Does this look nostalgic to anyone?
I may be in the minority here, but I never had tapioca pudding as a kid. I never even knew what tapioca was and remember wondering if it was just a different name for rice (since rice pudding was actually familiar). I was never a fan of milk or milky things growing up, either, so I never made an effort to try it. Regardless, it was easy to see many a lunch box contained these little sugar-packed and highly processed snacks.
Fast forward twenty-or-so years and tapioca entered my life again. I’ve used tapioca starch as a thickener in recipes for a while and noticed it within the ingredients to many packaged foods, but was still yet to make my own version of this renowned dessert known as Tapioca Pudding.
I don’t know what took me so long… because it is absolutely amazing.
Though I don’t exactly have anything to compare it to – my prime taste tester did happen to love those school-time snacks back in the day. And I am happy to report he said this isn’t even comparable since it’s the best tapioca pudding he’s ever had (and, possibly, the best pudding dessert he’s ever had). Yet another win!
So, what is tapioca anyway? Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root (which is becoming more commonly found in grocery stores these days – probably next to the potatoes or yucca). Similar to other starches, it can be processed into sticks, powder/flour, flakes, or fun little pudding-worthy pearls. The pearls are commonly used in Asian desserts where they lend a chewy, satisfying texture to whatever it may be. Oh, and for those wondering, it is indeed gluten free and vegan.
Fun fact: Have you ever had Boba tea? Those boba are actually giant tapioca pearls.
Personally, I absolutely love the texture of tapioca pudding – even more than rice pudding. It’s like eating spoonfuls of simultaneously creamy and chewy surprises with every bite. Plus, by adding sweet, buttery mango, this dairy-free version is also both rich but light at the same time. It can be eaten hot or cold, making it perfect as a summer or holiday dessert.
It’s easy to make, doesn’t dirty many dishes, and has a handful of quality ingredients that are easy to find and much better for you compared to the original kid’s snack.
Just looking at these pictures reminds me I need to make this again, like tonight. It’s that delicious and that easy to put together. Did I mention that it tastes even better after a couple of days in the fridge?
I really, really hope you try this recipe. You will be so glad you did (and will impress anyone who tries it!)
THE BEST TAPIOCA PUDDING with mangoes
½ cup tapioca pearls
½ of a 14 oz. can of Coconut Milk (~200ml)
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
3 Tbsp stevia-for-baking or xylitol (or sugar of choice)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
½ cup + ½ cup water
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
~2 cups chopped mangoes (frozen or fresh)
Optional, for thickness: 1 egg, separated (yolk and white)
Directions (with photos below)
- Place coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, salt, ½ cup of water, tapioca pearls, and egg yolk (if using) in a medium saucepan. Mix to incorporate ingredients and let sit on stove top – no heat or cooking yet – for 20 minutes.
- Turn burner to medium-high heat to bring pudding mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Once it boils, turn burner down to low heat and allow to simmer for about ten minutes or so, until it thickens and the tapioca pearls become translucent. Add more water from the remaining ½ cup if it gets too thick.
- Add mangoes and cook until mixture begins to simmer again, about 3-5 minutes.
- If using egg, whip egg white in a small bowl (or the measuring cup) with the sugar/sweetener. Temper this mixture into the saucepan by folding 1-2 tbsp of the hot pudding mixture into the egg white/sugar mixture. Do this at least three times before pouring the egg white/sugar bowl mixture into the saucepan. Then allow pudding to cook another 2-3 minutes in saucepan.
- If not using egg, simply mix the sugar into pudding on stove and cook 2-3 minutes.
- Pour into a serving bowl and add vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well.
- You can serve this warm from the oven or cover it and refrigerate up to 5 days for a cool dessert. It’s really delicious both ways (and thickens even more as it sits). It’s really presentable when served with cinnamon sticks (as shown in pics).
- Enjoy! :)