The most delicious Brazilian breakfast is the traditional Tapioca filled with ham, egg, and cheese. It's so simple and so delicious at breakfast with your morning coffee.
Tapiocas are a traditional Brazilian breakfast that you see at cafes, restaurants, buffets, and in so many homes in Brazil. They are similar to crepes in that they are thin wraps cooked in a pan and filled with a variety of sweet or savory ingredients. But my personal favorite, and I think the best way, is to fill them with salty ham, creamy scrambled eggs, and melty cheese. It's the Brazilian-style breakfast sandwich!
Tapiocas or tapioca crepes are made using the tapioca starch that comes from the yuca root (read more on this below). It is poured into a hot pan where it melts together forming a pancake or crepe. It's then filled with sweet or savory ingredients. So grab your cup of coffee and save this recipe!
- What is Tapioca Starch?
- Traditional Breakfast in Brazil
- Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
- Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
- How to Make Brazilian Breakfast Tapioca
- Brazilian Breakfast Tapioca Variations
- Brazilian Breakfast Tapioca FAQ
- Other Brazilian Recipes with Tapioca starch or flour
- Tapioca Brazilian Breakfast ~ with Ham, Egg and Cheese
What is Tapioca Starch?
Tapioca starch is the starch from the pulp of the yuca root. The yuca (also known as cassava root) is grated and then soaked in water to pull out the starch. The wet pulp is pressed and then the water is then evaporated from the starchy liquid. It leaves only the starch behind, which is a sticky white residue. When dried it can be a fine powder, like a corn starch, or tapioca pearls. Read all about Cassava flour and tapioca starch in this article.
Yuca is a starchy root vegetable that is part of the cassava plant that grows primarily in the tropics and is native to South America. This is why yuca is a big part of the cuisine in most countries in Latin America. Brazilians use it in many different ways…fried, mashed, pureed, in stews, in baking, or ground into flour or tapioca starch.
Note, Yuca is not associated with 'yucca' which is an unrelated shrub.
Traditional Breakfast in Brazil
A typical breakfast in Brazil might include these delightful Tapiocas, fresh tropical fruits, such as papaya or mango, a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and a black coffee. But there are many other delicious sweet and savory foods that you will find at breakfast.
For a quick breakfast, you will see things that can be pulled out from the fridge, such as cheese, cold cuts, and fresh fruit. Traditional cheese is queijo de minas, which is a semi-firm moist white cheese, similar to farmers cheese. Most common fruits are papaya, mango, pineapple, melon, and banana. These fruits, along with others, such as apple and strawberry, are often served as fresh fruit juices as well.
Pão de queijo, that famous Brazilian cheese bread or cheese buns, are a breakfast staple. An açaí bowl is another healthier typical breakfast item with a variety of toppings, such as granola, coconut, and banana.
Corn bread, cassava bread, and pão francês are some of the delicious fresh breads. And when Pão Francês, small French roll bread, is sliced in half and then toasted in a pan with butter, you get the oh-so-delicious and Pão na chapa.
Finally, sweet cakes, such as Cornmeal Cake and Bolo de Laranja, or Orange Cake, make their way onto the Brazilian breakfast table. And the sweetest breakfast option of them all is actually more of a Brazilian take on french toast called Rabanadas. They are slices of French bread roll that are drenched in egg and condensed milk, then fried until golden brown, then coated in cinnamon sugar. Yum!
Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
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- Tapioca starch - This is the Tapioca starch that I used, which is the starch from the pulp of the yuca root.
- Ham slices - I used a smoked deli ham, but you can use honey ham, prosciutto, or any other meat that you like.
- Cheese slices - I used a Brazilian cheese, called queijo prato, which is a sliced deliciously semi-salty, very melty cheese. You can use American cheese, Cheddar cheese, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack cheese, Swiss, Gouda, or any other cheese you like.
- Eggs - I used 1 large egg per tapioca and then simply whisked them up with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cooked them in a pan.
- Olive Oil - Extra Virgin Olive Oil for coating the pan to cook the eggs.
See recipe card for quantities.
Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
There really isn't any special equipment for this, you just need basic cooking tools. You probably want to have two frying pans or skillets. One will be for scrambling the eggs. The other is for cooking the tapioca. You can use the same one if you scramble the eggs first and then clean the pan.
