The Washington Post

Pao de Queijo

Pao de Queijo 24.000

Peggy Cormary for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jun 30, 2022

You’d be hard-pressed to eat just one of these golden, gluten-free cheese puffs that are a Brazilian specialty. Unlike many breads, these bite-size rolls are designed to be eaten hot out of the oven. Cassava flour (yuca starch) and a generous amount of cheese lend pão de queijo its characteristic stretchy, chewy texture.

Active time: 45 mins; Total time: 1 hour 25 mins

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this recipe stated an incorrect measurement for the parmesan cheese. It should be 113 grams, not ounces. This version has been corrected.

Make Ahead: You can freeze partially baked pão de queijo. Bake them for half the time, about 10 minutes, and then let cool completely, about 30 minutes, before packing into an airtight container and freezing. To serve, bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes (without defrosting) until puffed and deep golden.

Storage Notes: The rolls are best freshly baked, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days; reheat in the toaster oven or oven until warm.

Where to Buy: Cassava flour, or yuca starch, is available at well-stocked supermarkets, as well as Brazilian and Hispanic markets, and online.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 24 servings; makes 24 small rolls

  • About 2 1/4 cups (285 grams/10 ounces) cassava flour (may also be labeled as yuca starch)
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (4 ounces/113 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese (may substitute any salty semihard cheese of your choice)
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing your hands


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the cassava flour in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil, stirring to melt the butter. Pour the milk mixture over the cassava flour and beat with a wooden spoon to combine. The dough will feel dense and will stiffen into a ball. At first it will look like it won’t come together, but keep stirring, pressing and folding until it forms a single mass. Let cool for 15 minutes.

After the dough has mostly cooled (it may still be somewhat warm – that’s okay), add the eggs and cheese to the bowl. While you can stir or fold with a wooden spoon, it’s most effective to bring the dough together with your hands. Make sure the eggs and cheese are relatively well-distributed, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. The more you handle or beat the dough, the more difficult it will be to shape.

Lightly oil the palms of your hands and pull off a 28-gram/1-ounce portion of dough, approximately the size of a ping-pong ball. Shape into a smooth sphere as best you can, repeating with all the dough, for a total of about 24 portions. As you work, place the dough balls on the lined baking sheets, 12 per pan. (They will spread but not dramatically.)

Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees, and bake one sheet for 18 to 20 minutes, until the rolls are puffed and a rich golden color. (See the headnote for instructions on partially baking and freezing to make ahead.) If you prefer a slightly crisper top, give them an additional 1 to 2 minutes, but keep an eye on them, as they can start to burn quickly. Before you bake the second batch, return the oven temperature to 450 degrees and then drop it to 375 once you start baking (the initial high temperature helps the rolls start to puff immediately).

Let the rolls cool for a few minutes on the pan, then serve hot or warm.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America,” by Maricel E. Presilla (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per roll: 94

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 4g 6%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 26mg 9%

Sodium: 151mg 6%

Total Carbohydrates: 11g 4%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 1g

Protein: 3g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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