This easy homemade tapioca pudding recipe is topped with gooey caramel! If you love homemade tapioca pudding, you will love this creamy gluten free tapioca pudding recipe. I also include a dairy-free option for this tapioca pudding recipe.

My daughter is the one who inspired me to create this comforting tapioca recipe. She loves the thick creaminess of tapioca pudding and often asks me to buy it when she goes grocery shopping with me. The ingredients in store-bought tapioca pudding are not great, and  I knew we could make a better version here at home.

Why my family loves this creamy tapioca pudding:

  • This old-fashioned creamy caramel tapioca pudding with caramel sauce is the best tapioca pudding recipe I’ve ever made!
  • Pearl tapioca pudding is easy to make with few ingredients and simple steps.
  • This tapioca pudding is naturally gluten free!
  • This minute tapioca pudding has a creamy texture with the chewy little tapioca beads throughout the pudding.
  • You can flavor and top tapioca pudding in a lot of fun ways. Check out the fun flavor ideas section below for ideas.
  • If you love pudding, you are going to love these mouthwatering Gluten Free Pudding Recipes…I can’t wait to hear which ones you try!

Such an easy and old-fashioned pudding recipe, Sandi. Made me feel like I was eating
pudding my grandmother made–in the best possible way!”

Jenni F., blog comment

Allergen Information:

This homemade tapioca pudding is gluten-free, nut-free, oat-free, and soy-free.

Tapioca pudding ingredients photos.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Small tapioca pearls – Use small pearls as I did, but larger pearl sizes are okay, too. The difference in sizing, besides the size of the pearls, is soaking time and cooking time.
  • Milk – you can use dairy milk or non-dairy milk. As you can see here, I used almond milk to make this tapioca pudding dairy-free. For a little added flavor, use vanilla-flavored non-dairy milk. I find that coconut milk is also really good to use, and it adds a nice, sweet flavor.
  • Eggs – Size large.
  • Vanilla Extract – This is optional. If you use plain milk, adding pure vanilla extract is really good!
  • Caramel – I use store-bought caramel. Be sure to check the ingredients label to ensure it is gluten free!
  • Salt – You can use kosher salt or sea salt.

How To Make Tapioca Pudding From Scratch:

Tapioca pudding photos of steps 1 and 2.

Step 1: Measure your tapioca pearls and place them in a strainer. Give them a quick rinse under cold running water. Move the tapioca pearls into a large mixing bowl, add water to cover them, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

It is a good idea to double-check the soak time on the brand of tapioca pearls you buy. There is some soak time variance between brands. The instructions on my Kraft Minute Tapioca box said to soak the little tapioca pearls in water overnight.

In the photo above, you can see what the tapioca looks like after the soaking. See how puffy it is?

Step 2: I do not own a double boiler, so I just put water into a large saucepan. I then fit a smaller pot on the inside. Be sure the smaller pot is not too small, or it will fall entirely into the larger pot.

Heat the milk and caramel on low heat until it is warm. Use a wire whisk to mix the two ingredients. This will help melt the caramel into the milk and prevent any burning. It will get nice and creamy!

Photos of the tapioca pudding cooking.

Step 3: Pour in the softened tapioca pearls and turn the heat to medium-low to bring the mixture to a gentle boil. The pudding mixture will thicken quickly.

🔑 Sandi says: Whisk frequently to avoid it getting stuck on the bottom of the pot!

Step 4: For best results, temper the egg yolks so that they don’t cook into chunks when added to the pudding mixture.

To temper the egg yolks, carefully separate the eggs so you have the yolks in a small bowl. Whisk the egg yolks and the 1/4 cup of sugar to mix them together.

Use a large spoon to scoop up a little of the hot tapioca mixture. Pour it into the egg yolks and whisk quickly to mix the two before the eggs cook. Repeat three times.

Step 5: Pour the egg yolk and sugar mixture into the pudding pot and whisk quickly.

You will notice that the homemade tapioca pudding really thickens up after adding the egg yolk and sugar combination. This is a comforting dish that the whole family is going to love!

Check out my fun tapioca pudding web story, too.

Fun flavor variations!

Change up your tapioca pudding flavors by creating different flavor combinations! Here are some other ways to flavor and top your pudding:

  • Add a teaspoon of pumpkin spice to the pudding for fall holiday flavors.
  • Sprinkle your pudding with toasted coconut.
  • Add chocolate shavings on top.
  • Add vanilla or almond extract for a nutty flavor.

If you are a true caramel addict, you MUST try this Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cake!

