Rich Large Pearl Tapioca Pudding Recipe with Dairy-Free Option

If you’re looking for a rich large pearl tapioca pudding recipe (using American, not small pearl/Asian tapioca), this recipe is it! With a slight twist, this version turns out rich and creamier, even the dairy-free version. It’s easy to make but not as fast you may think as most large pearl tapioca brands require overnight soaking. It’s simply delicious!

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Large Pearl Tapioca

Rich Tapioca Pudding

Think of tapioca pudding but with a rich as custard flavor and texture. Make the traditional or dairy-free version. The dairy-free version has a slight coconut flavor that is barely noticeable.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Asian
Ingredient Keyword buttermilk, coconut milk, cream, eggs, full-fat coconut milk, tapioca flour
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Rest Time: 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 25 minutes


  • 1/2 cup “large-size” pearl tapioca not instant (100 g)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Place the tapioca in a bowl and cover with room temperature water, cover the bowl, and allow to rest overnight or at least 8 hours.
  2. Drain and transfer the tapioca from the bowl to a double boiler. Add the milk and cream, stir, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the sugar a little at a time as well as the salt, while constantly stirring. Continue to cook and stir occasionally until the tapioca plumps up and is tender, up to 1 hour. Stir often so that the tapioca doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of the cooked tapioca, whisking constantly. (It is extremely important to add the hot tapioca slowly to prevent the eggs from scrambling.) Slowly add this mixture back into the saucepan while constantly whisking.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir for several minutes until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and serve warm. If you prefer cold tapioca, pour into individual serving bowls/ramekins, cover the pudding directly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold.
  6. Depending upon the occasion and type of food being served, serve plain or topped with cinnamon (during the holidays) or chopped fruit like mango (for an Asian theme).


For Dairy-Free: I haven’t personally made this recipe using dairy-free milk, but you should have a high success rate with this recipe because it uses whole eggs. Egg white help thicken dairy free pudding. Plus, tapioca is also a thickener.

Small Pearl Tapioca: Small pearl tapioca found in Asian grocery stores cooks differently and cannot be used in this recipe.

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