Tapioca Pudding

One of our favorite desserts growing up! This tapioca pudding recipe uses small pearl tapioca, milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

One of my favorite desserts growing up was tapioca pudding. You don’t see it that much anymore. Kids get pre-made puddings from the grocery store.

My parents don’t make it that often as it requires too much (for them) careful stirring while the tapioca cooks. And you won’t find tapioca on any low-carb diets as it is pure starch, from the same plant as cassava.

Yet tapioca pudding is one of those comfort foods that conjures up happy childhood memories. It’s actually really easy to make.

Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca Pudding Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Look at the instructions on the package of tapioca that you buy. Some small pearl tapioca requires overnight soaking in water. If your package has that requirement, reduce the milk in the recipe to 2 1/2 cups from 3 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca (you can usually find it in the baking section of the grocery store, do not use instant tapioca)
  • 3 cups whole milk (or skim milk with cream added)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Method

1 Combine tapioca, milk, and salt in 1 1/2 quart pan on medium high heat. Stir while bringing to a bare simmer. Lower the heat and cook uncovered, at the lowest possible heat, adding sugar gradually, until the tapioca pearls have plumped up and thickened. Depending on the type or brand of tapioca you are using and if you've presoaked the tapioca as some brands call for, this could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes of cooking at a very low temperature. Stir occasionally so that the tapioca doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

2 Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Mix in some of the hot tapioca very slowly to equalize the temperature of the two mixtures (to avoid curdling).

3 Return eggs to pan with tapioca. Increase the heat to medium and stir for several minutes until you get a thick pudding consistency. Do not let the mixture boil or the tapioca egg custard will curdle. Cool 15 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Serve either warm or chilled.

Note: If you want to make a more light and fluffy, but still rich, tapioca pudding, separate the eggs. Use the egg yolks to stir in first to the pan with the tapioca. Once the pudding has become nice and thick, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl to soft peaks. Remove the pan of tapioca pudding from the stove, fold in the beaten egg whites into the pudding.

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Tapioca Pudding

Showing 4 of 128 Comments

  • Margarita Rowley

    Response to ghudler. I like your helpful comments with regard to this recipe, but I’m not quite sure how you stir constantly with the pot covered.

  • Linda

    I made this and followed this easy recipe. I doubled the recipe to make a lot. It came out awesome and I sprinkled it with cinnamon. Next time I will put some coconut milk in it also.I also used sugar-free sugar as I am diabetic.

  • Sheila B

    I made this for my 92-yr-old farmer uncle who raved that this favorite of his was better than he remembered from his childhood. That’s big shoes to fill. Thanks for the recipe & giving him a taste of home!

  • ghudler

    I determined that you must have the milk or water boiling before you add certain tapioca pearls (including bubble tea pearls). Sometimes, if you add them while the ingredients are cold, the pearls disintegrate into a gummy mess. I heat half the milk VERY slowly to boiling, with a tbs of sugar, before I add the pearls and it works every time. Cover the pan and stir constantly while cooking. On the side, mix the egg yolks with the remaining milk, salt and sugar while the pearls cook. Once the pearls are almost all clear, add them slowly to the remaining milk/sugar/yolks. Then place everything back into the pan, stir and stir constantly, while covered, and cook on the absolutely lowest setting until the pudding is thick and the pearls are all clear. Stirring constantly – got it? :)

  • Sophie

    I subbed one 14 oz can coconut milk and 1 2/3 cup half and half because I didn’t have any milk on hand. Also, I used coconut palm sugar instead of white sugar, simply for a flavor experiment. It turned out smooth and creamy with a delightful hint of coconut, and my family loves tapioca pudding with a touch of nutmeg sprinkled on top:) Thanks Elise!

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