This instrument has a long rich history and has remained virtually unchanged through time. The pandeiro as it is found in Brazil is a variation of the tambourine which is thought to be of Middle Eastern in origin but also found all across Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean. Across the Middle East the tambourine was used mainly in religious ceremonies and by dancers. Crusaders brought this instrument to Europe sometime in the 13th century. Tambourines were played in ancient Greece and Rome, travelling across Europe with the gypsy movement. It eventually made its way to Portugal where it was called pandereta or adufe. The Portuguese then brought this instrument along with them to Brazil. The pandeiro was and is still used in many styles of Brazilian music from Samba, Chorro, Coco to Bossa Nova. The pandeiro was eventually introduced to Capoeira by way of Samba.

It is the second most important instrument in Capoeira. In his Capoeira Regional, Mestre Bimba always preferred a bateria with just one berimbau and two pandeiros. The pandeiro helps keep the beat and pulse of the game along with the atabaque when available. It also serves to accent certain parts of the game.