Pao de queijo - Brazillian cheese rolls
Pao de queijo – Brazillian cheese rolls

Notes on the recipe

Pão de Queijo (pão is bread and queijo is cheese) is a Brazilian bread alternative. It uses tapioca/manioc starch so is gluten free. I halved the original recipe as I bake so much I wasn’t sure we’d eat enough to make a full batch worthwhile (plus if it went wrong I had enough flour to try again!)

I baked these three times – they really did not want to come out quite as puffed up and rounded as those in the original recipe. There was nothing wrong with the bakes other than this; they tasted nice, and they were light and airy inside – the only one thing I did alter was the amount of cheese after the first try. I used a cheddar which is much stronger than the original Monterey Jack and the first batch was VERY cheesy (I loved it but it was a bit too much for some others who tried it) so I reduced the amount of cheese – if I’d used a milder cheese I’d have stayed with the same amount.

Still, rise or no rise, they were lovely made up into cream cheese, bacon and rocket and spinach salad rolls.

Update 4th June 2014

I ordered some more flour, this time labelled as manioc and re-tried. Apart from the new flour, the only two differences were that I spooned the mix into small muffin cases and I made sure the milk/butter mix was fully cool before incorporating. Hey presto – not sure if it’s the flour, the case, to cooling or all of them, but they came out perfect. I’ve amended the recipe below recently to include baking the rolls in muffin cases.

Tapioca – manioc – cassava – flour or starch?

I’d managed to get hold of tapioca flour from a local organic food shop, but, because the consistency was identical to cornflour (to me that wouldn’t be good enough for a well-risen bake) I wondered if labelling up of the product was different here in the UK and it meant I did need the ‘starch’ rather than ‘flour’ to get that nice rise. I looked up the starch and it started getting confusing..

Manioc, cassava and tapioca are names for the same thing – they are all derived from the yucca/cassava/manioc shrub apparently (the UK company Real Foods has some info and products).

Some places online stipulate that flours and starches are different and there is a good explanation on Leite’s Culinaria blog. This is aimed at a US audience and it’s possible labelling is different again in the UK as I’ve also seen sites which say tapioca flour is arrowroot while tapioca starch or cassava/manioc flour is what it should be. I am not sure this is true – the product is very fine, very white and has the consistency of cornflour. I bought manioc flour from Real Foods (link above) but it can also be bought from most local organic supermarkets (under any of the three names).

Pão de Queijo (makes about 30 – 35 mini rolls)


Small muffin/fairy cake cases or 2 greased muffin pans
Baking tray (if using cases)


250g tapioca/manioc/cassava flour/starch (see notes above: don’t get the tapioca flour which is arrowroot)
125 ml milk
20g butter
1/2 tsp salt
80g grated strong cheddar (or 120g of a mild grated cheese)
2 small eggs


  1. preheat the oven to 200°C conventional / 185°C fan and have a couple of baking trays ready
  2. in a pan over a low heat, melt the butter into the milk and bring it all to just boiling. Remove from the heat and let it cool down (alternatively do it in a microwave but make sure it doesn’t boil)
  3. place the muffin cases on the baking tray or prepare your muffin tins with a little grease and flour
  4. measure out the tapioca flour and add the salt. Pour on the cooled milk and butter
  5. mix in with a fork – it will go clumpy
    the tapioca flour after the milk/butter has been added and mixed in
  6. mix in the cheese and the egg until it is evenly distributed – be careful as you may not need quite all of the 2 eggs: the mix should be a little on the loose side, rather than dough-like but not fully runny
  7. spoon the mix into the cases or the prepared tins
  8. bake in the oven for about 25 mins but don’t take them out just before they go brown (the rolls are traditionally supposed to be light in colour and puffed up)
  9. eat warm as they are, or cool and use for canapes and snack rolls
    Air pockets inside make the rolls light and airy
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