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 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 or on Amazon (see affiliate links at the bottom).

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.

Troubleshooting Pao de Queijo:

A couple of times out of dozens, I have had my pao de queijo dough turn out too runny to hold its shape when portioning out. I am not sure why this happens occasionally, but the best solution is to cover and refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours to firm up. Don’t keep adding flour! Just put it in the fridge for a bit.

Try these other Brazilian recipes, too:

Moqueca (easy and light coconut fish stew)

Feijoada (the national dish of Brazil)

Brigadeiro (3-ingredient chocolate candies)

Coxinha (crispy chicken croquettes)

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

Print

Pao de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread

pao de queijo recipe
  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x
Scale

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.
  5. Mix in the cheese. **If your dough is too runny or soft to scoop, just chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer to let it firm up before scooping!
  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.
  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! 😉

49 Comments

  1. Jerry on May 5, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on May 5, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Hey Jerry!

      Definitely try it with different cheeses! A combo of Parmesan and jack is good, too.

  2. Warenout on May 5, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on May 5, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      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 on May 5, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    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

    • Hilah on May 6, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      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 on May 5, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    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? 🙂

    • Hilah on May 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      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!

      • irene on July 7, 2016 at 11:04 pm

        I purchased my tapioca flour at Ranch 99 in Seattle at a very reasonable price. About one dollar for 7 ounces. Many Asian stores sell tapioca flour.

        • Hilah on July 8, 2016 at 6:59 am

          That’s a great place to find tapioca flour! Thanks for the tip, Irene!

  5. Diana on May 6, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on May 6, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      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!

      • kat on September 23, 2018 at 2:04 pm

        how long do you blend the dough? mine has the consistency of cake batter. Yours is thicker

        • Hilah on September 24, 2018 at 12:58 am

          Sometimes that happens. I haven’t figured out the cause but if you put it in the fridge for an hour or so, it thickens up enough to scoop

      • Juliana on April 21, 2019 at 10:10 am

        The recipe is really good first time that my cheese bread turned out good. Although mine didn’t get the stringy texture. It turned out more dry texture but delicious anyway. Should I put more milk or eggs next time?
        Thanks

        • Hilah on April 26, 2019 at 4:54 pm

          Hi Juliana! You may just need to take them out at little earlier next time. If your oven runs hot, they don’t need as much time

        • Fernanda on June 1, 2019 at 5:24 pm

          More cheese! (Im Brazilian, from the Pao de Queijo state – I know this)

    • MarcelaMartini on September 7, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      Pão de queijo is one of the most popular foods in Brazil indeed! Feijoada is too but its a way harder to make and it depends on the area of the country you go. Pao de queijao is a crowd pleaser anywhere in Brazil. ❤

  6. Crapweasel on May 6, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    I must try these.

  7. Paul on May 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    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 on May 9, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on May 10, 2016 at 8:28 am

      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 on May 10, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on May 10, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Hi DS! We shot a video for coxinha, too, and it will be up in July. The fried bananas sound really good!

  10. Ana Castillo on July 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    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

    • Hilah on July 24, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Hooray! 😀 So happy to hear, Ana.

  11. Hannah on August 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on August 23, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      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!

    • Fernanda on June 1, 2019 at 5:33 pm

      More cheese!and never open the oven before its ready (Im Brazilian, from the Pao de Queijo state – I know this)

  12. Gyanny on October 7, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Hello!!! Your pão de queijo looks very good, congratulations. I’ve seen in one of the comments that in one occasion someone’s recipe turned out to be like a cake batter. This happens sometimes and it’s because of the size of the eggs, sometimes bigger eggs makes the dough less thicker. At this point you could add on more tapioca flour if you have some more. Another interesting factor is the tapioca flour being sour or sweet. Sweet tapioca flour provides a more soft and gluey pão de queijo whereas sour tapioca would provide a more crunchy ones. I’ve seen some top secret recipes using half and half flours giving a gluey and soft but yet crunchy texture. With regards to the battle between feijoada and pão de queijo, they are both very popular, but pão de queijo its just a snack whereas feijoada its a National dish. Nice Brazilian girl making jokes that only Brazilians could understand. Beijo Xuxa!!!

    • Hilah on October 8, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Thank you for the tips, Gyanny! I’m so glad you liked the video with my friend 🙂

  13. Anna on November 4, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Tried this recipe because I missed Brazil but I was very disappointed. Not a good recipe, way too much fluid. There was red flags of that even in the video with how moist the dough looked. I’ve made pão de queijo before with Brazilian recipes and this didn’t look at all like I remembered. I cut the amount of fluid by half and it still is too moist. I also would add more cheese (though another kind of cheese, like any kind of cheese with a lot of flavor) after my Brazilian boyfriend said it was way too little cheese. They ended up flat and not what I expected.

    • Hilah on November 5, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Sorry it didn’t work for you, Anna. I mentioned in the headnotes to refrigerate if the dough turns out too thin to scoop. As another commenter suggested, it does occasionally happen and may have to do with the size of your eggs.

