Monday, February 6, 2012

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread) Version I

If you are not a Brazilian, maybe you have tried Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread) at a Churrascaria (Brazilian Steak House). Or maybe, you have a Brazilian friend that served it you at their house over a cup of coffee. Or, even better, maybe you had a taste of the real deal while traveling in Brazil. No matter how you were introduced to it, if you liked it, you probably crave it on a regular basis. It's just like that. This crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside little cheese bread has addictive properties. So if you have not been lucky enough to try it yet, watch out!

I feel as if the goal of every Brazilian expatriate is to try to replicate the perfect Pao de Queijo (Cheese Bread). That can be a very hard task since we can't find in other parts of the world all the same ingredients used on the original Cheese Bread. 

Although there are several versions of Pao de Queijo within Brazil, the people that know best how to make them - the Mineiros (people from the State of Minad Gerais) -  use 2 different types of tapioca flour (the starch of this recipe) to make their Cheese Bread. And that is the first challenge when trying to reproduce their recipe here in the United States where you can find one and only type of that flour. Secondly, finding the perfect cheese to substitute the queijo mineiro curado (cured farmer's cheese) seems to be mission impossible.

Had to ask my husband to brake one open so I could show you the cheese effect!

As we go, I want to share with you several versions of Pao de Queijo, so we can together choose THE ONE, or we can enjoy all of them! Version number 1 is nothing like the traditional, but it really does a good job. It asks for cooked potatoes as a second starch, and for a combination of mozzarella, Havarti, and Parmesan cheeses. This was very easy to make!

This recipe is adapted from one posted on What Katie Ate blog. Thanks, Katie.

Pao de Queijo - Brazilian Cheese Bread (this is naturally gluten-free)
Makes about 45 rolls. Dough keeps well in fridge for 2 days. It can also be frozen (form the rolls, place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, bring to the freezer, when hard put them into ziplocs and freeze).

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour (found Super Target and Whole Foods)
1 cup of potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups of Havarti cheese (or mild to sharp cheddar), shredded
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 eggs
3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
4 tablespoons of canola oil
1 teaspoon of salt
optional - 1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of milk (add at the end if dough is not soft enough)

1- Position a rack in the center of your oven. Fill a heat resistant medium bowl with water and place it at the very end of the rack. Preheat the oven to 350F. (the water inside the bowl will keep the oven moist and prevent the cheese bread from drying out).

2- Place the potatoes in a small pot, cover it with cold water and bring it to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat until potatoes are fork tender. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill (in case you don't own any of those tools, mash the potatoes very well with a fork).

3- Add the riced or mashed potatoes to the bowl of an electric mixer. To that same bowl add all the other ingredients, except for the milk. Using the paddle attachment mix the ingredients until very well combined. The dough will start to pull away from the sides and bottom of the bowl when ready. If you feel as if the dough needs a little more moisture, add between 1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of milk. The dough should be soft to touch, but firm enough to form balls without sticking to your hands.

4- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form balls (about 4" round) with the dough and place them over the parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches of space between the cheese breads. Bring it to the preheated oven and cook for 15-25 minutes or until the bottom of the cheese breads look golden brown. They might still look white or pale yellow on top. Try one to test the doneness. Be careful not to overcook them (they could end up too dry).

Here is what Tapioca Flour (it comes from manioc root) looks like:


Position a rack in the center of the oven. Place a heat proof bowl full of water inside the it. Preheat it to 350F.

Prepare the potatoes:

Place potatoes and all the other ingredients (expect for the milk) into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment mix it all together until very well combined:

If you feel that the dough need a bit more moisture add up to 3 tablespoons of milk to it:

You will end up with a great and easy to work with dough:

Form 4 inch round balls and bake on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper:

Before baking:

After Baking:

It will be white to light yellow on the top and golden brown on the bottom:

Cheesy goodness on the inside:

Perfect with coffee at breakfast or for an afternoon snack: 


  1. Hi Paula,
    I have tried many recipes for Pao de Queijo and have failed miserably, so always fall back on the Yoki mix. But this recipe looks good! I am excited about trying it!

  2. Dear B, this was one was SO easy to make! I hope it works out for you! Are you a Brazilian living in Minneapolis, just like me??!

  3. This recipe was wonderful. My kids and I are gluten intolerant and loved these. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    1. So glad you are enjoying the recipe! I am totally addicted to Pao de Queijo!!

  4. Hi Paula, nice to meet another Brazilian chef ( that is what our family likes to say, right? ), I have a cheese bread recipe that is pretty much like yours ( my neighbor`s recipe ).
    But, I always struggle with the potato do not use it so much.
    I have found a recipe that I like very much, it`s made with cream cheese, believe our not, it taste very good. Give it a try.
    I also have a Blog ( not nice as yours, but, you are welcome to stop by my "shantytown house").
    Will be very nice to exchange cooking experiences with you.
    The recipe you find here

    Have a wonderful cooking day!


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