Against the Grain-Style Gluten Free Rolls

Against the Grain-Style Gluten Free Rolls

This recipe for homemade Against the Grain-style gluten free rolls is just like the original. Stop paying too much for packaged gluten free bread!

This recipe for homemade Against the Grain-style gluten free rolls is just like the original. Stop paying too much for packaged gluten free bread!

A few years ago, in a pinch, I bought a package of Against the Grain original rolls. They were so expensive (nearly $9 for 4 rolls!) that it was really really (really) hard to pull the trigger. But my family loved them. So I did the only thing that seemed reasonable to me. I made my own copycat version asap.

This is not a bread recipe, though, like any other. It’s made of just tapioca starch/flour, eggs, milk, cheese, and oil. These rolls are chewy and cheesy, and almost remind me of popovers in texture but with a delightfully crisp and almost flaky crust.

This recipe for homemade Against the Grain-style gluten free rolls is just like the original. Stop paying too much for packaged gluten free bread!

Secrets to recipe success

I originally wrote about these rolls in 2013. Along the way, I’ve made these gluten free rolls so many times that I’ve modified the method a bit, both to simplify the process and to handle the issues that sometimes come up.

I never post a recipe unless I make it successfully and can repeat my own success multiple times. But over the years, I have seen some issues pop up that I didn’t anticipate years ago. 

Your food processor

You do need a food processor to make this recipe. I’ve tried making it in a blender, and I’m afraid I’ve failed. If you only have one of the mini prep food processors, don’t despair! Just split the entire recipe in half and make it in two parts.

If you have issues with your food processor stalling during preparation, it is likely that the tapioca flour has clumped at the bottom of the bowl and the blade has become stuck. Opening the top and stirring the dough to loosen it will get it working again. Do make sure you add the tapioca flour after you add the cheese, eggs and oil.

Temperature matters

Right after preparation, the dough will be very sticky. Wrapping the dough in plastic wrap and chilling it will allow you to divide it into portions. 

When I first made this recipe, I cooked part of it on the stovetop before processing everything together. Over time, I realized that step wasn’t necessary—and that the recipe worked better when the ingredients began at room temperature, or even chilled. Processing the dough in the food processor with add heat, which is part of why we will have to chill it before shaping no matter what the temperature of your ingredients at the start. 

Get this copycat recipe for the original recipe Against the Grain-style gluten free rolls. Stop paying too much for packaged gluten free bread! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-bread-recipe-against-the-grain/

Add the milk slowly, and sparingly

The amount of milk that it makes sense to add to this dough is perhaps the most important variable in the recipe. Depending upon how much moisture is in your ingredients, the quality of your tapioca starch, and even your food processor, you may need more or less milk.

You will always need less than 1 full cup (8 fluid ounces) of milk. You may even find that you prefer to make the recipe with a bit less than 5 fluid ounces (which is itself less than 2/3 cup).

If you want the dough to be very easy to handle, use a bit less than 5 fluid ounces of milk the first time you make the recipe. The dough will be much easier to handle, especially after chilling, but watch the baking time like a hawk. They will likely be fully baked in less than 20 minutes.

If the raw dough in the food processor falls too easily off a spatula, you’ve probably added too much liquid. Try adding more tapioca starch/flour and processing until smooth.

If you’ve gone too far in adding liquid, even after adding a bit more flour, rather than truly shaping the dough you may have to scoop it onto the baking sheets with an ice cream scoop and baking it for a bit longer. 

You’re not kneading the dough in the traditional sense, anyway. You’re just coaxing it into a roll shape. The oven does the rest.

This recipe for homemade Against the Grain-style gluten free rolls is just like the original. Stop paying too much for packaged gluten free bread!

Ingredients and substitutions

Like other simple recipes, each ingredient is crucial to the success of this recipe. It does not take substitutions well. Here are the details:

Dairy-free: If you can’t have regular cheese, I’m afraid you simply cannot make this recipe. I have tried making it with homemade Miyoko’s Kitchen recipe cheese, and it failed. I have tried making with all different brands of dairy-free packaged shredded cheese, and it failed. 

