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Tapioca Pudding vs. Rice Pudding: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on February 27, 2024
Tapioca pudding is a dessert made from small pearls of tapioca starch, often creamy and sweet, while rice pudding is a similar dessert but made with rice grains, usually cooked in milk.

Key Differences

Tapioca pudding is made from tapioca pearls derived from cassava root, offering a distinctively chewy texture. Rice pudding, on the other hand, is prepared using rice grains, which provide a softer, grainier texture.
The cooking process for tapioca pudding involves soaking and simmering the tapioca pearls until they become translucent. Rice pudding is typically cooked by simmering rice in milk until the grains are tender and the mixture thickens.
Tapioca pudding often has a neutral flavor, taking on the taste of added ingredients like vanilla or cinnamon. Rice pudding has a more pronounced flavor due to the natural taste of the rice and is often spiced with cinnamon or nutmeg.
Tapioca pudding has roots in various cultures, especially in South America and Asia. Rice pudding is a traditional dish in many cultures worldwide, with regional variations in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Tapioca pudding is naturally gluten-free as it's made from cassava. Rice pudding, made from rice, is also gluten-free, but both can contain dairy, making them unsuitable for vegans unless modified.

Comparison Chart

Base Ingredient

Tapioca pearls
Rice grains


Chewy, gelatinous
Soft, creamy

Cooking Method

Soaked and simmered
Simmered in milk

Flavor Adaptability

Neutral, adapts to added flavors
Naturally flavorful

Dietary Suitability

Gluten-free, potentially dairy
Gluten-free, potentially dairy

Tapioca Pudding and Rice Pudding Definitions

Tapioca Pudding

A creamy dessert made from tapioca pearls.
For dessert, we had homemade tapioca pudding.

Rice Pudding

A dessert made from rice cooked in milk or cream.
Rice pudding is a classic comfort food.

Tapioca Pudding

A traditional dessert with variations across different cultures.
In Brazil, tapioca pudding is a popular treat.

Rice Pudding

Can be flavored with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
The aroma of cinnamon in the rice pudding filled the kitchen.

Tapioca Pudding

A gluten-free option for a sweet course.
She chose tapioca pudding because it's gluten-free.

Rice Pudding

A dish with global variations, popular in many cultures.
In India, rice pudding, or kheer, is a festive dish.

Tapioca Pudding

A sweet dish often flavored with vanilla or cinnamon.
The tapioca pudding was enhanced with a hint of vanilla.

Rice Pudding

Often sweetened with sugar, honey, or syrup.
He added maple syrup to his rice pudding for extra sweetness.

Tapioca Pudding

A dessert typically served warm or cold.
On cold nights, warm tapioca pudding is comforting.

Rice Pudding

Typically served as a dessert or sweet snack.
For an afternoon snack, she made a bowl of rice pudding.


Is tapioca pudding gluten-free?

Yes, it is naturally gluten-free as it's made from cassava.

What is tapioca pudding?

A dessert made from small tapioca pearls, milk, and sugar.

What texture does tapioca pudding have?

It has a chewy and somewhat gelatinous texture.

What is rice pudding?

A creamy dish made from rice cooked in milk, often sweetened.

Can rice pudding be made vegan?

Yes, by substituting dairy milk with plant-based alternatives.

How long does it take to cook rice pudding?

Typically, it takes about 30-45 minutes on the stove.

Does rice pudding contain gluten?

No, rice is naturally gluten-free.

Are there different types of rice for pudding?

Short-grain or Arborio rice is often preferred for its creaminess.

What flavors complement tapioca pudding?

Vanilla, cinnamon, and coconut are popular choices.

Is rice pudding healthy?

It can be part of a balanced diet but is often high in sugar.

Can tapioca pudding be made dairy-free?

Yes, by using alternatives like almond or coconut milk.

How do you store tapioca pudding?

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.

Are there savory versions of tapioca pudding?

Rarely, as it's predominantly a sweet dish.

Is rice pudding served hot or cold?

It can be served either hot or cold, based on preference.

What are the origins of tapioca pudding?

It has roots in South American and Asian cuisine.

What's the difference in calories between the two?

It varies, but tapioca pudding is often slightly higher in calories.

Can you add fruit to tapioca pudding?

Yes, fruits like mango or berries can be added.

Can rice pudding be frozen?

It's not recommended as it can affect texture and consistency.

Can spices be added to rice pudding?

Yes, spices like cardamom or star anise are popular additions.

Is tapioca pudding popular globally?

Yes, it's enjoyed in various forms worldwide.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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