Are you looking for an alternative to plain rolls that is also gluten-free? Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and cheesy all around, Chewy Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao De Queijo) are the perfect tasty option.
Crispy on the outside.
Chewy on the inside.
Cheesy through and through.
Does this sound delish or what?
Brazilian cheese bread, also known as pao de queijo ("pow de KAY-zho"), has got to be one of the best creations ever.
And because this cheese bread uses tapioca starch as its main dry ingredients, it is gluten-free!
It all starts with heating up milk, oil and salt, and then stirring in tapioca starch to create your dough.
About the starch: Tapioca is the starch extracted from the cassava plant, and cassava flour can be used interchangeably with the tapioca starch in this recipe. To form the dough, it needs milk/water that is hot enough to "cook" it and make it thicken and congeal, so be sure that the you heat the milk enough so that it is steaming.
After some time to let the sticky lumpy dough cool down, it's time to mix in the eggs and cheese and then you are all set to make these cheese balls!
Keep in mind that if you were to look up images of pao de queijo on the web, you will find the majority of images showing mostly smooth buns. So granted, my cheese balls are a tad rougher looking.
One reason is I don't process the dough a lot, leaving them more on the lumpy side than smooth and uniform. I find that the lumpier dough results in a more airy and less dense cheese bread.
That being said, if you prefer to be a smoother texture, all it takes more beating and mixing to work out the lumps. It's totally up to you how you want to make them!
You can also smooth out the tops of the cheese balls with wet fingertips before baking so the outsides are not as rough.
As an aside, my boys actually said they look like rocks. Niiiice.
But they said they taste really good! 😉
It just goes to show that you definitely don't want to judge this book by its cover! No matter what it looks like, it all tastes CHEESY GOOD.
They are deliciously crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside...and don't forget gluten-free!
I like to make them as part of brunch, a companion for dipping in hot soup, or as a side to a roast chicken dinner, like my Dry Brined Roast Chicken. They are also great alongside a salad, or as an afterschool snack. Store any leftovers in a sealed container for a couple of days, warming up in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds to soften before eating.
Try mixing in chopped scallions and garlic powder to add a more flavorful punch to this cheese bread. How ever you serve them up, they are a perfect gluten-free alternative to regular wheat rolls, and I have to say, they're way tastier, too!
Chewy Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao De Queijo)
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup light oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 220 g tapioca starch (or cassava flour)
- 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 100 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ½ cups)
- In medium pot, heat milk, oil and salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Do not let it reach a vigorous boil. Remove from heat once bubbles start appearing along the edge or the milk starts foaming a bit. Milk should be steaming. Stir well.
- Add all the tapioca starch and stir to combine until full incorporated. Dough will be gooey, sticky, and lumpy. (See note below if dough is runny.)
- Pour dough into mixing bowl and let rest until cool enough to touch, at least 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat oven 450 deg F (230C).
- Using a mixer with either a paddle or dough hook attachment, mix the eggs into the dough thoroughly until well-combined. (See note below.)
- Add grated Parmesan cheese and mix well to combine.
- Using either a scoop, two spoons, or your hands, form dough into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Put baking sheet into oven and immediately turn heat down to 350 deg F (180C).
- Bake for 30 minutes until bread is golden brown. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.
- While you do not want your milk to boil, you want to make sure it is hot enough before you stir in the tapioca starch so that the starch congeals. Milk should be steaming hot.
- If the dough mixture is still runny after mixing the tapioca starch with the milk, do not add any more tapioca starch. Instead, pour the batter into greased/lined muffin tins and bake as per instructions.
- Tapioca starch and cassava flour are from the same cassava plant, except that tapioca is the starch extracted from the plant. Both tapioca starch and cassava flour can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
- 220g of tapioca starch is roughly equivalent to 2 cups in volume with the tapioca starch be scooped into the cup. Using weight measurements is more accurate, however, and will yield better results.
- If you do not have a mixer, you can mix the eggs in by hand with a spoon, but it will require some elbow grease. In this case, I would beat the eggs first before adding to the tapioca dough so that they are easier to incorporate.
- If mixing by hand, your dough will likely be lumpier than if using a mixer, but that's okay!
- If you prefer a smoother dough/batter, mix it for longer, or you can also pulse in a food processor to make a more cohesive dough.
- With wet fingers, gently press in any jaggy edges or points on the dough balls before baking to smooth out the surface, if desired.
- If you prefer the bread to be less salty or cheesy, reduce the salt to ½ teaspoon and the Parmesan cheese to 1 cup.
- Stir in chopped scallions and garlic for a tasty alternative!
This post was published in April 26th, 2019 and updated February 15th, 2021 with modified instructions and added notes.