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Homemade Tapioca Pearls Recipe

Boba cup


Homemade Boba Pearls

Hey Boba Lovers!

I was making boba milk tea one day and realized that I have always bought boba pearls (tapioca pearls) and never thought of making them myself. I found out that boba pearls only consist of three simple ingredients, tapioca starch, water, and brown sugar. Thankfully we had all the ingredients at home, and I was able to make them. After I tried making boba pearls from scratch I found out that it was surprisingly simple and very tasty. 

Although the original recipe uses Chinese black sugar, I used dark brown sugar the first time I made them and it turned out great. The steps are simple but forming the boba pearls take a while, so make sure you have some time to spare. 

Ingredients 1

1. First, let’s gather all the ingredients. 

  • 3/4 c tapioca starch plus 1/3 c for slurry mixture, dusting, and coating
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/4 c Chinese black sugar or dark brown sugar
Pouring water

2. In a pot on medium heat, add 1/4 cup of water.

Adding sugar 1

3. Add in 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar or Chinese black sugar. Use either sugar that is easily accessible to you. 

Sugar water 1

4. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. 

Melted sugar

5. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to the lowest setting.

Tapioca starch in 1

6. Add the 2 tbsp of tapioca starch. 

Sugar slurry 1

7. Stir until the tapioca starch mixture is smooth. Then turn the heat back up to medium.

Thick sugar slurry 1

8. Vigorously stir the mixture until it becomes a gooey paste. Then turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. 

Slurry in bowl 1

9. Pour the gooey paste into a bowl to stop it from cooking. 

Slurry with tapioca starch 1

10. Add 3/4 cup of tapioca starch. 

Mixing dough

11. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is cool enough to handle. 

Boba dough clumps 1

12. Occasionally stop stirring and check to see if the dough is cool enough to handle. 

Kneading boba dough

13. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, knead the clumps together by pushing and folding the pieces.

Kneading boba dough2

14. If you have a stand mixture or bread maker to knead the dough, feel free to use it. But since it was a small batch of dough I used my hands to knead the dough.

Boba dough

15. Once the dough forms into a ball, cut it in half. Then wrap one of the halves with plastic wrap. Wrapping the half you’re not working will prevent the dough from drying out. 

Boba dough log 1

16. Then sprinkle your work surface with some tapioca starch. Roll out the dough into ½ inch logs, which is about the thickness of a pencil.

Boba dough logs

17. As you roll out the dough it will get longer so you can cut them into manageable lengths. 

Boba dough pieces

18. Then cut the logs into pea-size pieces and form them into balls, by gently rolling the pieces between your hands.

Boba pearls in starch

19. Place the tapioca balls into a bowl with the remaining tapioca starch. Don’t make the tapioca balls bigger than the size of a pea, because they will expand when cooked. You can make them bigger, but it won’t go through a boba straw. 

Boba pearls2

20. Then dust off the extra tapioca starch from the tapioca pearls.

Boba in bag

21. You can choose to cook the boba pearls or freeze them. If you are not immediately cooking the boba pearls, store it in an airtight bag in the freezer. 


Can make 6 cups of boba

Take the boba challenge and make your first cup at home.


Homemade Tapioca Pearls Recipe
Servings: 6 cups


  • ¾ cup of Tapioca Starch (plus 1/3 cup for slurry mixture, dusting, and coating)
  • ¼ cup of Dark Brown Sugar or Chinese Black Sugar
  • ¼ cup of Water


    Making the Boba Pearls

    1. In a pot add ¼ c of water and ¼ c of dark brown sugar and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved. 
    2. Turn heat to the lowest setting and add 2 tbsp of the tapioca starch to the sugar mixture and stir until combined.
    3. Once combined turn the heat up to medium to thicken the sugar slurry mixture.
    4. In a bowl add the sugar slurry mixture with ¾ c tapioca starch. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is cool enough to handle. Then knead until a dough is formed. You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment or bread maker for this process.
    5. Cut the dough in half and wrap one half with plastic wrap.
    6. Dust some tapioca starch on your work surface and roll the dough into 1/2 inch logs.
    7. Cut the dough into 1 cm pieces (pea-size pieces).
    8. Form into balls and place them into a bowl with the 1/3 cup of tapioca starch to completely coat the boba pearls.
    9. If you are not cooking the boba pearls immediately, you can store them in the freezer in an airtight bag.

    Ingredients to Cook the Boba Pearls:

    • 6 cups of Water
    • 2 cups of Simple Syrup (1 cup of honey and 1 c hot water)

    Cooking the Boba Pearls

    1. In a pot, bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil then add in the boba pearls. 
    2. Cook for 20 minutes at medium heat (setting 5 on a stovetop), stirring occasionally to avoid clumping.
    3. After 20 minutes turn off the heat and leave the boba pearl for 10 more minutes.
    4. Prepare the simple syrup in a bowl with 1 cup of hot water and 1 cup of honey. 
    5. Strain and rinse the boba pearls with cold running water.
    6. Then add the boba pearls into a bowl with the simple syrup and leave the boba pearls to soak for 15 minutes.

    Some Side Notes:

    • How to store the boba pearls: To keep the boba pearls fresh store them in a resealable bag in the freezer.
    • Where to buy the ingredients: The ingredients are easily accessible in Asian grocery stores, Target, or online. Also, when you buy tapioca starch is also known as tapioca flour.  
    • Warning: Be careful when you are handling the sugar slurry. Let the sugar slurry mixture cool down a bit before you use your hands to knead the dough. 

    Follow our video on how to make

    homemade boba pearls


    Can make 6 cups of boba

    Take the boba challenge and make your first cup at home.


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