’m always on the look out for gluten free recipes, and the recipe was very easy, worked very well and the breads were gorgeous, light and very tasty. My four kids and my husband all loved them, and believe me it’s no easy job pleasing all of them! Will definitely make this again!

  3. I was just having a sandwich made of bread, queijo minas frescal and requeijão, and I started wondering how my brother (who lives in the US) could ever live without them. they are brazilian cheeses, and I could never ever leave them behind. haha so I searched for cheeses that could substitute them, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything so similar. bummer.
    however, I found this recipe! and I LOVE pão de queijo!! hahaha so many calories, though!
    well, anyway, just giving some love I guess, love the website and I’ll sure come back soon! :))
    any vegetarian (I do eat cheese) recipes? haha

  4. One comment — put the liquid ingredients in the blender *before* the tapioca flour. The tapioca flour can get very cement-like and it’s easiest to blend it when the flour is above the wet ingredients. I’ve had bad luck with putting the tapioca in first.

  5. I lived in Brazil, and pao de queijo is my favorite… The recipe looks correct but the bread should look more like this http://brasilcheesebread.com/original. Here in Dallas, lucky me, we have Brasil Cheese Bread, owners from Brasil and their pao de queijo tastes incredible!

  6. Hey People, it is really amazing!!! Try to add cream cheese while it is hot, and taste it, you’ll love it. If you want a recipe of ‘Pastel’ or ‘Coxinha’ as someone said, I can translate and give it to you!

    Kisses from Brazil!

  7. Just made a batch. Two things:
    -This is HANDS DOWN THEEEEE BEST thing to come out of my oven
    -I have a new rule that I am not allowed to make these unless I have people to share with. I just ate the whole thing. Shaaaaaaame on me! 🙂

  8. We love these and have made them a dozen or so times! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  9. I can’t thank you enough for this delicious recipe! My husband served his mission in Brazil and has me hooked on the food and these are my favorite. So easy and so yummy!

  10. Hi there, first off, I’m a Brazilian living in NY and when I saw how easy this recipe is I was blown away. I love pão de queijo so I decided to try it to see if it compares to the traditional Brazilian pao de queijo… and the results were mixed and maybe this is why: I started preparing the dough before the oven had reached 400 (it was only 315 when the dough was ready to go in the oven) so I filled the mini muffin pans and popped them in the oven at 315 degrees. I greased the pans with canola oil and they stuck horribly, but that’s not the problem. After about 15 minutes the tops were puffed up and almost brown so I took them out. They “deflated” within a couple of minutes and when I took them out of the pan (pried them out in fact!) it was doughy and the top had caved in. I tried one and it was so tasty but all the dough was on the bottom and it was veeery heavy, not airy and light at all. Then I had a bit of dough left in the blender so I used a Madeleine cookie sheet as my pan (the little ones that look like seashells) and popped those in the oven and by then the oven was about 350 degrees. These came out SOOO GOOD, super fluffy and light but cheesy at the same time. Do you think the first batch in the muffin pan “deflated” like that and became so heavy and doughy because of the wrong temperature I baked them? I also felt like they were way undercooked too. The little ones were so amazing and crispy and light… I’ll try to make them again and will report my efforts. Let me know if you think the temp. could be a factor (pardon my ignorance, not big on baking!) Maybe if the temp. was correct, baking for 15 min would be sufficient, no? Obrigada!!!

    1. Always fun to hear from Brazilians! I would definitely make sure your oven was pre-heated before you cook these, that is most likely why they stuck to the pan too. The high heat is necessary to immediately start the cooking process and ensure a good texture. I’m glad the second batch turned out well!

  11. My boyfriend and I eat paleo/primal most of the time. When we “cheat”, we use these as hamburger buns for sliders. Or, we use tart tins instead of the muffin tins (4 of them), and use one “tart” for the bottom bun and one for the top. DELISH. OMG, thank you so much! 🙂

  12. These rolls were amazing!! My husband served his mission in Brasil and he loved them. Our kids couldn’t eat them fast enough!

  13. Thank you for this recipe!! This is my absolute favorite thing at our Brazilian Steakhouse and I was able to get a few rolls to go when we went this weekend. I quickly made this recipe so that I could compare the results with the ones from the restaurant. I know that I overcooked them a tad (my bottoms were very golden brown) but I’m not sure if that was my only problem. The rolls I made were a bit crispy on the outside and almost all air on the inside. The ones from the restaurant were very soft on the outside (cooked much less than mine) and quite dense and chewy on the inside. Any idea what I did wrong? Might I have done them too long in the blender or used a particular ingredient that wasn’t fresh enough? My tapicoca flour was older but has been stored in the fridge. My eggs and milk were brand-new so I don’t think it was that. Any suggestions??? Thanks again!

    1. Autumn, the rolls usually served at Brazilian restaurants like that are a little different. They tend to be dense and thick and chewy, often from a mix or prepared from frozen. It’s just a different style so these rolls will be slightly different. This recipe definitely gets more airy the longer they’re cooked, so you might try not cooking them for so long next time.

