Bring a bit of Brazil to your home with this easy guide on making Vegan Pao de Queijo, a twist on traditional Brazilian cheese bread. Experience a dairy-free, gluten-free snack that doesn't compromise on authentic flavor.
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- 👪Why your family will love this recipe
- 🥖What is Traditional Pao de Queijo?
- 🥔Creating a Vegan Version:
- ✔️A gluten-free bread recipe!
- 🥦Ingredient list:
- 💭Ingredient tips
- 👩🏽🍳Instructions: Step-by-step guide
- 💭Recipe Tips: getting the right texture
- 🥬Substitutions & Variations
- 🥣Make this next:
- 📖 Recipe
Get ready for a trip to the heart of Brazil through the inviting aroma of pao de queijo, a cherished Brazilian cheese bread recipe. As a proud Brazilian, these delightful, gluten-free bites bring back warm memories of my childhood. The golden crust and stretchy, chewy interior are a dance of flavors and textures that symbolize more than just a snack; they represent home and comfort.
Growing up, pao de queijo was more than a treat; it was the taste of lazy Sunday mornings and lively family gatherings. When I moved to Canada, they were the first thing I savored on long red-eye flights back home. As I embraced a vegan lifestyle, I couldn't bear to leave this cherished delicacy behind. This led me on a mission to recreate a vegan version that honored my past while aligning with my new dietary choices.
In fact, I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with creative and unique ways to modify some of my favorite recipes to support my family's health needs. Some of our favorites are easy tofu scramble (makes a killer lunch burrito) and tofu ricotta!
👪Why your family will love this recipe
- Simple ingredients
- Naturally gluten-free
- Healthy easy snack recipe
- Fun party snack
🥖What is Traditional Pao de Queijo?
Pao de queijo, a typical Brazilian snack and Brazilian breakfast staple, often accompanies a strong cup of coffee. Its appeal extends beyond morning hours, gracing family gatherings, festive celebrations, and my personal favorite, as a comforting afternoon snack.
The moment you bite into a warm pao de queijo, you're met with a delightful medley of textures - a crisp exterior concealing a soft, chewy center with a stretchy texture. The original recipe for this gluten-free bread is polvilho azedo (fermented tapioca), polvilho doce (tapioca flour), milk, eggs, oil, salt, and a special Brazilian cheese known as queijo de minas. This cheese imparts a mild, slightly tangy flavor and creaminess to the bread, and our vegan version aims to replicate this distinctive essence.
The Key Ingredient: Tapioca Flour
A key ingredient in pao de queijo is tapioca flour, a white, starchy substance derived from the cassava root. Originating in Brazil and popular throughout South America, cassava is versatile and rich in starchy carbs. Known as manioc or yuca in Brazil, it can be boiled, baked into fries, grated into farinha (a coarse flour often paired with feijoada, a traditional rice and beans dish), or ground into tapioca flour.
It is also a naturally gluten-free ingredient making this a suitable recipe for anyone on a gluten-free diet!
Tapioca flour, lending its unique gummy consistency to our vegan cheese bread, helps replicate the hallmark texture of traditional Brazilian cheese bread. And that's the beauty of this recipe—it stays true to its roots while embracing a plant-based approach.
🥔Creating a Vegan Version:
Armed with my love of Brazilian cuisine and heritage, along with my experience as a home chef working with plant-based ingredients, I've successfully tackled this vegan pao de queijo recipe—creating a delicious and authentic taste every time!
My vegan Brazilian cheese ball recipe combines the unique texture of tapioca flour, the savory notes of nutritional yeast, and the richness of a plant-based milk and oil blend. Every step was worth it; it was about preserving a piece of family tradition and sharing it with you.
During the recent challenging times, my family found comfort and connection through cooking. Pao de queijo became our pandemic comfort food, bringing us together and honoring my heritage. As I share this vegan pao de queijo recipe, I invite you to join me on this flavorful journey. Let's celebrate the incredible diversity of Brazil's culinary landscape together, one bite at a time.
