Kitchen > Recipes > Ultra-Creamy Sago Pudding (with a twist of lemon)

Ultra-Creamy Sago Pudding (with a twist of lemon)

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Gluten Free

For food allergies and intolerances, please carefully check the ingredient list on each product before using or consuming.


  • ½ cup tapioca pearls (sago)*
  • 3 cups full-cream milk
  • 1/3 cup sweetener of choice*
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • Generous pinch lemon zest
  • 300ml thickened cream


  1. Combine sago and milk. In a medium-sized saucepan combine sago and milk over medium heat.
  2. Warm milk. Set the timer for 5 minutes, pop the lid on and start to warm the sago and milk. (Milk is notorious for burning, so don’t go too far away!)
  3. Stir frequently. Once the milk is warmed slightly, remove the lid and stir the mixture fairly continuously til it thickens and sago pearls turn clear. Depending on the brand and age of the sago, this may take 15 – 40 minutes. If it begins to stick, reduce the heat to low. (see notes below)
  4. Whisk in egg yolks. Remove from heat and while still hot, whisk in beaten egg yolks. Ensure you stir in the yolks immediately after adding so you don’t end up with partially cooked eggs pieces in your sago.
  5. Sugar, vanilla, salt and zest. Mix in sugar, vanilla, salt and zest until well combined.
  6. Cool completely. Set aside to cool completely. To speed this up, put on the saucepan lid, and sit the saucepan on top of a frozen ice brick in an empty sink.
  7. Beat egg whites. Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a small bowl til light and fluffy. Set aside.
  8. Beat cream. In a medium-sized bowl, beat cream til whipped.
  9. Fold in egg whites and cream gently when completely cool.
  10. Chill. Best served chilled.
Serve with:  

Serve with stewed or fresh fruit. This is a rich dessert, so it works well pairing it with fresh or tart flavours – raspberries, passionfruit, pineapple, or stewed quinces or rhubarb.


I used xylitol for this recipe to keep the bright white colour. Be sure not to give any leftovers to dogs as xylitol can be fatal for them. It’s also lovely when made with maple syrup and coconut sugar, but the colour will be more of a caramel.

Storage suggestions:  

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Stir before serving to incorporate any liquid at the bottom. Not suitable to freeze.

Peri’s Tip:  

This recipe is best made a few hours before you want to serve it so it’s well chilled and fully set. But, at a pinch, it can be cooled quickly by placing in the freezer for 30 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t forget, otherwise the texture won’t be smooth and creamy – it will form icicles instead!

Recipe Notes:

All about Tapioca Pearls (Sago):

* Tapioca pearls are found in the dessert aisle of grocery shops. The pearls are tiny (2-3mm in diameter), which is different to the boba balls variety used for making bubble tea.

* Cooking tapioca pearls is very simple – you just pop it in a saucepan with liquid and stir til the little pearls are fully translucent in colour. If in doubt, continue to cook til the pearls visually stand out from the milky, thick liquid. The pearls do take differing amounts of time to cook – some will have an opaque centre, when most of them are fully translucent. Continue to cook until all pearls are fully cooked.

* Because tapioca is pure starch and is cooked in milk, it has a tendency to stock to the bottom of the pan, so don’t forget to stir it.

* Tapioca is a starch and is thick enough without adding the eggs. The reason they’re used in this recipe is for added protein and richness from the yolks, and the light, fluffiness from the whipped egg whites.

* If you’re looking for more ways to use your supply of tapioca pearls, here are 10 ideas to get you started.

* And if you need a little more convincing to try tapioca pearls, here are 8 health benefits of eating sago.

Peri's Recipe Reflections:

Have you ever thought about how food traditions change? Sometimes it happens slowly, and other times the change is noticeable in our lifetime (which unhelpfully reinforces the fact that we’re aging!).

Take for example, sago pudding.

Only a generation ago, you’d find it featured regularly on the British and Australian tables as a comforting and economical dessert.

But sadly, it’s not something you see served in home kitchens much anymore.

If you’ve never heard of tapioca pearls or sago, you’re not alone. Most people we serve this pudding to haven’t either.

Here’s a quick rundown to get you up to speed – sago is basically a carbohydrate with little distinct flavour of its own. It’s a staple food in Southeast Asia. It readily absorbs liquids and acts as a thickener.

Why it’s now ‘out of style’ beats me. Perhaps it was served once too often in boarding schools, and consequently fell into disrepute?

But thankfully, tapioca pearls are now enjoying somewhat of a revival in the form of Bubble Tea, and we’re hoping the focus on this ingredient will include this moreish pudding too!

This recipe came from my Mum, who thinks it was a Margaret Fulton original, but I’ve been unable to verify this.

Regardless of the origin, in our family’s opinion, this is the only sago pudding recipe worth trying (unless of course, you’re intolerant to dairy, in which case, our Dairy-free version is a delicious alternative).

It may seem an unnecessary step to separate the eggs and beat the egg whites, but this is part of what helps set this recipe apart from others you may have tried. Oh, this and the whipped cream ?

If you’re tried sago in the past and are convinced you didn’t like it, this is a far-cry from the traditional recipes you’ll find floating about. Every single person who’s tried our creamy version has happily confided that they’re now a fan (despite it being affectionately dubbed ‘frog’s eggs’ by our younger children!)

So, whether you’ve got friends coming for dinner, or just fancy something sweet after your mid-week meal, promise me you’ll chase up some tapioca pearls sooner rather than later.

Personally, I’m thinking it would make for a decadent brunch this weekend, especially topped with home-grown figs and slices of over-ripe peach. Are you going to join us?

Just a word of warning though – it’s impossible to stop at just one mouthful ….


Peri x


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Source uncertain, possibly based on a recipe by Margaret Fulton.

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