Cuñapes/Pão de Queijo (South American Cheesy Bread) Recipe

A bowl filled with golden brown cunapes, a South American cheesy bread

Serious Eats Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Chopping the cheese instead of grating it gives you a lighter textured bread.
  • Fermented tapioca starch gives the breads the most authentic texture and flavor.
  • Letting the dough rest overnight fully hydrates the starches for a fluffier texture.
  • Using cold milk leaves pops of gooey cheese running throughout, while scalded milk gives you a more evenly textured bread—the choice is yours!

This cheesy and enjoyable South American bread goes by many names, but whether you call it pão de queijo, cuñapes, or pan de bono, it's always equally delicious. This version is made with Brazilian fermented tapioca starch for extra tang and an authentic flavor. A combination of chopped cheddar and Grana Padano cheeses add both a stretchy texture and salty bite. Best of all, they bake up perfectly from frozen so you can always have a stash on hand to quell even the most aggressive cheese cravings.

Recipe Facts

4.7

(7)

Active: 20 mins
Total: 24 hrs
Serves: 18 rolls

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Ingredients

  • 320g (about 2 1/4 cups) sour tapioca starch (see note)

  • 8g (2 teaspoons) Diamond crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same by weight

  • 4g (1 teaspoon) baking powder

  • 160g (2/3 cup) whole milk, cold or scalded

  • 30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 large eggs

  • 100g (3 1/2 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, chopped

  • 160g (5.7 ounces) Grana Padano cheese, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, milk, butter, and eggs (for an evenly textured bread use scalded milk; for pops of crusty cheese use cold milk—the choice is yours). Using your hands, knead dough until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes.

  2. Add chopped cheddar and Grana Padano to the dough. Knead gently to evenly distribute the cheeses while allowing some larger chunks of cheese to remain, about 2 minutes.

  3. Cover the tapioca dough with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the dough's surface. Refrigerate overnight to allow the starch to fully hydrate.

  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and adjust oven rack to the center position. Remove the tapioca dough from the refrigerator and roll into 2-inch balls using the palms of you hands. Make an indentation in the bottom of each roll using the back of a wooden spoon or your thumb.

  5. On a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, arrange the rolls leaving one inch of space between them. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking. Alternatively, freeze the rolls on the sheet tray until hard, then transfer to a zipper-lock bag to store in the freezer. Bake from frozen as directed above.

Special equipment

Scale, rimmed baking sheet

Notes

This dough feels very different than dough made with wheat flour. After mixing, it appears both runny and thick at the same time, and brittle and dry after the overnight rest. If it's your first time making it, I strongly recommend using a scale until you get accustomed to the texture of the dough. After that, feel free to eyeball quantities, try different cheeses, and add seasonings. As long as the texture of the dough is right, you'll end up with great results every time.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
112 Calories
4g Fat
16g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18
Amount per serving
Calories 112
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 244mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 70mg 5%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 26mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)