Pao de Queijo

Pao de Queijo

This dish is a Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca flour. It is gluten free and uses the stretchy nature of tapioca starch to create a gorgeous, stretchy bread. You’d swear it’s stuffed with cheese the way it tears, but that’s actually the tapioca (parmesan don’t stretch like that).

As you might guess, I put together this recipe as a part of my world cup series, but then Brazil went and got knocked out earlier than any of us anticipated and left me high and dry. But that’s okay, this stuff is delicious all the time and is a nice recipe to have in your back pocket. It’s easy to make and much more interesting than those dinner rolls out of a can.

If you have never used tapioca starch before, it becomes exceptionally gluey and stretchy when cooked. The way this recipe works is to add hot water/milk to the starch, immediately cooking it. Because of this, the stirring of a starch takes a bit of muscle. That stuff immediately thickens up and it’s like stirring a bowl of cement. If your arms get tired easily, you can certainly use a mixer, but I think the struggle is part of the fun.



Pao de Queijo

1½ cups tapioca starch
1 tsp salt
¾ water or milk
3 tbsp neutral oil
½ cup parmesan, grated
½ cup cheese of choice, grated (I like pepper jack)
1 egg


In a small saucepan, bring your water or milk, oil, and salt to a boil.

Pour the tapioca starch into a mixing bowl and add the boiling liquid. Stir this together until all of the starch is taken up, and then stir a bit more. The starch cooks with the addition of the hot liquid, so it will become thick, gluey, and tough to mix, but that starch is what gives pao de queijo its wonderful texture. Feel free to use a mixer here if you have one.

Once nicely mixed, beat in the egg. This will smooth out the batter a bit. Then you can stir in the cheese.

When everything is mixed, toss the dough in the refrigerator or freezer for 15-30 minutes to allow it to chill. This makes it much easier to form into balls.

After the dough is chilled, form balls roughly the size of a ping pong ball and place them on a greased baking sheet. A bit of oil on your hands makes forming the balls easier.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned.

Enjoy with soups and stews, or by themselves as a tasty snack.

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