How to Make Brazilian Breakfast Tapioca
Before making the tapiocas for this classic Brazilian breakfast, you will want to get all of the filling ingredients ready. So, first let's scramble the eggs.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them until the yolks and whites are well combined. Season the beaten eggs with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
Place a non-stick skillet or frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and then pour the beaten eggs into the preheated pan. Allow them to sit undisturbed for a few moments until they start to set around the edges. Using a spatula, gently push the eggs from the edges toward the center of the pan. Continue to cook, pushing and folding the eggs gently until they reach your desired level of doneness. Transfer them to a plate immediately to stop the cooking process.
Preheat a medium skillet.
Sprinkle tapioca starch in an even layer to the bottom of the pan. Let cook for 1-2 minutes until it starts to melt and sticks together.
Layer your fillings onto one half of the tapioca crepe, starting with cheese slices.
Then add the ham and the scrambled eggs.
Gently lift and fold over the tapioca to cover the filled side.
If you want to melt the cheese, place a lid on the pan or cover with aluminum foil. Or make several tapiocas, place them on a baking sheet and warm through in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 F degrees.
When it comes to the most important meal of the day, Brazilians know how to do it. Enjoy!
Brazilian Breakfast Tapioca Variations
Now here is where the fun starts! As you can imagine, you can fill these tapiocas with just about anything you want from sweet to savory. You can come up with your favorite ways to fill these, but here are a few ideas to get you going.
- Tomato and Mozzarella - Add sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves for a fresh Italian twist.
- Avocado Tapioca - Change up your avocado toast and have an Avocado Tapioca with any other fillings you love, such as nuts, seeds, tomato, or eggs.
- Eggs and Veggies - Instead of ham and cheese, you can add egg with mushrooms and spinach or red peppers and onions or any other veggies you love!
- Nutella & Banana - Go a very sweet way with chocolate-y nutella and sliced bananas with a sprinkle of shredded coconut.
- Peanut Butter & Strawberries - A fresh version of PB&J with fresh sliced strawberries is delicious!
Brazilian Breakfast Tapioca FAQ
Are these tapiocas gluten-free?
The tapioca crepes or outsides are naturally gluten-free because they are made from cassava flour, which does not contain gluten. This recipe with the fillings included (ham, egg, cheese) is also gluten free. Always make sure to check food and ingredient labels for gluten.
How do I store tapioca starch?
Store tapioca starch or flour in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture from affecting its texture. I usually store my tapioca starch in the refrigerator to ensure it remains cool.
Can I make these tapiocas in advance?
You can make the tapioca crepes or outsides in advance and then fill them before serving. If you are making lots of them to serve, this may be a good way to do it. You can make the unfilled crepes first, place them on a sheet pan, then fill them and place in the oven to warm through. If you are meal prepping them for breakfast through the week, you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Then take them out each morning and warm them in pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Fill them and enjoy.
Other Brazilian Recipes with Tapioca starch or flour
The yuca root is in abundance in Brazil, so there are many recipes made with yuca root, cassava flour, tapioca starch or tapioca flour. Here are a few more you might like!
Tapioca Brazilian Breakfast ~ with Ham, Egg and Cheese
- 2 cups Tapioca starch
- 6 eggs (assumes 1 egg per tapioca)
- 12 slices Ham (assumes 2 slices per tapioca)
- 12 slices cheese (assumes 2 slices per tapioca)
Scramble the eggs:
- Crack the eggs into a bowl. Use a fork or whisk to beat them until the yolks and whites are well combined.
- Season the beaten eggs with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
- Place a non-stick skillet or frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and then pour the beaten eggs into the preheated pan. Allow them to sit undisturbed for a few moments until they start to set around the edges. Using a spatula, gently push the eggs from the edges toward the center of the pan. Continue to cook, pushing and folding the eggs gently, until they are mostly cooked but still slightly runny. Continue to cook and stir the eggs until they reach your desired level of doneness. Transfer them to a plate immediately to stop the cooking process.
Make the Tapiocas
- Preheat a medium skillet.
- Sprinkle ¼ to ½ cup of tapioca starch in an even layer to the bottom of the preheated pan. Spread out any uneven parts and fill in any holes. Let cook for 1-2 minutes until it starts to melt and sticks together.
- Layer your fillings onto one half of the tapioca crepe (cheese, then ham, then scrambled eggs), then gently fold over the other half. If you want to melt the cheese, place a lid on the pan or cover with aluminum foil. Or make several tapiocas, place them on a baking sheet and warm through in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 F degrees. Enjoy!