Dessert Recipes




Tapioca vs. Rice Pudding: How They Taste Different & Which is Healthier

Tapioca vs Rice Pudding: What's the Difference

Tapioca vs. Rice Pudding: How They Taste Different & Which is Healthier

Tapioca vs. Rice Pudding

Pudding is a delicious dessert that many people enjoy all around the world. There are a variety of puddings available today, whether you want a traditional pudding with flavors like vanilla or chocolate or a pudding with more texture. There are many choices around the world. This post will look at the difference between rice and tapioca pudding. On the surface, both rice and tapioca pudding look very similar. However, there are some important differences that we will explore. The main difference between tapioca pudding and rice pudding lies in the ingredients. 

The Food Substitutions Bible
  • The must-have convenient reference guide for every home cook!
  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Are Tapioca and Rice Pudding the Same Thing?

No, tapioca pudding and rice pudding are not the same thing. They contain two different ingredients, although they look very similar. The texture is different between the two puddings, and so is the taste. Tapioca and rice pudding are enjoyed all around the world. Both of their history is unknown. However, it is safe to assume that tapioca and rice pudding have existed for a long time.

Tapioca vs. Rice Pudding: What is the Difference?

The main difference between rice and tapioca pudding is the ingredients. Tapioca pudding's main ingredient is the tapioca pearl while rice pudding contains rice. Tapioca generally has a more mild flavor, but both dishes are enhanced with milk and sugar that usually dominates their taste.

From a texture perspective, tapioca is slightly chewy and gelatinous whereas rice pudding is creamier with chewy rice mixed in.

Finally, although they both have a white or off-white appearance, the smell differs. Rice pudding often smells and tastes like rice unless the pudding has a stronger flavor added to it. Tapioca pudding, however, usually has a vanilla smell and taste to it.

Sabudana Kheer thick pudding with tapioca pearls sago dessert from cassava root Indian sweet mithai chowari payasam for Mahashivratri Ram Navami Diwali festival.
Tapioca pudding is an excellent treat to have after a hearty meal.

©Santhosh Varghese/Shutterstock.com

What Is Tapioca?

Let's take a look at what tapioca is. Tapioca comes out of the cassava root that is native to South America. Many people often use tapioca as a substitute for gluten. Therefore, it has become prevalent among the gluten-free community. However, it is controversial on the nutritional value of tapioca. Many believe tapioca has very little nutritional value, as seen here in this article by Healthline. Although, some believe that the nutrients that tapioca does have can be very beneficial. For example, according to WebMD, tapioca can be a great source of iron and an excellent way to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

While the nutritional value of tapioca is controversial, it is higher in calories because of its carb content. It also contains very little nutritional value regarding fiber or protein. Although it doesn't have very much nutritional value in these regards, tapioca is a great gluten-free option for putting in bread.

How to Use Tapioca

When making tapioca, squeezing the liquid out of the roots is the best way to eradicate the powder. After all the water is gone, a powder is left over. This grain can be added to many different products. A few of these products include tapioca pudding and bread. Tapioca is also a thickener agent. It is an excellent way to thicken pies and soups.

Tapioca itself does not have any flavor. Tapioca pudding ingredients include tapioca pearls, eggs, cream, sugar, milk, and some type of flavoring, typically vanilla. However, mango is a great additive flavor that many people enjoy. Also, tapioca has more of a rubbery texture than rice pudding does.

Organic tapioca pearls close-up in a bowl on a wooden table. horizontal
The nutritional value of tapioca is often up for debate. Many believe it is an excellent source of iron and has many health benefits, while others claim that it has empty calories.

©AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock.com

What is Rice Pudding?

Rice pudding is exactly what it sounds like. This pudding consists of rice and milk. Many recipes call for sugar, salt, and vanilla in a traditional rice pudding recipe. However, there are several different ways to make rice pudding. Rice pudding is creamy, and the texture is thick. Also, It is cooked on high heat in a saucepan for about an hour or until thick. Rice pudding is typically enjoyed while cold and will taste like rice unless a strong flavor is present. The typical flavor additive to rice pudding is vanilla. However, more flavors are enjoyed as well, such as nutmeg. When cooked, rice has a very soft and smooth texture. Therefore, the texture of rice pudding is different than tapioca. It is softer and smoother, whereas tapioca has a rubbery texture.

