Pão de Queijo Recipe

One of the more interesting quirks of the human brain (or at least MY human brain) is that once it starts down a path with the wrong set of assumptions it doesn’t return easily to the right track, even if that track is relatively easy to get onto. So it was with me and pão de queijo. Squaring the right technique (since there are at least three possibles) with the right cassava product (since there are at least three of those as well) took me the better part of a week. Thankfully with a little help from some of my readers I finally arrived at the right recipe, cassava flour and technique. Whew! You’ll need:

4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk
2 ounces (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces (2 cups) tapioca starch
2 eggs
2-3 ounces finely grated cheese (parmesan is common Mexican Cotija is best)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the liquids and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, put the tapioca starch in a medium bowl. In another bowl grate the cheese and whisk it together with the eggs. When the milk mixture is boiling, pour it over the starch and beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a gelatinous paste. Let it cool completely. When cool, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the cheese/egg mixture (you can do this by hand, but the mixer is easier and more thorough) and beat on medium-high for about 90 seconds until the mixture is uniform and fluffy. Spoon roughly 2-tablespoon-sized quantities onto a sheet pan and bake 30-40 minutes until golden. Eat warm!

18 thoughts on “Pão de Queijo Recipe”

  1. So how’s the texture inside – rice cakey (and I mean the mochi type of dense, chewy rice cake, not the puffed rice, styrofoam-like rice cake)? Fluffy? Bready?

  2. I made some the other day and the insides were like puffy mochi. If you imagine the insides of a not-properly-dried-out choux puff, but with the doughy bits having a stretchy chewy mochi-like texture.

    I don’t know if that’s what it’s supposed to be like, but it was yummy.

  3. My kids have been wanting to try making these for awhile. Thanks so much for posting the recipe. The final dough was super sticky – almost taffy like. I am wondering if we overbeat it in the stand mixer?

    1. Nope, it’s supposed to be like that…sticky, sticky, sticky. The glue-like consistency is what allows it to trap and hold steam. Beside that, there’s really nothing to overbeat. Tapioca starch has no gluten, so it doesn’t get stretchier as it’s worked. Sounds to me like you did it right!

      – Joe

      1. Nope, it’s supposed to be like that sictky, sictky, sictky. The glue-like consistency is what allows it to trap and hold steam. Beside that, there’s really nothing to overbeat. Tapioca starch has no gluten, so it doesn’t get stretchier as it’s worked. Sounds to me like you did it right!- Joe

  4. I was so excited to see your recipe–there’s a place in Chicago that makes Cassava Rolls, and I’ve been meaning to try them.

    These were very good! I am making a 2nd batch of dough now to freeze. Thanks 🙂

    1. Great to hear that, Shannon!

      What was the place in Chicago that had them, just out of curiosity? That’s my old hometown. I once had them at a steak place on Wells, I think. Glad to hear they worked out!

      – Joe

  5. Thanks for this recipe! I grew up in Brazil and have often wanted to find an American’s take on this recipe. Brazilian recipes call for either “amido doce” (sweet starch) and “amido azedo” (sour starch). Do you know what the difference is in the sour and sweet versions? I’ve tasted both and they don’t differ much. The sweet one doesn’t actually come out sweet. Here in Seattle we have a couple small Brazilian stores that sell both types and they also sell frozen pão de queijo. We’ve also had a couple Brazilian rodizios open up and they always have fresh pão de queijo. So good!!!

    1. Hi Karen!

      I believe the difference is that the “sour” is made from cassava that’s been allowed to ferment while the sweet is made from unfermented cassava. My guess is that like sourdough bread, the sour starch has a slightly more intense flavor. But that’s great if you can find the actual starch. I’m told a 50-50 mix of the two is ideal for these. Let me know what you think!

      – Joe

      1. I made your recipe and they were great! Only problem was the cotija I used was really salty to begin with so I should have dialed back the added salt. But it wasn’t a big deal since I love salt 🙂 Also, I had to bake them in muffin cups because when I put them on a cookie sheet they spread out like pancakes. I let the mixture come to room temp but the room temp in my kitchen might be a little on the warm side. I reserved half of the batter and put it in the fridge for the next day then baked those right out of the fridge on a cookie sheet and that worked well – no spreading. But this gave me an idea to cut them in half and serve as mini appetizer sandwiches filled with salami and membrillo or goiabada.

  6. Great, but… the baking time listed in the written instructions were shorter than in the picture version. In my oven, the 30-40min would be the correct timing.

  7. My husband is from Brazil and his mom always brings us boxed pao de queijo mixes. I’m excited to try this from-scratch version. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Hi Joe – for mixing the hot milk into the tapioca starch, how critical is it to use a wooden spoon vs using a paddle and standing mixer?

  9. I did follow your recipe, but I froze the dough before baking. My pao de qieijo came out super crunchy. I think the 375 and 30 minutes is too much for this in my oven. I will try the next batch at 350 and 20 minutes. I have done the batter recipe where you pour the mixture into the mni muffin pans. That recipe always comes out good. I did your recipe just like pate choux where in you mix the tapioca fluor with boiling water /milk/ and oil. My dough came out like pate choux paste after adding the eggs. I even put in a piping bag to spread it nicely because it is just to sticky to handle. Do you think that putting it on the pastry bag compacted the dough or it is just the temperature. When it was baking it started to rise but it did not rise big enough and then the crust started forming.

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