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 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr
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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. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious, albeit time consuming (it’s worth it!). I didn’t have heavy cream, so I replaced it with half the amount by volume of plain whole milk greek yogurt. I also added freshly ground nutmeg which was delightful. It made much more than I was expecting—it filled an entire 32oz tupperware.

    I’ve had this recipe saved for awhile, but I could never find tapioca pearls at my usual grocer. I finally happened to come across a huge variety at the local Asian grocer!

  2. I am trying to re-create “instant vanilla pudding” without the cornstarch so that it is kosher for Passover. My question is this – could I do it with tapioca starch instead? And is there a suitable substitute for the milk to make it dairy free? Thanks in advance!

  3. 5 stars
    I have made Tapioca pudding many times this way. Tapioca is also my favorite pudding. However, Kraft has discontinued the production of Minute Tapioca. I just purchased 2 cases of it online, but everyone is jacking up the prices. Single boxes are going for over $10 a box, Walmart and Amazon have just raised the price of a case by over $20 a case. I have no clue why they have discontinued Minute Tapioca.

  4. The last two times I have made this recipe with these ingredients, in this order, my tapioca pudding is really tapioca soup. I am using instant tapioca, the newest bag that I just bought yeseterday. What am I doing wrong???

    1. Try soaking the tapioca pearls for a longer period of time. I use regular tapioca and soak them in the liquid for a minimum of 20 minutes before cooking. Even when using Minute Tapioca, I would soak them for 20 minutes to get thick results.

      1. Thank you so much for that tip! I tried soaking for 15 minutes instead of 5, and it came out *so* much better than my previous two attempts done according to Kraft’s 5-minute soak direction.

    2. 5 stars
      I ended up with tapioca soup myself yesterday. Then I double checked the recipe and I had only used 3 teaspoons of tapioca instead of 3 tablespoons. So I scraped the servings of soup back in to the pot, added the missing tapioca, brought it to a boil again and voila! It set up great and was delicious. 🙂

    3. You are not boiling it long enough. Need to bring to rolling boil, stirring constantly for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from burner and cool, placing a sheet of wax paper over pan. Chill in refrigerator or on top of counter.

  5. 5 stars
    I have been completely frustrated with all the other recipes that have you add the eggs to HOT tapioca! They cook immediately and you have scrambled eggs in tapioca. This recipe came out perfect with quick tapioca. Going to try small pearl using same cooking technique but soaking the pearls overnight in the milk and not rinsing. I should have known that Kraft would have the best version! I do add a pinch of salt though….

  6. 5 stars
    I grew up eating Tapioca pudding. Add a well drained can of crushed pineapple to the finished pudding to send your tapioca pudding over the top.

    1. I have up trying to find it also. I found bulk tapioca in an Amish market and I am going to try it with the Kraft recipe.

  7. I have made this recipe several times and it is the absolute best one that I have found! Each time the texture comes out a little diffently because I am never sure exactly how long to boil and how hard it should be boiling. I would appreciate your guidance on this. Thank you.

  8. While I like the flavor of tapioca pudding, I can’t stand the little pearls. Can this be made with tapioca flour/starch? I’ve read other places that when you use tapioca in pies you can sub the tapioca flour for the pearls, weight for weight. I’m wondering if that would work here?

      1. 5 stars
        I don’t drink milk. I do consume a lot of heavy cream and half-and-half. I make my own yogurt with half-and-half. Is it possible to make tapioca with half-and-half? I would be very grateful to know. And if you could tell me the quantity to use instead of milk, that would be great.

        Thank you so much and advance!

        1. I’ve made tapioca with half & half before. It’s good. I’ve also done 2% alone and I’ve mixed milk with leftover whipping cream – just use however much of your chosen liquid as the recipe calls for. I’ve found tapioca pudding a very forgiving recipe in that regard. The richness of the flavor changes, but it’s always come out tasty.

      2. Yes, you can use the flour 😀 I tried it. I weighed out the flour instead of measured, but then just followed the recipe. We had a nice tapioca custard.

        I also could find tapioca in I’m big chain stores, but I did find the quick version in my natural grocer.

  9. 5 stars
    After trying several tapioca recipes, this one is the best! It came out absolutely delicious. I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Thank you so much for sharing them.

    1. I use this recipe all the time except I separate the eggs, beat the egg white and carefully fold cooked pudding into beaten whites while beating so as not to cook the whites with the hot pudding….makes for a lighter, fluffier pudding. If egg is not large I use 2 eggs. Just made this today for son and wife…oh,so good!

  10. In Portugal we made at brasilian style, with coconut milk and grated coconut.
    There’s another recipe where you boil the milk with a piece of cinnamon stick and a lemon peel.
    Very good

  11. Will it be thickened if if just comes to a boil then is taken off heat? I did that and let it cool but it was not thick enough to eat warm. How come ? I put it in fridge and hope that helps but I wanted to eat it warm. Should I recook it?

    1. 5 minutes is how long you let the mixture rest in step 2. When you boil it in step 3 there’s not a time limit for that–just whenever it comes to a boil.

  12. How many calories in a serving? I love homemade tapioca pudding but also would love to know the nutrition value.

    1. Hi Cindy,
      There are an estimated 258 cals per serving. Here is the macronutrient estimate per serving: carbs 42g, fat 5g, protein 8g.

  13. We love tapioca pudding! I make a similar recipe (same ingredients, different quantities) but I like to separate the eggs, whip the whites and fold them in at the end.

    1. Yes! Exactly how I was taught! And I add some almond extract, in addition to the vanilla. My husband loves it!

    1. Hi Jan, I haven’t tried that, but I think it should work fine! Let me know how it turns out for you!

      1. 5 stars
        I’ve tried using half coconut milk and half almond milk and I used swerve and I added orange zest for an orange vanilla pudding. It was amazing! Thank you for the recipe!

  14. Just made this recipe with no changes, and all organic ingredients. My husband tasted it and his eyes rolled back in his head (in an absolutely good way)! Thanks for a wonderful recipe. Can’t wait to try it with the addition of some fresh, flavorful Georga peaches.

  15. 5 stars
    I love tapuoca pudding, never had it as a child. I make mine in the microwave, same ingredients but you mix the tapuoca, egg, milk & sugar let it sit in a large microwave safe bowl let sit for 5 minutes. Then cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Remove add the teaspoon of vanilla, cover let sit until cooled then spoon into serving dishes.

  16. Did you mean add milk and egg (not vanilla) to medium saucepan?
    I see where you add vanilla later but not egg anywhere.