✔️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.
In my journey to craft the perfect vegan pão de queijo, I've discovered a combination of ingredients that work wonderfully to recreate the beloved Brazilian cheese bread in a dairy-free way:
For recipe quantities, see the recipe card
Tapioca flour (or cassava flour): You will find this ingredient in most grocery stores. Bob's red mill Tapioca flour is my go-to for nailing that one-of-a-kind chewy texture of pão de queijo. Without it, our vegan rendition just wouldn't be the same.
Plant-based milk: From almond to rice milk, I've tried them all. I prefer oat milk for its subtle flavor but feel free to use your favorite.
Cooked potato: After much experimentation, I discovered that mashed potatoes serve as a fantastic binding agent for our gluten-free dough. It's an excellent option if you choose to opt out of using eggs or vegan cheese.
Nutritional yeast: This is how we bring in the cheesy flavor without the actual cheese. It adds a depth of flavor that keeps our recipe true to its traditional Brazilian roots!
Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil because of its neutral flavor.
Garlic powder and salt: These kitchen staples help us round out the flavor profile. After all, why mess with perfection? The traditional pão de queijo recipe keeps it simple, and so do we.
Vegan cheese (optional): If you want to go the extra mile, a few tablespoons of artisan dairy-free cheeses will do wonders for this recipe. But be sure to pick an artisan-style cashew cheese like Culcherd Cheese and Miyoko's Creamery. Different cheeses like Daiya or some other more processed brands will result in a soggy cheese ball.
Remember, even though these ingredients may seem unique, the process of making vegan pão de queijo is quite straightforward. The result is a super delicious treat with a fluffy texture that's worth every bit of effort! Enjoy!
- What vegan cheese is best? To ensure the best results, you need to use the right vegan cheese, it will elevate this recipe from good to great. Artisan vegan cheeses, like Culcherd or Miyoko's Creamery, are your best bet for amazing flavor and texture. While brands like Daiya are not recommended.
- Tapioca Flour - The Non-negotiable: Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch or cassava flour, is the key to unlocking that traditional Brazilian texture of pão de queijo. Don't skip it, or you'll miss out on the authentic experience!
👩🏽🍳Instructions: Step-by-step guide
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F and bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a glass bowl, add the tapioca flour.
Step 2: Combine water, oil, plant milk, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat until small bubbles form (avoid boiling), then slowly pour over the tapioca flour
Step 3: Stir until the dough becomes stretchy, then cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Step 4: While the dough rests, wash, peel, and cook your potatoes in the boiling salted water until they're fork-tender. Mash the potatoes with a fork, potato masher, or ricer. until smooth.
Step 5: To the rested tapioca mixture, add the mashed potatoes, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder to the dough.
**Vegan cheese option: If using vegan cheese, grate it and add it now, but remember to reduce the amount of potato accordingly (see recipe card for quantities).
Step 6: Knead the dough. Lightly dust a clean countertop with tapioca flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Transfer the dough to the floured surface and begin to knead. If at any point the dough starts to stick to your hands or the countertop, sprinkle a bit more tapioca flour onto the dough and continue kneading.
Step 7: Form the dough into 1-2 inch small balls and place onto an oiled parchment paper or baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. The size of the balls is up to you - anything from bite-size to larger portions is fine!
💭Recipe Tips: getting the right texture
- Use the Right Tools: We recommend using a glass bowl and a wooden spoon for mixing the dough. These materials help maintain the right temperature for the dough, ensuring that it doesn't cool down too quickly.
- Avoid Hollow Centers: To prevent your pao de queijo from having hollow centers, be careful not to add too much tapioca flour. The dough should be moist and not too dry.
- Perfecting the Liquid Ratio: It's crucial to get the right balance of liquid in your dough. Too little, and your pao de queijo could end up dry and crumbly. Too much, and they might not hold their shape well. Follow the recipe carefully to ensure the right amount of liquid.