A small mason jar filled with tapioca pudding.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is tapioca gluten free?

Yes, most tapioca is gluten free. Tapioca is typically made from tapioca plants. Just to be extra cautious, always check the ingredient label.

What is tapioca made of?

Tapioca balls are made from tapioca (the cassava root). They are available in many different sizes.

Can you soak tapioca pearls too long?

You can’t really soak the tapioca pearls too long, but they will get mushier if you oversoak them. 

Are tapioca pearls vegan?

Tapioca pearls are vegan, but this recipe has egg yolks, so my recipe itself is not vegan.

How long will tapioca pudding keep fresh?

This tapioca pudding will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an air-tight container.

Why is it important to use a double boiler or two pots to make tapioca pudding?

You want to use a double boiler or two pots to prevent your pudding from burning.

More Pudding Recipes To Try:

Love This Recipe?

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave a comment below. This will help others know it’s delicious. Thank you!

Homemade Tapioca Pudding With Caramel

Sandi Gaertner
This is an easy, creamy old-fashioned tapioca pudding recipe flavored with caramel.
5 from 12 votes
gluten free allergy icon
nut free allergen icon
soy free allergy icon
vegetarian icon
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Soaking 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Course Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 195 kcal


  • ½ cup small tapioca pearls * see note
  • 2 ½ cups milk * see note
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup caramel * see note
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks


  • Place the tapioca pearls into a colander and rinse them in cold water. Place the pearls into a large mixing bowl.
  • For the best results, soak tapioca pearls overnight in a bowl of water. Be sure to cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Drain the pearls.
  • Use a double broiler, or two different-sized saucepans like I did in the photo above.
  • Add milk, caramel, vanilla, and salt to double broiler and heat them on low heat until the mixture is warm.
  • Add tapioca pearls and turn the heat up to medium-low until tiny bubbles appear.
  • Do not let the mixture to a full boil. Turn the heat back to low once you see the tiny bubbles.
  • In a small bowl, add egg yolks and sugar.
  • Mix well. Now you need to temper the egg yolks. Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a small bowl
  • Use a large spoon to scoop up a bit of the hot tapioca mixture.
  • Add the tapioca mixture very slowly to the egg and sugar mixture while whisking quickly to blend it.
  • Add a little more tapioca mixture and repeat twice more. Now you can mix the egg yolk mixture into the pudding.
  • Pour egg mixture into tapioca mixture and whisk quickly to blend it all in.
  • Cook on low, uncovered for 15 minutes. Be sure to use a wire whisk to stir the mixture frequently.
  • Serve warm or cold.


  1. Most tapioca pearls are gluten free but always double-check the label.
  2. Soak the tapioca pearls overnight. You can use small or large tapioca pearls. Larger pearls will need more time to soften.
  3. You can make this recipe dairy-free by using non-dairy milk like almond milk or coconut milk.
  4. Caramel – Definitely check the label to be sure your caramel is gluten free if you are gluten free. Note most caramel is not dairy-free. If you are dairy-free, there are several dairy-free caramel recipes you can use to make it from scratch.
  5. I highly recommend using a double boiler or two pots to make this recipe. It reduces the risk of the pudding burning on the bottom of the pan.
  6. This tapioca pudding will keep fresh for up to 4 days in an air-tight container.


Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.


Serving: 1gCalories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 5gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 114mgPotassium: 182mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 255IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 149mgIron: 1mg
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Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

This post was updated from an older April 2015 post with more information.


5 from 12 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Such an easy and old-fashioned pudding recipe, Sandi. Made me feel like I was eating pudding my grandmother made–in the best possible way!

  2. Can this be made without the caramel? I have issues with it so don’t eat it, but the rest of your recipe sounds wonderful!

  3. Hi. I am a bit confused by this recipe. Unfortunately I already started it so we will see how it turns out. In the recipe it calls for vanilla but that isn’t listed in the ingredients. Secondly, it says to lower heat a cook an hour but the recipe says total time 25 minutes. So do i cook it for an hour?

    1. Hi Sarah, that is a bit confusing! I edited the recipe to be more clear, I hope it helps. Thank you so much for pointing this out 🙂

      1. The recipe has not been amended for vanilla. How much? 1/4 t.? 1/2t? Or does it just depend if you like a lot of vanilla or hint?

  4. I was told that carmel has traces of gluten in it, so not to use it. Is this not the case? My daughter in law is highly allergic to gluten so I have been afraid to use it.

    1. Hi Stephanie, It will depend on how much you want per bowl. I ended up with 6 servings total.