Pão de queijo is a popular Brazilian snack that has gained worldwide popularity. These naturally gluten-free bread bites are crispy on the outside with a chewy, cheesy center. Perfect as a snack, appetizer, or side dish, they're a taste of Brazil that's easy to make at home.
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The first time I tried Brazilian cheese bread, the year started with a “1,” and the only Fogo de Chão in the United States was located in Dallas. Under the close supervision of her Brazilian mother-in-law, one of my American co-workers whipped up a gigantic batch of these cheesy bread bites for a potluck. The tasty tidbits immediately became a hot topic as a bunch of Midwesterners fell in love at first bite with this traditional Brazilian treat.
Today, many Americans have tried Brazilian cheese bread, or pão de queijo. It’s served as a side dish at Brazilian steakhouses from coast to coast, and you can bake frozen Brazi Bites at home. And today, I’m going to show you how fast and easy it is to whip up a batch of delicious Brazilian cheese balls at home.
In This Article
What is Brazilian Cheese Bread?
Brazilian cheese bread, or as the locals say, “pão de queijo,” is a bite-sized ball of cheesy, chewy goodness that’s the culinary equivalent of a warm hug from avó. Imagine biting into a perfectly crusty exterior only to discover an explosion of gooey, cheesy heaven on the inside. These Brazilian cheese puffs are kind of like that!
Is Brazilian Cheese Bread Gluten Free?
Yes, Brazilian cheese bread is naturally gluten free! It’s made with tapioca flour, so you can still enjoy these tasty little cheese bites even if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity.
What’s the Difference Between Tapioca Flour and Tapioca Starch?
Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are essentially the same thing. In fact, the front of Bob’s Red Mill tapioca flour package says “also known as tapioca starch.” Whether you call it tapioca flour or tapioca starch, it’s a very fine, white flour made from the root of the cassava plant native to South America.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
These are the key ingredients needed to whip up a batch of Brazilian cheese bread.
Like most baked goods, it’s best to use a room-temperature egg. Why? There are two main reasons. First, room temperature eggs whip better, helping the batter be fluffier and less dense. Additionally, if your batter contains butter, cold eggs can make melted or softened butter re-solidify, causing the mixture to be lumpy and the baked good to cook unevenly.
Because eggs are an alpha-gal friendly ingredient, I haven’t tried this Brazilian cheese bread recipe with an egg substitute. But if you give it a go, leave me a comment and let me know how it works for you.
Derived from the cassava root and naturally gluten free, tapioca flour gives these cheesy puffs their chewy texture. Because tapioca flour isn’t as readily available as wheat-based flour, you may wonder, “Can you make Brazilian cheese bread with regular flour?” Unfortunately, wheat flour will not work in this recipe. However, tapioca flour is typically found at large supermarkets, specialty grocery stores, or online.
You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and you can’t make Brazilian cheese bread without cheese. The good news is that you can use just about any cheese or combination of cheeses you want — including vegan cheese. I’ve made these bites with everything from aged Gouda to sharp cheddar to vegan cheddar cheese shreds, so whether you enjoy dairy or have to avoid it, you can still dig into a batch of these chewy cheese puffs.
Sage Advice: Whether you use low-fat, full-fat, or vegan varieties, other great cheeses to try in this recipe include white cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, queso fresco, blue cheese, mozzarella cheese, and feta. You can even mix and match as long as your cheese of choice totals ½ cup.
How to Make Brazilian Cheese Bread Dairy-Free
For a dairy-free version of these Brazilian cheese bread puffs, use these ingredients and then follow the same instructional steps in the regular recipe below:
How to Make Brazilian Cheese Bread
Making Brazilian cheese bread is easier than you might think. Simply pulse all ingredients together in a blender, pour into greased mini muffin tins, and bake. Yes, it’s really that easy!
What to Eat with Brazilian Cheese Bread
In Brazil, these cheesy bread bites are served for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or as a starchy side at dinnertime, so they blend in with any meal as efficiently as a Rainforest chameleon.
How to Store Brazilian Cheese Bread
Sort of like leftover wine, I’ve heard of leftover Brazilian cheese bread, but I’ve never actually experienced it. If you are more disciplined than I am and don’t eat the entire batch of warm cheese bread in one sitting, you can store these bread balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
How to Reheat Brazilian Cheese Bread
For the best results, I recommend reheating your pão de queijo in the oven. This will ensure that the crispy exterior is restored before you bite in. Just pop them in the oven or an air fryer at 350 F for a few minutes until they’re warm, and they’ll taste as fresh as the day they were originally baked.
Related Article: What is an Air Fryer? Get the Fry Without the Fat
Brazilian Cheese Bread (with Dairy-Free Substitution)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 egg room temperature
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1 ½ cups tapioca flour I used Bob’s Red Mill
- ½ cup grated cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Grease a mini muffin pan with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula as needed.
- Pour batter evenly into greased muffin tins, leaving about ⅛” of space at the top. (If you use a silicone muffin pan, place it on a baking sheet before placing it in the oven.)
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the tops of the bread bites are golden brown.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for two minutes. Then remove the bread from the pan and serve immediately.