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Coconut Tapioca Pudding

This is a tropical twist on a classic tapioca recipe. Pairs perfectly with fresh mango for a Thai-themed dessert. But honestly, you can't go wrong using any fresh fruit; strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches...The sky is the limit!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 1/2 cup servings


  • 1 cup small pearl tapioca, not granulated or quick cooking
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar + ½ tablespoon (for egg whites)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 eggs yolk,
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract (or instead you can use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)


  • mango or other fresh fruit
  • shredded or shaved coconut, toasted, (see notes) (optional)
  • Shaved chocolate (optional)


  • In a small bowl, soak 1 cup small tapioca pearls in one can of coconut milk. Stir and let sit on the kitchen counter for 3 hours (no need to refrigerate), stirring occasionally.
  • After letting the tapioca soak, pour it into a medium saucepan. Add to the tapioca mixture, 2 cups of milk, ¾ cup sugar, salt, and egg yolk. Heat on medium heat, stirring frequently to keep milk from scalding. Once the tapioca mixture is simmering (do not boil), turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly to keep milk from scalding.
  • Carefully taste-test the tapioca to be sure the pearls are soft and no longer chewy. If the tapioca pearls are still chewy, cook for an additional 5 minutes and check again. When the tapioca is done, remove it from the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.
  • While the tapioca is cooling, beat the egg whites with 1 tablespoon sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Stir the coconut extract into the tapioca and gently fold in the egg whites until completely incorporated.
  • Serve warm or chilled for 4 hours in the refrigerator. To serve, divide tapioca into individual bowls and top with fresh mango or fresh fruit of your choice. Garnish with toasted coconut or shredded chocolate (optional).


I write my recipes using the small pearl tapioca, but you can use any of the types of tapioca. You skip the soaking step altogether for the granules, and with the large pearls, you soak them overnight.

How to toast coconut in a skillet:

  • In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, toast coconut until lightly browned and fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes.

How to toast coconut in the oven:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 5 to 10 minutes.