Tapioca Pudding

Does anyone besides me remember Tapioca Pudding? That creamy, soothing, nursery sweet childhood pudding that is still so delicious? Honestly, I had almost forgotten about it myself until recently. I got it on my mind one day and couldn’t stop thinking about it until I made some.

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, some of you have probably been wondering what in the world is up. I’ve been cooking so many recipes from the past but I just can’t help it! Those old recipes are just delicious. And some of them are precious reminders of the people and places we still hold in our hearts. For me, cooking from the past is a tribute to all those generations of cooks who came before and, I hope, a legacy I can leave to the cooks who come after me. They connect me to my roots and I love that!

So, about that Tapioca Pudding. Well, first I had to find some tapioca. You know how in the grocery stores they put the “hot” items right at eye level? The ones that are the best sellers with the highest profits? Yeah, well, you’re going to have to get on a stepladder or down on your knees to find the tapioca. But it’s there. I promise.

And making it is as easy as pie. You basically dump everything into a pan, heat it up and you’re done. Really.

Ingredients for Tapioca Pudding

Start by putting the sugar, tapioca, milk and egg in a saucepan. Let it stand for five minutes before you do anything else. Just go have a nice cold Co-Cola or something. After five minutes, cook the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a full boil. That’s a boil that you can’t stir down. Remove it from the heat and add the vanilla.

Tapioca Pudding cooling

Now cover the pudding with plastic wrap touching the surface so it won’t form a skin and let it cool for about 20 minutes. You can serve it either warm or cold. Dish it up in serving bowls and, if you like, top it with a little toasted coconut.

Close your eyes and remember being five years old. Enjoy!

Tapioca Pudding
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sweet, creamy, luscious tapioca pudding - brings back childhood memories with every spoonful
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tblsp. minute tapioca
  • 2 ¾ cups milk
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Toasted coconut (optional)
  1. Mix the sugar, tapioca, milk and egg in a medium saucepan; let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil (a boil that can’t be stirred down).
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap and let cool for 20 minutes; stir.
  5. Spoon individual servings into dishes. Sprinkle the top with toasted coconut (optional)
  6. May be served warm or chilled. Store leftover pudding in refrigerator.
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  1. Miss P says

    We must have made gallons of this stuff when we were kids. I think it was relatively inexpensive, so Mama didn’t have a running fit when we scalded it, burned it up, and made the house smell horrible. But, after a couple of times, I think we got the hang of it.

    I remember that tapicoa was either “small pearl” or “large pearl.” I liked the little squishy b-b texture. And the vanilla. It always smelled so good.

    Thanks. I may see if I can locate some on my next trip to the grocery store. Short as I am, I may have to climb the shelves.

    Miss P

    • says

      I remember making it, too. And yes it’s very inexpensive except that the milk costs a good bit more now than it did back then. Good luck finding it – it’s there I promise.

  2. says

    Love, love, LOVE tapioca pudding! My mom made it pretty regularly for “dessert” and it was always a treat. Thanks for bringing back the memories. I have to make some soon!

  3. says

    i don’t remember having too much tapioca pudding as a child but i LOVE it as an adult – Kozy Kups has them ready made in the milk section . . . for emergencies!!!

    • says

      Would you believe I’ve never tried any of those Kozy Kups desserts! I’ll remember it, though, for the next time I have a tapioca “emergency.” :-)

  4. says

    I am so excited to see this. Tapioca pudding has been on my mind since buying the pearls. Thanks for this! It’s going to give me a nudge to get going. :)

    • says

      It is, isn’t it Jane? Food carries tons of memories for me. Until I started blogging I thought I was the only one who felt that way. Happy to know it’s not just me.

  5. says

    tapioca is a versatile pantry item, I keep it handy, so great for thickening so many things… I remember eating at Morrison’s and while I would always go for coconut pie, Momma reached for this pudding…

  6. Jocelyn says

    Oh yes, me too, I love the old fashioned creamed puddings. There’s nothing better than a nutmeg crusted bowl of baked rice pudding, (no stove top please,) or a pretty parfait dish filled with tapioca pudding, topped with a dollop of homemade preserves & cream.

    I have to confess I’ve gotten a bit lazy in my later years at getting around to making tapioca pudding very often though. I’m a fan of large pearl tapioca, but it takes soooo long to make into a proper pudding.
    I’ve never used minute tapioca, save for berry pie thickening, but since your pudding recipe looks so tempting, and so quick, I’ll just have to give it a go.

    Thanks for sharing Lana!

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by, Jocelyn. The minute tapioca is so quick and easy I don’t even bother with the other kind any more. Not much difference I can tell either.

  7. Susan says

    I made some tapioca twice now and each time followed the recipe…and both times it did not set to pudding…but rather a thick tapioca milk. Do the pearls get old?

    • says

      Wow, Susan, I honestly don’t know. Unless maybe you didn’t use the quick cooking kind of tapioca? I’ve been making tapioca since I was about 12 years old and I’ve had it fail to set up.

    • Colleen says

      Never return your tasting spoon to the pot, instead use a clean one each time you “taste”. The enzymes in your saliva will start to digest the tapioca, and it will not thicken, but instead become very loose!


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