Tapioca Pudding

6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Refrigerate 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes

Tapioca Pudding is a classic and comforting dessert dish that you can make with milk, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and tapioca.

This is the perfect Dessert Recipe with a rich flavor and distinct creamy texture with tapioca pieces throughout. For more pudding recipes, try Chocolate Pudding and Rice Pudding

Tapioca pudding in a clear glass topped with whipped cream and kiwi chunks.

Rich, creamy, flavorful Tapioca Pudding has been a popular dessert around the world since the late 1900s, and it’s no wonder why! Homemade Tapioca Pudding is easy to make, filling, sweet, and the tapioca gives it a completely unique and pleasant texture. 

Simple pudding recipes like this one are also easy to add toppings and flavors to. You can change up the recipe according to your preference. This basic Tapioca Pudding recipe uses sugar, vanilla extract, and butter to give it a rich but simple vanilla flavor. However, you can always add to that with spices and other flavors that you like. 

After preparing the recipe, top the pudding off with a dollop of Whipped Cream for the perfect finishing touch. You could also add chocolate sprinkles or grated chocolate. Or, layer fresh fruit over the creamy dish. Though the classic vanilla flavor is delicious, it’s also fairly neutral, making it easy for new flavors to be incorporated and taste amazing. 

4 picture collage of mixing steps to make tapioca.

What is Tapioca, anyway?

Tapioca is a naturally gluten-free starch that comes from cassava. It can be turned into powder or tapioca pearls. Tapioca pearls give this pudding recipe its fun texture. Large tapioca pearls are used in bubble tea. You should be able to purchase instant tapioca for this recipe in your grocery store baking aisle. 

How to Make Tapioca Pudding

  • Tapioca Mixture: Add 4 cups of whole milk and the tapioca starch to a large pot, and turn the stovetop heat to medium. Keep the heat at medium until the milk comes to a faint simmer, then turn off the heat. You don’t want the mixture coming to a boil. 
  • Egg Mixture: Add the granulated sugar, 1 cup whole milk, and egg yolks to a large, heat-safe mixing bowl. Then whisk the ingredients well. Continue whisking very quickly while pouring ½ cup of the heated milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream. Repeat the same process with another cup of warm milk. Then put a fine strainer over the pot with the remaining milk in it. Pour the egg mixture back into the large pot. 
  • Cooking Time: Turn the heat to medium while continuing to whisk constantly. Bring the creamy mixture to a simmer and then to a boil. Continue to whisk the hot tapioca mixture as you cook. After 2-3 minutes of cooking time, the consistency should start to thicken so it’s more pudding-like. Then turn off the heat and remove the pot from the heat. 
  • Add Vanilla: Keep whisking the hot tapioca mixture for 2-3 minutes. Then add the vanilla extract and butter. Continue to whisk until well combined. Then transfer the Tapioca Pudding to a large heat-safe bowl. 
  • Refrigerate: Press a layer of plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent a skin from forming on top of the pudding. Then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Whisk the chilled Tapioca Pudding once more before serving, and top with whipped cream and any other toppings you like. 

Amazing Dessert Toppings


What is instant tapioca?

Instant tapioca or quick-cooking tapioca makes it easier to prepare this recipe quickly. Instead of using large tapioca pearls, the tapioca is ground into finer granules that can dissolve into and thicken the pudding. Instant tapioca has already been cooked and dried before you buy it and because of that, it cooks more quickly when it’s added to the warm milk to make the pudding. 

Can I make Tapioca Pudding with whole tapioca pearls?

Yes. If you prefer, you can make homemade Tapioca Pudding with small tapioca pearls instead of instant tapioca. Just keep in mind that this version takes a lot longer to cook. 

What’s the difference between Rice Pudding and Tapioca Pudding?

Although the finished desserts are quite similar, rice pudding and Tapioca Pudding have completely different base ingredient. Rice is a grain, whereas tapioca comes from cassava. As far as the other ingredients, rice pudding is usually made with rice, milk, sugar, and spices. Tapioca Pudding is made with tapioca pearls, sugar, milk, and egg yolks. Rice pudding can also be enjoyed warm or cold, whereas Tapioca Pudding is only served cold. 

2 picture collage showing freshly mixed tapioca on the left hand side, and thickened tapioca on the right hand side.