I had developed a recipe for a copycat of the dairy-free Against The Grain rolls and posted it on the blog years ago. The post disappeared somehow in a redesign years ago, and I have no other record of it. It’s gone for good. 😢 

The cheese: This recipe works best with pre-grated low moisture mozzarella cheese. It contains anti-caking ingredients, often starch, that prevent the dough from becoming too sticky and not holding its shape during shaping and baking. I know it’s less than ideal to use an ingredient with additives, but there are certainly more additives in the packaged rolls. I do not stress such things, but it’s a personal decision.

Egg-free: There are two eggs in this recipe, and they do a lot of heavy-lifting. In fact, they’re responsible for the entire rise. I don’t think you could make this recipe with an egg replacement at all. 

Tapioca flour/starch: Tapioca starch has no equal in the world of gluten free flours, so there is nothing else that will replace it. The quality of the one you use matters a whole lot. I can only recommend purchasing it from nuts.com, Authentic Foods, and Vitacost.com. Bob’s Red Mill tapioca starch/flour is of very inconsistent quality and I recommend against it.

The tapioca starch/flour sold in bulk in Asian food stores is also very inconsistent and frequently contaminated with other ingredients, sometimes gluten-containing ones. I also recommend against using that.


This recipe for homemade Against the Grain-style gluten free rolls is just like the original. Stop paying too much for packaged gluten free bread! #glutenfree #bread #gf #rolls

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 6 rolls


5 ounces low moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (packaged, shredded cheese works best)

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons (42 g) neutral oil (grapeseed, canola, vegetable all work fine)

2 1/2 cups (300 g) tapioca starch/flour, plus more for sprinkling

5 to 7 fluid ounces low fat or whole milk


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • Add all ingredients except milk to food processor in the order listed, then add about 1/4 cup milk. Process with chute open for about 2 minutes. Add more milk very slowly until the mixture comes together. Add between 5 and 7 fluid ounces of milk, depending upon the moisture in your other ingredients. Process for at least another minute. The dough will be very sticky and, when scooped with a silicone spatula, should fall off of it in a clump. The dough should not be dry and will firm up as it chills. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly and chill for at least 30 minutes. To hurry it along, you can place the dough on a plate or small cutting board and chill it in the freezer. It will not freeze solid.

  • Remove the dough from the freezer and unwrap the plastic. Sprinkle a flat surface generously with tapioca starch, place the dough on top and sprinkle it with more tapioca. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, divide the dough into 6 equal parts. With hands that have been dusted lightly with tapioca flour, gently shape each piece into a round then flatten into a disk about 1/2-inch tall, sprinkling with more flour as often as necessary to prevent sticking. Place the rounds about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, score each roll twice on top at a 45° angle, about 1/8-inch deep. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Working quickly, open the oven and slice a small hole in the top of each roll to allow steam to escape. Close the oven door and continue to bake until lightly golden brown all over and firm on top, another 5 to 10 minutes depending upon the moisture in your raw dough.

  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly before serving. Allow any leftover rolls to cool completely before slicing in half, then wrapping them tightly and freezing. Defrost at room temperature for 30 minutes before toasting and serving, or defrost in the microwave and serve warm.

  • Originally posted on the blog in 2013. Video, text and some photos new. Recipe method clarified.



Comments are closed.

  • GFMum
    March 12, 2019 at 1:29 PM

    Easy. Fast. Delicious. What more could we ask for?

  • Lynn
    March 11, 2019 at 9:09 AM

    Hi Nicole….
    I re-read your email from yesterday, and your response to my question. You had mentioned Brazilian Cheese Bread in the email so I hit that link. Because I had every exact ingredient for that recipe, I made those instead to go with Potato Kale Soup. It was one of the more bizarre doughs I’ve ever worked with, but the rolls came out beautifully and my non-gluten free husband loved them too. Will try the other rolls next week.
    Thanks for all you do to help the GF world!

  • F.
    March 11, 2019 at 8:32 AM

    We have been using my family recipe (from Brazil) for Brazilian Cheese Buns and using them for hamburger/hotdog rolls for a long time. I find it so funny that someone else “discovered” our family trick. I do bake them in ramekins for hamburger bun shapes, slice them when cool, and then “grill” the buns, cut side down before adding your filling. It crisps up the cheese and removes some of the traditional chew. So good! I’ll try your recipe and see if it tastes any different. Too bad we didn’t decide to market them years ago! Ha!

