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Pastel de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Pastry)

pastel de queijo on a serving platter with dipping sauce

Pastels are a favorite street food in Brazil. They are essentially a hand pie, and can be stuffed with all sorts of delicious fillings, both savory and sweet. Today, we are opting for simplicity and making pastel de queijo. Mild and gooey cheese is encased in a crisp, fried crust for a truly decadent and satisfying treat. 

Where Does Pastel de Queijo Come From?

The exact origin of pastels in Brazil is not known. However, many attribute the first recipes to Chinese immigrants. This is due to the similarity between the pastel’s crust and a fried spring roll wrapper. It is thought that Chinese Brazilians adapted their spring roll recipes to suit different tastes, substituting traditional fillings with local ingredients. 

Another theory suggests that Japanese immigrants were the first to popularize pastels. During WWII, prejudice against Japanese immigrants grew immensely due to the country’s alliance with Germany. In order to escape persecution, many Japanese Brazilians posed as Chinese, adopting clothing and traditions to disguise their true heritage. Making food with typically Chinese ingredients may have been another way to maintain this facade. 

Whatever the history, pastels have become an integral part of Brazilian fast food cuisine. The fillings reflect regional tastes: shrimp and cod are popular in Bahia, while São Paulans favor ground meats. Other common fillings include heart of palm, shredded chicken, requeijao, and, of course, cheese. 

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Pastels?

Traditional pastel de queijo uses a mild cheese, like mozzarella or Minas cheese; but you can use any kind of cheese you like, so long as it is suitably melty. Whatever you might use for a fondue, you can use for a pastel de queijo: 

  • Gruyere 
  • Emmental
  • Cheddar
  • Gouda
  • Havarti
  • Provolone

Feel free to use a blend of your favorites as well. We are sticking with mozzarella and a little aged white cheddar today, but the sky’s the limit for your cheesy filling. 

Tips for the Perfect Pastel de Queijo Crust

The crust is very important for pastels: you want a crisp, crunchy texture that is thick enough to hold in all that cheesy goodness, but not so thick it’s hard to eat. Your crust should also have bubbles (remember the spring roll wrapper relationship?). 

The bubbles in your pastel de queijo crust are achieved via two key ingredients: alcohol and vinegar. Traditional Brazilian pastels use cachaca for the alcohol, but you can substitute any grain alcohol (rum, vodka, etc.). The alcohol does not impart much taste, as it cooks off during frying. It is simply a means of attaining that light, bubbly crust. 

Another important step in ensuring the best crust for your pastel de queijo is letting the dough rest. As with other pastry dough, this allows the gluten in the flour to relax. If you attempt to roll out and cut the dough without resting it, your crust will be tough.

Pastel Dipping Sauce

Pastel de queijo is sometimes served with hot sauce. You can certainly do this with yours, especially if you like heat. We like to pair ours with a little hot honey. In a microwave-safe container, mix half a cup of liquid honey with a tablespoon of red chili flakes (more, if you want spicier). Add in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and stir to combine. Heat the mixture in the microwave for two fifteen-second bursts. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the chili flakes to infuse, then strain them out. Voila!

Freezing Pastel de Queijo

You can easily prepare pastels ahead of time and freeze them until ready to use. Assemble them as you would right before frying, then place them on a baking tray and put them in the freezer. When they have hardened, transfer the pasteis to an airtight container (you may want to wrap them individually in parchment to prevent sticking). The frozen pastel de queijo will keep for up to 4 months. When you are ready to use them, fry them as you would below, keeping in mind you may need a little extra frying time. 

