Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

by autumn on March 10, 2014

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) // Autumn Makes & Does

When we were in Chicago in January for a friend’s wedding, we ate a little placed called Cassava that specialized these cheesy, chewy little breads. We ate there twice in one weekend because when you’re a gluten-free person in a new place, a restaurant you can eat at is always your new best friend.

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) // Autumn Makes & Does

Pão de queijo are a traditional Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca starch, so most iterations of them are naturally gluten-free. They’re sort of a blank slate in terms of adding your own flavors, so they’re very adaptable. I stirred in some diced uncured petite ham from Vermont Smoke & Cure that they sent me to play around with. I really love these little hams because as one half of a couple who is very conscientious about the meat we eat, it’s so nice to have an option that is a) uncured and certified humane and b) a very manageable size.

Most recipes I encountered for these called for a stand mixer and I’m still a stand mixer-less food blogger. So, I used my hands, which made this way more fun and–because you need to work the dough for a while–good stress relief too. Judging by how delicious the final product was, it didn’t suffer from the lack of a stand mixer. I find that these are really best the day they’re made, so this doesn’t make a huge batch. However, you could easily double it for a cocktails & snacks situation or a spring-y brunch.

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) // Autumn Makes & Does

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)
Recipe Type: bread
Author: Autumn Giles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: makes 16
A simple recipe for the traditional Brazilian Cheese Bread, Pão de Queijo.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 2/3 cup finely diced cooked ham
  • black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Bring the 1/3 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.
  4. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat and combine with tapioca starch and oil in a medium bowl.
  5. Stir together with a spatula and as soon as it’s no longer too hot to touch, begin working the dough with your hands. Smush it through your fingers and pull and stretch it. Do this for about 6 minutes, until the dough is glossy and pliable. (If it seems like there is extra oil at this point, that’s ok. It will easily incorporate once you add the egg.)
  6. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the beaten egg and incorporate it into the dough. It’s a sticky job, but I did this with my hands and it worked just fine. Indeed, this is where a stand mixer would come in handy. The resulting dough will have a slightly uneven texture. That’s normal!
  8. Fold in the grated parmesan, ham, and a few generous turns of grated black pepper.
  9. Using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, scoop the batter on to the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops begin to turn golden brown.
  11. Let cool slightly and enjoy.


Disclosure: I received products from Vermont Smoke & Cure free of charge for editorial consideration.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eileen March 10, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I’ve never heard of these before–they look so good! Plus I’ve had half a bag of tapioca starch sitting around for over a year, waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. Looks like this is the perfect plan!


2 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar March 11, 2014 at 12:28 am

I want this bread in my life so bad – love this recipe! Also, that place you went to sounds great!


3 autumn March 11, 2014 at 9:38 am

Thanks, Katrina!


4 Molly (Based on a Sprue Story) March 11, 2014 at 11:49 am

Gotta love any bread recipe that doesn’t call for a stand mixer. I’ve been wanting to try making these forever! I’ve loved them every time I’ve had them out somewhere in NYC. Your recipe sounds nice and simple.

By the way, I also loved this line: “when you’re a gluten-free person in a new place, a restaurant you can eat at is always your new best friend.” Yyyyep.


5 autumn March 19, 2014 at 11:23 am

ha! thanks, molly. admittedly, these would be a cinch with a stand mixer. but, they’re definitely possible without.


6 Nicole March 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Ooo! I’ve never heard of these before, but they sound tasty! I’m surprised tapioca starch can produce such dinner roll-like balls. Yum.


7 autumn March 19, 2014 at 11:21 am

Thanks, Nicole! Yeah, it’s definitely one of those recipes that until it comes out of the oven, it’s hard to believe it works. When you eat them a little warmer they’re certainly a bit more gummy/chewy, but once they’ve just cooled more of a pizza crust consistency…or at least what I remember of pizza crust! 🙂


8 Hannah March 30, 2014 at 3:03 am

These look awesome! I’ve seen pre-made versions of pao bread showing up in the freezer section of grocery stores and have definitely been intrigued. I love the idea of making it myself, especially with little ham bits. Brilliant!


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