Difference Between Tapioca Pudding and Rice Pudding

Puddings are considered to pertain to the suite of dessert and savory. They have a downy texture and are either boiled or baked.


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Furthermore, they have a thick-cottony or creamy consistency. Rice and tapioca puddings are two commonly known varieties of puddings.

The key difference between the two rests in the fact that rice pudding has a cereal (rice) base, whereas tapioca pudding has its chief ingredient derived from the storage roots of the ‘cassava’ plant. Because tapioca, which is in the form of root starch, does not have its taste, tapioca puddings contain external flavoring agents. In contrast, rice imparts a natural taste and aroma to the rice pudding.

Tapioca pudding contains eggs to bind the granules, but rice pudding may or may not contain eggs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tapioca pudding is a dessert made from tapioca pearls, milk, sugar, and flavourings; rice pudding is made from cooked rice, milk, sugar, and various spices or flavourings.
  2. Tapioca pearls are derived from the cassava root, while rice pudding uses rice grains as its main ingredient.
  3. Both desserts have a creamy texture and can be served warm or cold, but tapioca pudding has a distinct chewy texture due to the tapioca pearls, whereas rice pudding has a softer, grainy texture.

Tapioca Pudding vs. Rice Pudding

Tapioca pudding is a sweet dessert made from tapioca pearls derived from the starchy root of the cassava plant. Rice pudding is a sweet dessert made from rice, milk, and sugar, and the rice is cooked in the milk until it becomes soft and absorbs the liquid, creating a creamy consistency.

Pudding vs Rice pudding

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonTapioca PuddingRice Pudding
OriginOriginated in ChinaUnknown (controversial)
Base of PuddingTapioca pearls derived from roots of the cassava plantThe cereal base is made of rice grains (cereal base) from the rice plant
Texture and AppearanceGranular appearance due to starchy tapioca pearlsSmoother texture since rice becomes soft on boiling
AromaIt smells like vanilla essence, which is added to it since tapioca is odorlessIt has a nutty, natural fragrance of rice
TasteTaste depends on the ingredients added to the pudding since tapioca is tasteless.It has an elemental cereal taste due to the rice
IngredientsMilk-soaked tapioca pearls, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla essence, sugar, saltBoiled rice, milk, sugar, nuts, dry fruits, cardamom, saffron

What is Tapioca Pudding?

Tapioca pudding is made from ‘tapioca,’ a starch obtained from the tuberous roots of the ‘cassava’ plant, a tropical shrub indigenous to Brazil.

The starch is converted to small, round, and chewy pearls that form the tapioca pudding base and serve as a thickening agent. Tapioca pudding originated in China and is a popular ‘Tong Shui’ (dessert).

It is believed to have been derived from the Mayan culture taken to China in the 17th century. Because tapioca granules have no taste or fragrance, these properties are added artificially as vanilla essence.

To bind the tapioca pearls together, the egg is an important ingredient, although in some recipes, adding eggs may be skipped. The steps to make tapioca pudding are as follows:

  1. Soak tapioca pearls in milk for long
  2. Boil pre-hydrated tapioca and sugar in cold coconut milk/cream until the pearls become translucent.
  3. Stir continuously and beat in whipped egg yolks
  4. Add vanilla essence and remove from heat
  5. Fold the mixture in whipped egg whites
  6. Serve hot or chilled
tapioca pudding

What is Rice Pudding?

Rice pudding is made from rice grains. Rice has a lot of starch, which is the pudding’s thickening agent.

When rice is boiled, it becomes soft and loses its texture, which is why rice puddings usually have a smooth to lightly-coarse appearance. The origin of rice pudding is quite controversial, although there are shreds of evidence that it dates back to 6000 BCE in India.

Notwithstanding, its popularity grew all across the globe. Rice puddings do not require artificial flavoring agents because rice has a nutty taste and a natural aroma.

The ingredients used in the preparation of rice pudding include boiled rice, milk, sugar, chopped nuts, cardamom, and saffron, although it is at the discretion of every individual. It may be boiled or baked.

The recipe for rice pudding is as follows:

  1. Combine milk, sugar, cardamom, raisins, and chopped nuts in a vessel over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. When milk is boiling, add boiled rice and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and the rice is tender.
  3. Add saffron to impart color.
  4.  Serve hot or chilled.
rice pudding

Main Differences Between Tapioca Pudding Rice Pudding

  1. Rice pudding is a cereal-based pudding, whereas tapioca pudding is made from tapioca pearls derived from the storage roots of the cassava plant.
  2. Tapioca pudding requires more ingredients than rice pudding, like artificial flavor (like vanilla extract, since tapioca is tasteless and odorless) and eggs for binding its granules. At the same time, rice provides a natural flavor to the pudding.
  3. Tapioca pudding owes its origin to China, but the origin of rice pudding is not known.
  4. Tapioca pudding has a highly granular texture due to the tapioca pearls. In contradiction, rice pudding is smooth to lightly coarse as the rice becomes soft, losing its form upon boiling.
  5. Before cooking the pudding, tapioca is soaked in milk, whereas rice is boiled.
  6. Coconut milk/cream is preferred for tapioca pudding, whereas there is no such preference for rice pudding.
Difference Between Tapioca Pudding and Rice Pudding
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0141813017313946
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20093220766
  3. https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajb/article/view/132059
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