Recipe for Pastel de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Pastries)


For the Crust

3.5 cups flour (all purpose)
1 egg
¾ tbsp salt
1 cup cold water
1 oz canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 oz grain alcohol (cachaca, rum, vodka, etc.)
Oil for frying

For the Filling

4 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
4 oz aged white cheddar cheese, cubed


  1. In a large bowl, combine the all purpose flour and salt. Add in the egg, water, vinegar, alcohol, and vegetable oil and mix until the dough starts to come together.
  2. Once you have a soft and pliable dough, knead it on a clean surface for about five minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let the dough rest for 15-30 minutes.
  3. After the resting period, divide the dough into smaller portions (about the size of a large marble) and roll each portion into a thin, circular disk. You want around 3-4 inches in diameter. Repeat this process for the remaining dough. 
  4. Place 1 cube of each type of cheese in the center of each disc. Fold the dough over the cheese to form a half moon shape. Press the edges firmly to seal the pastel, using a fork to crimp the edges.
  5. In a large frying pan, add enough oil to cover the pasteis de queijo. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). To check if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of dough into the oil. If it sizzles and quickly rises to the top, the oil is ready.
  6. Carefully slide the pastel de queijo into the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping once during the process. Fry in batches and avoid overcrowding the pan. It usually takes about 3-4 minutes per side, but keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
  7. Once done, remove the pastels from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.
  8. Let the pasteis cool for a few minutes then serve with your hot honey dipping sauce or with a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Arroz Carreteiro (Brazilian Rice Made with Leftovers)

Pot of arroz carreitero, long grain Brazilian rice with leftover barbecue meats

Barbecue season is in full swing, which means many of us have a fridge full of odds and ends of charred, smoky meats. Nobody wants to waste them, but it can be difficult to put together another meal from a few ribs and two remaining sausages. Enter arroz carreteiro, a flavorful Brazilian rice designed to incorporate those miscellaneous leftovers into one delicious, filling dish. 

Where Does Arroz Carreteiro Come From?

Arroz carreteiro translates to “waggoner’s rice.” Like many of Brazil’s hearty stews and one-pot meals, this recipe originated with the gauchos of Southern Brazil. The country’s famous cattlemen were in need of quick and easy nourishment while traveling long distances. Like feiijao tropeiro and other dishes, arroz carreteiro frequently included non-perishable ingredients, like dried beef and cassava flour. 

Today, arroz carreteiro is often eaten after a weekend of churrasco. Leftover cuts of meat and veggies are tossed in with perfect long-grain rice and topped with eggs, grated parmesan cheese, and parsley. 

Do You Have to Use Leftover Meat for Arroz Carreteiro?

Of course not! The point of waggoner’s rice is largely to use up leftovers, but that doesn’t have to include meat. You can omit the barbecue leftovers in favor of other things you have in the fridge, like boiled eggs or roasted vegetables. Or, cook fresh portions of meat and add them in the same way you would the leftover meat (see instructions below). 

What Kind of Rice Do I Need for Arroz Carreteiro?

In general, Brazilians prefer long grain white rice (jasmine, basmati, etc.). The reason for this is that the rice grains do not stick together. This allows the individual grains to be coated with flavors and has a less glutinous mouth feel. 

You can use short grain rice if that is what you have, but be sure to rinse it several times to avoid it becoming too mushy as it cooks down. You will also need to slightly reduce the amount of liquid to account for the added moisture from rinsing. Dry rice should have a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of liquid. Rinsed rice will need 1.25 cups of liquid for every one cup of rice. 

Our arroz carreitero will need more water because we will be using more than just rice. We will simmer it a little longer to allow all the liquid to be absorbed. 

Tips for Perfect Brazilian Rice

In addition to the right amount of liquid and the correct grain of rice, use the following tips to ensure the perfect rice for your arroz carreteiro:

  1. Use a large enough pot. Use a 2 quart stock pot for one cup of rice. Size up when cooking more. 
  2. Keep the heat at a simmer. Once you’ve reached the initial boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer; you don’t want to boil the mixture for a prolonged amount of time, since it will reduce the liquid too quickly and undercook the rice. 
  3. Don’t Remove the Lid. When your rice has around ten minutes left to cook, avoid removing the lid, if possible. Steam is important in cooking perfect arroz branco, and you don’t want to let any escape until it is done. A glass lid can be handy for this process so you can keep an eye on the rice without removing the lid. 

