Tapioca Pudding

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Tapioca pudding made from scratch is a classic pudding recipe! Six simple ingredients are cooked and mixed to form the creamiest pudding with perfectly chewy tapioca balls. It’s an easy and budget-friendly dessert that can’t be beaten.

A glass of tapioca pudding with a spoon.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Tapioca pudding is one of my mom’s favorite desserts. And as a kid I thought the little tapioca balls were fun to chew on. Today, it remains one of my most frequently made pudding recipes – I just love the creamy vanilla flavor and it turns out perfectly every time!

So what are tapioca pearls? Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root. The pulp is then squeezed to extract a starchy liquid and used to form delightfully chewy tapioca pearls. If you’ve ever drank boba tea, you’ve enjoyed larger tapioca pearls. And the tapioca pearls used in this recipe are small ones.

This homemade tapioca pudding is a dreamy combination of creamy custard and chewy tapioca goodness. The texture is somewhat similar to rice pudding or chia pudding, though I think tapioca pudding is a standout in it’s own right!

Ingredients for tapioca pudding.

Tapioca Pudding Ingredients

  • Whole Milk: This is the ideal choice for the creamiest base. But if you’re dairy-free, you can swap that for any dairy-free milk (such as oat milk, almond milk, or cashew milk) and a heavy cream such as coconut cream.
  • Sweetener: Any liquid sweetener will work, such as honey or maple syrup.
  • Small Tapioca Pearls: Make sure to buy small tapioca pearls, not instant tapioca (also known as “minute tapioca”). I’ve linked my favorite brand in the recipe card below.
  • Eggs: Although this is a pudding, it’s more of a custard egg base thickened with tapioca pearls. So two eggs are needed.
  • Vanilla Extract & Salt: A dash of both give the pudding extra flavor.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

How To Make Tapioca Pudding

Heat the milk and cream. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the milk, cream, and honey. Whisk together and bring to a simmer.

Boiling milk in a pot.

Cook the tapioca. Add the tapioca pearls to the saucepan, then reduce the heat to low. Stir intermittently, for about 10 to 20 minutes, until the mixture has slightly thickened and the pearls have softened. Note: The time can vary based on the brand of pearls, so make sure to read the back of your package.

Adding tapioca pearls into a pot of milk.

Temper the eggs. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and salt. While continuously whisking, slowly pour half of the hot cream mixture into the bowl. Don’t pour too fast, or the eggs will curdle!

Whisking tapioca milk with eggs.

Stir Together. Return the tempered egg mixture to the saucepan and stir together over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pudding has thickened. Keep in mind that the pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.

Stirring tapioca pudding in a pot.

Serve. Serve warm immediately or chilled. If chilling, transfer the tapioca pudding to a bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap (directly touching the surface of the pudding) to prevent a skin from forming. Chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight and serve cold. If the tapioca pudding thickens too much after chilling, simply thin it back down by stirring in a few tablespoons more milk.

Flavor Variations

  • Spiced Cinnamon: Add dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom for a warm, spiced touch.
  • Orange Vanilla: Stir in orange zest to add a hint of citrus to the sweet vanilla base.
  • Creamy Chocolate: Stir in cacao powder in step 4 after you add the egg mixture.
  • Fresh and Fruity: Add your favorite fresh fruit on top such as berries, sliced peaches, and more.

Common Questions

Does the size of the pearls matter?

Yes! Make sure you use small tapioca pearls for this recipe. Larger pearls will require more time and a different ratio of ingredients.

Do you need to soak the tapioca pearls beforehand?

No, you do not need to soak these tapioca pearls. Keep in mind that different recipes exist online and some may instruct you to soak the tapioca pearls, but you do not need to do so for this recipe, which I’ve tested and made numerous times. I simply add more milk to the recipe rather than soak the pearls, for a faster recipe.

Pouring tapioca pudding into a glass.

Storage Tips

  • To store for the week: This is a great dessert that can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can keep it in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container.
  • To freeze for later: Good news – you can freeze tapioca pudding! Store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just thaw it in the fridge the night before, and give it a stir before serving.

More Easy Desserts

I hope you love this homemade tapioca pudding! If you make it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this recipe in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers tremendously.

Glasses of tapioca pudding.

Tapioca Pudding (Easy From Scratch!)

5 from 8 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Tapioca pudding made from scratch is a classic pudding recipe! All you need are six ingredients to make this easy, creamy pudding. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen!

Video

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Heat the milk. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the milk and honey. Whisk together and bring to a simmer.
    Boiled milk in a pot.
  • Add the tapioca. Add the tapioca pearls to the saucepan, then reduce the heat to low. Stir intermittently, for about 10 to 20 minutes, until the mixture has slightly thickened and the pearls have softened. The time can vary based on the brand of pearls, so make sure to read the back of your package.
    Boiling tapioca pearls.
  • Temper the eggs. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and salt. While continuously whisking, very slowly pour half of the hot cream mixture into the bowl. Don't pour too fast or the eggs will curdle.
    Whisking tapioca pearls into eggs.
  • Stir Together. Return the tempered egg mixture to the saucepan and stir together over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pudding has thickened. Keep in mind that the pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.
    Making tapioca pudding in a pot.
  • Serve. Serve warm immediately or chilled. If chilling, transfer the tapioca pudding to a bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap (directly touching the surface of the pudding) to prevent a skin from forming. Chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight and serve cold. If the tapioca pudding thickens too much after chilling, simply thin it back down by stirring in a few tablespoons more milk.
    A glass of homemade tapioca pudding.

Nutrition

Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 275mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 296IU | Calcium: 225mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Tapioca Pudding, Tapioca Pudding Recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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16 Comments

  1. So good! Love that it’s sweetened with maple syrup! I used Bob’s Red Mill small tapioca, fresh whole milk from a local dairy, two giant eggs from our henhouse and homemade double fold vanilla (two teaspoons because I have a vanilla fetish) and Colima unrefined sea salt. The recipe is easy to follow and it turned out astonishingly delicious! Which leads me to why there is no photo except…of the empty dish! 😋5 stars

  2. We love this pudding! The first time, I made it according to your directions. The second time, since I don’t like standing over the stove so long, I opted to soak the tapioca in 1 cup of the milk beforehand. That shortened the ‘stand over the stove stirring’ to about 5 minutes instead of the 20 minutes it took the first time I made it. But either way, it was delicious. Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  3. I have made minute tapioca since I was a teen and never knew any different until making this Wow! It’s fantastic! Thank you Lisa5 stars

  4. Hi
    Just made this, even if finding tapioca pearls is a hasle in Sweden. So good, so much better than the US bought
    version. Made with homemade vanilla extract (strong alcohol %🫣), so the vanilla was very noticeable, which I like.5 stars

  5. Just made this and added cacao chocolate. I was ver intimidated to temper the egg, but I trust Lisa’s directions. I tasted it warm and it’s fabulous!! It’s going to be that much better cold!!!!! Anxiously waiting the two hours until we can eat it! I’m a no sugar or chocolate person due to Crohns Disease so I may have found a dessert I can actually eat!!! Thank you Lisa!!5 stars

    1. You’re more than welcome, Susan! It’s such a delicious recipe and tempering eggs is easier than you think. ;) Hope you love it chilled as well!

    1. Hi Stacy – I have some ideas mentioned in the post above. But I’d opt for something extra creamy, like a cashew milk or oat milk. :)