Pan de bono | Naturally Gluten Free

Pan de bono | Naturally Gluten Free

Pan de bono is a magic combination of crumbly cheese, corn flour, a starch, and an egg. It might be the easiest, naturally gluten free bread you’ll ever make.

A round metal tin with 8 rolls of pan de bono

Naturally gluten free bread

When I first started baking gluten free, I was desperate for a recipe that was easy and would work. I had tried baking mixes that I special ordered from who-knows-where, and even those failed.

I was completely overwhelmed by the variety of flours, and tired of baking with stinky garbanzo bean flour. So when I discovered that there were ways to bake simply, like this pan de bono, that were already naturally gluten free, it was like the heavens had opened up. ✨

A small plate with pan de bono broken, with a butter knife

There are two flours in this recipe, masa harina corn flour, and tapioca starch/flour, but the crux of the recipe is the cheese and the egg. Together, they make a bread that has layers of flavors — from the crusty outside, all the way to the salty sweetness of the cheesy inside.

Raw balls of pan de bono on a tray

How to make and handle the dough

The dough for pan de bono is made in a food processor, but you don’t need a high-powered or fancy machine. Even a miniature machine will do, but you might have to make the dough in batches.

First, the cheese is made into crumbles by pulsing in the food processor. I’ve made this recipe with queso fresco cheese, feta cheese, quesito, and even dairy-free cheese (see the Ingredients and Substitutions section below for full details). The saltier the cheese (like feta), the less salt you’ll add.

Then, the flours are added and combined quickly and easily with the cheese. With the food processor running, you’ll add the egg and process until the dough comes together into a ball. It will happen suddenly, and you’ll know it’s ready.

A pastry brush on top of a raw ball of pan de bono

The dough is super easy to handle, and could certainly be made into other shapes. It will be tacky to the touch, but shouldn’t be truly sticky (unless you’re using dairy-free cheese). If it is sticky, just cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Bake the rolls for 10 minutes in a hot, 375°F oven. A final brushing with melted butter (vegan butter if you’re making the rolls dairy free) helps the rolls brown as they finish baking—and adds some extra, rich flavor.

A round tin with brown paper and 4 pan de bono rolls

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy-free: Pan de bono is naturally gluten free, but naturally dairy-containing. But I’m happy to report that I’ve successfully made it dairy free by making the following substitutions:

  • 8 ounces of Daiya brand dairy-free cheese in place of dairy cheese
  • an additional 1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour for a total of 1 cup (120 g)
  • an additional egg, for a total of 2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell)
  • melted nondairy vegan butter in place of melted unsalted butter
  • the dough will be stickier, so handle it with wet hands during shaping

The rolls don’t brown as well as the original recipe, but they puff perfectly and taste amazing.

Egg-free: There are very few eggs in this recipe (just 1), but since the recipe is so simple that any substitution is risky. It’s worth trying with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) in place of the single egg.

Corn-free: Masa harina corn flour is a precooked cornmeal (Maseca brand is widely available and is certified gluten free) that’s essential to this recipe. There are some recipes where cornmeal can be replaced with ground millet, but I don’t believe that would work here. I wish I had better news about making these rolls corn free!

Pan de bono is a magic combination of crumbly cheese, corn flour, a starch, and an egg. It might be the easiest, naturally gluten free bread you'll ever make. #glutenfree #gfbread #pandebono #naturallyglutenfree #naturallygf

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 8 to 10 rolls


8 ounces queso fresco (Mexican), quesito (Colombian), or feta cheese (Greek)

1/3 cup (44 g) masa harina corn flour

2/3 cup (80 g) tapioca starch/flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (omit if your cheese is very salty)

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, melted


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside.

  • In the bowl of a food processor, place the cheese and pulse until all the large pieces are crumbled into a uniform bunch of pebble-sized pieces. Add the masa, tapioca starch, and salt, and pulse until well-combined. With the food processor on, add the egg and blend until a very smooth, integrated ball forms (about 2 minutes). You might have to stop the food processor halfway through to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the food processor. If it’s sticky to the touch, place it in a medium-sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm (about 15 minutes).