  14. Dave Pierce on November 4, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Hi Hilah!
    Great recipe and video! I have had the great good fortune to visit Brasil on many occasions for work. I have made these many times using pretty much the same recipe. Some use water and milk, some all butter, etc… Mine too have occasionally been flatter than round, the dough just too thin. In Brazil they always seem to be pretty spherical. I have tried adding more tapioca flour and more cheese and found that usually to be a mistake. They will turn out dry and just not very good. I think your suggestion of cooling the dough is a good idea. I have seen Mexican queso fresco in recipes. My favorite so far is a grated Italian cheese blend from my local supermarket. I have definitely NOT perfect my Pao,de Queijo yet. I do live at 7,000′ and I want to be able to blame that, but I don’t know. While I prefer to make things from scratch when I can, there is a mix available on Amazon that is also widely sold and used in Rio de Janeiro from a company called Yoki. I have purchased it in Brasil and brought it home. They turn out consistently very good.
    Thanks for the video!

    • Hilah on November 5, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks, Dave! I have not tried that pao de queijo mix, but you did remind me to go back to the Brazilian market to get more sour tapioca flour. It definitely works better than sweet tapioca flour.

  15. Marie Keehl on November 18, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this recipe. I go to a brazillian steakhouse (Gaucho’s). That’s where I fell in love with these little pillows of love. Also they are so easy to make.

  16. Marie Keehl on November 18, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    It is a lot cheaper than per to make TV them yourself. $2.50 for 8 oz tapioca flour, $2.00 for 8 oz shredded parm., eggs 2 @.08=.16, milk .75, butter .50 & salt. Less than $6.00, for those little pillows of happiness.

    • Hilah on November 19, 2018 at 7:13 am

      That’s a good point! It is much cheaper to make them at home!

  17. Rita on November 19, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    Hi, I just made this recipe and turned out great. I grew up in southeast of Brazil and have been trying a few American recipes. Today I used extra sharp cheddar and mozzarella (what I had in my fridge) but next time I want to try with Cotija. I think that’s the closest I can find to queijo minas here in Portland, Or. Thanks for the recipe! Funny that in Brazil I never thought about trying to make pão de cheijo at home since it’s often so readily available. Now that I’ve been in the US for awhile I finally learned how to make this classic dish from my region.

    • Hilah on November 20, 2018 at 10:23 am

      So glad! Coincidentally I made some a couple days ago with cotija and it worked very well 🙂

  18. Rosetta on December 22, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Does this recipe work with low fat milk or fat free milk as well?

    • Hilah on December 23, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      Low fat, yes, but I have not tried with fat free milk

  19. Amber on January 7, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Not sure what I did wrong. I wanted to reduce the recipe ans was working off 2/3 what the recipe called for. For some reason when i added the hot milk mixture to the flour, it was super dry. I don’t normally watch recipe videos but I am glad I watched yours, so I could see the consistency it should be. I kept adding more milk/butter/oil til it looked right. They ended up turning out awesome. Super puffy and chewy on the inside. I did cook mine at a lower temperature – 350 as I was cooking a small batch.
    One note to readers – you really need a stand mixer IMO. I went at it with a standard hand mixer and it was extremely difficult / messy. But thats just user error on my part.

    • Hilah on January 8, 2019 at 8:07 am

      Thanks for your feedback, Amber! I haven’t ever tried to reduce the quantity of this recipe but good to know it worked for you 🙂

  20. Eyal on February 21, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Hello hilah. Enjoyed you’re video and beautiful energy while making the paode queijo.
    I was super accited, went to the market, bought all the needed ingredients.
    When I mixed the tapioca flower with the worm liquid of whole milk, oil and butter, it seemed like the tapioca just disappeared there, it remained super duper liquid.

    I didn’t know what to do so I added white weet flower until it was useable to make some kind of shape out of it(before that it was just liquid)
    It didn’t turn out good. Eatable but not nearly as yummy as pao de queijo.
    So I know that was the flower I added but I don’t know why it didn’t form to something more solid

    • Hilah on February 25, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      Oh no! When the pao de queijo dough turns out runny, you just need to chill it in the fridge a little while. I wrote about that in the notes but I will add it to the recipe card, too. I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. Hope you try again!

      • Eyal Tsabban on February 26, 2019 at 7:15 am

        I did!
        It worked much better,
        But it sticks so hard to the parchament paper, it takes some of it with the balls.

        Any Tips?

        Other than that, it’s really good

        • Hilah on February 26, 2019 at 8:04 am

          Hi Eyal! I have not ever had them stick to parchment. My first guess is that maybe you are using waxed paper, not parchment. Or maybe they just need to cool a bit before you try to take them off. They should not be sticking that bad to parchment paper, though.

  21. Eduardo on March 9, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks for the detailed recipe! As born-and-raised Brazilian, I can say my pao de queijos tasted really authentic! I used Fontina cheese because I think they melt well and added Parmesan for flavor too. I will definitely check out your blog for more recipes!

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