Pão de queijo (pronounced pow-du-KEHjo, sort of) is probably Brazil’s most famous food export. Very similar to gougeres, pao de queijo is basically a pate a choux, but made with tapioca flour instead of wheat flour. You can buy them frozen in many grocery stores now, but you can just as easily find the ingredients to make your own pao de queijo from scratch. And they are fun to make! And you can make a bunch and freeze them for later. And homemade frozen pao de queijo are way way cheaper than store bought frozen pao de queijo.
Pao de queijo can be made with either sweet tapioca flour (usually just labeled “tapioca flour” or “tapioca starch” in the US; Bob’s Red Mill makes one) or sour tapioca flour (polvilho azedo) which is tapioca flour that has been fermented after grinding. I don’t notice a big flavor difference between them, but the sour tapioca flour absorbs more liquid than the sweet so you need to use less when making the dough. If you want to try it, find sour tapioca flour at a Brazilian market.
The traditional cheese used in making pao de queijo is called queijo de Minas or queijo de Canastra meia-cura and it’s very similar to Monterey Jack or even mozzarella. Most American recipes call for Parmesan cheese, though. I’ve tried this recipe with all of the above and they all have turned out delicious. I think that just proves what a great recipe this is! Try it with a couple different cheeses and see what you like best.
In Brazil these are eaten as a snack, often with hot chocolate. I like them as a snack, as breakfast, or with a bowl of soup. For the classic French recipe that this bread was possibly inspired by, check out my video on how to make gougères.
A couple of times out of dozens, I have had my pao de queijo dough turn out too soft to hold its shape when portioning out. I am not sure why this happens occasionally, but my solution is to cover and refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours to firm up. Then it is easy to portion.
Pão de Queijo video – scroll down for recipe
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Pao de queijo recipePrint
Pao de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 24
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 3 cups sweet tapioca flour (OR 2 cups sour tapioca flour if you can find it)
- 1 teaspoon salt (more if your cheese is not very salty)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 ounces grated cheese (see notes about cheese, above)
- Set oven to 400ºF
- Combine milk, butter and oil in a small pot and place over medium-high heat. Bring to boil.
- Put tapioca flour and salt into mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
- Pour in hot milk and mix on low until smooth. It will look soft and stringy. Once cool to touch, mix in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
- Mix in the cheese.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment and scoop the dough out by large tablespoons, spaced an inch apart. (At this point, you may freeze the tray until the balls are solid, then store the balls in a freezer bag. When ready to bake, just put frozen pao de quiejo on a baking sheet and add an extra 5 minutes to cook time. Do not thaw first.)
- Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly golden and and puffed. The interiors should be soft-set and elastic, but if you want a crispier outside, leave them in for 25-30 minutes. a
- Eat warm right away or let cool. Leftover pao de queijo can be left to cool completely, then stored at room temperature up to 3 days. Reheat in a low oven before serving (or eat at room temp).
To freeze: Drop blobs of dough onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet (or plate if a sheet won’t fit in your freezer). Freeze until solid, then transfer frozen blobs to a baggie or container. Save the parchment for baking. To bake frozen pao de queijo: Set oven to 375ºF. Put frozen dough onto parchment-lined sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Get the ingredients
These are all Amazon affiliate links, but you should be able to find at least the Bob’s Red Mill brand in most stores. To try with the sour tapioca flour, look at a Brazilian or Latin grocery or buy online!
And you have to have a cold Guaraná to go with them! 😉