Tapioca Pudding

Comfort FoodGluten-FreePuddingTapioca

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

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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  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • 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 Cook the tapioca in milk with salt, slowly adding sugar until the tapioca thickens: 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 Temper the eggs with a little hot tapioca: 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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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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Tapioca Pudding

152 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • jaime

    I made this for my lactose intolerant friend without knowing that she was lactose intolerant. She ate roughly three servings and suffered happily. I added cinnamon and used brown sugar instead of white sugar and fell in love. Thank you for this nostalgic recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sky

    When I was a kid, my Grandmama would purchas tapioca pudding, much like this, from an old fashioned local deli. The pudding was delicious, with nice size pearls, much better than the instant stuff! I am sure the deli staff made it themself. I am pleased how closely this resembles the same food.

    Grandmama is a salty old lady. She got a kick out of calling the pudding “old fish eyes.” Luckilly, a nasty name does not affect the flavour.

    For a chocolate variety, I like to reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup and add 1/4 cup cocoa powder just as the milk reaches a simmer.

  • Crystal Sperber

    Can I use the tapioca pearls, like the ones they use in the drinks, for this recipe?

  • deedee

    Thank you for the recipe! It’s easy to cook and it has the great result.
    Will save this page for the future use )

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Rene

    So much better than instant! In our house we call “happyoca”!

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