Gluten Free Portuguese Rice Cakes

aka Bolos de arroz

Portuguese Rice Cakes or “Bolos de arroz” as they are called in Portuguese is a specialty from Portugal, traditional to Portuguese cuisine, these are some sort of tall Muffins which are a cross between a cupcake and a muffin consistency, they are popular in Portuguese bakeries and now they had been popularised around the world.

The recipe has had many variations over time, when researching its origins traditionally was used to be made with soaked raw white rice which was then blended and enriched with eggs, butter, sugar and lemon, and then baked, however as the recipe evolved, with the use of more widely available ingredients modern takes on these Portuguese Rice Cakes barely carry any rice flour in them, which is a shame as honestly what brought me initially to this recipe was the name that suggested this being a Gluten Free cake.

After many hours of research and being disappointed at finding out that many recipes pointed out that the rice flour content in these was less than 30% and the rest was actually wheat flour, I decided to get in the task of twisting this recipe to make it truly gluten free.

I even tried making a traditional recipe using soaked rice which was ok but not great as it turned out a bit gritty in texture, and dry, apart from the inconvenience of having to soak the rice for 6 hrs before being able to blend it.

Then reading a little bit more about what makes this Portuguese creation such a good one, I realised it was actually the buttery and crumbly texture, while still being denser than butter cake, so I settled for using my butter cake base recipe and using rice flour blended with another gluten-free flour to make this recipe work, and then I came across a fantastic ingredient in the gluten-free bakery, and that was Cassava Flour.

I absolutely love Cassava in cooking, is a staple in Venezuelan cooking and a popular ingredient across Latin America and the Caribbean, and I’ve even used the whole root to make a type of dough to make “Buñuelos de Yuca” a fried doughnut made of cooked cassava which is absolutely amazing, completely gluten-free and it actually resembles wheat gluten when blended, so is not hard to imagine that Cassava Flour will do such a good job as an alternative flour.

Cassava Flour is made with the whole Cassava root as opposed to Tapioca flour which only uses the starch, cassava is a tubular root native to South America and is high in carbohydrates, this one is peeled, dryed, and ground, resulting in a neutral flavour flour, that behaves very similarly to wheat flour in baked goods, being able to substitute it in many recipes calling for wheat flour at 1:1 ratio, I am absolutely impressed at the results you can achieve with Cassava Flour and so far I’ve made pancakes, churros, cakes, and crumbed fried recipes with great success, without compromising in flavour profile and using minimal adjustments to the recipes to achieve similar results.

This was my fourth attempt at making this recipe and finally, I got a deliciously, moist and buttery cake that resembles a dense butter sponge with a tangy but subtle lemon flavour, and imperceptible after taste, and believe me no one will notice these are gluten-free.

The secret to this recipe is going with equal parts of rice flour to cassava flour, and a lot of moisture so it’s very similar to a butter cake but it gets extra moisture from the addition of milk and eggs. This recipe is also a bit less sweet than butter cake so if you prefer you can adjust sweetness.

Tips to make Gluten Free Portuguese Rice Cakes

  • As stated before Cassava Flour is different from tapioca, or cassava starch, it can be a bit costly but is worth the try, I bought it online from Nuts about life for $13 / Kg, it was one of the best prices I could find, but they don’t always stock so you can try your luck at other wholefoods stockist online and compare prices. If you are not able to find it then substitute for a good gluten-free flour blend my favourite one is Free From Plain Flour from Woolworths, substitute cup by cup unless the package instructions say otherwise. Notice that substituting Cassava Flour for other gluten-free blends may change consistency and cooking times.
  • Rice flour used is the one that comes from milled rice grains, is not starch or glutinous/sweet rice flour, rice flour is more readily available in supermarkets in Australia, Tonkah or McEnzies brands are fine, even Erawan as long as you buy the red package rice flour, you may find this in Asian stores, and no I don’t recommend substituting Rice flour for anything in this recipe, it won’t be bolo de Arroz then.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free diet, it can be easily adapted to dairy free as well.

6Gluten Free Portuguese Rice Cakes

Recipe by KeymaCourse: Snack, DessertCuisine: PortugueseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 125g caster sugar+ couple of tbsp to top

  • 125g soften unsalted butter [or margarine]

  • 2 tsp lemon zest

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • 3 eggs at room temp

  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 125g cassava flour*

  • 125g rice flour*

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 100 ml milk [can be plant based or even water]

  • thin lemon slices to decorate


  • Preheat oven to 180 C
  • Line 2 * 10 cm springform molds with baking paper or smaller tall cake molds, you can also use cupcake molds.
  • Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Add lemon zest and incorporate.
  • Mix cassava flour, rice flour, salt and baking powder and sift.
  • Mix eggs, milk, and lemon juice.
  • Start incorporating half the liquid mixture, alternating with the dry mixture until finish with both and everything is homogeneous.
  • Divide mixture between molds and top with few slices of lemon, sprinkle with a tbsp of sugar for the 10 cm cakes or a tsp for smaller cakes.
  • Bake for 40-45min in preheated oven until you can insert a toothpick and this comes out clean, and top is nice and brown.
  • Let slightly cool in a wire rack.
  • The can be enjoyed warm or cold, once cool you will need to store them in an airtight container as gluten free bakes loose moisture quite quickly and become hard.