Pão de Qeijo (Brazilian cheese rolls)

Pão de Qeijo - Brazilian cheese rolls
by Jackie Patti

I never really got into gluten-free baking much beyond a few almond meal or coconut flour recipes.

If I needed to be gluten-free, perhaps I'd be more willing to experiment. But I did a month-long gluten-free trial and pretty much determined gluten isn't an issue for me. Of course, I greatly limit carbohydrate due to T2 diabetes, so my diet isn't exactly crammed full of gluten anyways, but the serious motivation to go gluten-free just isn't there and thus I have little interest in gluten-free baking.

People I admire do all sorts of complicated recipes involving multiple types of flour mixed together with gums to approximate gluten. It always seemed like too much work with too many unfamiliar ingredients, though I expect I might feel differently if I were celiac or had NCGS.

But one day I ran across the idea of Pão de Qeijo, which are Brazilian cheese rolls. I was attracted to the idea for two reasons, first because these are an actual traditional recipe, apparently having been made since the 1800s.

Secondly, they are made with only one gluten-free flour, tapioca flour/starch, which meant I could pick up a bag of Bob's Red Mill bag at the grocery and experiment instead of a big pile of unfamiliar ingredients most gluten-free baking seemed to call for.

There are apparently two types of product sold as tapioca flour or tapioca starch. Some say the right stuff is tapioca starch as distinguished from tapioca flour. As far as I can tell, it's sort of like the distinction between corn meal and corn starch.

But based on descriptions, Bob's Red Mill is calling the same stuff tapioca flour. Basically, you want the really light, fluffy stuff that is the same texture as corn starch. If your local grocery doesn't carry it, you can get it from Amazon.

I began with several recipes and experimented at length to find the best proportions and method. These yield a light, fluffy roll that puffs up and is largely hollow inside. They are utterly melt-in-your-mouth delectable!

Pão de Qeijo (Brazilian cheese rolls)


  • butter for buttering muffin tin
  • 1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin. Do not use liners, the rolls will stick to them and make a mess!
  3. Sprinkle the cheese equally in the muffin cups.
  4. Blend the egg, coconut oil, milk, tapioca starch and salt to yield a smooth, thin batter.
    NOTE: If everything isn't at room temperature, your coconut oil will re-solidify into chunks that won't mix well. If you use a blender, and add ingredients in the order given while it's running, the mixture will emulsify as and avoid this problem even if the egg and milk are still a bit cold.
  5. Pour batter equally into the muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. When done, the rolls will have puffed up beyond the muffin tin and the tops will be brown.

These are especially scrumptious when still warm, so I tend to make them as a dinner roll more often than as a snack. They can easily be changed up by swapping the type of cheese or by adding garlic powder or Old Bay Seasoning to make rolls that go with your meal.

Disclosure: Affiliate