This delicious old-fashioned Tapioca Pudding recipe is one of my favorite classic desserts and only requires the simplest ingredients, including small tapioca pearls, milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

If you love homemade pudding be sure to try my Banana Pudding, Baked Rice Pudding, Raspberry Bread Pudding, or Sticky Toffee Pudding!

A serving glass with tapioca pudding in it.

There are a few recipes that were instrumental in sparking my love for cooking at a very young age, and Tapioca Pudding is one of them–along with my mom’s spaghetti sauce, German pancakes, and Belgian Waffles. These recipes are so easy to make that I could follow the instructions on my own, and what kid doesn’t love tapioca pudding, with fun chewy pearls?

This is a great dessert to make ahead of time, and you can serve it warm or cold. For more classic desserts, try my Peach Cobbler, Apple Crisp, or Grandma’s Oatmeal Cake!

What is Tapioca?

Tapioca is a starch that comes from the cassava root and formed into little pearls that gives tapioca pudding its signature texture and is naturally gluten-free. The natural starch tapioca flour is often used as a thickening agent, like for my Blueberry Pie.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Small tapioca pearls:The distinguishing ingredient in tapioca pudding, and be sure to buy the small ones for this recipe. They’re hard little beads that will cook until tender, thickening the pudding and creating a fun texture.
  • Milk and cream: for the base creaminess of the pudding.
  • Granulated sugar: for sweetness.
  • Eggs: for thickening.
  • Salt
  • Vanilla
The ingredients needed to make Tapioca Pudding.

How to make Tapioca Pudding:

Cook Tapioca: Add milk, cream, sugar and salt to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then stir in tapioca and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often for about 45 minutes.

Tapioca pearls cooking in a pot with milk and sugar.

Temper the Eggs: Add the eggs to a bowl and whisk to combine. Add a spoonful of hot tapioca mixture to the beaten eggs, stirring well as you pour it in. Repeat with another few spoonfuls of hot tapioca, stirring after each. This helps temper the eggs and bring them to a warm temperature without “scrambling” them.

A ladle full of hot tapioca and milk being whisked into a small bowl with beaten eggs, to temper the eggs.

Simmer Pudding: Add tempered egg mixture to the saucepan with tapioca and stir well to combine. Cook for 2-5 more minutes, just until thickened (keep in mind it will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Creamy homemade tapioca pudding in a pot.

Let Cool and Serve: Transfer to a serving bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (to keep it from forming a rubbery skin on the surface). Allow to cool before serving. Serve warm or chilled.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: This tapioca recipe is a great dessert to make ahead of time! Just store in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface for 2-3 days.

To Freeze: Homemade tapioca pudding freezes well as long as you allow it to cool completely. Store in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Freeze for up to two months. Thaw completely before serving.

Recipe Variations:

  • Minute Tapioca:
    • 2 3/4 cups 2% or whole milk
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 Tablespoons minute/instant tapioca
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Add the milk and egg to a medium saucepan and whisk well to combine. Stir in sugar and tapioca and let sit for 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium and bring mixture to a bubbling, full boil (stirring constantly, being careful not to let it burn!). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and cool for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
  • Chocolate Tapioca Pudding: Add ½ cup of chopped semi-sweet chocolate after adding the eggs. Cook for 2-5 more minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  • Coconut Tapioca Pudding: Swap out the milk for coconut milk.
  • Vegan Tapioca Pudding: Substitute the milk for coconut, almond milk, or your favorite plant-based milk and swap out the heavy cream for full fat canned coconut milk.

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Recipe

A serving glass with tapioca pudding in it.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour
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Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca* (not instant tapioca)
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Add milk, cream, sugar and salt to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then stir in tapioca and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until mixture has slightly thickened, and the tapioca pearls have plumped and softened, about 45 minutes.
  • Add the eggs to a bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Add a spoonful of hot tapioca mixture to the beaten eggs, stirring well as you pour it in. Repeat with another few spoonfuls of hot tapioca, stirring after each. (This helps temper the eggs and bring them to a warm temperature without "scrambling" them.)
  • Add tempered egg mixture to the saucepan with tapioca and stir well to combine. Cook for 2-5 more minutes, just until thickened (keep in mind it will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (to keep it from forming a rubbery skin on the surface). Allow it to cool before serving. Serve either warm or chilled.

