Indulge in a creamy vegan tapioca pudding, complemented by a homemade strawberry puree. With just four basic ingredients, it is both easy to make and impossible to resist.
We love easy and simple desserts. Don’t you? Apart from this tapioca pudding, we also enjoy making vegan panna cotta, vegan rice pudding, sweet potato chocolate pudding, and overnight chia pudding recipes with our daughters.
What to expect?
You need tapioca pearls to make this recipe. Have you heard of cassava root, manioca, or yuca? It is a plant native to South America, but it is also cultivated in West Africa and Asia. It is made of that. Actually, tapioca starch is also made from the root of this plant by extracting its starch content.
When you make this vegan tapioca pudding, the tapioca pearls absorb part of the milk as they cook, gradually softening and becoming translucent, resulting in a fun and unique texture that’s both chewy and gelatinous. Depending on the type of milk and sweetener used, the taste of the pudding can vary slightly.
It is a great ingredient as it fits within many diets, including vegan, gluten-free, and paleo. It is also versatile since you can add literally any toppings, and they would fit perfectly.
The old-fashioned tapioca pudding is made with lightly beaten egg yolks, which we obviously skip in this vegan version. Actually, it is a 4-ingredient basic recipe, which you can tailor to your taste:
- Small pearl tapioca – They are not the same as boba or sago.
- Milk of your choice – We use almond milk or homemade cashew milk. If you want to make it paleo, use light coconut milk.
- Canned full-fat coconut cream – Use a coconut milk product with more than 20% fat content, like this one. This recipe will not be the same if you use the light coconut milk you can drink.
- Sweetener of your choice – We usually use cane sugar, but if you want your pudding to be snowy white, use white sugar.
- Pure vanilla extract
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Soaking the tapioca pearls
First, you need to soak the tapioca pearls in water. You can use a saucepan or a separate bowl. Leave the pearls soaking at room temperature for 15 minutes. The pearls will absorb part of the water and begin to soften a bit.
Making vegan tapioca pudding
- After 15 minutes, take a saucepan, add the soaked tapioca pearls with water, milk, and cream, and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally. When the pudding begins to thicken, and the pearls become translucent, get in there and stir more frequently to avoid burning. You need approximately another 15 minutes to have your tapioca pudding ready.
- Now, take off the heat and add cane sugar and vanilla extract.
- Stir well. Serve! Good appetite!
- Not all pearls are translucent. – In a perfect tapioca pudding, all the pearls are translucent. If not all pearls are like that, you must cook them longer on low heat. But don’t stress on this. Even if some pearls remain white, the pudding will still taste delicious, creamy, and cooked.
- Don’t soak the pearls overnight – They may lose shape if you soak the tapioca pearls overnight. We recommend soaking for 15-30 minutes before cooking.
- Do you need to stir it continuously? – Stirring is important, but you don’t have to stand next to it all the time. Pay attention while bringing it to a boil and towards the end when the pudding thickens. We add the sugar at the end, especially for this reason, as melted sugar during cooking increases the possibility of burning.
- Serve it as a panna cotta – You will need a silicone muffin mold like this one. Pour the pudding while hot into the mold and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. See recipe card notes for the details.
- Chocolate tapioca pudding – Add 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder during cooking.
- Tapioca starch instead of pearls – Yes, but you will get a custard rather than a pudding. I haven’t tested this recipe, but the measurements need to be changed, as they are not 1:1 substitutions.
Take your vegan tapioca pudding to the next level by adding some recommended toppings. Fresh fruits like strawberries and mangoes, a dollop of whipped cream, or a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes can add an extra layer of flavor and texture to your dessert. Here are some more tips for you to discover:
- Strawberry puree
- Cinnamon berries sauce – You can find its recipe in our vegan panna cotta or vegan rice pudding recipes.
- Raspberry sauce – You can find its recipe in our baked vegan cheesecake recipe.
- Mango puree – We blend ripe mango in a Vitamix* to a fluffy mousse-like consistency.
- Caramel apple – You can find its recipe in our vegan apple crumble or apple crisp pie recipes.
- Chocolate sauce
- Fresh fruits
To store vegan tapioca pudding, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3-4 days.
When reheating the pudding, you can add a splash of milk to restore its creamy texture. Keep in mind that the tapioca pearls will continue to absorb the liquid as it sits in the fridge, so the pudding may become thicker over time.
We don’t recommend freezing it as the texture of the pudding can be affected by freezing and thawing.
No. The tapioca pudding can be made both from tapioca starch and tapioca pearls. In this recipe, we used small pearl tapioca, which cannot be substituted 1:1 with starch. The consistency of the final pudding is also different.
They are tapioca pearls made from cassava root, also known as manioca. They absorb the liquid they are cooked in and soften. Pearls give the pudding a chewy consistency.
The classic tapioca pudding may contain eggs, heavy cream, or whipped cream. If you want to make it vegan, you can skip eggs, and use a combination of full-fat coconut cream and dairy-free milk to get the right rice pudding-like consistency.
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Vegan Tapioca Pudding
- Add tapioca pearls and water to a bowl and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. The pearls will absorb the water, so if you leave it for too long, the pearls may disappear.
- Take a saucepan, and add the soaked tapioca pearls without the soaking water. Add milk and cream and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and occasionally stir until you have a pudding-like consistency. It usually takes 15-20 minutes. Pay attention to stirring more frequently towards the end when the tapioca thickens, and the pearls turn translucent to avoid burning.
- When ready, take it off the heat and stir in the sweetener and the vanilla extract. You can devour it while it is still warm. If you prefer cold, chill it in the fridge for an hour.
- Serve it with fresh fruit, fruit puree, chopped nuts, whipped cream, etc.
UPDATED: This recipe was initially posted in July 2019. It has been updated with even more info, tips, and topping ideas, and republished in April 2023.