Coconut Rum Tapioca Pudding

One of my favorite desserts growing up was tapioca pudding.  Something about those slightly chewy tapioca balls suspended in creamy custard lead me to devour those little store-bought pudding pack containers…And after I’d eaten all of those, I’d then attempt to make my own!

Unfortunately, my early attempts at making tapioca pudding from scratch were not super-successful (think crunchy tapioca balls, chunks of cooked egg, and scorched pudding).  As a young impatient 11-year-old, I eventually got discouraged with my less than perfect results and lost interest in making homemade tapioca pudding.

Despite my lack of success, my love for this ultimate comfort food has not faded and I was recently inspired to try making it again.  I felt so grown-up when my pudding came together with out a hitch! Giddy with excitement I tried to think if there was something I could add to make this tapioca extra-special.  Since I had used coconut milk for much of the pudding base, my mind immediately went to something that goes perfectly with coconut—rum!

If you are a tapioca lover like me or just want to try a new twist on a classic dessert, definitely give this recipe a try.  We were very sad that I had only made one batch!

Coconut Rum Tapioca Pudding

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks’ classic tapioca pudding recipe

Next time I might try replacing the milk in this recipe with another cup of coconut milk.  I only had one can of coconut milk  (roughly 2 cups) at home when I was making this recipe though.  When the tapioca mixture is cooking, it is very important to keep the heat low and stir it constantly.  I also did not precisely measure the rum that I put in.  I think I ultimately added a few tablespoons, but feel free to either omit the rum or add it to your taste.

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup pearl tapioca balls (2-3mm in diameter)
  • 2 extra large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups light coconut milk
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean or one teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons of rum

Mix together the milk and the tapioca balls in a small bowl and allow the tapioca balls to soak in the milk for about 60 minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and whisk in the sugar, salt, and coconut milk.  Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds and the remaining bean pod into the milk and egg mixture.  Stir in the tapioca balls and milk, once the tapioca is done soaking.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, bring the mixture slowly to a bowl, stirring constantly.  Once it is boiling, turn down the heat even more and continue cooking and stirring until the tapioca is cooked through and appears translucent (this could take 20-30 minutes).  Once cooked, remove from heat and remove the vanilla bean pods.  Stir in the rum and if you didn’t use a vanilla bean, add the vanilla extract.   The pudding can be served warm or cold.  Top it with a little toasted coconut before serving.

Toasted Coconut

  • ¼ to ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

To toast the shredded coconut, put it into a  frying pan and cook it over low heat until it starts to turn golden brown.  Stir the coconut occasionally while cooking.

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating


Five Chefs (Gourmet Fare!)

Creamy tapioca pudding with a light coconut and rum flavor equals a new favorite dessert in our house.

Easy Rating


Three Easy Chairs (Average Difficulty)

Despite my early troubles making tapioca pudding, I wouldn’t say that making it from scratch is hard.  The constant stirring makes it a little tedious, but it is well worth the effort!

Healthy Rating


One Apples (This Might Take A Year Off Your Life)

Not as bad as some desserts, but it is still not something to eat all the time (although I think we probably could!).

Green Rating


Two Leaves (Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides Rock)

The tapioca balls came from the bulk bins at my local super market, so I’m not sure where they originally came from or if they are organic.  The coconut milk and vanilla bean were definitely not local or organic.  The eggs were local, organic and free-range and most of the remaining ingredients were organic.
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