Classic Tapioca Pudding



” Mmmm! Gentlemen, I put it to you: the worst tapioca pudding is better than the best pudding of any other flavor.”

~ the character, Rajesh Koothrappali of the TV series “The Big Bang Theory” in The Friendship Algorithm” episode, 2009 {via IMDb}


I recently prepared a Chicken Bouillon soup for dinner, slightly adapting the original recipe by omitting the tapioca pearls.  I had planned on using them when I began preparing the soup but, when I retrieved the bag of tiny white “pearls” from the pantry, a vivid memory nudged me in a different direction.  I knew the soup would be fine without their addition and I simply could not resist surprising the children with a pudding from their {very} early childhood.

Now, I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that, on February 1st, 2001, I made tapioca pudding for dinner, not as our dessert mind you, but our actual dinner.  I know this because I used to keep a personal journal at that time and making this tapioca pudding was a part of my journal entry that day.  Bear with me, for in order to fully appreciate the impact tapioca pudding had on my life all those years ago, you must revisit that day with me.  I was a stay-at-home mom with three small children {Madison-5, Max-2, Mallory-1} and two 8 week old black labrador puppies who had recently been “gifted” to me from a friend.  Michael, I and the children had relocated to Sonoma County, California from suburban Dallas, Texas less than a year prior and we were living in a rented house while building a home a few towns away.  Frequent travel was a large part of Michael’s job and, on that rainy, winter day in California, he was in England.  I don’t recall what my thought process was at the time but, for whatever reason, after arriving home from dropping Madison off at kindergarten, I looked at Max and decided it was time for potty training to commence.  I am sure that day was filled with the “regular” chaos of our lives but my journal entry focused on two hours in particular…the two hours I spent in our tiny first floor bathroom…with Max sitting on the toilet, Mallory in her stroller & gnawing away on a variety of teething toys while the puppies on newspaper in the bathtub tried to figure out their own “potty”issues…reading stories to the children and wondering how I ended up, after years of school and a career, in that bathroom.  It wasn’t so much about feeling sad but, rather, being stunned and overwhelmed.

When it was time to pick up Madison from school, I relocated the bathroom brigade into our  massive SUV…children fastened into their car seats, puppies latched into their travel crate in the cargo section right next to the dual stroller, diaper bag in the passenger seat next to me stocked and ready for action if nature called during our brief journey.  At school, the stroller was unloaded, the children transferred into the stroller, puppies affixed to leashes and an umbrella deployed for the short walk to retrieve Madison from the school playground.  Oldest daughter in hand, we walked back to the truck, loaded the children back into the car seats, puppies back into their crate, stroller folded and slid back into its spot.  We arrived home and repeated the same unloading ritual.  A short while later, while her younger siblings napped, Madison joined me in the kitchen…her, coloring at the table and I, staring into the pantry trying to envision what our dinner would be.  Spotting a bag of tapioca pearls tucked next to a bag of rice I turned to Maddie and asked if she wanted to help me make dinner.


That afternoon, Maddie cracked her first egg, knocked over the bag of tapioca pearls {sending a handful of those tiny white beads across the kitchen floor and, much in the same way glitter finds its way into hidden spaces, I am sure there are tapioca pearls somewhere in the crevices of that kitchen today}, and witnessed how egg whites + sugar can, with a bit of “mixer magic”, become soft white clouds.  We ate “dinner” in our pajamas…Mallory sitting in her high chair, trying to pick out the little balls in her pudding, Max licking his pudding bowl clean and Maddie feeling quite content that she had a hand in preparing dinner.  As for me, I went to bed happy that night.  The moral of this story:   when life gets you down, make + eat tapioca pudding…it will make you happy.

In the years since that February dinner, so many years ago, we have enjoyed tapioca pudding many, many times.  It far surpasses any other pudding that has emerged from our kitchen over the years.  Milky, rich and lusciously smooth with those mysterious clear balls suspended in a vanilla cloud.  I don’t believe the children remember that tapioca pudding dinner, but I can tell you tapioca pudding still makes them {and me} happy.

Classic, Old-Fashioned Tapioca Pudding
Serves 4
A creamy, rich, vanilla pudding that will make you happy
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 1/3 cup small tapioca pearls
  2. 3/4 cup water
  3. 2 1/4 cups milk
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 eggs, separated
  6. 1/2 cup sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1 teaspoon cinnamon {optional}
  1. In a large saucepan, soak small pearl tapioca in water for 30 minutes. Do not drain tapioca after soaking.
  2. Add milk, salt, 1/4 cup sugar and lightly beaten egg yolks to tapioca and stir over medium heat until boiling. Simmer, uncovered, over very low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Beat egg white with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form. Fold about 3/4 cup of the hot tapioca into the egg whites/sugar mixture, then gently fold that mixture back into the saucepan containing the cooked tapioca. Stir over very low heat for about 3 minutes.
  4. Cool 15 minutes and then add vanilla & cinnamon if using.
  5. Serve warm or chilled.
Adapted from Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods
Adapted from Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods




K Initial

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2 thoughts on “Classic Tapioca Pudding

  1. I’m going to have to try your version. I love tapioca, and used to make it for my three kids when they were little, but I never separated the eggs. Your photos look so great: the one with the dry tapioca almost looks like planets and constellations!

    • Beverly…isn’t it funny how tapioca falls into the “child food” category? It is such a rich, luscious dessert…Michael & I enjoy it just as much as the kids. Definitely do try this version, separating the eggs…the final pudding is so light and fluffy!

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