Coconut Tapioca Pudding

8 Servings
30 min

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Coconut tapioca pudding is a cool and light summer dessert that pairs perfectly with grilled meats and salads.

I like to serve this after a meal of spicy Grilled Piri Piri Chicken, Easy Succotash, and a T ropical Slaw With Pineapple. Add a Brazilian Caipirinha cocktail for a little alcoholic treat!

What Is Tapioca?

Tapioca is a starchy substance from the roots of a cassava plant, which is native to South America.

Once the starch is removed from the cassava, it forms little hard balls or pearls, that become sticky and gel-like when cooked.

The tapioca pearls take on the flavor of what it is cooked in and have very little flavor of their own. They are used as a thickener and to provide texture.

Ingredients Needed For This Recipe

  • Quick cooking tapioca – if you cannot find quick cooking, regular tapioca can also be used, but you may need to simmer it a little longer.
  • Coconut milk – in the can. Use full fat for a silky texture. You could also use coconut cream as well.
  • Kosher salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Egg – used to help thicken the pudding.
  • Vanilla and coconut extract – the vanilla flavors the pudding. The coconut flavoring is optional but adds a more pronounced coconut flavor.
  • Sweetened coconut flakes and thinly sliced, fresh coconut slices – used as a garnish.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1. Bring the tapioca, coconut milk, and salt to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Beat the egg in a small bowl.
  5. Temper the egg with a little of the hot tapioca mixture.
  6. Stir the tempered egg into the hot pudding and simmer until thickened.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts.
  8. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and chill.
  9. Spoon the cold pudding into serving cups and garnish with shredded coconut and slices of coconut.

Tips and Variations

  • Use full-fat canned coconut milk for the creamiest texture.
  • Be sure to stir the mixture constantly while cooking to prevent the coconut milk and tapioca from scorching.
  • Placing plastic wrap directly onto the cool pudding before chilling prevents a ‘skin’ from forming on the top of the pudding.
  • This recipe can be made vegan by omitting the egg. You will need to cook the pudding a little longer to thicken it and the final product will not be as rich, but still delicious.
  • Mango puree, papaya puree, or pineapple pie filling can be spooned on top of the pudding before dusting with the shredded coconut.
Recipe details
  • 8  Servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 30 min
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  • ⅔ cup quick-cooking pearl tapioca
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
  • Slices of fresh coconut as garnish (optional)

In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, add the tapioca, coconut milk, and salt.
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low.
Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Stir in the cinnamon and sugar until dissolved - about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat the egg. Set aside.
Spoon ½ cup of the hot tapioca mixture into another small bowl.
Quickly stir 1 tablespoon of the tapioca mixture you removed from the pot into the beaten egg.  Repeat until the beaten egg feels warm.
Scrape the egg mixture into the simmering tapioca pudding and quickly stir.  Add any remaining tapioca in the bowl to the pot as well.
Continue to simmer the pudding until thickened, stirring constantly - about 5 minutes. It should be the consistency of instant pudding - not too thick.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
Stir in the vanilla extract and coconut extract, if using.
Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and allow it to come to room temperature before chilling in the refrigerator.
When the pudding is cold, spoon it into serving cups and garnish with shredded coconut.
If desired, cut the thin coconut slices into small pieces and stick an end into the pudding top as decoration.
Eats By The Beach (Millie Brinkley)
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