Desserts and Snacks, Healthy Snack Recipes, Lunch\ Dinner

GF & Vegan Brazilian cheese breads (Pao de Queijo)


Bring a bit of Brazil to your home with this easy guide on making delicious Brazilian cheese breads! An easy gluten free bread recipe that is a traditional South American recipe. Naturally gluten-free and made vegan by swamping in potatoes. Stretchy, gooey fluffy pao de queijo recipe that just screams comfort! Kid-approved for the perfect snack.

Recipe updated March 2023 based on user feedback and to add answers to commonly asked questions.

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Image of gluten free and vegan pao de Queijo with text overlay. Photos show the Brazilian cheese bread being pulled apart and shared by kids on a wodde table

Family Connection: A Personal Reflection

When the pandemic hit, life as we knew it changed almost overnight. We were all forced to slow down and see our lives from a different perspective, and with that came the opportunity to really examine our family unit. For our family, it shined a giant spotlight on what was working in our parenting, and what needed attention.

It was a tough adjustment and it saddened me that it took such a dramatic event to get us to take a much-needed pause in our lives. But it helped me open my eyes to the need to prioritize connection over activities, and to just be present for my children.

For our family, one of the best ways we connected was in the kitchen. We’d pick a random weekday, turn on some music, and spend a few hours together cooking a special recipe – like these delicious pao de queijos. The recipe is special to me, as it brings up fond childhood memories of my life in Brazil. It brought us closer as a family and I’m so excited to be able to share it with you. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Vegan, gluten free Brazilian cheese breads being stretched out

What is pao de queijo, or Brazilian cheese breads?

Craving a taste of Brazil? Pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) is a must-try! Light and crispy on the outside with a gummy, elastic, fluffy texture on the inside. Pao de queijo has an earthy fragrance and is a traditional gluten-free bread recipe. Coming from Brazil myself, this was always the first treat I’d go for at the airport after long red-eye flights. And even though I recently went vegan, I still craved the taste of this nostalgic snack. After a few months of trial and error, I discovered a delicious vegan-friendly recipe that seriously rivals even the best ones in Brazil!

How are Brazilian cheese breads traditionally made?

Fans of Brazillian cheese bread recipes will love this vegan recipe is also for you!

Traditional pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), is made from polvilho azedo (fermented tapioca), polvilho doce (tapioca flour), milk, eggs, oil, salt, and a Brazillian cheese called queijo de minas. Queijo de minas is what gives these cheese bread rolls their distinctive flavor and texture. Don’t worry if you can’t find the sour tapioca—regular tapioca works just as well. Now let’s get baking!

Is it possible to make a gluten-free and vegan version of pao de queijo?

Making a gluten-free and vegan version of pão de queijo is a great option for those who are allergic or intolerant to gluten or who follow a plant-based diet. Tapioca flour is the key ingredient in this recipe, which provides a chewy and stretchy texture to the bread. Luckily, tapioca flour is already gluten free! Nutritional yeast flakes and vegan cheese can be added to give the bread a cheesy flavor, while garlic powder adds a savory taste. And finally, mashed potatoes can be used to replace the egg in this recipe! So if you are looking for the perfect vegan and gluten free bread with cheese then this recipe is for you! Easy to make and results in delicious, gluten-free, and vegan pão de queijo that everyone can enjoy.

What ingredients can be used to replace dairy in the recipe?

Pão de queijo is a Brazilian bread with cheese that is typically made with dairy and egg. However, there are several ingredients that can be used to replace dairy in pão de queijo to make it dairy-free or vegan. Some of these ingredients include:

  1. Vegan cheese: There are many vegan cheese options available that can be used as a substitute for dairy cheese in pão de queijo. It is important o select a soft cheese to mimic the texture of the traditional queijo de minas normally used for this recipe.
  2. Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor and can be used to add a cheesy taste to pão de queijo.
  3. Plant-based milk: Most plant-based milk can be used as a substitute for dairy in this recipe. These milk will not add the same richness as dairy milk but can still be used to achieve a similar texture. I prefer to use oat milk because of its subtle flavor.
  4. Aquafaba: Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas and can be used as a substitute for eggs in pão de queijo. It helps to bind the dough together and can be whipped to create a fluffy texture.
  5. Mashed potatoes: While not typically used, mashed potatoes can be used as a binding agent for gluten free dough. It can also be used in this recipe if you choose to opt out of using vegan cheese (scroll down for how to make this recipe without vegan cheese)

It’s important to note that replacing dairy in pão de queijo may change the flavor and texture of the bread. Experimenting with different ingredients and ratios may be necessary to achieve the desired result.

How to use plant-based cheese substitutes in place of traditional cheese?

Option 1: Make pao de queijo using vegan cheese!

