Vanilla Oat Milk Tapioca Pudding Recipe

Meet my current favorite quick and easy dessert: a tapioca pudding made with oat milk and flavored with vanilla.

Tapioca pudding, for those not familiar with it, is not unlike rice pudding, except the texture of cooked pearl tapioca is estimated to be seven hundred and eighty three times more enjoyable than that of cooked rice, as each tiny pearl rolls off your tongue like the word “pearl” itself.

Pearl tapioca is made with the starch extracted from cassava roots (a.k.a. manioc or yuca). It’s a pre-cooked product that can also be used as a thickener in tart fillings, or to add textural variety to broths and soups. In France, Tipiak sells it under the name perles Japon — it’s anybody’s guess why they call it that — but actually offers two distinct varieties under that label: one made from potato starch, and one made from manioc starch, which is the one I use. I can’t recommend any particular brand outside of France, but you should be able to find pearl tapioca in the baking aisle of your grocery store, or at Asian markets.

For this recipe, you’ll want to use small pearl tapioca, which comes in miniature beads (do not, I repeat, do not, spill the contents of the package on the floor, or you’ll be finding them in absurd places for years to come), rather than the larger pearls, also called boba, that add chew to Taiwan-style bubble tea.

I first made tapioca pudding at the request of Maxence, who’s always a good customer for this kind of humble, comforting dessert, and who spent a happy childhood eating his grandmother’s. I myself am not normally drawn to soft, milk-based preparations, but this one quickly won me over with its delectable creamy-bouncy texture.

My recipe is completely effortless, and uses pantry ingredients only, making it a fine emergency dessert option. You simply heat oat milk (my non-dairy milk of choice) with a vanilla bean, simmer the pearl tapioca in it (mine cooks in fifteen minutes), before adding sugar and a bit of salt.

You then let it cool, and as the pearl tapioca continues to swell, it absorbs all the liquid and becomes all mochilike and wonderful. (Wait, could this be why it’s called “Japan pearls” in France?)

You’ll perhaps notice that it is one of those handy ratio-based recipes (see Ruhlmann’s book on cooking ratios) that relies on a 10:1:1 ratio of milk, pearl tapioca and sugar (measured in weight). This means you can commit the recipe to memory easily and scale it up or down, as I often do when I have an open carton of milk that needs to be used pronto.

Tapioca pudding requires little embellishment, and we usually just lap it up from a little bowl with a spoon, but when I serve it to friends, I like to offer a side of crisp butter cookies, such as these or these, just to amp the sophistication a notch.

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Vanilla Oat Milk Tapioca Pudding Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves 6 to 8.

Vanilla Oat Milk Tapioca Pudding Recipe


  • 1 liter (4 cups) unflavored and unsweetened oat milk (shake well before using; substitute any other kind of milk, dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 small vanilla bean, or 1/2 large vanilla bean (I use Tahiti vanilla)
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) small pearl tapioca (note that different brands may require different cooking times, and some pearl tapioca needs to be pre-soaked, so check the package and adjust the process accordingly)
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) unrefined sugar (I use an unrefined blond cane sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Pour the milk in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lenghtwise, scrape the seeds with the dull side of a knife, and add the bean and seeds to the milk.
  2. Bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Sprinkle the tapioca into the milk and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover, and cook at a simmer for 15 minutes (or according to package instructions), stirring from time to time.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and salt, and stir to dissolve. The mixture will still feel somewhat soupy at this point, but the pearl tapioca will continue to expand as it cools, and the mixture will set satisfyingly then. Transfer to a serving bowl or container (along with the vanilla bean*) and let cool completely.
  4. Serve at room temperature or cold (but not too cold), with crisp butter cookies if desired. The tapioca can be made a day ahead, and keeps for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge.


When you're done eating the tapioca, rinse and dry the vanilla bean, and place it in your sugar jar, or use it to feed your homemade vanilla extract.

This post was first published in January 2011 and updated in July 2016.

  • Love the sound of your pudding … and “Japan pearls.” I don’t know if there is anything more comforting than tapioca pudding on a wintry day.

  • This looks amazing! I grew up on tapioca- I remember the taste well, I love that bouncy texture as you describe it. I’ll have to see if I can find it here in Italy.

  • I love Tapioca (and only like rice pudding in Athens, Greece at a place called Varsos).
    I don’t know how to cook it though. I was going to try a recipe by Bill Yosses.
    Who estimates it to be 183 times better?

  • Stephen

    What is this with tapioca pudding? Canadians like it, Americans like it, now it appears that the French like it. In school, it was known as frogspawn (nothing to do with an ethnic slur against French people commonly used in British Red tops) and was universally condemned by my fellow pupils as revolting, on a par with sago pudding (I hope we didn’t upset the pigs too much), somewhat worse than semolina pudding (which was regarded as OK) and far worse than rice pudding (which was liked). If a Canadian, American or now French person criticizes British food in front of me, I will now laugh in their face and say two words, “tapioca pudding”!
    OK, I know that you can buy tapioca in British supermarkets which given the cut-throat competition between them means that someone is buying it but I have never seen it in anyone’s shopping trolley.

