Brazilian Bread Blowout

So a vegan walks into a Brazilian steakhouse…

Reality is stranger than fiction, and while that may sound like the opening line of a terrible joke, that is exactly what happened on a recent afternoon exploit in the city. Why, in a veritable vegan wonderland, would I willingly chose a venue best known for slinging skewered meats like a relentless barrage, bearing glistening swords of the stuff right at your table, no less? Three simple words, my friends: Free salad bar. There is such a thing as a free lunch, at least when it’s your birthday and you’re gifted with a voucher that would cover the cost of the lavish “market table,” a bottomless buffet piled high with a wealth of naturally plant-based options. Luxurious platters of naked hearts of palm, fat spears of asparagus, whole cloves of caramelized garlic, roasted red beets, and yes, even verdant kale salad all beckon atop a platform of glistening crushed ice. It’s a veggie-lovers heaven; a miraculous vegan oasis amid a desert of meat. Thus, for the grand total of $0 (plus a generous and well-deserved tip,) I shamelessly piled my plate high, going back for round after round until I swore I would need to be rolled all the way back home.

To their credit, the servers all took my curious requests in stride, even when I turned down the buttery mashed potatoes, crispy, cheese-encrusted polenta fries, and complimentary birthday dessert. “But it’s included as part of the experience!” they cried, falteringly but graciously returning the untouched bounty to the kitchen whence it came. Only when one carefully folded napkin briefly fell away to reveal a bundle of mysterious little rolls, more like puff pastry than bread, did I feel the smallest pang of regret. Pão de queijo, an entirely unique baked good never before seen through my travels or tastings, suddenly dominated my imagination. Made of either yucca or tapioca flour, the texture is dense and chewy, much like baked mochi with a savory slant. Of course, the little gut bombs positively shimmer with the rich dairy components that make up the bulk of each bite.

That is, of course, until you take matters into your own hands. By no means traditional or remotely “authentic,” my take on the celebrated Brazilian cheese bread is a quick and dirty version that requires none of the typical kneading, rising, or general fussing associated with making bread. If you’ve got a blender and 30 minutes to spare, you’re in business.

Break through that crisp, golden exterior and plunge yourself head-first into an intensely buttery morsel of bread, the likes of which no average dinner roll can compare. Part of its appeal is its simplicity; the flavor is simple and savory, bold but agreeable, easily paired with any other main or side dish on the table. Though unremarkable at first glance, these treats are big winners once you get to know them.

They may not come with the full steakhouse experience, but once you can pop one of these warm, cheesy morsels into your mouth any time a craving strikes, well… You really aren’t missing anything at all.

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

1/4 Cup Aquafaba (Chickpea Brine)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Vegan Butter, Melted
2/3 Cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
1/2 Teaspoon White Vinegar
1 1/2 Cups Tapioca Flour
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
2 Teaspoons Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Teaspoons Baking Powder
6 Ounces Vegan Mozzarella-Style Cheese
1 Teaspoon Salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease two mini muffin pans.

Simply place all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. You don’t need to worry about over-mixing the dough, since there’s no gluten to work up here. Pause as needed to scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure that everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Once completely smooth, pour the batter into your prepared mini muffin pans so that they’re filled 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 16-20 minutes, until puffy and evenly browned all over. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes. Don’t be alarmed if some of them fall in the center as they cool.

Serve right away and eat while still warm.

Makes 2 – 2 1/2 Dozen Rolls

Printable Recipe

40 thoughts on “Brazilian Bread Blowout

  1. Oh, my mouth is watering! I once went to a Brazilian steakhouse with a friend and spent my entire time eating the bread. The best! Will have to make these.

  2. Welcome to Yum Goggle! We are following you on Instagram and hope you will follow us back. We will try to tag you each time we promote your posts. If you have any other social media platforms, please follow us and we’ll follow you back.

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  3. I have seen recipes for Brazilian cheese bread online and bypassed them studiously. Kudos for veganising something that positively bristles with dairy. They look like Yorkshire puddings. I wonder if I could use them as vegan alternatives for a Sunday roast? Excellent share (as usual) and well done you on braving the Brazilian meaty comestible establishment for your birthday. Happy birthday Ms Hannah and here’s to many MANY more :)

  4. I have not braved a Brazilian steakhouse yet, but actually enjoy going into non-vegan restaurants and showing a demand for plant-based options. These look great, very tasty and a fun excuse to try working with tapioca flour. Thanks!

  5. We toyed with the idea of visiting our Brazilian steakhouse in Madison, when we lived there, but never quite made our minds up to go. After reading your post, I’m a little sorry. However, you’ve made up for my ‘loss’ with your recipe! The rolls look great — kind of like popovers.

  6. If only all steakhouses had such a salad bar. I’ve only been to ones where I’m lucky to get a plain baked potato or a side salad of nothing but iceberg lettuce and a mealy tomato slice. Never even heard of Brazilian cheese bread before, they sure do look good. I can easily see a half dozen disappearing in front of me. :-)

  7. I love that you didn’t take no for an answer and were so determined to try Brazilian cheese bread that you actually went home and made it! Great effort :) I’ll be having a go at this at the weekend!

  8. I like your version of pão de queijo! As a Brazilian (and an ovo-lacto vegetarian), I love my cheese bread and eat it almost daily! But my vegan friends make different recipes all the time. One of my favorites uses roots such as yam or arracacha instead of a vegan cheese. It turns out sturdier than yours probably did, but also delicious!

  9. How cool – I’ve always wondered about what pao de quejo and how to cook up a vegan version, and now I have my answer, I don’t have much in the way of readymade vegan cheese around very often – reckon a noochy version would work?

    1. Unfortunately, the cheese makes up such a substantial amount of the foundation here, I don’t think that a straight nooch substitution would really be successful. I wish there was a better work-around!

    1. Unfortunately, tapioca flour is pretty much the most essential part of this recipe. I don’t think there’s any feasible way to swap it out without ended up with an entirely different sort of bread.

  10. I made these tonight but didn’t have any vegan mozzarella, so I used the Daiya block cheddar. They are so delicious! They are rather moist, chewy, and stretchy on the inside though, so I’m not sure if that if I cooked them long enough. Should they be dry inside?

    1. I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. The bread might not have enough structure to support itself in perfectly round domes when it rises, but if you don’t mind slightly flattened/pancake-like shapes, I think it should still taste delicious!

  11. I saw this bread on another blog and it wasn’t vegan, it had eggs. But it wasn’t hollow, it was more like wheat bread with a very fine texture… Is that because of the eggs? Or I should say, is this hollow because it doesn’t have eggs in it? It looks absolutely fantastic and I can imagine it filled like a cream puff….. Thanks for making it and sharing it! I’ll try it! Daniela

  12. Wow these were absolutely amazing! I baked them in a normal sized muffin pan, and they had a slight crust, and inside basically like molten cheese. No hollow bits, just gooey, stretchy cheese. All vegan. Highly recommended! Thanks so much for this recipe :)

  13. I made these today and they were delicious!! I didn’t have vegan mozzarella, but had some other nut based cheese that I used. They only puff a little, so next time I’ll fill the muffin pan. Take a look at Brazi Bites, which are frozen, then cooked, for some great appetizer ideas (although you’ll have to veganize them!). I’m going to experiment with freezing these since there are only 2 of us, and we ate way too many in one sitting!! Thank you so much for these, they were scrumptious!

  14. I made these for dinner and be still my heart! They are so unbelievably good! Both kiddos loved them also–even Miss Picky Pants. Thank you for sharing this recipe! It’s a keeper.

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