Coconut Milk Tapioca Pudding — Gluten-free and Dairy-free

by Ann Marie Michaels on April 19, 2012

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I made this coconut milk tapioca pudding a couple months ago for a dinner party. I needed to bring something to a friend’s house — they are gluten-free and dairy-free. This dessert was a hit.

Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root (Manihot esculenta). Cassava, native to Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras, is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics. To make tapioca, cassava is dried to a starchy, powdery extract.

If you’re looking for something that is sweet, comforting, very nourishing, and contains no dairy or gluten, give this coconut milk tapioca pudding a try.

Sorry, it’s not GAPS-legal.

Coconut Milk Tapioca Pudding


Lemon, organic if possible (1)
Instant tapioca, organic if possible (1/4 cup)
Coconut milk (3 cups) — where to buy coconut milk
Sea salt (1 pinch) — where to buy sea salt
Egg yolk, free range, organic (1)
Coconut sugar or sucanat (1/4 to 1/3 cup) — where to buy coconut sugar; where to buy sucanat


Zester or grater


1. Zest the lemon. Set aside.
2. Add the tapioca, coconut milk and salt to a medium to large saucepan. Mix together and simmer on medium to low for 12-15 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and sugar. Temper small amounts of the tapioca into the egg yolk/sugar mixture until you have added about a cup. (Tempering prevents the egg yolk from overcooking.)
4. Stir the egg yolk/sugar/tapioca mixture into the remaining tapioca in the saucepan.
5. Remove from heat.
6. Add the lemon zest and stir to combine.
7. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
8. Allow to cool at room temperature and then transfer to the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

Photo Credit: Pearl Tapioca by KayVee.INC, on Flickr
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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina April 19, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Would this work with honey instead of the coconut sugar?

Candice April 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Ann Marie,
Sounds amazing! Where did you pick up the instant tapioca? Just want to make sure I don’t get the junky stuff.


cheeseslave April 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM


cheeseslave April 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

I got organic instant tapioca at Whole Foods

Ana April 19, 2012 at 4:33 PM

I’m from Colombia (: We use yucca flour to make pan de yucca! its delicious you just mix queso fresco cheese, eggs, and yucca flour ; bake and it comes out soft and delicious! I go there every summer vacation to stay with my grandparents

Sarah April 19, 2012 at 5:25 PM

do you used canned coconut milk or the milk from a box? the stuff from a can is much thicker, so i want to make sure to use the right thing.

Jeanine Buchanan April 19, 2012 at 5:56 PM

I wanted to pin it but the Tapioca picture wouldn’t pin.

Jeanine Buchanan April 19, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Also, do you soak the tapioca before putting it in the pan?

Naomi April 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM

You said you used instant tapioca, but the picture is of pearl tapioca. Did your instant tapioca look like pearls? The instant I buy looks more like coarse salt, a chopped appearance.

cheeseslave April 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Yes, mine did look like pearls.

That was not my picture though. I got it from Flickr. I didn’t have time to take a picture of the tapioca pudding.

cheeseslave April 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

No with instant, you don’t need to soak it.

I don’t know why it’s not pinning.

cheeseslave April 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

I used canned coconut milk

Kenedi - Real Food Whole Life April 20, 2012 at 7:39 AM

This sounds wonderful! I might just have to try this out over the weekend. Thanks for a great idea.

Barbara Harrington April 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM

I have been using the Silk brand coconut milk in the 2 qt. carton. To me it has a very pleasing taste and I believe it is organic, but does have cane sugar. What do you think – is the product OK?

butternutrition April 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Oh yum! This sounds delicious!

Ozziemum April 25, 2012 at 11:48 PM

I just made this pudding and I think the amount of tapioca should be 3/4 cup (not 1/4 cup). I left out the lemon and used honey instead of sugar and added cinnamon and vanilla – yummo.

pkelly May 12, 2012 at 3:31 PM

That’s a coconut beverage, a milk replacement to use on cereal, etc. The coconut milk I believe she was referring to (and which I used with good results) is the actual coconut milk used in Thai and other cuisines that is usually found in the ethnic section at the grocery in cans or sometimes bottles. It is quite a different thing. Be sure to read the label and get the “full-fat” version–that’s where the flavor is. The calorie-count will tell you if it’s right. Otherwise, it’s all just empty carbs!

Barbara Harrington May 12, 2012 at 7:02 PM


Caroline June 22, 2013 at 5:37 PM

I agree with Ozziemum. I followed the recipe minus the lemon and it was very much a snot like consistency. Not a bad flavor…but a little on the yucky texture side. I think more tapioca would definitely have helped it out!

Carol October 3, 2013 at 12:32 PM

This is a great reciped that I have made several times. We did not like the lemon so I will decrease that. I also never made a Tapioca pudding and it was a bit “soft” so I will increase the amount of tapioca. I used Kal brand Stevia and it was super yummy! Thank you for your recipe and thanks for those who post comments that help make it tastier!

Pammer June 19, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Can this be made with pearled tapioca, honey and without eggs?

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UmmBinat July 5, 2014 at 7:47 AM

Pretty good for the quick stuff. I used this as a base and put a middle eastern flare to it by adding a little rose and orange blossom water after removing from the burner. I did however increase the amount of tapioca as mentioned by another commenter. I used organic coconut milk (full fat kind and some water to make up for another can. I did not add the lemon and used regular organic cane sugar. I garnished with dried rose petals/heads found in Persian shops. Because of the increase in tapioca (which was slightly broken pearls it was a tad thick. The texture wasn’t that great (tapioca starch texture to it) but I think that is mainly because this recipe uses the quick cooking kind.

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