  • I have not had tapioca in a long time. Now I am craving it. I have never seen oat milk but would love to try it.

  • paul

    clotilde, do you think this recipe would still work well if it was halved or quartered? it sounds wonderful!

    • I’m pretty sure it would. I’ve never quartered it, but I’ve halved or thirded it without any problem.

  • My grandmother used to make this for us all the time when we were little, I love it! We used to have ours with apricot jam.

  • dory

    I love the looks of your recipe. I also love that it looks not so sweet, because I do not like intensely sweet sweets. My mom hated cooking when I was growing up, but made a few things I liked and remember sentimentally. Tapioca pudding was among them, although she may have made it out of a box. You have made me crave it, although perhaps made with my favorite milk of the moment– almond milk. I wonder if my South American husband will like it. He grew up with yuca, but as a whole root, boiled or boiled and then fried (yum yum!) I don’t think that tapioca was part of his childhood heritage as it was mine. Thanks as always for the recipe and the story.

  • I have never heard of oat milk, now I am curious. I’ll have to look into it further. It would be interesting to try and make it.

  • Jean

    Just found Chocolate and Zucchini this week. Made your banana cranberry bread yesterday – great! Haven’t made tapioca in a while – will make tomorrow. I have bags of frozen shredded zucchini in freezer from garden. I use it in a great chocolate zucchini cake.

  • I’m not sure if this has anything to do with it, but “pearl tea,” aka sweetened tea with big tapioca pearls, is a very popular drink in Japan. There are lots of pearl tea cafes in the SF Bay Area, where I live, too.

    • Yes! That’s the same kind of drink as the bubble tea I mentioned in the post — it’s originally a taiwanese invention.

  • Maeve

    Miss Clotilde, what about lessening the sugar? I’d be inclined to try half the sugar, with perhaps a drop of stevia extract. I know sugar can play funny with recipes, so I figured to ask before ruining a batch. ;)
    I seem to recall fiddling with tapioca before and one minute it was fine, then I made some change, and it went all gooey on me (as opposed to the nicely-set pudding it had been before). Was so long ago, though, that I can’t recall what I did…

    • I’ve always made it this way (I may have occasionally lowered the sugar by 20% or so), so I can’t offer guidance, but I hope you’ll report back if you experiment!

  • Trisha

    Oh, used to buy tapioca pudding at the deli section in the supermarket as a child. Can’t be found in Tokyo.
    I know this wouldn’t be same thing, but this looks so nice I want to try this.
    Haven’t heard of oat milk either. Would regular milk or soy milk work?

    • Absolutely: as mentioned in the recipe, you can substitute any kind of milk you like, dairy or non-dairy.

  • Rachel

    A few years ago I read Ensemble, c’est tout and there was a scene where one character makes soup with perles de Japon for another… I had no idea what they were and my usually reliable French-English dictionary was not forthcoming. Thanks for clearing up the mystery! :)

  • Bonjour Clotilde! Yes, I much prefer the texture of pearl tapioca to rice in pudding. Perfect winter-warmer, although I might use almond milk since that is my non-dairy milk of choice. Do you think that brown sugar would work well in this?

    • Yes, you can use any kind of sugar you like, and almond milk will be great!

  • Love Tapioca and this recipe. Thank for sharing and keep up the great work, you have fans in the sunny islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

    • That’s lovely to hear. Send us some sunshine, will you? :)

  • sounds and looks delicious, I am just wondering where to get tapioca in Austria…

    • Anna

      You should be able to get tapioca pearls in Asian stores – I bought a pack at Nakwon, Zieglergasse 12, 1070 Wien! I’m almost 100% sure there’s an Asian store in every Landeshauptstadt, don’t know about more rural areas though.

  • Well, it is important to have emergency dessert options, I agree . I’ve always preferred rice pudding, but I’ll trust you and give it a try. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Yes! We will give this a try. I suspect it will be a winner.

  • Here in Brazil there is a famous desert called Sagu that is made with Tapioca pearls and red wine. Manioc is actually native from Brazil, we use it in many dishes.

    • That sounds intriguing! Do you have a recipe to share?

  • I love to make pudding and the one I make very often is rice pudding. But these tapioca beads look so cute, I love them. I’m not sure if I can find it at the markets here though. I want to try this lovely looking pudding, so hope they have.

  • Paulus

    and for real indulgence, try the Malaysian speciality gula melaka, which is tapioca cooked then allowed to cool in an oiled mould so it sticks together, then turned out as a little jelly dome and covered in coconut milk and palm sugar. Out of this world, and bears no relationship whatsoever to the vile tapioca puddings served up in British schools (and universally detested as Stephen’s post indicated)

    • Wendy Hutton

      Hi Paulus, the colonial favourite Gula Melaka dessert is made with sago (biji sagu), not tapioca, as a rule.

  • I used to be a little circumspect about the texture of tapioca, but now I love it, so I may try this great recipe, thanks you!

