Lunch\ Dinner, Snack

Vegan Brazilian Pao de Queijo Recipe, vegan cheese bread

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Stretchy, gooey fluffy pao de queijo recipe! A Brazillian cheese bread recipe that just screams comfort! Traditionally made with cheese, eggs and oils this vegan pao de queijo recipe, or receita, is what dreams are made of. Easy to make with just a few ingredients, this is one baked treat you will be happy to have in your recipe arsenal!

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Close up of a vegan pao de queijo ball with text overlay

We are heading into week 7 of quarantine now and finding a new normal to our daily life. The days are long and slow but that isn’t a totally bad thing. Homeschool takes up almost all of my time and I am enjoying just spending time with my kids. Don’t get me wrong they do drive me nuts, they fight constantly and need a million snacks every hour. But there is something to this slow life. Without the constant hustle and bustle to go do a million activities and enrich our kids with constant stimulation! In the end my kids are not happy, they are not bored, and we are functioning as a family.

I feel sad that it took a pandemic, and so much suffering to teach me this lesson. And I hope often that these lessons stick well after the pandemic has passed. Sometimes the universe gives us what we need and not necessarily what we want. I wanted summer, I wanted my mom’s long-awaited trip to Canada to be with us, I wanted my 10-year anniversary vacation and lake days and camping. But instead, we got a wake-up call as to how we are raising our kids and functioning as a family unit.

But anyways, one thing has not changed… the need for good food. I meant to post this pao de queijo recipe before the world stopped. But it is here now and I am SO excited to share this with you. I promise you will love it.

A vegan Brazilian cheese bread being stretched out

What is pao de queijo, or Brazillian cheese bread?

When I think of Brazil one of the very first things that pops into my mind is the incredible texture and flavour of pao de queijo. A gummy elastic fluffy bread with its earthy fragrance is truly a unique food to try. It is light, crispy and gooey and is always the very first thing I eat when I arrive. Since moving to Canada as a little girl, every trip home to Brazil was met with a steaming pao de quijo at the Sao Paulo airport after a very long red eye trip.

I have not been back to Brazil since going vegan but I have to say that pao de queijo was a hard thing to let go. Until now anyways! A few months ago I decided to attempt to make one of my most favourite and nostagic snack. And I had some low expectations.

Pao de queijo or Brazillian cheese bread recipe is traditionally made from polvilho azedo (sour tapioca), polvilho doce (sweet tapioca), milk, eggs, oil, salt and a Brazillian cheese called queijo de minas. The queijo de minas is the traditional cheese that gives it the distict flavour and texture of paro de queijo. Sweet tapioca is just tapioca flour and the sour type is fermented tapioca. However you an just use regular tapioca and the recipe is just as good.

Close up of a vegan pao de queijo ball

How to make this vegan!

This cheese is what has always stopped me from attempting to make my own homemade version. Even before going vegan this was a hard to find cheese. So recipes usually use Parmesan or mozzarella which make a good recipe but NOT the same traditional Brazillian cheese bread recipe.

So I did a lot of recipe testing and researching when trying to figure out the best combination for this vegan pao de queijo recipe. And to my delight I had the most perfect cheese in my fridge all along. Culcherd cheese makes a fermented cashew soft cheese that is actually very similar to the traditional cheese used for this recipe.

It was a perfect match. However, I had a hard time finding a match for the eggs. Until I came across a recipe that used potatoes to help bind the cheese bread together. And magic happened. I almost cried when I pulled out a soft, fluffy, chewy and cheesy vegan pao de queijo from the oven.

So after much testing the end recipe turned out to be SUPER easy and all you need is

  1. Tapioca flour (I find the best success with Bob’s red mill)
  2. Oat milk
  3. Olive oil
  4. Salt
  5. A vegan soft cashew cheese
  6. Potato (can replace the cheese)
  7. Nutritional yeast
Ingredient shot of vegan brazilian cheese bread recipe or pao de queijo recipe

What is tapioca flour and where does it come from?

Tapioca flour, or tapioca starch, is a white starchy flour made from the root of cassava plant. Cassava originated in Brazil and is common throughout South America and now much of the world. It is still a staple food in Brazil commonly referred to as manioc or yuca. Cassava root is harvested for its starchy tuberous carbs! The root can be peeled then boiled or baked (fries or a yummy puree), or grated to make farriha (a coarse flour that we LOVE to eat with feijoada (rice and beans)). But importantly, you can also use cassava root to make cassava flour or tapioca flour.

What is the difference between tapioca starch, tapioca flour and cassava flour?

A great question that i also had to look up (lol). When it comes to tapioca starch and tapioca flour there is no difference. They are the same thing and used interchangeably! However tapioca flour/starch and cassava flour are slightly different. Cassava flour is made from the whole root whereas tapioca starch is made from only the starchy inside of the root.