      1. Thanks for the tip! I love your website. You ladies always have great recipes and beautiful pictures! 🙂

    2. Hi, my name is Jussara, I am Brazilian. Just to answer your question,
      – the cheese bread that is served in the restaurant probably is not the same as this, surely they must do the traditional cheese bread. That is another recipe.

  14. I have been looking for this recipe! I can not tell you how excited I am to try it. Thank you so much!!!

  15. This is rad! I grew up in Brazil and was fed up with paying $8 for a 12-pack of tiny, frozen pães de queijo here in Seattle. Although, when I first made this recipe, they turned out a bit too greasy and mushy, so I used 1 1/4 cups of tapioca flour and only 2tbsp of oil. I think your yield calculation is a bit on the optimistic side as well. With my mini-muffin tray, one recipe yielded about 7.

  16. This is really cool, I’m from Brazil and I have a blog of recipes, I love your blog and was happy to see our delicious cheese bread here. Undoubtedly it is our greatest culinary pride.

    Sorry for my inglish! =D

  17. Wow! So glad I found your version, and not something else! Oddly I had to go to two stores tonight as Publix had literally every other type of flour and starch, except tapioca! As I scarfed down 12 of the 24 it made about 5 minutes ago, I realized I would have driven to another state, holy crap they are good. Way better than the ones at Sal Grosso, which were so fought in the middle it was just weird! These were light and airy, I have dubbed them GF cream puffs, and can’t wait to play with the recipe, I want to attempt a sweet version, using like a manchego cheese and some fig spread! I am seriously Gluten intolerant, and I was in GF ecstasy eating these! I used Sartori Gold and a 2 yr aged white cheddar, plus 1 tablespoon of fresh snipped chives. Again, WOW AND HOLY CRAP! If you were wondering if you should bother to whip these up…yes, double yes!

  18. I am so excited for this recipe! My husband and I just had those cheesy balls of heaven for the first time at Novilhos restaurant in Factoria, WA Saturday. I can’t wait to make them!

  19. It’s pot luck day at work tomorrow. I signed up to make Pao de Queijo. I’ve made another recipe for about 3 years but wanted to try something else. This recipe was WAY easier and WAY faster and way fluffier yummier!@#$%$ NOM NOM NOM. Now there’s only one problem… How do I get these to work before they cool off… Might have to come home before hand to cook them and bring them in quick…

  20. I just made these. They are EASY! and YUMMY!! I called my mother right afterwards to brag about it (she makes pao de queijo old-school style). She couldn’t believe it. So I texted her some pics of my final delicious product. Obrigada, Sara!!!!

  21. God Bless You! While going to school in Idaho we had Brazilian neighbors(Divino and Lindalva) who would make these sweet cheese rolls bites. Thank you so much for Americanizing them so now I’m going to the store and making some. Can’t thank you enough♥

    ps Neighbor would cut them in the middle and put a little tuna inside sometimes. Oh Thank you again. So glad you went to Brazil on your mission. =) Now if I could get that fruit spread in the can with some chashew juice I’d be set. =)

    1. I don’t know why I thought you went to Brazil. My bad. I was so excited I read it wrong.

  22. I’m not sure if tapioca flour is the same as “povilho azedo” but I’m brazilian and that’s what we used growing up. There’s not a lot of brazilians in my area but I was able to find this ingredient to substitute for the tapioca flour at my local spanish shop where they have select brazilian items. it works just as well.

  23. Like many before me, thanks for this outstandingly good recipe. What I also like is the quantity of the breads.
    Not too many.
    By the way, I use a Japanese squid ball frying tray, with which the bottom of the pão de queijo becomes round like a ball…

  24. Ok, I haven’t read all the reviews so I’m not sure if someone has already had this problem but I have now made these twice and the inside is doughy and sinks to the bottom resulting in a caved in top. They are still good but it is driving me nuts that they aren’t turning out like they are supposed to. I followed recipe as written. What could be my problem?

    1. Honestly, sometimes that just happens! Sometimes mine are puffed and sometimes they sink- either way they taste good though so I haven’t tried to figure out why it happens! lol

  25. We are gluten-free too and so I was excited to try this recipe. I’ve made them three times now and mine don’t puff up. They turn into little cups which is pretty cool too because you can fill them with stuff. I’ve been using a muffintop pan which are wide & shallow so maybe that is why they don’t puff up. I’ll have to invest in a mini muffin pan. We are really enjoying the pao de quiejo even as cups!

    I’m thinking of putting cream cheese (instead of the other cheeses) and a little sugar into the batter and then filling the cups with ice cream. Mmmmmmm

  26. I searched all over my town (it’s a *very* small town) and the one cooking store was out of the mini muffin tins (go figure!) The woman who was working suggested I try mini cupcake/muffin paper cups. I’ll fill those and then place them into my regular sized muffin tin. It may turn out to be a disaster but I’m sure I’ll still turn out with something tasty. 🙂

    1. How did the mini muffin papers turn out? That does sound disastrous, both because I think the batter would stick terribly to the paper and I don’t think the mini papers would hold their shape in the regular muffin tin. I wonder if you couldn’t make regular muffin sized ones instead.