Pao de Queijo Recipe | Brazilian Cheese Rolls

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for ages and ages. There’s a good reason why I haven’t, which will become apparent in a second. My husband’s cousin shared her amazing Pao de Queijo Recipe with me a few years ago. When I make them, they disappear faster than I can bake them. Everyone loves these addictive little cheese rolls. They disappear so quickly that it’s hard to even get a decent picture of them. For reals.
Chances are you’ve eaten these tasty cheese rolls at Brazilian BBQ restaurants. Most of the time those come from a packaged mix – it’s true. While those are certainly good (I used to use a mix too), the ones made from scratch are sooooo much better! If you learn to make these, you will be everyone’s favorite person, I promise you. I don’t know anyone that can resist a plate or basket full of hot pao de queijo. The little people (and big person) I live with have been known to cheer when they see me mixing up a batch. True story.
They are naturally gluten-free because they are made from tapioca starch. Tapioca starch is the same thing the tapioca pearls are made from. Tapioca starch comes from manioc or yucca. It’s a starchy tuber that is used similarly to a potato and other starchy tubers and root veggies. It’s used in Brazil for a lot of things, but also in Asian cuisine. Actually, I buy almost all of my tapioca starch from the Asian market. It’s a lot less expensive that other brands, but use what you can find. If you’re really lucky, you might be able to find it in the bulk section, but more often than not, I buy the packaged kind.
There was some debate whether or not to use sour or sweet tapioca starch. Did you know there are two different kinds? I didn’t. The answer is that it doesn’t really matter. My husband thought it had to be the sour kind, but his cousin said no, it doesn’t matter. They can be made with either kind. This small detail will only matter to you if you know that there are two different kinds of tapioca starch in Brazil. I’ve used both kinds and the difference is negligible, if there was any difference at all. Occasionally you’ll come across bigger bags of tapioca starch in Latin markets, and if you’re lucky enough to have a Brazilian market, they will for sure have it. But like I said, almost every Asian market I’ve ever been to carries it too.
brazilian cheese rolls pao de queijo
Now we come to the question of cheese. It’s kind of a personal preference, I’ve found. My husband’s cousin like to use a four-cheese blend found in big bags at Costco. I like to use a combination of Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar, and Parmesan cheese. Other people use shredded mozzarella – not the fresh kind, however. It has to be the aged mozzarella that you can grate. You could use all Parmesan, but we find the flavor is a little too strong for our liking. The cheese also adds to the wonderful chewy texture, so we like to use cheeses with good melting properties. Mozzarella and Monterey Jack aren’t strong-flavored cheeses, but they are awesome melting cheeses. That’s why we mix them with sharp cheddar and Parmesan.In Brazil they also add other things to pao de queijo that you won’t usually find here in the U.S. Diced ham is one. I haven’t really played around with adding things in, but I will say that the rolls make great sandwiches. Just make large balls of the dough. They will flatten out a bit more, but they are still perfect. Trust me.This method is a little different than others I’ve encountered, but they taste better to me than other recipes I’ve tried. Be sure to read the recipe notes for extra tips and helpful hints.

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Pao de Queijo | Brazilian Cheese Rolls

Irresistible Brazilian cheese rolls made from tapioca starch are naturally gluten-free and easy to make.


Units Scale
  • 800 grams (28 ounces) tapioca starch
  • 400 grams (about 1 pound) shredded cheese (a mix of mozzarella, sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, Parmesan)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. salt (you can use less if you want)
  • 34 extra large eggs


  1. Put the tapioca starch in the bowl of a large stand mixer.
  2. In a pan, heat the oil, milk, and salt to a boil, watch carefully so it doesn’t boil over. Stir to dissolve the salt.
  3. Pour the hot milk into the tapioca starch and stir with a wooden spoon (you can use the mixer, but it might poof up in your face). Turn on the mixer to combine. The dough will look shaggy. With the mixer running. add the eggs one at a time. The dough will have the consistency of frosting. If it’s too dry add another egg. Wait for it to cool to room temperature. With the mixer running, add the cheese a little at a time. The dough will be runny. Let it chill for a few hours, if you want, and it will hold up better. Otherwise, use a small ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for about 20 minutes. The tops should be golden.


Tapioca starch can be found in Asian markets in small 400 gram bags. This recipe uses two of those. Each bag weighs about 14 ounces. You can also find tapioca starch in Latin markets.

You could substitute another flavorless oil for the canola – sunflower, safflower, or grape seed. Olive oil is too strong.

I’ve never attempted to make these dairy-free, but I have thought about using Daiya vegan shreds, a good tablespoon or more of nutritional yeast, and a non-dairy milk. The eggs cannot really be substituted, however.

It’s important to let the dough cool before rolling into balls. If the dough is too warm, the baked rolls will flatten. Not the end of the world – more of an aesthetic thing.

This recipe makes a lot, so you can freeze half for later. Just form the dough balls and freeze, then put them into a plastic ziploc bag. You can bake them when they are frozen, just add about 5 more minutes to the baking time.

  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Category: bread
  • Cuisine: Brazilian

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