  • Divide the dough into 8 to 10 pieces, roll each into a round between your palms, and place about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush the rolls with melted butter and return to the oven to continue baking until puffed, lightly golden brown all over and golden brown underneath and on the edges. Allow the rolls to cool briefly before serving.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2011. Adapted from this recipe. Recipe largely unchanged, photos, video and most text new. 


Comments are closed.

  • Amal
    May 26, 2020 at 10:54 PM

    Hello can I substitute with mozzarella cheese? I would like to try it, but I am unsure It would affect the texture/taste of the bread.

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 27, 2020 at 8:52 AM

      I’m afraid not. You can only use one of the three options listed.

  • Pamela
    July 5, 2018 at 2:32 PM

    Nicole do you think this would work with Greek yogurt instead of queso fresco?

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 5, 2018 at 3:15 PM

      Definitely not, Pamela! You need some sort of cheese with a similar moisture balance, like feta or queso fresco.

  • Jojo
    July 1, 2018 at 7:24 PM

    Thanks so much for including a dairy-free option! I’m allergic to milk but really love cheese and bread. For the daiya, would you recommend the shreds or blocks? Any specific flavor suggestions? The daiya range is rather large.

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 2, 2018 at 10:25 AM

      Good questions, Jojo! I made them once using shreds (mozzarella-style) and once using the provolone-style slices. Both worked great. The extra egg and the additional 1/3-cup tapioca starch help to even things out.

  • Judy
    July 1, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    This is chipa, or pao de queijo, for me, for which I’ve always used straight tapioca flour and a grated hard cheese. This variation looks interesting, thanks.

  • Kay R
    June 30, 2018 at 2:18 PM

    Thanks again Nicole for another brilliant recipe. Through a catalogue of errors and not reading the comments properly, I ended up making these with half feta and half Red Leicester (which is pretty similar to cheddar) and by adding a little bit of water the dough did actually come together and they’re SO tasty!! Bet they’re even better if you make them properly! Next time!

  • Chelsea Johnson
    June 29, 2018 at 5:52 PM

    (This is meant to be a reply to Suzanne Clarke’s comment, but nothing happens when I click reply?)
    For SUZANNE CLARKE, not sure where you are in NZ, but I’m in Dunedin and New World supermarket carries Masa Harina, you have to look in the international isle though. Its from an NZ company called Tío Pablo, really good quality authentic Mexican stuff (I’m from Southern California originally, so lots of experience with Mexican food!). I was able to get it up in Napier too, although I can’t remember if I got it at the regular supermarket or if I had to go to one of the specialty stores like Vetro or Chantals. Good luck!

  • Kjcookson89
    September 14, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Nicole–we loooooove this bread.  I come back to it time and time again!  Its probably my most-often-made recipe. :)

    You mentioned ‘seeing pretzels in your future’.  Did you ever use this dough for pretzel dough?  Can it stand up to a baking soda bath?

    • gfshoestring
      September 16, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      No, you cannot make these into pretzels. I have a recipe for Pretzel Bite Snacks on the blog. Search around!

  • Wendy Mueller on Facebook
    December 1, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Hi Nicole – I picked up ingredients for this today…..Quesa Fresca cheese is mucho $$$, at $5 for 8.2 oz. I looked at the pre-made version that I had been buying, and it uses mozzarella cheese, which you can often get on sale for under $2 for a package. Do you think this would work???? I’m suddenly a little gun shy!