Notes

To Make Ahead: This tapioca recipe is a great dessert to make ahead of time! Just store in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface for 2-3 days.
To Freeze: Homemade tapioca pudding freezes well as long as you allow it to cool completely. Store in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Freeze for up to two months. Thaw completely before serving.
Tapioca Pearls: If you only have instant or minute tapioca, use this recipe:
    • 2 3/4 cups 2% or whole milk
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 Tablespoons minute/instant tapioca
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add the milk and egg to a medium saucepan and whisk well to combine. Stir in sugar and tapioca and let sit for 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium and bring mixture to a bubbling, full boil (stirring constantly, being careful not to let it burn!). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and cool for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Chocolate Tapioca Pudding: Add ½ cup of chopped semi-sweet chocolate after adding the eggs. Cook for 2-5 more minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Coconut Tapioca Pudding: Swap out the milk for coconut milk.
Vegan Tapioca Pudding: Substitute the milk for coconut, almond milk, or your favorite

Nutrition

Calories: 405kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 10gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 285mgPotassium: 346mgFiber: 1gSugar: 36gVitamin A: 767IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 284mgIron: 1mg

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*I originally shared this recipe on September 2016. Updated October 2018 and March 2022.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. I haven’t made this yet; I want to know why the minute tapioca recipe is so different than the original recipe – it’s the recipe off the box. It has no heavy cream at all.

  2. 5 stars
    Tapioca pudding has always been my favorite. Your recipie: Perfect flavor and texture. I did not change anything and have to say it was worth the time to follow your directions as written.

  3. for a variation separate 3 eggs whip egg whites to form peaks set a side use the yokes plus 1 egg to add to your milk mixture follow instructions right after it comes together wait 5 mins fold in egg whites for a nice fluffy creamy texture that’s how my grandfather made it for us kids back in the 50s

  4. 5 stars
    I Made this recipe and it turned out beautiful, my husband loved it! I have used a lot of your recipes & I just love them… thank you so much

  5. If the pudding is too thin and runny, you didn’t cook it long enough. I do this slightly different. I add the tapioca at the beginning with all the liquid ingredients. The tapioca needs to sit in the warm milk for 35-45 minutes.

    1. 5 stars
      Tapioca pudding has always been my favorite. Your recipie: Perfect flavor and texture. I did not change anything and have to say it was worth the time to follow your directions as written.

  6. Ditto on the “soup” – mine was way too runny.
    Checked and rechecked ingredients, amounts, etc.
    Will try a different recipe next time with less liquid

  7. 2 stars
    Sadly mine was soup, like a few other reviewers also mentioned. I made no substitutions , all fresh ingredients and triple checked the correct tapioca pearls. I’m bummed, and thinking of a way to fix this so it’s not a waste of ingredients.

  8. Thank you so much for this recipe with non-instant tapioca pearls. I used to make this with instant tapioca, but now live in a country where it isn’t available but tapioca pearls are. Now I can make my favorite pudding again!

  9. 5 stars
    Easy and quick. We LOVE tapioca but the stuff you buy in the stores are lacking the pearls now a days! This is perfect! Thank you! Wish I could post a photo of this glorious dessert❤️

  10. 1 star
    I should have read the reviews first!!! This never came together. Could drink it. I think that the liquid could be halved and the tapioca doubled, but I won’t be modifying this recipe in the future. It should be perfect the first time!!!

    1. Hi Sue, i’m so sorry, but I’ve made and tested this recipe many times and it should work great. Did you double check the type of tapioca you are using? Make sure it’s small pearls, and double check the amounts of the other ingredients.

      1. 1 star
        I agree with Sue. I followed this exactly with small high quality pearls and exactly measured out ingredients. I think the simmer time was insufficient or the heat needed to be higher or the amount of milk lower or tapioca amount higher or all 4.

    2. 5 stars
      I made this recipe for the first time, my husband loves tapioca pudding. I basically, followed the instructions to the T. Of course, I love to cook and have found throughout the year is what you may be add or subtract from a recipe. Maybe I added a little more tapioca, a little less milk,maybe, a 1/3 of a cup less. I find that heavy cream can make any dessert better. Without this recipe, which I found to be the best out of all recipes printed, I never would’ve made good tapioca pudding. I added a little bit of cinnamon to the mixture, and, of course, sprinkled it on top of the pudding. I do not believe that any recipe that you try for the first time,can be perfect. Perhaps you should have modified the recipe. Please don’t give up try again. Good luck, sue.

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