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Tapioca Brûlée


Make your simple old fashioned tapioca pudding fancy for a special holiday meal by adding a Brûlée topping! 


  • 1/2 cup +1 tablespoon medium pearl tapioca
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar


1. Place tapioca pearls and milk in a container with a lid. Set in the fridge overnight to soften the pearls and help them release their starch.

2. Pour pearls and milk into a stockpot or large-sized Dutch oven set to medium-high heat. Add vanilla bean paste. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil stirring frequently, until the tapioca pearls are completely translucent with no white remaining in their centers (about 5-10 minutes). The milk should start to thicken also.

3. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk together with the sugar until smooth. Pour a ladle-full of hot milk/tapioca mixture into the egg mixture while whisking the eggs constantly. This will help “temper” the eggs so they don’t get clumpy when added to the hot pudding.

4. Stir the egg mixture into the pudding. Cook for 2-5 minutes, stirring constantly until the pudding becomes thick and will cling to the back of a spoon. It does not need to come to a boil again. Remove from heat and pour into an oven-safe serving dish.

5. Set your broiler to high and move an oven rack to the second from top position. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar as evenly as possible over the entire surface of the pudding. Place it under the broiler to melt and brown the sugar over the entire surface of the pudding, about 3-5 minutes. Check it frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn and to move it around if necessary. Remove from heat and serve either warm or cool with fresh fruit.


If you are substituting liquid vanilla, do not add it in step 2. Instead, stir the vanilla in after removing the pudding from heat in step 4.