Vegan Brazilian Cheese Bread, better known as Pão de Queijo! These light and fluffy gluten-free balls of “cheesy” bread goodness will be at your fingertips in 20 minutes with only 5 minutes of prep.
Pão de Queijo
Pão de Queijo literally translated means bread of cheese. A traditional recipe in Brazil, these rolls are known for their light and airy texture. If you are unfamiliar with traditional Brazilian Cheese Bread, you can expect a delicate crisp outside enveloping a chewy, soft and glistening inside. A very unique roll. There’s nothing quite like it!
Brazilian Cheese Bread made according to the traditional recipe is gluten-free. Yipee!! The main flour/starch is tapioca, made from the dried root of the cassava plant. Tapioca flour and starch are the same ingredient but can be referred to by either name (unlike potato flour and starch which are two different ingredients).
Out With the Dairy
The traditional recipe for Brazilian Cheese Bread calls for the dairy triad: milk, eggs and cheese! I knew it would be a challenge to veganize this recipe, but well worth the time if a victory prevailed! And that it did!!
Vegan Brazilian Cheese Bread
My family has very diverse eating preferences and this sometimes makes eating out a challenge. One restaurant that we all love is a nearby Brazilian steakhouse (p.s. their salad bar is a dream come true for anyone on a plant-based/vegan diet). As with most Brazilian restaurants, Pão de Queijo is offered on the table.
I’m not sure that the basket actually has contact with the table before all of the reaching hands have emptied the contents. That’s how much they love them. So the heat was really on with this recipe redux.
I am beyond thrilled to report that across the board everyone thought the vegan version was identical to their favorite version from the restaurant! My husband warned me to be prepared for my son to request them all-the-time! “I hope they aren’t complicated because I think they will be a new favorite.”
Lucky for me they only require five minutes to prepare and between 15 and 20 minutes to bake.
We are all looking forward to trying different versions. Substituting vegan cheddar for the vegan mozzarella, or adding fresh rosemary or a nice Italian spice blend. These little orbs of delight are a slice of heaven served fresh-baked, still warm. But they do reheat very well so don’t be in a hurry to eat them all at one sitting! Or if you’re in the mood for something with an Italian flair, try my Rosmarino Vegan Flatbread!
Vegan Brazilian Cheese Bread, better known as Pão de Queijo! These light and fluffy gluten-free balls of "cheesy" bread goodness will be at your fingertips in 20 minutes with only 5 minutes of prep.
- 1 tablespoon golden flaxseed meal
- 1 cup tapioca flour (tapioca starch is the same)
- 1/2 cup potato starch (different from potato flour)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt finely ground
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup packed vegan mozzarella cheese (I use Daiya shreds)
- 2/3 cup plant-based milk (I use cashew for the mild, creamy flavor)
- 1/3 cup oil (walnut, grapeseed or olive - I use walnut)
- 1) Make flax egg: In a small bowl mix together golden flaxseed meal and 3 tablespoons filtered water. Set aside.
- 2) In food processor or blender place tapioca flour, potato starch, salt and baking powder. Pulse a couple times to blend. Add vegan cheese and pulse a couple more times until broken into very small pieces. Stir flax egg and add along with oil and milk to dry ingredients. Blend well until smooth (about 30 seconds).
- 3) Pour or spoon batter into a greased mini muffin tin about one eighth from the top (It is important to bake these in a mini muffin tin as the cooking time would vary from a standard size). If any muffin receptacles remain empty, place one teaspoon of water in each empty muffin receptacle. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 18 to 20 minutes depending on oven. Should be firm on the outside but puffy and very lightly browned. (The shell of the bread will be very firm when first removed from oven but softens to a crisp after cooling for a minute or two, see picture in post.) Remove from oven and cool on rack for a couple of minutes and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container. These rolls will reheat nicely.
Just made these! My boyfriend loves Brazilian cheese bread and he says this alternative is actually better. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Kyra! I’m so happy to hear that you both love the recipe. It’s one of my all-time faves. Thanks so much for letting me know! 🙂
These are amazing! I have been making these on and off for years, but recently I’ve been making them several times a week for my 4 year old daughter! I leave out the cheese cause she has so many allergies, but she loves them with sunbutter. Thanks for an amazing recipe!
My pleasure! I’m so happy to hear that you have been enjoying the recipe! Thanks so much for sharing your substitution option as well!
Can i use brown flaxmeal instead of golden?
Yes, you can use brown flax meal. I use the golden flax meal because it doesn’t impart quite as much ‘earthiness’ in the flavor as brown. But functionally, brown will work. I hope this helps. 🙂
Do you have to use a muffin pan or can I just roll them into balls and bake that way?