Making vegan cheese bread has never been simpler! Because this recipe is already a gluten-free bread recipe all we have to do is get the cheese right! Many traditional recipes for this Brazilian snack call for an elusive cheese, but luckily you can find a great alternative right in your fridge. Enter Culcherd, a fermented cashew soft cheese that matches the flavor and texture of traditional cheese used. It’s the perfect match – so no fussing around with difficult-to-find ingredients. If you can not find this cheese not to worry, you can use any vegan soft cheese, preferably one that uses fermented cashews. Or skip it altogether and use potato (see below)

** Miyoko creamery also makes a fermented cashew cheese that is very similar to Culchered cheese that may be easier to find if you like outside of Canada

But what about a replacement for the egg? After much testing, the answer was potatoes. With this veganizing ingredient, the bread came out of the oven soft, fluffy, chewy, and cheesy – enough to almost bring a tear to the eye!

So, to achieve this vegan pao de queijo in the most simple way, all you need is:

Ingredient prep shot for vegan Brazilian cheese breads recipe or pao de queijo recipe

READER TIP: What kind of vegan cheese is best for this recipe?

I am adding this section after a lot of you had questions and concerns regarding the cheese for this recipe.

When searching for a way to make the perfect Brazilian cheese bread recipe, you may have questions about the cheese to use. To get the best results, use hard-style fermented cashew cheese. Avoid cheese meant to melt, as it will cause a watery, soggy recipe. See the picture below for an example of a cheese that works well.

Close up image of culchered cheese, a vegan soft cheese being used to make Brazilian cheese breads
Image taken from Culcherd IG

Option 2: How to make Brazilian cheese breads without vegan cheese

No cheese no problem! Skip the cheese and use more potato instead!

You can make vegan cheese bread cheese-free by substituting it with potatoes! This recipe doubles as a dairy-free pao de queijo recipe as well. So if you find you can’t afford, find or want the cheese version, JUST MAKE THE POTATO ONLY VERSION! If you can not find a good cheese to use or you have limited access then just go ahead and make the potato-only version. It’s just as delicious and the texture is super good!

How can I make the dough without using eggs?

Pão de queijo dough traditionally includes eggs as one of its ingredients. However, you can make a vegan or egg-free version of pão de queijo by using.. drum roll… mashed potato! Mashed potatoes are a perfect binding agent when trying to make an eggless dough 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 the 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?

This 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.

What can be used to replace the traditional tapioca flour if I cannot find it?

Tapioca flour is the traditional and essential ingredient for making pão de queijo. However, if you cannot find it or prefer to use an alternative flour, you can try using potato starch, cassava flour, or arrowroot flour as a replacement. These flours are similar to tapioca flour in terms of texture and can be used in a 1:1 ratio substitution. However, keep in mind that each flour may have a slightly different taste and texture, which may affect the final outcome of your pão de queijo.

How do I ensure that the texture and flavor of the pao de queijo are still authentic without using dairy and eggs?

Top tips for getting the texture of Pao de Queijo just right!

For parents looking for a go-to vegan Brazilian cheese bread recipe that’s also gluten-free, look no further! Making vegan pao de queijo is actually quite simple with the right instructions. All you need to do is get the right texture, and the rest will fall into place. Here’s a few steps to get you started:

1. Use glass, and heat up the liquid

Start with the right supplies: a glass bowl, a wooden spoon, and a separate pot for heating up the liquid ingredients. Heat up the water, milk, oil and salt until small bubbles form – you don’t want it to boil. Finally, slowly and gently pour the liquid over the tapioca flour, stirring as you go. Making dough has never been easier!

2. The dough should be sticky and stretchy

As you begin stirring the ingredients, you’ll notice the pao de queijo coming together into a sticky, stretchy dough – almost like slime! It’s best to let the dough rest for 10 minutes before handling it to avoid burning your hands.

While you wait, boil your potatoes until they’re fork-tender. Use a ricer or fork to mash them and make sure you get all the lumps out for a creamy cheese ball.

3. Add in spices, cheese, and potatoes and knead

Once the pao de queijo dough has finished resting, add in the potato, vegan cheese, and spices. The best way to knead the dough is with clean hands. But a wooden spoon is second best. Using your hands will help 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.

4. Roll and bake!

Once your dough has come together, you will 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 for Brazilian cheese breads is golf ball size. They turn out the best and are the easiest to cook.

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

Is this recipe a gluten-free bread recipe?

Probably the best thing about this recipe is that it is a naturally gluten-free bread recipe! Which is perfect if you are just starting out on a gluten-free diet or looking to try something new. Just take care to use certified gluten-free tapioca flour if you have Celiac disease.

If you are looking for more easy kid-approved gluten-free recipes be sure to check out Kid approved vegan chicken fingers or Cauliflower 2 ways: Buffalo and salt and vinegar!

Can I make pao de queijo without using any oil or butter?

