Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) is surprisingly easy to make…and incredibly delicious!
Crispy outside, chewy inside…and stuffed with cheese! What’s not to love about this Brazilian Cheese Bread?? I first came across Pão de Queijo (aka Brazilian Cheese Bread) back when we lived in Atlanta and went to a Brazilian steakhouse to celebrate my sister-in-law getting into grad school.
Since my wife and I were both in grad school at the time, too, we didn’t get to go out to eat all that often. So this was kindof a big deal! We dressed up, picked up my little sister-in-law, and headed over to the Brazilian churrascuria over in Buckhead. If you’ve ever been to a churrascuria, then you know it’s a marathon not a sprint. It’s literally all you can eat meat. But not sketchy meats that have been sitting on a buffet since 9am that morning. I’m talking 15+ different styles of freshly grilled meats. Bacon-wrapped filet, Parmesan-crusted pork loin, braised beef ribs and my favorite…the classic Brazilian picanha. (Mental note to self: I should figure out how to make picanha on my grill here at home.)
While the various grilled meats are certainly the star of the show, the amazing salad bar (yes, the salad bar) and this Brazilian Cheese Bread definitely compete for Best Supporting Role. As soon as you sit down, a basket of these hot rolls appears on your table. At first glance, they appear to be a tasty but basic roll. That is until you tear one apart. The cheesy-goodness inside of these rolls just speaks for itself!
I’ve always thought these were just rolls stuffed with cheese…but no! These rolls are actually made from tapioca flour. Similar to pate a choux–the dough used to make eclairs–this dough actually starts in a saucepan before moving to the oven to finish baking. But don’t fret…this Brazilian Cheese Bread is actually incredibly easy to make. Trust me. I’ve made it more than several times lately!
Tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch) is an interesting ingredient. It’s made from the root of the cassava plant, and it resembled corn starch in texture. Oh, and if you have friends or family members with gluten sensitivities, tapioca flour is gluten-free! (I picked up a bag of tapioca flour from Bob’s Red Mill at my local grocery store.) The hardest part about making this recipe is stirring the tapioca flour into the saucepan with the milk and melted butter. I actually recommend using a countertop mixer on low speed for this step…either that, or just use it as an excuse to get your arm workout in for the day!
So this Brazilian Cheese Bread is not actually stuffed with cheese. Sure, there’s a bunch of shredded cheese in the recipe, but it’s actually a uniformly mixed dough. The outer edges turn a nice golden brown once baked while the inside remains chewy. The only problem is you can’t eat just one! (I’m convinced that churrascurias bring an endless supply of these rolls to your table so that you fill out up bread before the meat comes out. And you know? I’m almost ok with that. Almost.)
Have you ever been to a churrascuria?
If so, how many Brazilian Cheese Breads did you eat? Be honest.