Hi Katie, this is a batter based recipe so the consistency wouldn’t allow for rolling them. The batter is poured into a muffin tin. I hope this helps! 🙂
Can I just ask is there any reason you don’t use nutritional yeast in this recipe, like would it give it an odd flavour? It’s just I thought daiya mozzarella has quite a mild flavour and I usually put parmesan in my pão de queijo so I thought nutritional yeast could replace it, how much would you recommend adding?
Hi Sara, I don’t use nutritional yeast in this recipe because I feel like the flavor would be pretty bold and possibly overwhelm the bread. You can certainly give it a try if you are a fan of the taste of nutritional yeast. I’m not sure how much to recommend since it is a dry ingredient and the daiya does have some oil in it. I would probably start with 2 to 3 tablespoons and adjust up or down from there. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Hi, so excited to try this recipe! I’m drooling! If I still eat eggs could I use an egg instead of the flax egg? I am a newbie to vegan eating, I am mainly avoiding dairy… I am just not sure if they would turn out the same-I’m terrible at substitution guessing!
Hi Jess! I think you could try using an egg. I haven’t made them this way myself but I think they would probably turn out the same. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
How thick is the batter supposed to be? Mine is super thick and tacky and hard to stir. Is it supposed to be light and thin like pancake batter?
The batter should not be too thick to stir. It should be about the consistency of pancake batter or just a little bit thicker. Perhaps you packed the flours? This would result in a higher ratio of flour to liquid which would make the batter too thick. I hope this helps! 🙂
Aiane Karla says
These are SERIOUSLY my favorite! I used to eat (non-vegan) Brazilian cheese bread. This is just like the real thing! I’ve made this countless times for my family and they all love it. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Yay!! That’s awesome. I’m so glad that you and your family are loving my recipe! It is a staple in our house too 🙂
These are SO good and SO easy to make. I made them for my in-,laws and they said they were better than the non-,vegan kind they had tried before. The texture is everything pão de queijo should be. Thanks for this recipe. I plan to make this A LOT.
Thanks so much for letting me know! I’m happy to hear that they were a favorite with your whole family!! 🙂
Yum! These are tasty ! I’ll be making these again and again.
Thanks, Becki!! I’m so glad you liked them 🙂
I am Brazilian and love the cheese balls but Hadn’t figured out how to make it plant-based or vegan! Thank you! Alreadya added some ingredients to my list so I can make it this week!!
Hi Cris, that’s great!! I really hope you enjoy the recipe! 🙂 Let men know what you think.
Jacqui Howe says
Wow!! Thank you!! These are totally devine!!
I used some home made Mozzarella and swapped the potato for gluten free flour (mainly potato starch ;-)) as I didn’t have pure potato starch.
Fabulous. You rock!!!
Hi Jacqui! Thanks so much for the awesome feedback! I’m so glad you liked them!! 🙂
I made these for the first time today. I think I did everything as the recipe states, except that I didn’t have a mini muffin tins, and I didn’t realize until I’d mixed the batter that I needed one. So I made 12 regular sized muffins instead. I cooked them for 28 minutes, and it was probably a little too long, but definitely tasty. Will try them again very soon!
Also planning on making the chocolate version too! And the cinnamon raisin bread. Haha. Just found your website and already bookmarked several recipes. I’m relatively new to gluten-free, dairy-free living, and this pregnant lady misses all the bread and cheese! Ha!
I’m so happy you discovered my website! Welcome!! I hope you find lots of recipes to satisfy all those cravings!! 🙂
Hi! I made these today and they were really tasty. I used the potato starch and arrowroot flour cause I had a whole bag of that instead of the tapioca flour. They came our really tasty, but they were rather hard on the outside, probably my fault cause I looked at them, thought they should be browner and let them go an extra 5 minutes :-(… I will try them again and take them out at the 18 minute mark. I was wondering though, what purpose the potato starch and baking powder serve? Other recipes I’ve seen don’t use them.
Glad you liked the bread!! Five extra minutes definitely could have made them too firm. As I describe in the recipe card they should only be firm for the initial minute or two after removal from the oven. At that point the outside softens to a crispy shell and the inside is soft. It is possible that the substitution of arrowroot for the tapioca could have made them tough too. Arrowroot doesn’t tend to work as well as tapioca in baked goods. Tapioca has more of the chewy quality. I use potato starch because many traditional recipes call for potato and I thought it brought a nice balance to the flavor and texture. I hope this helps! 🙂
This recipe is delicious,. I did not have vegan cheese and used nutritional yeast and came out perfect. Just added 1/3 cup of it plus 2 ts of apple cider vinegar.