  • Jennifer
    August 22, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    I have one last question (sorry!). First, I apologize for the breach of etiquette, offering up another recipe on an already-amazing cooking blog! Don’t ask why that didn’t occur to me BEFORE I posted… :) Now the question. Have you ever come across a gluten-free recipe for a bread machine? I bought a Cuisinart that has a gluten-free setting and I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried and/or had any luck?
    BTW, your berry scones…. are you kidding?!? I thought the only silver lining to diagnosis of celiac disease is that I would finally drop the last 8 pounds I’ve been trying to shed for a year… uh, this clearly isn’t going to happen…. Too early to say I love you? :)

  • Jennifer
    August 21, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    I agree. I have a great mill and plenty of access to nearly any other grain, so I think I’ll give it a try and post back. We made a batch of the Brazilian bread today, used 1.5 c milk, 3 eggs, 1 t. salt, 1/4 c. grated parmesan, 1 c. sharp cheddar. Super easy (total prep+bake time about 15 minutes), but I’d still like to give grinding my own masa a try. I wanted to ask you if you’ve had any luck grinding your own parts for flour, but figured I’d better finish the book first, just in case it’s already in there :).

  • Nicole
    August 21, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    Hi, Jennifer,
    That’s a great suggestion! Thanks so much for trying to help out Suzanne. Brazilian cheese bread is similar to Pan de bono, but has (as you mentioned) a few more ingredients. I still have to wonder how hard it would be to make your own masa. Thank you again!
    xoxo Nicole

  • Suzanne Clarke
    August 19, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for your great recipes! I am in New Zealand and have not been able to find Masa Harina. Can you suggest any substitutions? Thanks. Suzanne,NZ

  • Darlene
    August 18, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    I finally madethis and boy am I stuffed. Oof! I posted a picture on my wall but the lovely basket of bread got cut out. The one on my plate is visible. My husband wants me to make the chili and the bread when his dad comes to visit from Ohio. Both my son and my husband had 3 pieces each.
    I accidentally added the 3tbsp of butter to the mix. It wasn’t until later that I saw my error. It didn’t seem to affect it at all.
    Thank you for another great recipe. I think I have a food hangover.

    • Nicole
      August 19, 2011 at 6:18 AM

      Hi, Darlene,
      This is a pretty forgiving recipe, but I have to admit that I’m surprised that adding the butter to the dough didn’t affect it at all. Good to know! Glad you enjoyed. Love a good food hangover. Best remedy? You guessed it. Hair of the dog. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Maria
    August 9, 2011 at 3:57 AM

    Pao de Queijo, anyone?
    This is a recipe that reminds me of a Brazilian yummy called pao de queijo (cheese bread) made with the aforementioned yuca or cassava flours which is the same as tapioca flour. Super easy, super yummy, super versatile! Makes wonderful buns, or pizza crust (just dock and par-bake) and a really yummy “bagel” dog. Actually way better flavor than a bagel dog as the yummy cheese bread bakes into a wonderful flavourful pocket around the dog. Really easy to google recipes and you-tube demos.
    Good luck! and no gluten!!

    • Nicole
      August 9, 2011 at 8:15 AM

      Hi, Maria,
      Brazilian cheesebread is very similar, but has a few more ingredients, like some liquids other than the egg. Very similar, though. Making pizza dough out of this sounds like an awesome idea. I think I’ll have to try that!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Vanessa :P
    August 8, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Is this the same as Brazilian cheese bread? If so it is so good, I love it, so chewy and cheesy and I’m going to make it anyway!

  • Shalini Lynch
    August 8, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    This recipe reminds me of Chebe (except that Chebe doesn’t contain masa). It’s a dry mix to which you add eggs and cheese. I noticed the comment asking if cheddar could be added to this, and I think it could if it were mixed in by hand. Parmesan might taste good too. On another note, I purchased Bob’s Red Mill masa harina over the weekend and bought the one that isn’t certified gluten free. I did notice it didn’t have the certified symbol while I was in the store, thought it was a little unusual but since the ingredients were just corn and lime I figured it would be okay (it was). I didn’t realize they make two versions of this product with the same name and that one is certified gluten free and one isn’t!! Just a note to be more aware than I was!

