Gluten Free Naturally: Tapioca Pudding

The next time you are at your local Asian market (or if you are lucky, at your local well-stocked grocer), pick up a bag of large pearl tapioca. You don’t need much to make a sweet treat for yourself that is quite versatile.

I always avoided making tapioca because everyone talks about what a “long and arduous” process it is. To be honest, this was no more work than wild rice or soaking beans, etc. The longest part of the whole process is the soaking and the waiting. The active time? It’s a snap.

We like the large pearls of tapioca – the same ones in the Bubble Teas we adore in the summer when made with fresh fruits. This recipe is written for the large pearl variety and proportions of liquids would have to be adjusted for small pearl tapioca.

This recipe makes a GREAT lunch box treat. I included a small portion along with my Sun-dried Tomato bread sandwiches (gotta mention those again… my taste buds are still acting in remembrance. LOL). Sometimes it’s nice to have a sweet treat at the end of lunch. I tend to pack a lot of fruit or nuts with my lunches. This was definitely a nice change of pace. And last week was high-stakes testing for the kids – which meant a lot of alternative schedules and proctoring. Blech. Proctoring.

You can see why I was happy to have something to look forward too, huh? 🙂

What kinds of treats do you pack with your lunches if you know your days are going to be LONG and TEDIOUS or stressful? I’d love to hear your ideas. 🙂

Gluten-Free Tapioca Pudding
1/2 cup large pearl tapioca balls
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks
2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar (optional)


  1. Soak tapioca in 2 cups of cold water overnight.
  2. Drain water from tapioca and rinse well.
  3. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, cream, eggs, sugar (not the turbinado), and nutmeg. Add cinnamon sticks. Heat while stirring until sugar has dissolved completely.
  4. Pour tapioca pearls into an ovenproof dish with a cover (1 1/2 quarts at least). Pour milk/cream/egg mixture over the top.
  5. Bake at 325F for 35-40minutes – stirring 2-3 times during the baking – or until the tapioca pearls are translucent.
  6. Serve with whipped cream or sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Enjoy warm or cool. (It will thicken as it cools. Don’t worry, but consider whipping in some whipped cream to lighten if you so desire.)

I hope you have may a sweet treat in your lunch this week too!


  1. I love tapioca pudding and this was a popular treat in my house. I enjoy eating this with a warm compote (either with strawberried or blueberry/tart cherry mix).

  2. I’ve never made tapioca before, but I’ve been meaning to and this recipe looks like a good place for me start!

  3. Kristina says:

    Hi Kate, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and wanted to leave a comment- I love your recipes! Every one I’ve tried has been a winner!

    You have my sympathy on the proctoring- I teach as well, and my English Language Learners start the 4-day ELDA test next week. I hate losing class time to standardized testing!

    A treat in the lunchbox for long days? Slices of fresh muenster cheese. Yum…

  4. I LOVE tapioca. Always have. I love the stove top version with the whipped egg whites. It’s fast too! 🙂 (I think it’s on the minute tapioca box.)

    Hope you are having a great day!!

  5. ooooh! This sounds so good! I think I’ll make this for my adopt-a-blogger recipe.

    What are bubble teas??????

  6. Here’s one for you…I am looking for rhow-to’s and recipes (savory) using the large pearl tapioca where the balls of tapioca retain their shape and are free-standing, so to speak. They become like individual grains, and are soft and chewy, a littel rubbery. They can be used in salads and as a “grain” dish, but they are not mushy or soupy; they are little entities amoung themselves. Do you have any ideas on how to achieve this process? I had a dish like this made by an eastern Indian, using cilantro and cumin seed, and I can just imagine what other chopped herbs and vegetables would be great with it.
    Thank you!

  7. Katrina, To achieve that consistency it important to soak the tapioa pearls in a broad vessel/container for 2-4 hours. One the paerls are soak, drain the water and spread out the soaked pearls on a paper/kitchen towel to soak excess water. Once the pearls are dry, take another kitchen towel and place them on this.

    In a small skillet add 2-3 teaspoons of oil, add small pieces of green chillies, and some cumin seeds, fry for a minute or so till the seeds are brown, add tapioca pearl, some salt, and mix gently…leave on a slow flame for some time. To help the grains remain seperated, you can further add roasted peanuts after grinding them finely. Once the desired consistency is achieved, turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro to decorate.

  8. This looks great. My mother made fabulous baked tapioca pudding. She put in sliced bananas, and also arranged them on top, sprinkled with cinnamon, before baking. (She must have stirred hers together before she started baking it.) The BEST! I am going to try your recipe modified this way. Thanks!


  9. is tapioca Gloten Free?? Thanks


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  2. […] foods excite you the most, there is a dessert to meet your needs for a gluten free diet. It is the Tapioca pudding topped up with plain nuts and […]

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