Homemade Tapioca Pudding is a simple, creamy, delicious, and timeless dessert. It’s better than boxed Minute Tapioca and easier to make than you might think!
Have you ever tried to make Tapioca Pudding? When is the last time you even ate tapioca pudding??
I sort of feel like tapioca pudding is the forgotten dessert. I mean, I never hear anyone talk about it, and I definitely never see anyone serve it. And I never see any recipes for it…so I want to change that!
Only the best memories come to mind when I think about homemade tapioca pudding – my mom used to make it when I was a kid. But it was usually reserved for times when I was sick. Like chicken soup. I have no idea why. And she always served it in footed dessert ice cream bowls (like the ones in these pictures), never in parfait glasses or ramekins. So funny the things we remember from our childhood!
I actually think I bought these footed dessert dishes a long time ago, specifically for serving tapioca pudding, because otherwise it wouldn’t be the same, right? Ha.
What is Tapioca?
Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root, also known as yuca, a plant native to Brazil, referred to there as “mandioca,” and its starch is referred to as “tapioca.” It’s become a staple in many countries, but actually has zero nutritional value, and often just used as a thickening agent in many foods, like stews, gravy, and pie.
Tapioca pearls come in all different sizes. Bobs Red Mill is my preferred brand, but you can use any kind, adjusting my recipe depending on the package instructions.
Fun Tapioca facts!
1. It’s gluten-free. Because of this, it’s often ground into a flour and used as an alternative to wheat in gluten-free breads, helping replace the texture and moisture missing from the lack of gluten.
2. Unlike cornstarch, tapioca can handle freezing and thawing without losing its gel structure or breaking down.
3. Tapioca pearls and powders are usually white, but the pearls used in desserts and drinks can be dyed to just about any color – like you see in bubble tea!
4. When tapioca is added to filled bakery desserts, like danishes, it traps the moisture in a gel, preventing the pastry from becoming soggy during storage.
What is the difference between boxed Minute Tapioca and this Homemade Tapioca?
Minute (or Instant) Tapioca, is a smaller grain than the pearls, which helps it cook faster, making it widely popular. Tapioca pearls, although varying in size, are still larger than the Instant version and usually require pre-soaking before being used in a recipe. BUT I just love the texture of the larger pearls, you guys. And honestly, it’s worth the wait. Homemade Tapioca pudding is still crazy easy!
Anyway, I adore homemade tapioca pudding and make it all the time for my kids – they don’t need to be sick for such a treat. We all love it warm and cold, but I think the preference is cold. I actually didn’t even know people ate it warm until a few years ago. Again…childhood. My mother never served it warm.
You can add cocoa powder to it, giving it a chocolate flair. Or I’ve seen some pictures with fruit mixed it. But I just love it simple like this.
Other Custard or Pudding you might like!
Watch the video of Homemade Tapioca Pudding and see how easy it is to make!
Easy Homemade Tapioca Pudding
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca (not instant)
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the water and tapioca pearls in a 1 1/2 quart pot. Let stand for 30 minutes until the pearls are plump and have absorbed the water.
- Turn on the heat to medium-high. Pour in the milk and salt; stir while bringing to a bare simmer.
- Reduce the heat to very low, add in the sugar and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently (so the tapioca doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan), until the tapioca pearls have plumped and thickened, about 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot tapioca (this equalizes the temperature between the two mixtures to avoid curdling.)
- Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the tapioca; increase heat to medium and stir for several minutes until you get a thick pudding consistency that coats the back of a wooden spoon. (Do not let mixture boil.)
- Take off the heat and cool for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the vanilla.
- Serve either warm or cold and enjoy!
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