Tapioca Pudding – no soaking, stirring or waiting!

Pressure Cooked Tapioca Pudding

Cook tapioca pudding in minutes with a pressure cooker, not hours of soaking, stirring and waiting.

There are lots of ways to make pudding with tapioca and when coming up with this recipe I immediately excluded the ones that include eggs. Eggs are just not necessary to hold together tapioca and just make the pudding more complicated and too heavy and flan-like to propose for summer.

Dry pearl tapioca in 1/2 cup measuring cup.

Dry seed tapioca in 1/3 cup measuring cup – the pearls are about the size of sesame seeds.

My family has been eating lots of tapioca puddings to get this recipe just right for you!

Here’s a peek at the process I go through when developing a recipe that hasn’t been made in the pressure cooker before – and how some  of my discoveries are helped by an accident, or two.

About this recipe

I started out with soaking tapioca pearls for an hour as just about everyone recommends. Soaking removed most of the tapioca’s natural starch during the process and the pudding was kind of runny. Next, accidentally distracted by the kids, I just dumped the dry pearls straight in the milk – when I realized my mistake I added a little extra liquid to compensate for what would have been absorbed during a soak and cooked the tapioca a little longer. Using the tapioca straight out of the bag resulted in a pudding seemed a little “too” stiff  (too much starch!). On the plus side, I was surprised that without soaking the tapioca pearls were pretty evenly cooked. This told me that, at least when making tapioca under pressure, you don’t have to pre-soak it. And that is how I arrived at rinsing the tapioca – to remove a little of the surface starch but not so much so the pudding won’t hold together.

Both the beauty and bane of pressure cooking is that there is no stirring during the cooking process.  In my experiments I found that the tapioca pearls tended to clump a little at the base of the heat-proof container – and those clumps would contain under-cooked pearls. Mixing everything post-pressure cooking with a fork – and covering tightly while still hot allowed for the under-cooked pearls to catch-up and finish cooking while the pudding is cooling.

tapioca_art_aaTweak it as you like it
Substitute the cow’s milk with coconut or even a nut milk, the sugar for your favorite sweetener (raw sugar works really well), and to get different flavors the infusion with the zest of half an orange, or lemon (in the finished photos), half a vanilla pod (as in the step-by-step photos) or even a teaspoon of your favorite mixed spice mix (like chai tea). Dried fruit can also add a winter flare – re-hydrate the fruit for 10 minutes in hot water first so you don’t throw off the liquid:tapioca ratio.

Instead of using a heat-proof dish, you can actually make this directly in a heat-proof pudding mold, then mix, refrigerate as directed, and finally invert on a serving plate for a show-stopping elegant formed pudding!

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger steamer basket, heat-proof bowl(s) 8 min. High(2) Natural

4.7 from 6 reviews
Pressure Cooker Tapioca Pudding
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 4 -6
  • Serving size: ¼th
  • Calories: 187
  • TOTAL Fat: 2.5g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 39.6g
  • Sugar Carbs: 28.9g
  • Sodium: 39.2mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 0.1g
  • Protein: 2.5g
  • Cholesterol: 6.3mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ⅓ cup (60g) seed tapioca pearls
  • 1¼ cups (300g) whole milk (or your favorite milk alternative)
  • ½ cup (115g) water
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ½ lemon, zested (or orange, or ½ vanilla bean) - see article for other suggestions
  1. Prepare the pressure cooker by adding one cup of water and the steamer basket and set aside.
  2. Rinse tapioca pearls in a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. To a 4-cup capacity heat-proof bowl add the tapioca pearls, milk, water, lemon zest and sugar. Mix well until the sugar has dissolved and you no longer feel the grit of it at the base. If the container does not have handles to easily lower and lift it from the pressure cooker, construct a foil sling.
  4. Lower heat-proof bowl into the pressure cooker and close and lock the lid.
  5. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 8 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 8 minutes pressure cooking time.
  6. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20 to 30 minutes).
  7. Once the pressure has released let the mixture stand in the closed cooker for an additional 5 minutes before opening the lid (the milk in the container will boil over if you open the lid too quickly after pressure is released).
  8. Carefully lift out the heat-proof bowl and stir vigorously with a fork before distributing into serving bowls, glasses or forms.
  9. Cover tightly with cling-wrap and let cool before refrigerating for at least 3 hours, or overnight, before serving or serve warm with the modifications in the notes of this recipe.
  10. Serve as-is or topped with seasonal fruit.
If serving warm, reduce sugar from ½ to ⅓ cup. If you prefer your pudding more runny and porridgey rather than stiff and jiggly, simply increase the milk in this recipe by ½ a cup or more.

Tapioca pudding with no soaking, waiting or stirring!