Pao de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread

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

Pao de queijo baked 22 minutes is just barely golden brown outside.

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 recipe

pao de queijo

Pao de queijo baked for 30 minutes gets extra brown and crispy outside but still soft inside

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Pao de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread

pao de queijo recipe

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 24

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 400ºF
  2. Combine milk, butter and oil in a small pot and place over medium-high heat. Bring to boil.
  3. Put tapioca flour and salt into mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. 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. (The batter may be a little runny until it’s completely cooled. You can refrigerate it for a bit to thicken it, or bake right away (bread will be flatter) or bake in mini muffin tins for rounder pao de queijo)
  5. Mix in the cheese.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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
  8. 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).

Notes

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! 😉

Comments

  1. These look really good, I think I will try them with the Monterrey Jack cheese though as that is likely to much parmesan for my taste. I think the wife will be trying them with every cheese there is though as she does with most recipes.

  2. Warenout says:

    Recipe looks fabulous (so do you two fire ladies). However it was difficult to follow because the ad strip was across the entire bottom of the youtube screen for most the entire episode. Please give us an “X” to be able to remove it after a few seconds the ad display. Thank you so very much. Love the videos and the recipes. Welcome to the Wild West. I’m just North of Sacramento. Sorry you have to settle in LA, but thats life (just kidding). Keep up the fun recipes.

    • Hey Warenout!
      Those ad bars always have a little “X” in the upper right corner of the ad that you can click to remove it. Might have to hover over the ad for it to appear.
      We are really settling in here, thank you! 🙂

  3. pat Soltis says:

    Hilah,

    I have eaten Pao de Queijo, but only in Lisbon and, believe it or not, in Cleveland, Ohio. There used to be a Brazilian restaurant called Sergio’s on Shaker Square in Cleveland — an easy walk from my apartment. Great food in general, but the Pao de Queijo tended to be a little bit rubber-y.

    I don’t have any distinct memories of Pao de Queijo in Lisbon (Portugal). It/they were featured on a huge Churrasco buffet with many varieties of grilled meat. I’ve never been enthusiastic about all-you-can-eat buffets. My favorite parts of the Churrasco were the black beans and the fried bananas.

    How is Flint?

    ps

    • Hi Pat!
      I think good pao de queijo is a little chewy, but not what I would call “rubbery”. I’m also not too hot on all-you-can-eat but I still want to try a Brazilian bbq place with Tuany accompanying us. 🙂
      Flint is excellent! He’s so much more like a kid now, not a baby. And he LOVES pao de queijo. Like, he will eat 5 or 6 at a time. He’s crazy for it, so I have been keeping some in the freezer for quick-ish toddler snacks. And adult snacks!

  4. The Other Randy says:

    Oooh, time to put on my Tropicália playlist (heavy on the Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa) and make a caipirinha. But I won’t be able to make these until the flour and cheese from Amazon gets here (are you sure that these are cheaper to make yourself? 🙂

    • Nice!

      I think (I hope?) that once you get the ingredients, you will decide it’s a bargain. 🙂 One 20 ounce bag of sweet tapioca flour should make at least 50 pao de queijo. I’m not sure how much the frozen ones go for, though. I could be totally wrong!

  5. I don’t think this is the most famous Brazilian food. That’s feijoda (spelling?) So, I just posted to argue.

    Also posted to say I love the pit’s red nose in the email version. Adorbs.

    Actually, I will try to make this. I’m not a successful baker, but this recipe sounds like something I could do. They look very fluffy and yummy and not sweet.

    @PatSoltis, I actually ate at a Brazilian restaurant in Cleveland a couple years ago. Of all places. It was pretty good, but they didn’t have feijado (spelling?). They only served it on the weekends.

    We need more Brazilian restaurants in the US. So good food.

    • Hi Diana!
      I think you can make these! It kind of doesn’t even feel like baking, if you know what I mean. And I love that they are not sweet. I so much prefer a salty snack to a sweet one, most of the time. Hope you try them!
      And you may be right that feijoada is the most famous Brazilian dish, but I might still argue that pao de queijo is the dish that more people have actually eaten outside of Brazil? It’s all a guess, though!

  6. Crapweasel says:

    I must try these.

  7. Hi Hilah – can you make feijoada for your next Brazilian dish? I fell in love with this dish working in Brazil. I come close, but never get it exactly right.

  8. Susan Gendron says:

    thanks now I know what to do with that tapioca flour I bought to experiment with, I already Know I can make cheese puffs, I wonder, can these be deep fried as well? I have previously tried deep frying with cheese puff choux pastry and the fried puffs came out amazing.

    • Hi Susan!
      I’m haven’t heard of frying these but I think it could be done. Someone on YouTube commented that it can also be cooked in a waffle iron, which sounds fun and crunchy!

  9. D.S. Canada says:

    Hi, your pao de queijo looks great, just like the ones I had on my many trips to Brasil. There are also snacks called coxinhas that are made with pulled/shredded chicken that I think would be great to introduce your many North American viewers.
    Another treat I miss from Brasil is a desert made from deep fried bananas with a sugar syrup glaze, available from a Chinese food chain called China in box. They deliver orders on the back of scooters in the larger cities.

  10. Ana Castillo says:

    I just made these and were wonderful, tasted just as my teacher’s on cooking class, and she’s Brazilian. I used a mix of danish and mozzarella, and instead of four ounces I used eight. Again, they were amazing, I’m gonna try the coxinhas next.Thanks

  11. Mine didn’t puff up like the ball shaped pao de queijo in your video, they came out as flat disks. Still tasty but not as much gooey center as I would like. My grocery store only had Bobs Red Mill fine ground tapioca flour (“aka tapioca starch” as the package said), could that be the problem? I kept adding more flour between baking batches thinking it would stiffen up the batter and help it hold more of a spherical shape but they were too stiff by the last batch and still flat, barely any puffing in the oven. I’ll have to try this again with proper tapioca flour.

    • Hi Hannah,
      Sorry to hear this. I don’t know what could have caused the flattening. I’ve made these with the Bob’s tapioca starch several times and they still puff. Can you try making the dough, shaping it on the tray and then freezing it? I find that baking them frozen yields higher puffs. Also, be sure to use whole milk and all the butter and oil called for. I tried it once without the butter and the batter never thickened enough to even scoop. I think the fat is necessary. Hope you try again!

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