Arroz Carreteiro Recipe (Brazilian Rice with Leftover Barbecue)


1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups of leftover barbecue meat, shredded and/or cubed
2.5 cups water
½ yellow onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 hot pepper, such as jalapeno or serrano, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika (not smoked)
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste


  1. Heat a large pot or deep skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and add in your chopped onion and peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add in the garlic and cook for a further thirty seconds, just until fragrant.
  4. Add in the barbecue meat, paprika, black pepper, and salt (we used 2 tsp). 
  5. Pour in the rice and add the water. Stir to mix.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to medium-low heat.
  7. Cover the pot partly with the lid, don’t seal it yet. 
  8. Cook the arroz carreteiro for about 25 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  9. When you don’t see any more liquid, turn the heat off and cover the rice completely with the lid. Let the steam work its magic for ten more minutes. 
  10. Top the arroz with the chopped parsley and boiled egg. Add a generous amount of parmesan cheese on top, and serve piping hot. 


More Delicious Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Bobo de Camarao (Brazilian Shrimp Chowder)

bobo de camarao (shrimp cowder) served over white rice.

In Brazil, bobo de camarao is a kind of shrimp stew. We are leaning more towards a shrimp chowder with our recipe, since we will be blending most of the ingredients for a smoother consistency. If you’re looking for a light yet satisfying weeknight meal or luncheon staple, this is the perfect recipe to add to your arsenal. Let’s take a look at some of the history behind the unique flavors of bobo de camarao, as well as some tips and tricks for attaining the perfect shrimp chowder. 

Bobo de Camarao Ingredients

Brazilian shrimp chowder has its origins in Bahia, a state in the northeastern part of the country that is famous for its blue costs and bustling nightlife. It is also well known for its cuisine, which reflects the area’s rich West African Heritage. (“Bobo de camarao” translates from the Portuguese to “stew of shrimp.”)

Much of Bahia’s cuisine has shared foundations that are derived from African recipes. Natural thickening agents like manioc, okra, and banana starch are still used to bulk up stews like bobo de camarao, while ingredients like coconut milk and dende (red palm oil) add a creaminess and depth of flavor. Chili peppers are also a star ingredient in much of Bahian cooking, tempered by the sweetness of the coconut milk and the tang of tomatoes. 

Of course, as a coastal region, Bahia is also a hub for seafood. Shrimp is a favorite, and it features heavily in many recipes, from stews to street food (related: see our article about the Baianas de Acaraje). 

Cooking with Yuca

Yuca is also known as “manioc,” and it is a staple of Brazilian cuisine. It has similar thickening properties to cornstarch and can easily be substituted for potatoes in many recipes. Today, we are relying on it mainly for its thickening abilities, but also for its unique, nutty flavor. 

Yuca requires a little preparation in order to remain tender and palatable. You will need a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. You will also need to remove the fibrous core in the center. You can just cut around this in the same way you would a mango. 

In some recipes, bobo de camarao will have you cook and mash the yuca separately from the rest of the ingredients. This is not necessary if you shred the yuca beforehand and add it directly to the pot. You will be doing the same with the ginger root. 

Dende Oil Substitutes for Bobo de Camarao

Dende is a crucial ingredient in this shrimp chowder, since it imparts both a unique flavor and gorgeous color. That being said, it may not be readily available in many US grocery stores. If you can’t find dende, which is red, you can substitute regular palm oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or fractionated coconut oil. 

