First introduced in 2021, Trader Joe’s Brazilian Style Cheese Bread is the popular grocer’s take on a traditional Brazilian recipe called pão de queijo.
Pão de queijo is a naturally gluten-free cheese bread rolled into bite-sized balls and typically eaten for breakfast. In Brazil, pão de queijo might be topped with jam or honey and served alongside some fruit or juice. These bread bites are sometimes also served alongside soups or stews or simply eaten as an easy snack throughout the day.
Today, I’m going to find out if the Trader Joe’s version of this classic Brazilian bread is any good.
Each box of TJ’s Brazilian Cheese Bread comes with 12 individual bread rolls. These boxes are kept in the frozen section and should also be kept frozen after you take them home. At my local TJ’s, I found my box near the frozen pastas and gnocchi.
A box of this cheese bread will run you $4.99, meaning that each bread ball costs about 42 cents.
Despite some concerns that this bread may have been discontinued at Trader Joe’s, they’re still widely available as of January 2023. If your local store is out of stock, try asking an associate when they’re expected to return.
Ingredients & Nutrition
One of the things that immediately excited me about this cheese bread is that the recipe is so simple.
These bread balls contain just eight ingredients–tapioca flour, milk, parmesan cheese, canola oil, egg, water, sea salt, and white pepper.
While pão de queijo recipes often differ when it comes to what kind of cheese they call for (some recipes call for queso fresco or even mozzarella), this TJ’s recipe actually sticks very closely to tradition.
Because it’s made with tapioca flour instead of wheat flour, pão de queijo is naturally gluten free. Unfortunately, these bread balls are not vegan as they contain both milk and egg.
When it comes to nutrition, TJ’s Brazilian Cheese Bread is fairly middle of the road. It’s certainly not a health superfood, but it’s also far from the least healthy snack in the world.
Each serving of TJ’s Brazilian Cheese Bread (two bread balls) contains 190 calories from 11 grams of fat, 35 mg of cholesterol, 310 mg of sodium, 18 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of protein. You also get a little bit of Vitamin D, iron, and calcium in each serving due to the egg and fortified dairy content.
Cooking & Storage
As you can see on the box, these bread rolls do not require thawing prior to baking. Simply store them in your freezer, then take them out when you’re ready to make them.
The box recommends just one cooking method–baking in a conventional oven. To follow this method, preheat your oven to 350°F, then arrange your desired number of bread rolls on a baking sheet (you do not need to oil or cover the sheet). Once your oven is preheated, place the baking sheet on the center rack and let bake for 6-8 minutes.
These pão de queijo should not be prepared in the microwave, as this will interfere with their intended texture. Brazilian cheese bread is meant to be firm and crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. If you microwave your cheese breads, you’ll end up with something soggy and far chewier than you might like.
But baking in a conventional oven isn’t the only way to prepare these little bread rolls.
Although air frying isn’t listed on the box as one of the prep options, many shoppers have attested that these cheesy bread balls can be popped into the air fryer for some quick and easy deliciousness.
If you have any pão de queijo leftover, let them cool to room temperature and then store them in a covered container out of the fridge in a relatively cool place for up to three days. They should not be stored in the fridge or freezer after being baked as they will harden and lose their soft, chewy texture.
Before baking, you can store your frozen pão de queijo in the freezer for up to three months. After this, the bread may begin to lose its freshness, texture, and flavor. These rolls should not be stored in the refrigerator.
DIY Pão de Queijo Recipes
If you’re feeling inspired to bake some of these simple yet satisfying Brazilian bread rolls from scratch, you have plenty of great recipes to choose from.
Learn how to make pão de queijo yourself using this recipe from TheKitchn.com.
Or try this recipe from CarolineGreenNutrition.com that tops these pão de queijo with Trader Joe’s own Everything But the Bagel Seasoning blend.
Remember that even though one of these recipes is listed as gluten free while the other one isn’t, all pão de queijo that sticks to a traditional recipe is naturally gluten free.
The Taste Test
Since I don’t have an air fryer, I decided to stick with the classic method of baking these cheese breads in the oven. And because they’re so small, I ended up just using my Oster toaster oven, which worked surprisingly well.
At first, I wasn’t convinced that 6-8 minutes would be enough time to bake these rolls fully since they were frozen solid. But then I realized that these rolls are actually prebaked before they’re sold. So, essentially all you’re doing by baking them is thawing and reheating them.
In the end, I baked them for about 10 minutes.
When I first took them out of the oven, I was surprised by how hard they seemed. They honestly seemed like little rocks, so I didn’t have very high expectations about their texture.
Thankfully, I was wrong!
These cheese bread balls are light, fluffy, and perfectly chewy. I was amazed! The outer crust is crunchy with a bit of resistance without being hard or tough.
The inside has this amazing spongy almost springy texture that’s honestly just fun to eat. I baked four just for myself and they were gone in no time.
I found that these rolls are great on their own without any toppings, but I can also imagine they would be delicious dipped into something savory. Despite the fact that Brazilian pão de queijo is often eaten with jam or fruit, I’m not sure that a sweet side or topping would be my first choice.
If you’re a fan of tomatoes, some other reviewers have recommended trying these rolls dipped in marinara sauce.
Whatever you end up eating these cheese breads with, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. This is one Trader Joe’s buy I will definitely pick up again. They’re easy to prepare, made with simple whole ingredients, and they’re undeniably tasty. In short, TJ’s Brazilian Cheese Bread is hard to beat.