Scrumptuous grilling cheese on a stick with a Brazilian flare! Enjoy an authentic Queijo Coalho skewer in just minutes.
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- Read on for relevant information, tips and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
These fabulous grilled cheese sticks are a hugely popular street food and beach eating fare in the Northeast of Brazil. Essentially a local grilling cheese threaded on a skewer, they can be prepared in just minutes.
What is Grilling Cheese?
A grilling cheese is one that withstands high temperature thermal treatment without melting. Hence it can be easily seared on a grill to form an appetizing outside with a warm, semi-soft inside. The best grilling cheeses around the world are rennet coagulated (see notes further below).
What is Queijo Coalho?
It is a semi-hard Brazilian grilling cheese with a springy, elastic texture. It is made with cow’s milk and rennet, has a faint yellow color and mild flavor, a bit salty and slightly acidic. The name queijo coalho in English means rennet cheese, a literal translation from Portuguese. Also known as queijo de coalho it originates in the Northeastern region of Brazil where people enjoy it in a number of ways.
How to Grill Queijo Coalho Skewers?
The best way is to do it like the locals! On the beaches of Brazil you will encounter casual vendors who carry a small portable grill with hot charcoals and a cooler full of skewered queijo de coalho. They are seldom stationary. Instead they walk the length of the beach and grill the cheese to order, right in front of whoever bought the inexpensive snack.
Below are pictures of the tiny portable beach grill contraptions as well as one of the grills frequently used at street food stalls. The latter (known as churrasqueira para queijo coalho) can handle significantly higher volume of customers. Cooked skewers are kept warm on the top plate.
To make authentic Brazilian grilling cheese at home your best bet is to grill it over charcoals. Be sure to light them in advance so that they are hot (ash colored, not flaming) and ready to go when you take the cheese out of the package.
- Brush cold, right-out of the refrigerator queijo coalho with a bit of cooking oil. Then pour the hot charcoals in the grill, allow a bit of time for the grate to get hot and place the cheese over direct heat.
- Watch the skewers closely, turn as necessary and cook until grill marks appear on all sides and the cheese is soft to the touch. (Be sure to not close the lid or the heat will be too intense.) If browning too fast move the skewers a bit towards the periphery of the direct heat.
- Sprinkle the cooked cheese with finely chopped fresh oregano or dried oregano and enjoy immediately.
Other Ways to Prepare and Enjoy This Grilling Cheese
- You can also use a grilling pan over a medium-high stove, a panini or a counter toaster (do not shut), an air fryer or a non-stick skillet.
- Instead of oregano serve it with a drizzle of garlic-flavored sauce.
- For a sweet version serve it with a bit of honey or syrup. In Brazil they often use cane syrup (Melado de cana) to drizzle over the cooked queijo de coalho.
Where to Buy Queijo Coalho?
Imported queijo coalho is sold at ethnic stores that carry Brazilian favorites and several online retailers. We buy ours at Wild Fork Foods (no affiliate relationship).
If you feel like it is too much of a hassle to source Brazillian rennet cheese already skewered, you can easily approximate the street food treat by skewering another grilling cheese with similar flavor.
Substitutes for Brazillian Rennet Cheese
There are several excellent grilling cheeses that are near perfect susbtitutes for queijo coalho and have the same thermal properties. Overall they also taste very similar, so using one of them will give you almost the same results. The top three rennet options are listed below.
What are the Best Grilling Cheeses?
The best grilling cheeses are all coagulated with rennet (an animal derived enzyme) the actions of which ultimately create their high temperature resistant protein structure. In addition, several other varieties that are not made with rennet are suitable for grilling, but require a bit more care when you do so. Below is a list of the top cheeses to grill from all over the world.
Rennet grilling cheese options
Queijo de coalho – see text and step-by-step instructions above.
Halloumi is most like queijo coalho in terms of flavor and texture. It is very easy to skewer and it holds up well to being grilled threaded.
Cheese curds are a Wisconsin favorite and relatively easy to find. Simply skewer a few close to each other and grill.
Bread cheese is a Finnish rennet cheese traditionally made with reindeer milk and locally called juustoleipä or leipäjuusto (leipä=bread and juusto=cheese). Cheesemakers in the US have modified the traditional recipe and make it with pasteurized cow’s milk. It is readily available in the specialty cheese sections of grocery stores around the country. It is also sold online.
Non-rennet grilling cheese options
When marinated in oil and herbs/spices these two cheeses are delicious when grilled. Because their protein networks are not as strong it is a good idea to use an aid such as a non-stick grilling basket or pan or a non-stick mesh liner.
Paneer is an Indian fresh cheese which stands up to grilling and takes on the flavor of the marinade ingredients. Slice it in chunks you can thread on a skewer or simply grill chunks of it (handle with care).
Feta cheese can also be great for grilling – you will need to find one that is not too crumbly and is sold to you in brine. It is best not to skewer it due to its tendency to be brittle. You can cut it into inch thick rectangles, marinate them and grill whole.
Grilling Cheeses are Beer Friendly – Very Beer Friendly
In fact there is hardly a better beverage than beer to select when it comes to enjoying a Brazilian grilled cheese skewer! This is especially true for styles such as Czech pilsner, Ameican craft lager or amber ales, dark German lagers. Beer’s exciting carbonation counters the richness of cheese while its maltiness and bready notes can introduce the feeling of enjoying the cheese with a cracker or on toast.
You Might Enjoy
- 1 lb queijo coalho (or other rennet grilling cheese*), skewered
- 1 tsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano or dried oregano
Prepare about half a chimney of charcoals and when hot and covered with grey ash pour them on one side of grill. While the grate is getting hot prep the skewers.
Remove the packaging from cold queijo coalho skewers and lightly brush them with the cooking oil.**
Place the grilling cheese over the hot grates and allow it to char on each side until grill marks appear it is soft to the touch. Carefully turn as needed. (Do not close the lid of the grill or the heat might be too intense).
Place the cooked cheese skewers on a plate, sprinkle with the oregano and enjoy!
Heat a grilling pan over medium-high heat stove.
Remove the packaging from cold queijo coalho skewers and lightly brush them with the cooking oil.
Place the cheese across the ribs of the pan and cook until deep golden marks appear, carefully turning on each side.
Transfer the grilled cheese sticks to a plate, sprinkle with oregano and enjoy.
*You can grill cheeses like Halloumi or bread cheese. Simply skewer them and follow the rest of the recipe. See the body of the post for more details on the best rennet and non-rennet grilling cheese options.
**If using an alternative grilling cheese cut into long rectangular blocks and skewer or into cubes and thread them carefully onto a skewer.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 11Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g