If you haven’t had Brazilian cheese bread before, you are missing out. Ever since I tried them for the first time at a Brazilian steakhouse they have been a household favorite and a hit at any potluck I bring them to. Warning: these are highly addictive and you won’t be able to have just one. Although it’s called “cheese bread” it’s really more like pillowy chewy doughy balls of deliciousness – not your typical bread! This recipe is also gluten-free if you are sensitive to gluten.
I have tried quite a few recipes. There are two types of dough mixtures that result in very similar tasting bread. The first one is your classic bread dough, which you can freeze and store. The other type is a liquid batter mix that you pour into muffin cups and bake immediately. This recipe is for the latter. It’s delicious, simple, and easy. I’ve included healthy ingredient swaps where applicable.
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Important Recipe Notes
- The beauty of this recipe is the simplicity. You do NOT need any fancy blender or machine. To mix the ingredients together you can use a whisk or a spoon.
- If you’ve never had these before, the inside is hollow and airy. The consistency is very soft and chewy, and almost feels underdone. The best way to tell if it’s fully cooked is to look at the top and bottom of the bread – if it’s fully formed and lightly brown, you’re all set.
- Certain cheddar cheeses can be hard to grate because of the high moisture content. Try putting it in the freezer for 30 minutes beforehand to increase its firmness.
- These mini breads do NOT do well stored. In fact, they don’t do well an hour or two after baking. If they are cold they lose some of their delicious texture, although the taste is still fairly good. I recommend eating them as soon as they are cool enough to eat. If you have a long meal or potluck planned, consider putting them in a basket with a cloth covering to retain some warmth.
No Substitutes: Tapioca Flour
There is one ingredient that is fundamental to Brazilian cheese bread: tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch). The flour is made from the root of the cassava plant. There is no substitute for this. If you haven’t used this flour before, it’s gluten-free and can be used as a thickener in recipes. I haven’t experimented with it significantly besides this bread, but let me tell you, it is delicious in this. It gives the perfect chewy consistency that you can’t get anywhere else.
Primary ingredient: Cheese
The other fundamental ingredient to this recipe is cheese. There are recipes with just parmesan, just cheddar, just mozzarella… experiment and see what works for you. My personal favorite is a mix of sharp cheddar and parmesan, which is what’s included here.
Also – go for the good stuff, block cheese that you hand shred. Taste Of Home has a fantastic article about why to grate your own cheese instead of buying pre-shredded. While I always prefer to stick with ingredients that don’t have added chemicals or preservatives, another consideration is pre-shredded cheese contains potato starch and natamycin that simply doesn’t melt as well. For this recipe, it’s all about melting and being gooey. That being said, I have made this with pre-shredded cheese when I didn’t have a block on hand, and it was still very good. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying this.
Healthy Ingredient Substitutes
Life is about balance. The below recipe has the best mix of ingredients to keep the oil minimal while still being full of flavor. However, if you’re looking for some healthy swaps here are a few ideas.
- Cheese: Can use part-skim cheese if fat is a concern. I would not recommend fat-free since this recipe doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, and it’s all about the cheese. You can also choose whichever is your favorite: cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, etc. and just focus on one variety. If you feel the amount of cheese is too much, you can reduce, but I would recommend going heavier on the topping to make up for the flavor.
- Egg: I would not substitute this. If you cannot consume eggs though I did make this one time omitting the egg on accident and it was actually still delicious. Just make sure to increase the amount of cheese (particularly the cheddar) for the mix to have more moisture.
- Milk: You do NOT need to use full-fat milk for this. You can use skim and it is still good. I have not tried fat-free. My preference though is non-dairy milk, particularly oat milk. I make this recipe almost every time with oat milk and it is delicious and lacking nothing.
- Toppings: I cannot recommend this more: add a topping. It’s good without it, but it’s amazing with it. Garlic powder is my personal favorite. Other honorable mentions: paprika, rosemary, thyme, season salt, or infused salt (such as rosemary salt).
Interested in trying another gluten-free baking recipe? Check out my oat and almond flour banana bread.
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Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese sharp
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt lower salt if adding it to toppings
- garlic powder or favorite seasoning optional but recommended
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray nonstick or silicone muffin pan with oil, as these can stick.
- Mix all wet ingredients (oil, egg, and milk) in a large bowl. You can use a whisk or spoon to mix by hand.
- Add the tapioca flour slowly and mix into the wet ingredients. The resulting mixture will be a thick liquid batter.
- Grate the parmesan and cheddar cheese and add to the liquid base. Add salt. Mix in lightly, cheese should still be visible and not disintegrate.
- Using a spoon or ladle, carefully pour batter into each muffin cup. Can fill each cup about 3/4 or more. If any batter is left over, top off. Add topping (garlic powder is my favorite) if using.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy immediately, the sooner the better.