Chewy and cheesy Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) is so addictive! Made with naturally gluten free ingredients and two kinds of cheese, these soft biscuits are easy to make and bake to golden perfection.
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You’ve never had cheesy biscuits quite like these! Brazilian Cheese Bread is a chewy, cheesy snack, side dish, or breakfast that is easy to make and naturally gluten free. They’re slightly crisp on the outside, and soft, chewy, and cheesy on the inside, making them completely addictive!
Brazilian cheese bread is known for its unique texture. This is because it’s made with tapioca flour instead of all purpose flour. It’s a starchy alternative that leaves the bread with a chewy, airy, and almost gummy texture. Plus, with two kinds of cheese folded in the dough, every bite is extra cheesy and delicious.
What is Brazilian cheese bread?
Pão de queijo (“cheese bread” in Portuguese) are small and round biscuits baked with cheese in the middle. It’s a popular snack and breakfast food that originated in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil.
Unlike North American dinner rolls and biscuits, Brazilian cheese bread is made with cassava starch or tapioca flour instead of all purpose flour, which makes them inherently gluten free and soft and chewy in the middle.
This Brazilian bread recipe is made with simple ingredients you can find in almost any grocery store! However, I don’t recommend making any substitutions because other kinds of flour and milk will not give you the same results. This is what you need:
- Tapioca flour – Pão de queijo isn’t made with wheat flour. It was originally made with cassava (yuca) starch because it was widely available at the time of its invention. Tapioca flour is different from cassava starch but is easier to find in major grocery stores in North America nowadays. It’s a naturally gluten free ingredient that gives the bread a slightly chewy and airy texture you won’t be able to get enough of!
- Milk – Whole milk gives the bread fat and flavor, making it the best choice for this recipe.
- Oil – Neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil, is best.
- Egg – To help bind the bread dough together.
- Parmesan cheese – The first of two kinds of cheese in pão de queijo!
- Mozzarella cheese – Feel free to use white cheddar cheese or queso fresco instead.
How to make Brazilian cheese bread
Step 1 – Stir the tapioca flour and salt together in a bowl.
Step 2 – Heat the milk and oil together in a saucepan on the stove. Take it off of the heat as soon as the mixture starts to boil and rise.
Step 3 – Pour the hot milk mixture over the flour and salt. Gently and slowly stir the wet and dry mixtures together.
Step 4 – Now stir in the egg. Once the dough is starting to form into a sticky ball, add the cheese. Work and knead the dough with your hands until the cheese is fully incorporated.
Step 5 – Lightly oil your hands. Use an oiled spoon to scoop up pieces of dough, then roll them into small balls with your hands. Place the dough balls on a lined baking sheet.
- Tip: Baking the cheese bread in lightly oiled muffin tins will give each one the same consistent shape, but this is optional.
Step 6 – Bake until the cheese bread is golden. Let them cool for a few minutes, then serve.
Tips and tricks
- Place the milk and egg on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes ahead of making this recipe so they can come down to room temperature.
- Don’t take your eyes off the milk and oil mixture when it’s on the stove. Boiled milk will rise and spill over very easily!
- Try to avoid taking the milk and oil mixture off of the heat as it’s boiling because this will cause the two to separate.
- The dough should be sticky and gluey as it’s coming together. However, if it’s too sticky to work with, try stirring in 1 extra tablespoon of tapioca flour.
What to serve with pão de queijo
Enjoy the cheese bread on the side of Slow Cooker Oxtail, Brazilian Beef Stew, or Oven Roasted Brisket for dinner. Feel free to split each one in half and slather them with butter to make them even more delicious.
Pão de queijo can also be served on the side of an elaborate breakfast, like a Smoked Salmon Breakfast Casserole, or with something more simple, like a Mango Pineapple Smoothie or black coffee. Otherwise, just enjoy them as-is for a quick and tasty snack!
Frequently asked questions
I don’t recommend making this recipe with any substitutions, and that includes the tapioca flour. However, if you can’t find it, you can try using cornstarch or cassava starch instead.
Don’t panic if the bread is gooey or gummy in the middle! Making Brazilian cheese bread with tapioca flour means both the dough and baked bread will be a little sticky, gummy, and chewy (in the best way).
Whatever you do, try not to overwork the dough or add too much extra flour. This will make the baked bread tough rather than soft.
Making ahead and storing
To make ahead: Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in a layer of plastic. It can be stored in the fridge like this for up to 1 week.
To store: The baked bread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. To keep them for even longer, store them in the fridge.
Looking for more Brazilian recipes to try?
- Brazilian Pinto Beans
- Bird’s Nest Brigadeiro
- Churrasco Steak with Grilled Veggies
- Moqueca de Camarão (Shrimp Stew)
- Easy 20-Minutes Fish Stew
Brazilian Cheese Bread Recipe
- 2 cups tapioca flour + 1 tbsp
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
- In a medium bowl stir in tapioca flour and salt. Set aside
- Boil milk and oil until mixture starts to rise. Keep an eye on this, once boiling milk will rise quickly. When removed from heat the milk and oil will separate again.
- Pour hot milk mixture on to flour bowl. Using a wooden spoon start to stir slowly, allowing mixture to cool down for a bit but don't over work the mixture at this point.
- Add in the egg. Notice the dough and milk aren't fully combined. Now you can start to work the dough until it forms into a ball. When the dough is just about formed add in cheeses and work it into the dough.
- You can do this by hand, I find it much easier (photo instructions are in the post). If dough appears too sticky, use additional tablespoon of tapioca flour however the nature of the dough is sticky and gluey. The additional flour is so that it is easy to roll into balls.
- Oil the palm of your hands as well as a scoop. Scoop up the dough and then form into balls.
- Place cheese bread balls onto a lined baking sheet leaving about an inch or two of space in between each cheese ball.
- Bake at 350F degrees for 25 minutes or until cheese bread is golden. Use the top shelf in your oven so the cheese bread won't burn on the bottom.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.