Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RECIPE - Brazilian Cheese Bun (Pão de Queijo)

Last week Flavors of Brazil published a post about a Brazilian snack or breakfast food called pão de queijo, usually translated as Brazilian Cheese Bun. To read that post, click here.

We didn't publish a recipe for pão de queijo at the time because the main ingredient, which comes from the root of the manioc or cassava plant, isn't readily available in many places outside Brazil. However, one of the blog's readers has asked for a recipe, a request we're very happy to fulfill in this post.

If you're in Brazil, buying the flour (or technically starch) to make pão de queijo is simplicity itself, as the product is available in every supermarket in the country - or at least every supermarket I've ever been in. Here in Brazil the product is labelled polvilho azedo and it usually comes bagged in plastic bags of 500 gr. Outside Brazil you can find polvilho azedo  in markets and shops that cater to Brazilian immigrant communities - a common brand that is exported is Yoki. Any brand will do, though. Just make sure that the product is labelled polvilho azedo in Portuguese, almidon agrio in Spanish or sour starch/sour cassava starch in English. If you don't have a suitable shop or market in your city, Yoki brand polvilho azedo can be purchased online. One convenient source in the US is Click here to be taken to their polvilho azedo page. (By the way, this site also sells pão de queijo mix which just needs water and eggs. But if you're going to the trouble to order online, why not get the real thing and cook from scratch.)

Because there is no leavening agent in the recipe, it is the elastic action of the starch that creates the air pockets that make a light cheese bun. Therefore, for this recipe the easiest way to knead the dough is with a dough hook on a stand mixer. You can use your hands, but don't be lazy - you'll really need to "beat the starch out of it" to get the lightness you want. And make sure that you get the balls of dough in the oven as soon as possible after finishing kneading. It's important that the dough not sit once kneaded.
RECIPE -  Brazilian Cheese Bun (Pão de Queijo)

17.5 oz (500 gr) sour cassava starch/polvilho azedo - normally one package
2 cups whole milk
1 cup neutral vegetable oil
4 whole eggs.lightly beaten
1 cup crumbled feta cheese*
1 cup grated parmesan cheese*
1 Tbsp salt
* you can substitute an equal quantity of any other grated or crumbled cheese or cheeses
In a medium sauce pan, combine the milk, the vegetable oil and salt, then bring the mixture just to a boil.

Put the sour starch in a large mixing bowl, then pour in the hot milk/oil mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Mix until completely mixed, at which time you'll have something that looks like a gummy paste. Let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Add the beaten eggs and the cheese to the mixture. Using your hands knead all the ingredients together. At this point you can continue to knead the dough with your hands, forcefully, for about 10-15 minutes, or you can transfer the dough to a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook and knead for about 5-10 minutes at medium speed.

As soon as the kneading is completed, using your hands, shape the dough into round balls just slightly smaller than a golf ball. Place them on a cookie sheet, leaving space between them as they'll grow about 25% during cooking.

Place the cookie sheet on the top shelf of the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 300F (150C) and cook for another 15 minutes, or until they are nicely golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and serve hot.


  1. I live in the USA and when I make pao de queijo I use tapioca flour which is very easy to find around here.

  2. Thanks! I'm actually able to find the sour manioc starch. I've been using a slightly different recipe that calls for regular manioc starch as well. It also has me let the dough rest after kneading for 2 hours. I will stop doing that because the balls are not airy at all. I will try this recipe next time I make it!
    I've also not kneaded enough and the balls totally deflate after cooking. Not very pretty but the taste is the same.
    Thanks again!

  3. Hi James, Thanks for posting the recipe and writing the Blog. I followed this recipe to the T but sadly it came out way too oily, in the end I mixed in alot more of the Yoki starch to try to make it better. They are in the oven right now so fingers crossed. I'm looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  4. A friend of mine recently made pão de queijo using tapioca flour (google it to find several places in the US to purchase it online.) He found the resulting dough way too moist, so he added more flour. He used shredded parmesan rather than grated ---purchased in a large plastic jar at Costco ---but no feta. The result was great. I have a few boxes of Yoki prepared mix, but it is lame compared to my friend's. He is going to perfect his recipe and send me the result ---but that might take a while.

  5. Hi - If you do get his recipe, tried and tested, do please forward it to Flavors of Brazil. We're always interested in perfecting homemade pão de queijo.


  6. This is the recipe I used for pão de queijo when I was in the U.S.. It uses Tapioca flour which is availible in many grocery stores organic or bulk sections. They are so light and puffy. They are not dense like most of the pão de queijo I have eaten here.