Glad you liked them!! Thanks for sharing your customizations 🙂
These were super easy to make and turned absolutely perfect and so delicious! I used Daiya mozza shreds and once these came out of the oven, they tasted like they were made with regular dairy mozza! I wish they could be made with a little less oil though! Do you think I could increase the cashew milk and reduce the oil by the same amount? Otherwise, no complaints, thank you!!
Hi Salima, I’m so glad you liked the ‘Cheese’ Bread!! I think you could probably try reducing the oil to 1/4 cup and add an additional 1 1/2 tablespoons of cashew milk. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
these sounds amazing. was exposed to these by our Brazillian exchange student, back before we were vegan. Very excited to make them. Any thoughts on reducing, eliminating the oil?
Hi Lynnette, Thank you!! I am thinking you could probably try reducing the oil to 1/4 cup and add an additional 1 1/2 tablespoons of cashew milk. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Ever feel like your phone is listening in to your conversations? Our family recently welcomed a new member from Brazil. My brother had brought some of these back to Canada. I thought it would be nice to make these for him and my new sister-in-law when they visit us for the first time together. If only they were vegan…sigh… So this link came up on my FB news!!! Freaking out! So excited to share in celebrating my little brother’s wife’s culture! Food is a big deal for them. BBQs are mainly about enjoying life with family. They have so many interesting fruits such as the Jabuticaba (giant berries on a tree) and an appreciation for salads. Again, thank you, Jana for experimenting and sharing! I met another woman in town who also wanted to be able to make this for her Brazilian family. Spontaneous cooking session! Honestly, you’ve no idea how ecstatic I am 🙂
Hi Barbie! Congratulations on your new family member! How exciting and what a totally awesome story!! I’ve gotten feedback from several people (Brazilians and people who have visited Brazil) affirming that the rolls taste just like “the real thing”. It makes my heart go pitter-patter 🙂 I’m honored that my recipe can play a tiny role (no pun intended, HA!) in such a beautiful occasion. I hope that you and your new family love them!! Have a great visit. Let me know how it goes 🙂
I made these last weekend (I used grapeseed oil for mine) and wow they were really easy, and turned out exactly how you said they would. And yes, they reheat VERY nicely. I pop a couple in the microwave each night (I do about 10+ or so seconds on 50% power) and they’re perfect. I have stored them in an airtight container in the fridge, and how long would you say they can last like that?
Also, I was wondering if they’d be good dipped into some kind of sauce..I tried an Asian style sauce last time and I think the flavors of what I used dominated the cheezy taste of the bread. Maybe a marinara would work? Have you tried any?
Hi Lyn! Thanks so much for the great feedback on the recipe!! We reheat the same way. My kids like to have them with their breakfast several times a week. 🙂 Ours have lasted five days in an airtight container in the fridge. They may last longer, but we never seem to have any remaining after that point. I’d have to hide a few to test it out 🙂 My son loves to dip his in an herbal olive oil. I also think a light marinara would be quite scrummy!
Oh, an herbal olive oil sounds good…I think next time I make them, I want to try the marinara (and I may also try Daiya ‘cheddar’!). However I really like them the way they are, but they’ll be fun to play around with.
Just a side note: I can’t wait to try your chick pea ‘chicken’ salad!!
My kids really like them with the Daiya ‘cheddar’! I like both 🙂 I have been wanting to try making the olive oil with fresh rosemary that seems like it would pair nicely with them. You are right though, the possibilities are endless with these little rolls of joy! I hope you like the chick pea ‘chicken’ salad. I usually eat it right away but on the occasion when we actually had some left over the spices really blended nicely for the next day. 🙂
I’m back again! Just wanted to run by you that I made these again differently this time. I used some things I had on hand, but were not on your original recipe. I am not real familiar with avocado oil, but used that and the Daiya ‘cheddar’ this time. I’m not sure, but the avocado may have made the outside a bit too hard. Inside they were nice and soft though. Would you say the hard outer may be due to the avocado oil?
Hi Lynn! I don’t think using avocado oil should make them any firmer on the outside unless you used less oil. Is it possible that you had the oven temp higher or baked them a little longer? I have also used the Daiya Cheddar and it didn’t yield a different baking result either. Were there any other ingredients that you substituted?
Hi Anne, I am so glad you are enjoying the recipes!! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hi, Can I use nutrional yeast instead of cheese? And if yes, how much? Thanks!
Hi Becky, I think I would try the vegan cheese first rather than nutritional yeast. I think it may provide a small amount of binding and add to the “chewy-ness” of the texture. The nutritional yeast would bring the “cheesy” flavor but not the binding. I hope this helps! 🙂
Hi Jana. I loved the recipe! I didn’t have potato starch so I used more tapioca starch. Turned out great! Do you have any gluten free, dairy free bread-like recipes you can share? Bread and crackers are the things I’m having the hardest time being without.
