Celebrate the Rio Carnival with this delicious recipe

Considered one of the biggest events of the Brazilian cultural calendar, the Rio Carnival is a five-day celebration that this year runs from Friday, Feb. 17, to Tuesday, Feb. 21 — a day shy of Ash Wednesday. Carnival is filled with colorful costumes, samba music and dance, grand parades and food festivals. A popular street snack is pão de queijo, a delicious cheese bread best eaten at breakfast and washed down with a cup of Brazilian coffee.

Explore an authentic recipe below from Hilah Cooking, plus three alternatives you can try based on different dietary needs.


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 3 cups sweet tapioca flour (or 2 cups sour tapioca flour if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more if your cheese is not very salty)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 ounces grated cheese (traditionally queijo de Minas, which can be found in Latin stores, but can also be substituted with Monterey Jack, mozzarella or parmesan cheese)


  1. Set oven to 400ºF.
  2. Combine milk, butter and oil in a small pot and place over medium-high heat. Bring to boil.
  3. Put tapioca flour and salt into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. Pour in hot milk and mix on low until smooth. It will look soft and stringy. Once cool to touch, mix in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
  5. Mix in the cheese. If your dough is too runny or soft to scoop, chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer to let it firm up before scooping.
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment and scoop the dough out by large tablespoons, spaced an inch apart.
    • At this point, you may freeze the tray until the dough balls are solid, then store them in a freezer bag. When ready to bake, put frozen pao de quiejo on a baking sheet and add an extra 5 minutes to cook time. Do not thaw first.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly golden and puffed. The interiors should be soft-set and elastic, but if you want a crispier outside, leave them in for an extra five minutes.
  8. Eat warm right away or let cool. Leftovers can be left to cool completely, then stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Reheat in a low oven before serving (or eat at room temp).

Freezer Instructions:

Shape into small balls and place on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, or plate if a sheet won’t fit in your freezer. Freeze until solid, then transfer frozen dough to a baggie or container. Save the parchment for baking.

To bake frozen pao de queijo: Set oven to 375ºF. Put frozen dough onto parchment-lined sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Gluten free version | Vegan version