    • Nicole
      August 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM

      Hi, Shalini,
      I have never tried Chebe. Very hard cheeses like Parmesan would most likely not work very well with this recipe. If you try to chop Parmesan in your food processor, it might break the machine. Cheddar is more likely to get mushy than to crumble. You really need a moist but solid cheese, like feta or queso fresco.
      Yes, many Bob’s Red Mill products come in certified gluten-free, and not certified gluten-free varieties. The non-certified products that contain no gluten-containing ingredients are not made in their dedicated facility, so there is potential for cross-contamination. And it’s not always super obvious on the packaging, either. You have to look for the universal “no” symbol, which is often toward the bottom of the front label. Thanks for mentioning that. It is important to keep in mind.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Darlene
    August 8, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Hello Nicole, This post doesn’t belong under any recipe but I couldn’t post on your “about” page. I wanted to thank you for this blog. Not only are you providing great recipes, you are providing laughs as we deal with changes we have to our lives or the consequences of eating gluten. I had some hidden gluten yesterday and after skipping around having a great day I was then slammed down by gluten. Still waiting for my mind to come back today. But as I was laying in bed staring at the inside of my eyelids and being angry at losing another day of my life to gluten, you and your blog came to mind and I chuckled inside at something you had written (Lazy Teenager Pitas rock). And I was thankful. So, Nicole, you’re doing a great thing that touches a lot of peoples hearts and lives in ways you may not know or forget. God bless you, and keep blogging. You are a blessing.

    • Nicole
      August 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      Hi, Darlene,
      This was the perfect place to say such lovely things. Thank you so much for expressing this. It is so easy to skip around our lives (love that image, by the way) and forget to connect. It’s so funny you should be thanking me. I know I provide the recipes and stuff, but ever since you stumbled on this blog, it’s been that much more fun around here. So, right back atcha with that ‘thank you.’
      I’m so sorry you got glutened. If you’re still under the weather, maybe you could distract yourself by chatting (perhaps with your son (a.k.a. The Lazy-Pita Rockstar)) about possibilities for a new gluten-free mascot, perhaps someone with Latina roots. Just a suggestion. :)
      Feel better. Feel good. And thanks for giggling with me. If you giggle like this, and you’re entirely alone, they come to get you.
      xoxo Nicole

  • jena
    August 8, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    YUM! I had to make these this morning. I had all the ingredients including feta sitting around being bored, so….
    My celiac daughter thought this made the perfect breakfast! I’m wondering if I can use cheddar for this? I’m desperately missing Cheddar Jalapeno bread and would kill for some. I’m trying to find a decent recipe so that I don’t have to hurt my daughter over losing my favorite food.
    Hugs from Colorado,

    • Nicole
      August 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      Hi, Jena,
      That’s awesome that you made them already. This is totally breakfast bread.
      I do not think you could make this with cheddar. It requires a crumbly cheese. Cheddar would just mush up in the food processor. For cheddar jalapeno bread, I would suggest adding both shredded cheddar and some jalapeno (tossed in a tiny bit of all purpose gf flour) to the Quick {Sandwich} Bread recipe https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/quick-sandwich-bread/ I often add shredded cheddar (about 1 cup) to that bread right before folding in the beaten egg whites, and it’s amazing.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Jena
        August 10, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        Thanks, I’ll give that a try. We LOVE and eat a lot of the Quick Sandwich bread. My husband finds it hard to believe that there is no yeast in it.

  • Lu
    August 8, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Looking forward to making these. I am always on the lookout for easy, no fuss GF bread recipes. Thanks for a great blog. (“On a shoestring” -right up my alley.)
    Also–Don’t know if you are interested,and you may have seen these already, but have you heard of Brazilian Cheese Rolls? This recipe reminds me of those, which I have made quite often-. Also, some nice person adapted that recipe to make it a little healthier, and her recipe- Gluten- free Spinach Cheese bread is on her website. (Gluten -Free Gobsmacked! Just searched and found it ha)
    Have made that also many times.
    Thanks for all you do

    • Nicole
      August 8, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      Hi, Lu,
      Thanks for the suggestions! That sounds delicious. :)

  • Janet
    August 8, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    This looks fantastic, thanks so much Nicole!

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