Hi Shellee! That’s awesome! I’m so glad to hear you are loving the bread. I am currently working on developing a gluten-free, plant-based/vegan bread recipe. We are desperate for one in our house as well 🙂 I do have a recipe for vegan cheese crackers that I created a while back and it is still a favorite in our house. https://www.nutritionicity.com/recipes/vegan-cheese-crisps/
Would egg placer work instead of the flax seed mix or maybe vegan eggs owd? Thanks
I have not tried a vegan egg replacer but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! Let me know how it goes 🙂
I️ used egg replacer instead of the potato starch and they came out great!!!!
Hi Lin! So just to be clear you replaced the potato starch with the egg replacer? You still used the flax egg? I’m glad they turned out great!! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
Okay, there always has to be a PITA, and today it’s me! Any idea what would happen to these if I cut out the oil? I’m a former diabetic eating a whole food plant based diet, and since oil causes insulin resistance and is basically the waste left over after the fiber and nutrients are processed out, it isn’t on the menu. I make my own cheeze with nuts, so that’s not a problem, but oil is…any thoughts?
Congrats on being a former diabetic! Another great testament to a whole food plant-based diet. YAY! 🙂 I totally get you wanting/needing to eliminate the oil. I try to keep the oil to a minimum in the recipes that I develop with oil. When I am asked for substitution options I always try to find an option to the extent that it’s even remotely possible. This is a really tough one because the fat/oil in this bread helps secure the little pockets of air that develop. So I am afraid without it it may become a pancake. All that being said, in the name of experimentation, perhaps you could try substituting 1/4 cup of unflavored and unsweetened applesauce for the 1/3 cup of oil. This is really a stretch and I don’t have a high confidence level, but if you are willing to take the chance and experiment I would love to know how they turn out! Thanks for asking — I hope this helps 🙂
Hi Jana,I’m brazilian and I have a Vegan at home, I used 1 mashed potato instead of potato starch and worked very well. Thanks for the brazilian recipes.
Hi Estella, That’s great. I’m so glad you liked the recipe (a wonderful compliment coming from a Brazilian!) Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the mashed potato. Could you also share what size and type of potato it was? Thanks so much, Jana 🙂
I was just getting ready to make this recipe but I was confused by the empty muffin receptacles with a tablespoon of water? do I put an empty muffin tin in the oven with the mini muffin tins that have the batter in it ?
Hi Diana, I’m sorry for the confusion. I used a mini muffin tin that held 20 muffins but I didn’t fill every one of the 20 receptacles so the ones that were empty I put a small amount of water in to keep the baking even. I hope this helps!
Christine Eassa says
Recently remade these with brand new flax seeds. Amazing! Will definitely make again. I think it didn’t turn out before because my flax seeds weren’t good. Thank you.
Hi Christine, So glad you liked them! I agree, it’s also been my experience that seeds and flours are very sensitive and don’t perform well when out of date. So glad it worked out! 🙂
Is there any other cheese that one could use if i don’t have access to that one?
Hi Denise, If you have access to Daiya Cheddar Shreds you could use that too. I have tried the cheddar and it is just as delicious in the bread as the vegan mozarella. If you don’t have access to Daiya brand, someone commented below that she used Field Roast Chao brand original style vegan cheese and it worked well too. Some other brands of vegan cheese that have good reputations (but I have not tried in this recipe) are Follow Your Heart and Kite Hill. I hope this helps! 🙂
I made your recipe. The only change I made was to use Chao Original for the cheese. It worked out exactly as you described crispy on the outside and soft inside. Thanks!
Hi Kris, I’m so glad you enjoyed my Vegan Cheese Bread recipe. Glad to hear that another brand of vegan cheese worked well too. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Will this recipe also work with regular flour? Any tips? Would I still need the potato starch?
Hi Alex! The original/traditional Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe also uses tapioca flour so I’m not sure how they would turn out with regular flour. Perhaps you could try just using all tapioca flour and eliminate the potato starch. I haven’t tried that yet either but it’s probably ok. The traditional (as well as my vegan version) Brazilian Cheese Bread is characterized by the chewy inside and I’m not sure that regular flour would produce that result. I hope this helps 🙂
I’ll try these in the cake pop maker
Hi Leticia, I have not tried that!! Let me know how it turns out. 🙂
I have heard of these gluten-free Brazilian Cheese Breads but have never found a recipe that was vegan too! So excited to give these a try!!!
Hi Laurel! I am thrilled with how they turned out. They are delicious!! Enjoy 🙂