Pao de Queijo: Your Complete Guide to Brazilian Cheese Bread (2023)

Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, Pao de Queijo is a beloved Brazilian snack similar to a dinner roll.

With a simple list of ingredients, this tasty treat is not only delicious to eat but is also relatively easy to make at home.

Pão de Queijo is a Brazilian cheese bread. The key ingredient being cassava root, Pão de Queijo is gluten free. It is traditionally eaten with breakfast or as a snack and pairs well with coffee or tea.

In this article, we will discuss the unique history behind Pão de Queijo, break down the ingredients, and take a look at a recipe.

By the time you are finished reading, you’ll want to give this popular Brazilian food a try!

Translation & Pronunciation of Pão de Queijo

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Before we go any further, let’s begin by discussing the name.

Pronounced “pow-deh-kay-zho,” this delectable little snack originated in Brazil, where the national language is Portuguese.

If you aren’t a Portuguese speaker, you might be wondering what Pão de Queijo actually means.

These three Portuguese words literally translate into “bread of cheese.” We rearrange those words into “cheese bread” in the English language.

It really is as simple as that; Pão de Queijo is cheese bread.

History of Pão de Queijo

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Pão de Queijo is similar in size and shape to a small dinner roll, roughly 1-2 inches (2.54 – 5.08 cm) in diameter.

This cheese bread is full of nutrients and, as a bonus, is naturally gluten-free.

This little bread ball is tasty and nutritious, and it also has a unique story to tell of its origin.

Let’s take a look at how Pão de Queijo came into existence.


Pão de Queijo was first developed in the late 1800s in Minas Gerais, a state in southeastern Brazil.

(Video) Baking Brazilian Cheesy Bread - with Camila Coelho | JESSICA ALBA

Today, Minas Gerais is one of Brazil’s leading producers of dairy.

Minas Gerais is also widely known for its traditional Brazilian cuisine and its creative use of local ingredients.

Slaves were ultimately the culinary masterminds behind Pão de Queijo.

Enslaved people were often given small food rations.

Extreme work conditions and little food were a dismal combination, so the enslaved people of Minas Gerais learned to become quite resourceful and very creative with whatever food they could get their hands on.

Oftentimes, landowners would toss aside scraps and remnants of food they felt were no longer of use.

One food native to the area and frequently discarded was the leftovers of used cassava root.

The remains of cassava root create a starchy powder. Slaves at the time discovered that this starch could be used to make bread.

Toward the end of the 19th century, slavery was abolished in Brazil.

Around this same time, dairy production began to boom in Minas Gerais.

It was not long before local aged Minas cheese was added to the cassava flour bread balls that we now know as Pão de Queijo.

Pão de Queijo Ingredients

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Pão de Queijo is a very simple concoction with a relatively short list of ingredients, which are easily accessible in most major grocery store chains or online marketplaces in the US today.

A basic Pão de Queijo recipe calls for cassava flour, milk, oil, egg, salt, and cheese and takes less than 30 minutes to make.

The critical component to Pão de Queijo, the ingredient that started it all, is cassava flour.

Since cassava flour is such a crucial element in this recipe, we need to dig deeper into what it is.

(Video) Make Incredible Pao de Queijo At Home - Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread Recipe!

Cassava Root

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As we stated before, cassava root is native to Minas Gerais.

Cassava is highly nutritious when correctly prepared, but the plant contains high amounts of cyanide in its raw form.

Cassava root can be difficult to work with as it must be properly processed before consuming.

This problematic process explains why so many landowners were quick to toss out the plant.

First, the root must be harvested, peeled, and finely grated. Once grated, it must soak in water for 4-6 days.

After the soak, it should be dried before use.

Though this process is arduous, the results are worthwhile.

Cassava root is naturally gluten-free but contains enough starch to produce bread.

It is also high in calories, protein, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals, making it a fulfilling snack.

Other Names for Cassava

So far in this article, it has only been referred to as cassava flour, but this starch has several pseudonyms worth mentioning.

Manioc, yuca, and tapioca are sometimes used in place of cassava, but they are all saying the same thing.

Cassava manioc is the full name of the plant. Most of the time, this name gets shortened to cassava, but other times it is referred to as manioc.

Yuca is more of a nickname for cassava, but it should not be mistaken for the yucca shrub plant native to the Caribbean islands.

Tapioca is derived from the starchy part of cassava root, whereas cassava flour is derived from the whole plant.

Both are dense in fiber and highly nutritious.

(Video) Brazilian cheese bread

Pão de Queijo Recipe

Pao de Queijo: Your Complete Guide to Brazilian Cheese Bread (5)

Let’s take a look at how exactly to make Pão de Queijo.

The following recipe is taken from The Cooking Foodie.

Here is a link to a video to accompany the recipe:

Ingredients for 8 pieces:

  • 0.65 cups (83 grams) tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) milk
  • 2.5 tbsp (39 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (41 grams) grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp (15 grams) grated parmesan cheese


Pao de Queijo: Your Complete Guide to Brazilian Cheese Bread (6)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C).
  2. Put the tapioca flour in a mixing bowl and set it aside for now.
  3. In a saucepan, mix the milk, oil, and salt until the mixture boils.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and place it into the tapioca bowl. Stir the mixture until fully combined.
  5. Add the egg and mix it thoroughly.
  6. Add the mozzarella and parmesan and stir until you get a sticky dough.
  7. Shape it into small balls and place them on a lined baking tray, spacing them a few inches apart. This recipe should make about 8 balls.
  8. Bake the balls for 15-20 minutes or until golden and puffy.
  9. Cool them on a wire rack and then enjoy!

Final Pao de Queijo Thoughts

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Pão de Queijo has an incredible history rooted deep in Brazilian culture.

This cheese bread is so tasty; it is no wonder the tradition remains alive today.

Pão de Queijo is delicious and easy to make at home.

Give this recipe a try today!

Try it with some doce de leite (dulce de leche) or goiabada and serve it with some traditional Brazilian coffee!

Or if you lack cooking skills or time, you can always buy popular ready mix Brazilian brands like Yoki Pao de Queijo or Amafil Pao de Queijo online.



(Video) NO KNEAD Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de queijo) + GF Waffles

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