While oil or butter is traditionally used in pão de queijo recipes to give the bread a soft and moist texture, it is possible to make a version without any oil or butter. Simply leave out the oil. Here is a recipe for oil-free and butter-free pão de queijo:


  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk (such as almond, soy, or oat milk)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup grated vegan cheese (optional)

Follow the instructions in the recipe card (omit the oil and potato). This recipe results in a healthier version of pão de queijo but the texture will be slightly altered. However, it is still flavorful and delicious.

How can I modify the recipe to make it healthier and lower in calories?

Traditionally oil or butter is used in pão de queijo recipes to provide moisture, tenderness, and a soft texture to the bread. It can enhance the flavor of these Brazilian cheese breads and give them a crispy outside texture. It also helps to and helps bind the ingredients together, making the dough easier to work with.

However, it is worth noting that there are variations of pão de queijo recipes that do not use oil or butter, especially those that are vegan or cater to those with dietary restrictions. These recipes may use alternative ingredients, such as plant-based milk or mashed potato, to provide moisture and structure to the dough.

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

How long can vegan pao de queijo be stored and reheated?

Vegan pão de queijo can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To reheat, you can either microwave them for a few seconds or bake them in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 5-10 minutes until heated through. It’s important to note that reheating them in the microwave may result in a slightly softer texture while baking them will make them crispier. However, reheating them multiple times can cause them to become dry and lose their flavor, so it’s best to reheat only what you will be consuming immediately.

AtMyTable kid approved rating

We are 3/3 with this recipe. My oldest son who has the most issues with textures loves these. They have a nice crunch to them with a gooey inside. My oldest is not a fan of melty cheese so he enjoyed these cheese balls without the runny cheese part. We eat them as a snack or as dinner rolls with our meals. They also travel well so they are a great on-the-go snack idea for kids. So what are you waiting for… go make these Brazilian cheese breads now!

Anyhoo thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy 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 breads

Bring a bit of Brazil to your home with this easy guide on how to make delicious Brazilian cheese breads! Naturtally gluten free and made vegan with a simple swap. Follow the steps and you'll be enjoying traditional dishes from South America in no time, and have a perfect snack to share.Kid approved, comforting and delciious.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Gluten-free, Vegan
Servings 16 balls
Calories 147 kcal


  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plant milk
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cooked russets or white potato ( about 2 small potatoes peeled and diced)**
  • 1/4 cup vegan hard cheese **best cheese is a hard fermented cashew style. DO NOT use a vegan cheese meant that is meant to melt (like shredded cheddar) OR skip using cheese and use 3/4 cups of mashed potato.
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


  • 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 (dont forget the 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 16 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.


** if you don’t have vegan cheese you can use 3/4 cups of the potato plus 1 more tbsp of the nutritional yeast instead.
**** MAKE SURE YOU ARE USING A HARD CHEESE (see cheese section in post). The recipe will not turn out if you use a vegan cheese meant to melt.
Keyword easy appetizer, easy snack recipe, vegan appetizer, vegan gluten free snack, vegan snack


  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 😊

  5. JJ

    What are some examples of vegan soft cheese? Brand? Thx

    • Yes! I updated the blog post to include more information on this. The best results will come from hard cheese, like a fermented cashew style cheese. Anything that is not meant to melt.

  6. Kimber

    For the soft cashew cheese, do you use a commercially available product? If so, can you suggest some brands?

    • Yes! I love the brand by cuclcherd (pictured and linked above). they are local to Toronto but anything similar will do. I actually changed the recipe to say hard cheese. Anything that is not meant to melt. The best results are from a fermented cashew style cheese

  7. Rikka

    Do you have a vegan cheese you’d recommend?

    • Yes! I love the one by cuclcherd (pictured and linked above) but you can use any hard vegan cheese. the best results are from a fermented cashew style cheese

  8. Kayla

    Is their a certain vegan cheese brand you use or recommend? There are so many options I never know which one is best.

    • Yes! I love the one by cuclcherd (pictured and linked above) but you can use any hard vegan cheese. the best results are from a fermented cashew style cheese.

  9. Mc

    Can I use just cheese instead of potato or is the potato necessary?

    • If you are making these with a soft cheese you can just add that and not the potato. However, you must use soft cheese so that it doesn’t come out gooey.

  10. Alexis

    How gooey is the inside supposed to be? I cooked mine for 45 min and the inside still seems undone, not sure if thats what they are supposed to be like

    • It will be gooey but should not taste undercooked. Make sure your batter is not to runny prior to baking these.

  11. Michelle

    Can this recipe be frozen before being baked? I would like to keep a stash of these and bake as needed.

    • I have not tried that myself yet but this is a great question. I will make a batch to freeze and update the post. If you have tried it I would love to hear your feedback :0)

  12. ern

    Have you tried freezing these, either the unbaked dough or the baked balls?

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