Abstract Rapid solidification processes of glass-fluxed Ni 81.3Sn 18.7 eutectic alloys at various undercoolings were observed in situ using a high-speed camera. The microstructure of the samples was characterized using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and electron back-scattering diffraction analysis. It was found that the recalescence front sweeps the sample surface from one side to the other, which coincides with the formation of a directional solidification microstructure. Such a finding suggests that it is feasible to measure crystal growth velocities in the undercooled liquid by tracking the loci of the recalescence front. The measured data show sudden acceleration of crystal growth kinetics at a medium undercooling, giving evidence for a transition from coupled growth to uncoupled growth. Microscopic studies revealed that the sample with an undercooling of 202 K comprises two types of anomalous eutectic, which are distinguished by the size and orientations of Ni-rich grains. The results verify a recent hypothesis that anomalous eutectic in undercooled Ni–Sn alloys has a dual origin: it results from eutectic dendrites growing at low undercoolings and from single-phase Ni-rich dendrites growing at high undercoolings.