Key Ingredients

  • Whole Milk: The milk acts as the base liquid ingredient that you’ll whisk the other parts of the Tapioca Pudding into. As you slowly cook the mixture, the milk will thicken into a pudding-like consistency. It’s best to use whole milk because the fat content makes it easier to form into a thick, rich consistency. 
  • Tapioca: For an easy Tapioca Pudding, use ¾ cup of quick-cooking tapioca. The quick-cooking tapioca still has some pearl-like pieces throughout for a fun texture, but the pieces aren’t as large as if you used regular pearl tapioca. The recipe cooks faster and thickens up easily using instant tapioca. 
  • Sugar: Sweeten the Tapioca Pudding by adding ¾ cup sugar. For classic Tapioca Pudding, use regular white sugar. 
  • Eggs: You’ll need 4 eggs for this recipe, but separate the yolks and egg whites carefully. You’ll only use the egg yolks for the mixture. The egg yolks add flavor, bind the ingredients together, and create a custard-like, thick consistency for the recipe. 
  • Flavor Ingredients: Finish the pudding by adding vanilla extract and unsalted butter for an irresistible, rich flavor. 
Aerial view of tapioca ingredients.


  • Extra Creamy Tapioca Pudding: If you want to enhance the rich flavor and creamy texture of this pudding recipe, you can add heavy cream to the mixture. You don’t want to use heavy cream as the base liquid ingredient, or the recipe will turn out too heavy. However you can replace ½ a cup of the milk in the recipe with heavy cream. 
  • Vegan Tapioca Pudding: You can swap out the milk in the original recipe for almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk. Both these options are lighter than whole milk, so it won’t turn out as creamy. If you want to make the recipe a little richer, you can add some full-fat coconut cream along with the dairy-free milk to keep the recipe vegan while adding a little more rich flavor. 
  • Chocolate Tapioca Pudding: To make a chocolate version of this classic recipe, you can add real chocolate. After mixing the milk, eggs, and tapioca ingredients, add the ½ cup of chopped chocolate and stir until it melts into the tapioca mixture. You can use dark, semisweet, or milk chocolate, depending on your taste. 
  • Toppings: There are lots of delicious ways that you can top off Tapioca Pudding. You can sprinkle on a little cinnamon, brown sugar, or cinnamon sugar. Additionally you can top the dish with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Fresh berries like sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries would taste amazing. You could also add peaches or pear slices. 
Two dessert glass cups filled with tapioca and topped with cubed kiwi.

Rich Vanilla Desserts

How to Store

  • Serve: Be sure to refrigerate your pudding recipe for at least 4 hours before serving. Don’t leave Tapioca Pudding sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, or it will start to go bad. 
  • Store: After prepping this pudding recipe, you can cover it tightly in plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container to store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Whisk the tapioca mixture once more before serving to ensure none of the ingredients have separated. 
  • Freeze: Tapioca Pudding actually freezes wonderfully. Just be sure to give the recipe enough time to set in the fridge first. Then you can transfer the pudding to a freezer-safe airtight container. It can stay good frozen for up to 3 months. Let the dessert thaw in the fridge for about 5 hours before whisking and serving. 
Ariel view of tapioca in a glass topped with whipped cream and kiwi chunks.

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Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca Pudding is a classic and comforting dessert dish that you can make with milk, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and tapioca.
Yield 6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks , room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • Add 4 cups of whole milk and tapioca to a large pot over medium heat.
  • Note: You are not bringing milk to a boil, just to a very faint simmer, then turn off the heat.
  • In a large heat safe bowl, add the sugar, remaining 1 cup whole milk, egg yolks and whisk very well.
  • While whisking very fast add in ½ cup of the heated milk in a very thin stream (similar to how you would temper eggs in an ice cream recipe).
  • Repeat again with another 1 cup of heated milk.
  • Holding a fine strainer over the pot, pour the mixture back into the remaining heated milk in the large pot.
  • Turn the heat back onto medium heat.
  • Note: Whisk the mixture in the pot constantly.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, then to a boil.
  • Keep whisking for between 2-3 minutes until the consistency has thickened to a pudding consistency.
  • Turn off the heat, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Keep whisking for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and butter, keep whisking until well combined.
  • Remove the pudding to a large heat-safe bowl.
  • Press a layer of plastic wrap directly onto the top of the pudding (this will prevent a skin from forming on the top of the pudding).
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Whisk well before serving.
  • Best topped with whipped cream.


Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 157mg | Sodium: 84mg | Potassium: 320mg | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 609IU | Calcium: 266mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Pinterest image with text of tapioca pudding topped with kiwi cubes, in a glass dessert cup.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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