How to make these

There is no big secret or trick in making vegan pao de queijo. It is actually an easy recipe once you know what consistency you are going for. there are a few steps you must follow but they are all basic and simple.

Use glass, and heat up the liquid

First you want to make sure to use a glass bowl and wooden spoon. It just makes a better dough! Then heat up the water, milk, oil and salt in a pan. You want it to be almost boiling. Pour slowly into the tapioca flour and stir.

Dough should be sticky and stretchy

As you begin stirring you will see the pao de queijo coming together. The dough that forms will be very sticky and stretchy, almost like slime (lol, sorry I have 3 kids so that is what came to mind). You will then want to rest the dough for about 10 minutes, mostly because you will need to handle it in the next step.

Meanwhile, go ahead and boil your potatoes. Once they are fork tender then rice or mash them.

Add in spices, cheese and potatoes and knead

Once the Brazillian cheese bread recipe has finished resting you will add in the potato, vegan cheese and spices. The best thing is to then use your hands to knead the dough. This also helps you feel if you have the right texture. It should be stretchy and slightly oily but not sticky. If it sticks to your hands add in a tad more tapioca flour.

Roll and bake!

You will then want to roll them into balls. The size really depends on your preference. Some Brazilian bakeries make them huge while others make them the size of a golf ball. My preference is the golf ball size. they turn out the best and are the easiest to cook. eating raw tapioca flour is actually NOT a good thing!

Place them on a lined and oiled baking sheet and cook for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Is this recipe gluten free?

Probably the best thing about this recipe is that it is naturally gluten-free! I mean you can pretty much veganize anything nowadays. But trying to veganize AND substitute for gluten generally makes recipes super complicated.

So yes this recipe is naturally gluten free, so eat your heart out! Just be sure to use certified gluten free tapioca flour is you have Celiac disease.

Do I need that much oil?

Unfortunately this is not an oil-free recipe and you can not minimize the amount of fat int his recipe. I have heard of people using butter instead of oil but I have not tried this myself. So if you are oil sensitive or on an oil-free diet this is not the recipe for you.

However, despite there being 1/3 cups of oil in this recipe, you do get about 12 ish cheese balls. Which is not to terrible. and the result is not an oily ball either. These Brazilian cheese balls come out fluffy, with a crispy outside and gooey inside.

Top down view of balls of vegan Pao de Queijo or cheese bread
Top down view of a family enjoying vegan baraziian pao de queijo

Anyhoo thank you for reading and I hope This vegan pao de queijo recipe. If you are looking for more easy simple vegan snacks and family recipes be sure to check out these:

And for more pantry friendly recipes make sure to check out this post 13 vegan pantry recipes with 10 ingredients or less!

Vegan pao de queijo, Brazilian cheese bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Gluten-free, Vegan
Keyword: easy appetizer, easy snack recipe, vegan appetizer, vegan gluten free snack, vegan snack
Servings: 12 balls
Calories: 147kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup plant milk
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cooked russets or white potato ( about 2 small potatoes peeled and diced)**
  • 1/2 cup vegan soft cheese
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then to a glass bowl add the tapioca flour.
  • To a small saucepan add the water, oil, plant milk and salt. Bring to a gentle boil then remove and pour over the tapioca flour. Use a wooden spoon to mix until it forms a stretch dough. If the dough is not to hot you can use your hands to kneed it gently.
  • Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil your peeled and diced potates until fork tender. Then use a ricer or fork to mask them.
  • Add the mashed or riced potatoes, vegan cheese, nutritional yeast and garlic powder to the tapioca dough. Using you hands knead the dough for a few minutes until it all comes together. You want a stretchy dough that doesn't stick to your hands.
    * if it is sticky add more taopioca flour
  • Now divide the dough into 12 pieces and form into balls. You can make smaller balls if you like but the traditonal size is a golf ball size. Then transfer the balls to a lined and oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Notes

** if you don’t have vegan cheese you can double the amount of potato and nutritional yeast as a subsititute. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1ball | Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
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9 Comments

  1. Lauren

    Those are incredible!! <3

  2. Looks so cheesy and delicious, love it! 😀

  3. Stephany

    Can you sub tapioca flour for anything else? I have chickpea and all purpose flour on hand.

    • No unfortunately that is the main ingredient so it’s necessary. It’s what helps give it that stretchy gooey texture.

  4. Claire

    Can I use my own home made cashew cheese? I make it with tapioca flour also.

    • I don’t see why not. The texture may vary slightly but try it!! I bet it would be fine. Let me know if you do as I’m curious now 😊

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