Bobo de Camarao Recipe


½ large yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon dende oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ⅓ cups fresh yuca, core removed, chopped, and shredded*
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can stewed tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
½ cup orange bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced fine (leave out ribs and seeds if you don’t want it too spicy)
1 can of coconut milk, unsweetened (14 oz)
2 cups water
Juice of one large lime
¼ cup cilantro, chopped


  1. Heat a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Drizzle in the tablespoon of dende oil. 
  2. Saute your chopped onions for three minutes, until softened and translucent. Then add in your minced garlic and cook for one more minute. 
  3. Add in bell peppers and jalapeno pepper. If using fresh tomatoes, add these in now as well.
  4. Add in the shredded fresh ginger, shredded yuca, and chopped cilantro. Pour the coconut milk over the ingredients, along with two cups of water. Stir to combine everything evenly.
  5. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat until the yuca is tender and cooked through (25-30 minutes).
  6. Check the mixture for consistency. If it is too thick or you notice any yuca sticking to the bottom of the pot, add more water to loosen it.
  7. Once the yuca is cooked through, add almost all of it to the belly of a blender. Leave around 2 cups for texture. Blend the rest until smooth, and then add it back to the pot.
  8. Now add in your shrimps and cook until pink and tender. Large shrimp will need to simmer for around 10 to 15 minutes. Check frequently to avoid chewy or tough shrimp!
  9. Garnish with fresh scallions or more cilantro. Enjoy piping hot with crusty bread, Brazilian cheese bread, or over white rice. 

More great Brazilian Recipes to Try:

Father’s Day in Brazil

Father playing with two small children

Unlike the US and many other parts of the world, Father’s Day in Brazil is actually celebrated in August. Like Mother’s Day, it is not a public holiday; nevertheless, it is still celebrated nationwide with gift-giving and family activities. Read our article to learn more about how Brazilians celebrate Father’s day and why it takes place on the second Sunday in August.

Why Father’s Day is Different in Brazil

The official date for celebrating Father’s Day in Brazil was established rather recently. In the 1950s, a journalist named Roberto Marino and his colleague, Sylvio Behring, (not the jiu-jitsu expert!) named the second day in August “Dia dos Pais.” This date coincided with the feast of Saint Joachim, who is the patron saint of fathers and believed to be the biological father of the virgin Mary. This is in keeping with many of Brazil’s national holidays, which tend to align with the Catholic Christian tradition. 

Interestingly, the original Portuguese Catholics who arrived in Brazil observed a feast in honor of father’s on March 19. This is the feast of St. Joseph, and it dates back to at least the early 15th century. Spain, Portugal, and Italy continue to celebrate Father’s Day on March 19. 

It is not known exactly why Sylvio Behring and Roberto Marino chose a different date, nor why they had the authority to do so. The theory is that Marino wanted to boost newspaper sales and Behring suggested the feast of Saint Joachim as a marketing ploy. Whether or not this story is true, Father’s Day does happen to be one of the most consumer-driven holidays in Brazil, so perhaps Behring’s tactic worked!

How Do Brazilians Celebrate Father’s Day?

Father’s Day in Brazil is observed in similar fashion to other countries, with the day being dedicated to spending time with loved ones, eating good food, and giving gifts. Children will often prepare a homemade present at school on the Friday before Father’s Day. Written notes of gratitude are also common, as are cartões de Dia dos Pais (greeting cards). Some of the most popular presents include clothing and cologne for Dad. 

If the family is Catholic, they may start the day with Sunday Mass. Then, a special lunch will be prepared, or the family may go to a favorite restaurant. The rest of the day is spent together, doing outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or grilling. 

Like Mother’s Day in Brazil, Father’s Day celebrates multiple generations. Uncles, Grandfather’s, and Great Grandfathers will be included in the festivities. 

Texas de Brazil Father’s Day Promo

While Brazilians have another couple of months to plan for Father’s Day, it is right around the corner here in the US. At Texas de Brazil, we know fathers and barbecue tend to go hand in hand. If your dad is a grill master, why not give him something truly special this Father’s Day? 

Our online Butcher Shop features hand-curated grill packages of the most premium cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. Let Dad dazzle guests churrasco style style-we’ve even got aprons and a sleek gaucho knife to complete your Father’s Day meat box. Go online and use PROMO CODE: FATHERSDAY for a special discount.* 

Feliz dia dos pais! 

*Discount only available for purchases of $150 or more. 

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