  • Nancy Duty
    March 10, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    I’ve used a number of your recipes–thank you sooo much. Anxious about these rolls with so many comments and directions. But I’m going to keep all hints in mind and give it a try. Hoping for success. Love so many of your recipes and suggestions. I’m 85 and just now learned I have Celiac.

  • Jackie Quast
    March 10, 2019 at 6:19 PM

    I started making “Pan de Yuca” when we returned from Ecuador. It is very much like your recipe, but the eggs are a “no-no” for me. Instead, I use baking powder and Energy-g egg replacer.I also use queso fresco, a bland Mexican cheese. There is no chilling since I put the little balls of dough into a greased mini-muffin pan and bake right away. As a result, they come out crispy outside and very chewy inside. Toss them into a bag in the freezer, and, after 40 seconds of defrosting, yum.
    Using your recipe, I made a few revisions in mine-so thanks! I’ll be happy to share what I have come up with, if you would like me to.

  • Lynn
    March 10, 2019 at 11:07 AM

    Hi Nicole…
    I am snowed in today, so it’s a perfect day to try this recipe. I happen to have all of the ingredients, EXCEPT the mozzarella. I do have pre-shredded cheddar, which should have the same anti-clumping ingredient. What do you think…… worth a try?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 10, 2019 at 1:26 PM

      I do think it’s worth a try, Lynn! I’m cautiously optimistic. I might cut back on the oil a bit, though, since cheddar is higher in fat than mozzarella, though. Pay close attention to the texture of the dough as you add ingredients, and match it to the photos/video. Good luck!

  • Ali
    March 7, 2019 at 12:52 PM

    I have also successfully made these with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment by shredding the cheese quite fine and then beating for a long time (5 minutes) with the mixer. the dough ends up looking smooth and shapes and puffs fine after some time in the fridge.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 7, 2019 at 2:08 PM

      That’s really good to know, Ali! I wasn’t successful, but I didn’t take as many steps as you did. Thanks for sharing that!

  • Franee
    March 6, 2019 at 2:19 PM

    Can you use a mixer instead of a food processor for the rolls?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 6, 2019 at 4:06 PM

      As I explain in the post, you really do need a food processor, Franee. Sorry!

  • February 26, 2016 at 1:47 PM

    Have you ever tried with egg free recipes? I am allergic to grass grains, eggs AND dairy. Almond milk tends to work beautifully…but eggs…ugh….so hard to find a decent replacement. Chia seeds work … sorta for many recipes…but not all.

  • JK
    January 22, 2016 at 8:42 PM

    I have some tips for others who are having trouble with flat rolls. It took me about 4 tries, but I was finally able to get this recipe working, and it’s amazing! The first time, the ‘rolls’ came out pancake-flat. The second time, taking great pains to follow the recipe exactly (and using the recommended tapioca flour), I froze for an hour each time, and the results were only marginally better.

    The third and fourth times, I tried adding the liquid a tiny little bit at a time, and ended up using only 5 oz or so of milk, instead of the recommended 7oz. The dough was firmer (though still sticky), and looked much more like the pictures. From what I remember in the first couple runs, the dough can very quickly go from normal bread-dough consistency to cake batter within a tablespoon of liquid. It may be that my mozzarella has less moisture than most, but this worked well for me.

    In addition, I added a Tbsp or so of baking powder (though not sure if that made any difference at all) and baking for 5-10 mins longer than recommended. The dough rose perfectly, and the inside texture was less gummy (which pão de queijo tends to be). And, for some reason, they tasted even better after being in the freezer for a few nights!

    It took a little fiddling with the liquid proportions, but the rolls ended up exactly like the Against the Grain rolls (which my wife and I love!) and next time I’m going to try adding some jalapeños or other seasoning.

    Fantastic recipe. Thanks, Nicole!

