tapioca pudding
tapioca pudding

Tapioca Pearl Pudding

5/5
Tapioca pudding is such a satisfying and refreshing dessert. This textured pudding is naturally gluten free and can easily be made with rich and creamy milk or coconut milk (dairy free, nut free) for the creamiest of textures.

Prep Time:

Cook Time: 10 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

creamy tapioca pearl pudding

My first paid recipe gig was for a dairy free, soy free, nut free curriculum at The Natural Gourmet Institute. As part of that contract, I created a vegan tapioca pudding recipe using coconut milk.


Today, I’ll be sharing information about how to make a simple tapioca pudding using different types of milk (dairy and non-dairy). I just love the simplicity of tapioca pudding. No matter what milk you use, it’s important to choose something that’s rich for the ultimate creamy texture.

The pearls don’t provide any flavor by themselves, but they do provide a wonderful chewy texture.

cooked tapioca transparent

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Tapioca Pearls

  • made of tapioca starch from the cassava or tapioca plant – used in boba drinks and pudding
  • come in different sizes – when making pudding, I like to look for white pearl tapioca. Choose either “small pearl” or “large pearl
  • where to buy – find tapioca pearls in your local store in the baking aisle
  • nutrition – naturally gluten free. Low calorie at about 40 calories per Tablespoon (note: they expand once soaked and cooked)
  • soak tapioca pearls to hydrate before cooking30 minutes
  • turn translucent when fully cooked (10-15 minutes) – be careful not to cook past this stage. You can over-cook tapioca.
tapioca served in two glasses with nutmeg grated on top

How to Make Tapioca Pudding with Coconut Milk (Dairy Free)

If you’re looking for a dairy free or vegan dessert option, this pudding tastes every bit as rich and delicious with coconut milk. Look for full fat coconut milk sold in the can.

To use coconut milk in this recipe, you’ll need to make a few adjustments.

Step 1

Soak the tapioca in water to hydrate for 30 minutes. Drain.

Step 2

Combine the can of coconut milk with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan with salt and sugar. Proceed with recipe.

**Note: You will not need to add the egg at step 3 as coconut milk is full fat and will thicken nicely in the fridge.

tapioca pudding served in two glasses

Flavor Suggestions

This is a simple recipe that takes advantage of the richness of full fat milk (or coconut milk). You may still want to add additional seasoning at step 4 (where the pudding has cooked and thickened). You could try:

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • toasted coconut for garnish
gourmet glasses filled with tapioca pudding
Serve tapioca pudding in nice glassware for a gourmet dessert.

Best Pro Tip: Trust the cooking time for tapioca pearls. It’s easy to over-cook tapioca so even if the pudding looks runny, pull it off the heat. It will definitely get thicker as it cools.

recipe image for tapioca pudding

Tapioca Pearl Pudding

Tapioca pudding is such a satisfying and refreshing dessert. This textured pudding is naturally gluten free and can easily be made with rich and creamy milk or coconut milk (dairy free, nut free) for the creamiest of textures.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, gluten free, pudding, tapioca, vegan
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Soaking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 159kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup small pearl (or large pearl) tapioca not instant or quick-cooking
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • freshly grated nutmeg for serving

Instructions

  • Whisk milk, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add tapioca and let sit for 30 minutes to hydrate.
  • Add sugar to tapioca mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook 10-12 minutes until the consistency of thick soup, stirring often to prevent tapioca from sticking to the bottom.
  • Whisk in egg yolk and cook another 1-2 minutes (it will thicken slightly). Remove from heat.
  • Allow to cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Portion into small glasses or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until cold — at least 2 hours. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Use a microplane to grate fresh nutmeg over the top if you like.

Notes

Do Ahead: Make the pudding 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Vegan, Dairy Free Variation: soak tapioca in water to hydrate (30 minutes), then drain. Combine tapioca in pot with 2 cups water and 1 12-oz can coconut milk (full fat). Whisk with salt and sugar and proceed with recipe. Coconut milk is a nice full fat dairy alternative, so you do not need to add the egg at the end.
Flavor Ideas: This simple tapioca has a rich, milky flavor. You may still want to add additional seasoning at step 4 (where the pudding has cooked and thickened).
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • toasted coconut for garnish

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 44mg | Potassium: 111mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 375IU | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Thank you for being here! Did you make this recipe? Click on the star rating or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear how you got on. Connect with me @thefrayedapron on Instagram or Pinterest.

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