Vegan Gluten-Free Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca derives from the root of the cassava plant which is native to Northern Brazil. It’s a starch that is packaged as flakes, flour, or pellets which are often called pearls. It’s commonly used instead of wheat flour in South America, the West Indies and India. It is also widely used in warmer and tropical climates in a variety of ways. It is mainly in the western world that tapioca is used to make the pudding dessert we are familiar with. Other countries use it to make savory dishes such as the Indian dish Sabudana Khichdi which is often made with potatoes, roasted peanuts, coconut, curry leaves, and lemon.

While a natural food, tapioca is almost pure starch, and not good for low calorie diets, but is good for children and those trying to gain weight. It’s not bad for you, but has little nutritional value. Tapioca is not very fattening. To save fat while making this recipe replace the soy milk and coconut with lite soy milk. Tapioca naturally has no sugar. Add less sugar to this recipe to lessen the amount of sugar or use an alternative sweetener like stevia. Tapioca also makes a great treat for people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities because it is gluten-free.

This is an Old-Fashioned recipe, in that it takes time, but it has a new modern vegan spin, and with a bit of cardamom it’s slightly exotic.

This recipe takes 1 hour to soak, 30 minutes to cook and feeds approximately 4 people.


– 2 cups Soy or Almond milk

– 13.66-fl. oz. can coconut milk

– ½ cup tapioca small pearls (not instant)

– ¾ t. cardamom

– 1 t. vanilla

– ½ cup brown sugar

– Pinch salt

Soak the tapioca pearls in soy milk for an hour in the medium size sauce pan. You don’t have to do this, if it’s not convenient, but it will take longer for the tapioca to cook if it’s not done. After soaking the tapioca in the soy milk for an hour the tapioca will start to clump together a little bit. Stir the soy milk and tapioca getting out all the clumps. Then add the coconut milk, sugar, spices, and salt. Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil. Next turn the heat down to a medium temperature and stir almost constantly for approximately 30 minutes. When it is done the tapioca pearls will start to look translucent and the mixture will thicken up. Then remove the pot from the burner. It doesn’t need to be as thick as regular tapioca when it is done because it will thicken up with time. If you want warm tapioca cover it and let it thicken up for a bit on the stove. If you want cold and even thicker tapioca put it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Warm tapioca is great with different spices like cinnamon, clove or nutmeg. Or you could put fresh berries or ripe peaches on cold tapioca for a cool treat.