  • Jackie Sue
    December 10, 2015 at 2:02 PM

    Such a bummer that this is not a fail safe recipe. I’ve read through all the comments, followed directions and ingredient recommendations to a T, weighed and re-weighed to no avail. I too ended up putting them in a muffin tin. While they did puff beautifully, the inside is rather gummy… so disappointed but not ready to give up. Perhaps I’ll have to do a few experiments of my own. One question though, when you first finish the dough (before the first freezing) would you say the consistency is like a thick pancake batter? or pehaps your’s is already thicker at that point…

  • ljallasia
    November 24, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    Help! I absolutely love your recipes. However when I tried this one today – ugh! Everything seemed to match up to your pictures until baking. The taste was, well just ok.Although I weighed out the cheese, it was very dense and chewy inside. As you can see, it looked more like a flatbread! :-) Any idea where I went wrong?

    • ljallasia
      November 24, 2015 at 8:49 PM

      Here’s the picture

      • Marisa
        November 29, 2015 at 4:53 PM

        I just tried this recipe for the first time and mine did the exact same thing. Very disappointing, but I will try one more time as these are my favorite rolls. In my case I think my liquids/fats were off as I tried to use a combination of heavy cream/water to substitute for the milk. Next time I will try following the recipe to a T and freezing longer.

        • ljallasia
          November 30, 2015 at 9:43 PM

          I would really like to hear what happens when you give it another try! The picture looks fabulous & delicious! I followed the recipe very carefully, checking several times that there wasn’t any yeast, and still ended up with a failure.

        • JK
          January 22, 2016 at 8:33 PM

          Hi Marisa — I recently found this recipe and have tried 4 times in the span of a week just trying to get it right. The first time turned out exactly as yours did, and the second time (same ingredients/proportions, freezing for an hour each time) turned out only slightly better. For me, the key was to add slightly less liquid — something around 5oz total. The dough is much thicker, but holds its shape a lot better. I also baked for 5-10 minutes longer than the recipe called for. It may be that the mozzarella I use has less moisture than most, but this worked wonders for me. An extra ounce of liquid seems to be all the difference between a moderately firm dough and loose cake batter. Maybe worth a shot for you?

  • Tyla Smith
    October 13, 2015 at 6:56 PM

    Hi! I love your recipes and so I gave this one a try too since I usually buy these rolls. I don’t have a food processor so I used my ninja instead. I used cheddar instead of mozzarella and because we don’t do dairy I used cashew milk instead of regular milk. All the other ingredients were the same. I blended the dough for over ten minutes and it still didn’t get any thicker than a cake batter (yes, I used the brand of tapioca flour you recommended). I tried to freeze it thinking maybe that would do the trick but to no avail. It didn’t get thicker and just ended up freezing the edges. I ended up pouring the batter into muffin tins. They refused to get brown in the tops even though I kept increasing the bake time. I eventually brushed them with butter and turned the oven on broil for two minutes and that did the trick. Once they were brown I popped them out of the muffin tin and let them cool a little. My boys and I sampled one and the flavor was really good and they are nice and fluffy with a slight texture of the Brazilian cheese buns. My youngest said they taste like goldfish crackers.
    Any suggestions on improving the recipe?? I will make it again but if the consistency is the same I think I will go get the extra large muffin tins so they can be hamburger size instead of slider size!

  • Dara
    September 13, 2015 at 6:55 PM

    First of all, we LOVE this website. Just received a few of your books from amazon and have been reading, marking, cooking quite happily. I can’t tell you how this site brings a smile to my 12 year old daughter’s face. As a kid with celiac I have always told her, “we will find a substitute”…little did I know they were all here.
    Ok, I tried making these rolls twice today. Neither went well but I will persevere. This is the first time one of your recipes did not come out picture perfect for me. So, I know it is something that I did…just not sure what. My dough (if you can call it that) was way too runny. I decided to just keep the food processor running on my second attempt. Ended up running it for over 10 minutes and kept the dough in the freezer for about 25 minutes.
    I was hopeful with the second batch since they had a little height to them, but once they went in the oven, they immediately spread out into pancakes (or rather one giant connected pancake) and never puffed up. Truthfully my kids and husband still ate all of them and LOVED the taste but I was hoping for a roll.
    I used Authentic Foods Tapioca Flour which seems like the right thing to use. Hoping someone can give me advice. I am tempted to try again but I’m not sure what I would change before giving it another go.

Back to Top

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.