    I don’t know if you like bubble tea, but if you do, they make very good ones in our neighborhood, rue Rodier, in a place called “Le 37m2” (nice taiwanese inspired food, but also great homemade jams for the week-end brunch – and a carambar cake I just love ;)).

    • That place is on my to-try list, thanks for sharing your opinion of it!

  • This sounds so good. I love Tapicoa.. I have a barley pudding in the pressure cooker as I type this with similar proportions. I’m going to add chia seeds to mine to give it a similar mouthfeel to tapioca.

    • Adding chia seeds (or flax seeds) is a great idea, Melody, thanks!

  • jessica

    sounds yummy and comforting, which is perfect in the cold weather we’re having. do you have any recommendations on how much vanilla extract to use if you don’t have any vanilla beans on hand?

    • I would go with 1 1/2 teaspoons of commercial vanilla extract, or 1 tablespoon if you make your own.

  • ann

    yum yum. i love the idea of oat milk. oat. milk. just the words are like a hug.

  • Simple, tasty, filling and healthy is the way I remember tapioca pudding!

  • msue

    I adore tapioca pudding. My grandmother made it for me when I was young. I clearly remember the milk simmering on the stove and the wonderful vanilla aroma in her kitchen. Your post has recalled these lovely kitchen memories from long ago! I will make this soon!

  • This is really fast and easy to prepare… I was thinking of a brand new desert to serve for our visiting friend yesterday and I thought of this. It is simple but the taste is pretty well good. And to forget it is very economical. Perfect for my budget.

  • Hello Clotilde! I’m very impressed with your blog. I’m new in the blog world and your blog is one of my favorites. I will try some of your recipes soon, i’m especially interested in this dessert with tapioca.

    – Runar Charls from Norway

  • I’ve always been kind of afraid to cook with tapioca. Your very informative and enticing post has me convinced to pick some up and try it!

  • Wendy Hutton

    Here in Borneo, the starch from wild sago palms is extracted to make tiny white sago pearls which can be used just like tapioca pearls. If you add egg yolk to your milk, Clothilde, and fold through the beaten egg white when the cooking is finished, you’ll have an even more delicious dessert. Grated lemon rind or cardamom instead of vanilla is also very good.

  • Looks incredible – we’re lucky to have wonderful Asian supermarkets here in Sydney, I might give this a try with a little palm sugar (I’m going through a phase) – do you think that would work ?

  • Gill

    We also used to call Tapioca Pudding “Frogspawn” at boarding school in what was then Southern Rhodesia- British Colonial influence again! Both my Dad and I liked it so I always had to stir the pot for what seemed like hours, when we had it at home. My husband does not like any puddings like that so I have not made it for years. Perhaps he may be more interested if red wine is included in the recipe.

  • I love the looks of that dessert! I always have vanilla soy milk in the refrigerator (I love it in my coffee) so I am going to try to recipe with that.

  • I have almond milk in the fridge, multicolored tapioca pearls straight from the heaven that is Tang Frères, and 15 minutes before I have to get ready for dinner. Pudding’s the plan, thank you for the inspiration!

  • Oh, this just makes me want to run out and buy pearl tapioca tomorrow! I have been looking for an idea to use some anise sugar blocks from Holland (anijsblokjes). They make a great, comforting milky drink, but I think they could be a nice way to perfume the milk for this recipe. Thanks!

    • I’d never heard of these anijsblokjes before, but using them here sounds like a lovely idea.

  • I just signed up for your updates on Twitter. I just love your blog.It is so comprehensive. At first I thought it would be all about chocolate, but I’m always happy to read about great food in general. How lucky you are to live in Paris with all of the fine chocolate shops. I’ll be coming to visit later in the year. I’ll look for your recommendations.

  • I have tapioca at home (I bought some time ago for my little daughter) but I must say that it is a bit mysterious product for me… I have it in my kitchen….and I do not use that…thanks for inspiration:)

  • Rachel

    Every Christmas and Thanksgiving I have to bring tapioca pudding to family events.
    I make it with brown sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, etc. and it ends up being butterscotchy or carmel, I can’t decide. I use small pearl tapioca.

  • Wow! Doesn’t this look delicious?? What a lovely breakfast or snack it would be.

  • This looks so moreish! and I love the simplicity of the recipe. I will definitely be trying this one.

  • Oh my goodness, that looks amazing, I’m going to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Wow, that looks so good!

  • I made chocolate tapioca –

    Soak the pearls in half the oat milk for half an hour. Add remaining milk, 2 heaped dessert spoons of good quality cocoa and 2 heaped dessert spoons of sugar. Stir constantly on low heat until simmering and pearls translucent. Stir in a knob of butter and serve or cool.

    • Sounds great, thanks for sharing!

  • Tapioca is haelthy and so under used in the western households nowadays. I like the idea of that dish, thank you for sharing. =)

  • Hope

    I made your oat milk today for the first time, and then of course had to make the tapioca. This is wonderful! I love the vanilla oat flavors together. It’s very warming. Thanks for sharing!

    • Great to hear, thank you Hope!

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