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Brazilian Cheese Bread or Pão de Queijo

Brazilian Cheese Bread, aka pao de queijo, are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and loaded with cheesy goodness. They are also naturally gluten free!

brazilian cheese bread in a wooden bowl shot from a low angle

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With a blog constantly in need of filling, we’re always on the lookout for interesting new recipes.

You wouldn’t think that a preschool would be a hotbed of gourmet food. But one day, my son’s teacher Anna brought a basket of crusty, chewy, cheesy bread balls to a school party.

They were a huge hit. I didn’t hesitate to pester her for the recipe. They were pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread.

These chewy, cheesy puffs use tapioca flour, which is gluten-free, instead of wheat flour. They are similar in texture and flavor to gougeres (French cheese puffs) or cheese popovers. They are also similar to Korean mochi balls, which use glutinous rice flour (the same stuff that is in mochi).

What Is Tapioca Flour?

Tapioca comes from the cassava root, a tuber native to South America, Asia, and Africa. You’ll find it as flour, flakes, or the pearls that make the boba in tapioca pudding and boba tea.

Tapioca flour has almost nothing but pure starch, so it has little nutritional value on its own. But it makes a great substitute for wheat flour in certain recipes.

Since it is naturally gluten-free, it makes a great substitute for making gluten-free baked goods or thickening soups or sauces.

Is Brazilian cheese bread hard to make?

On the contrary, this recipe is insanely easy to make. And of course, everyone loves them—from grown-up food snobs and picky young tykes alike.

There are several methods for making pão de queijo. One is similar to the method for making French gougeres in which you cook the dough on the stovetop prior to baking.

Anna’s method involves mixing a thick dough together and then shaping it into balls by hand.

After many delicious experiments, I’ve settled on this method. It has you put all of the ingredients into a blender, then pour the batter into a greased mini-muffin tin.

It’s just so incredibly easy—sacrificing nothing in terms of flavor or texture—that once I tried it, there was no going back.

Anna makes her pão de queijo with cotija, an aged Mexican cheese, but I like them best with sharp, white cheddar. I’m sure they’d be great with just about any flavorful cheese such as Parmesan, feta, or gruyere.

brazilian cheesebread in a rectangular wooden tray shot from overhead

Try these other great gluten-free recipes

Brazilian Cheese Puffs or Pão de Queijo

Robin Donovan
Brazilian Cheese Puffs are a great snack or side. They're easy to make and naturally gluten free. This recipe is adapted from Simply Recipes. Makes 24 puffs.
4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer Recipes
Cuisine Brazilian
Calories 75 kcal


  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup milk 1%, 2%, or Whole
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups tapioca flour*
  • 4 ounces grated cheese sharp white cheddar, cotija, parmesan, or whatever you choose
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Chili powder paprika, or other spice for sprinkling (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 450°F and spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.
  • Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin, filling each well about two-thirds full, and sprinkle with a bit of chili powder or other spice, if using.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 14 to 15 minutes, until they puff up and turn a light golden brown.
  • Transfer to a basket or serving platter and serve warm.


Also called tapioca starch, tapioca flour can be found at any natural foods store and many supermarkets or it can be ordered online.


Serving: 1Calories: 75kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 2gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 129mg
Keyword brazilian cheese bread, pao de queijo, tapioca flour, tapioca starch
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on April 2nd, 2013


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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