Delicious rice pudding with cinnamon in bowl, closeup
Rice pudding will typically taste like rice unless a strong flavor additive is included in the recipe.

©Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Can You Substitute Tapioca for Rice Pudding or Rice Pudding for Tapioca?

Rice pudding and tapioca pudding are very similar in appearance. However, they are different types of pudding. If you are in a pinch and need a sweet pudding to serve, either tapioca or rice pudding will deliver similar results. However, these puddings are different from one another. Therefore, whether or not you eat rice pudding or tapioca pudding depends on personal preference. Rice pudding is creamier and smoother than tapioca pudding. Tapioca pudding has a rubbery texture because the extraction occurs from a root. Also, tapioca pudding often has eggs in it when cooked. However, rice pudding usually does not. Therefore, the differences between the two mean they cannot really be substituted for one another. However, they make great alternatives if you are in the mood for a rich and thick pudding but only have one of these ingredients on hand.

The Food Substitutions Bible
  • The must-have convenient reference guide for every home cook!
  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Tapioca Pudding vs. Rice Pudding: Which is Healthier?

Tapioca Pudding vs Rice Pudding: Which is Healthier
A nutritional comparison of tapioca and rice pudding

Both tapioca and rice pudding have carbohydrates as their main ingredient. Also, both are excellent desserts made of milk, sugar, or cream. Rice pudding has about 150 calories per 1/2 cup with 33 carbohydrates while tapioca has 130 calories and 26 carbohydrates. Keep in mind that added sugars will make either pudding less healthy, so watch for that on any nutrition labels of puddings you're purchasing.

How to Make Tapioca and Rice Pudding

If you want an excellent dessert to serve your family after a hearty meal, tapioca and rice pudding are excellent choices. There are many instant tapioca and rice pudding options premade on grocery shelves. However, nothing quite beats making a dessert from scratch. So, if you are in the mood for tapioca or rice pudding, here are two effortless ways to make these delicious desserts.

For tapioca pudding, you will want to have the following on hand:

  • Tapioca pearls
  • Salt 
  • Three whole cups of milk
  • Two eggs
  • Half a cup of sugar
  • One teaspoon of vanilla extract 

Here is an excellent recipe for tapioca pudding. 

For rice pudding, you will want to have the following on hand:

  • Half a pound of long-grain white rice that is
  • One quart of milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • One teaspoon of butter
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • Two teaspoons of cinnamon
  • And an additional 1/4 cup of milk

To make this excellent rice pudding recipe, Preheat your oven to 350°F. Next, you will add the milk to the rice and mix thoroughly. Next, add the cinnamon, raisins, and sugar to the rice mixture. After mixing this mixture, melt one teaspoon of butter and add it to the 1/4 cup of milk. Heat this mixture together without boiling. Pour the rice mixture into a dish that is oven safe, and then pour the milk and butter on top. Bake this rice pudding in the oven for 25 minutes. Enjoy this delicious treat warm after dinner, or place it in the refrigerator and eat it cold.

Whether or not you enjoy the smooth texture of rice pudding or the rubbery vanilla taste of tapioca, both of these desserts can bring back wonderful childhood memories or even offer a delicious treat to enjoy as a family. Whichever route you go, you cannot go wrong with either of these delicious desserts.

A Quick Comparison of Tapioca vs. Rice Pudding

Infographic comparing tapioca pudding and rice pudding.
Tapioca is flavorless.

When choosing between tapioca and rice pudding, it's important to consider your goals. Are you looking for a pudding that is highly customizable when it comes to flavor? Is nutrition important? Are you sensitive to certain textures? How you answer all of these questions will determine whether you choose tapioca or rice pudding. You may not care for tapioca's rubbery texture, or the taste of rice pudding. Whatever you choose, both of these are great options!

Rice Pudding Recipes

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Delicious rice pudding with cinnamon in bowl, closeup

Healthy Rice Pudding

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


  • Author: Moms Who Think


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rice, uncooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. In a saucepan, heat milk and water.

2. Add rice, bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer; stir mixture every 10 minutes. Cook uncovered until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, mix eggs, 3/4 cup evaporated milk, vanilla, and sugar. Set aside.

4. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of evaporated milk to the rice mixture.

5. Spoon 1 cup of rice mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Pour egg-rice mixture into the remaining rice.

6. Heat pudding until it boils, stirring continuously. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Pudding Comparisons

To top