- Rest the Dough: Letting the dough rest is an essential step for getting the right texture in your pao de queijo. The rest period allows the tapioca flour to fully hydrate, leading to a more consistent texture in the final product.
- Know Your Dough: The dough should be stretchy, slightly oily, but not sticky. If it sticks to your hands, add a touch more tapioca flour. But be careful not to add too much, as this could lead to dry pao de queijo.
Keep these tips in mind as you work, and you'll be well on your way to a delicious batch of vegan pao de queijo!
🥬Substitutions & Variations
While this recipe aims to stay as true as possible to the traditional flavors and textures of pao de queijo, there's always room for creativity and adaptation based on dietary needs or personal preferences.
- Cheese Flavor: If you want a stronger cheese flavor in your vegan pao de queijo, consider adding more nutritional yeast or even a vegan cheese of your choice. Just make sure to check the recipe tips on how to select the best vegan cheese!
- Flour: If you're having trouble finding tapioca flour, you can try arrowroot flour as a substitute. It has similar properties and should yield a similar texture, but note that it may alter the taste slightly.
- Milk: Any plant-based milk can be used in this recipe. Almond, oat, and soy milk are all good options, depending on your preference.
- Oil: You can experiment with different oils to add subtle flavor variations. Coconut oil can give a slight tropical note to your pao de queijo.
- Spices and Herbs: Feel free to add spices or herbs to your dough for an extra flavor kick. Onion powder or dried herbs like oregano or thyme can add a new dimension to your pao de queijo.
Remember, the best part of cooking is making a recipe your own. Don't be afraid to experiment and adjust to your liking!
Fridge: Your freshly baked vegan pao de queijo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keeping them in the fridge ensures they stay fresh and maintain their unique texture.
Freezing: These vegan cheese breads freeze beautifully, making them a perfect make-ahead snack. After baking, let the pao de queijo cool completely, then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. There is no need to thaw before reheating. Just follow the direction in the reheating section.
Reheating: When you're ready to enjoy them again, just pop them into a preheated oven (350°F) for about 5-10 minutes, or until they're warm and crispy again. If reheating from frozen they will take slightly longer to rewarm. Be careful not to overheat, as this can affect the texture.
Tapioca flour is the traditional and essential ingredient for making Brazilian cheese balls. However, if you cannot find it or prefer to use an alternative flour, you can try using potato starch, 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 will have a slightly different taste and texture, which WILL affect the final outcome of your vegan pao de queijo recipe.
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.
While it is possible to make a version without any oil or butter, the result may be a slightly drier and denser cheese ball. Oil or butter is used in pao de queijo recipes to provide moisture, tenderness, and a soft texture to the bread. You can omit the oil and simply use more plant-based milk but the results will vary.
A hollow center in pão de queijo can occur due to a few factors. One common reason is using too much tapioca flour or not enough liquid in the dough, resulting in an overly dry texture. Additionally, not allowing the dough to rest before baking can contribute to hollow centers.
🥣Make this next:
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy this easy vegan Brazilian cheese bread 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
- 2 cups tapioca flour
- ¾ cup cooked russets potato (2-3 small potatoes peeled and diced)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup plant milk
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup vegan hard cheese Use an artisan-style vegan cashew cheese brand.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and boil a pot of salted water.
- Add tapioca flour to a glass bowl.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water, oil, plant milk, and salt. Heat until small bubbles form (don't let it boil), then pour slowly over tapioca flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dough until it becomes stretchy. Then, cover and rest for 10 minutes in a warm spot.
- Meanwhile, peel and cook potatoes in boiling salted water until fork-tender. Mash until smooth.
- Add mashed potatoes, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder to dough. *Vegan cheese option: If using vegan cheese, grate and add it now, but reduce potato quantity to ½ cup.
- Lightly dust a clean countertop with tapioca flour and then transfer the dough to the floured surface and begin to knead. If at any point the dough starts to stick to your hands or the countertop, sprinkle a bit more tapioca flour onto the dough and continue kneading
- 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 oiled parchment paper or an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.