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How To Make Boba Without Tapioca Starch 5 Easy And Delicious Ways

There are two kinds of people in this world: those that love tapioca balls and those that are utterly repulsed by them.

If you are the latter, we would like to ask you to kindly leave (#sorrynotsorry). 

And if you’re reading this with an expression of complete confusion, don’t worry. We’re about to fill you in on everything there is to know about these tiny pearls of joy. 

Where shall we start? Ah yes, what does one actually do with tapioca balls?

If you’re familiar with bubble tea, then you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. 

Bubble tea is a cold drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It was first introduced to the West in the 1990s when Taiwanese immigrants migrated to the US. 

Since then, bubble tea has spread across the globe and has been especially popular in the western hemisphere in the last decade. 

Essentially, boba is a tea-based drink that, if desired, is infused with flavoring and accompanied by boba pearls. 

Right, there’s that word again: “boba.” So what is boba? 

Boba are tiny balls typically made out of tapioca starch and, on their own, are fairly neutral in taste (however, they can be infused with flavoring such as brown sugar or honey). 

These irresistible tiny pearls are chewy in texture and add a surprising and fun element to your bubble tea-drinking experience. 

Now, it’s important now to confuse these with popping boba. 

If tapioca isn’t your thing, bubble tea drinkers have the option to opt for what is also known as “bursting boba.”

Bursting boba are smaller than tapioca pearls and are filled with fruit juice. The balls are filled with flavored juice covered in a thin skin that bursts when the drinker bites into it. These flavors consist of everything from coconut to mango to vanilla. 

Although popping boba is delightfully fun to eat, for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on tapioca pearls. 

boba without tapioca flour

There’s no denying that once you get a taste of bubble tea, it’s simply addicting. And although we would love to drink one every day (yes, they are that good), money-wise, it’s simply not that feasible for most of us. 

But wait- what if we told you there was another way of having this delectable treat whenever you want, straight from the comfort of your own home? 

That’s right, we are here to introduce to you DIY tapioca balls- specifically for when you don’t have any tapioca starch on hand! 

Traditionally, tapioca boba is made with tapioca starch and water. The two ingredients are combined, boiled, cooled and rolled out into a snake-like formation. Then, the tapioca string is cut up into smaller pieces and molded into tiny pearls before being boiled and solidified for a second time. 

Although this is a foolproof way of making them, sometimes, some of the ingredients are lacking in our cupboards. 

If you find yourself in this situation, fret not! We are going to share with you 5 easy and delicious ways to make tapioca boba without tapioca starch.

Get ready because you’re in for a treat! 

RELATED: Costco Boba Bam Instant Boba Pack Review – Costcuisine

How To Make Boba With Corn Starch & White Sugar

Making boba with cornstarch and white sugar is simple and follows the same steps as regular tapioca pearls, but instead of using tapioca starch, this recipe calls for normal cornstarch

Here’s what you need to do: 

Pro Tips 

  • For this method, simply use a normal tapioca boba recipe and supplement the same amount of tapioca starch for regular cornstarch. 
  • Make sure when you mix in the cornstarch that there are no lumps left. 
  • The balls should be the size of a regular boba (refer to photos). 
  • Placing the bobas in cold water after they are done will help to stop the cooking process. 
  • Check that the boba floats to the top of the water within 30-45 seconds of being placed in it. 
  • This is a good indication that you have a good batch of boba. 
  • The boba will be done when the texture is soft and chewy. 

How To Make Boba With Corn Starch & Brown Sugar

Making tapioca balls with brown sugar gives your bubble tea a lovely added hint of sweetness (if you’ve never tried brown sugar milk tea you have to!!). 

Preparing pearls this way, as opposed to the previous approach, is essentially the same, but with brown sugar instead of white. 

Here are the steps again for anyone that missed it: 

Check out these pro tips for more info on making this variation. 

RELATED: Costco Tropical Fields Boba Milk Tea Mochi Review – Costcuisine

How To Make Boba With Corn Starch & Coconut 

When you’re in the mood for something fresh and different, adding an extra flavor to your tapioca balls is always a great idea. 

This recipe uses fresh coconut to give your bubble tea an element of tropical sweetness. 

  • Here’s how to do it:

Recipe source: https://asianfoodnetwork.com/en/recipes/cuisine/asian-desserts/coconut-tapioca-pearls.html 

Pro Tips

  • The size of the pearls is totally up to you. If you’re unsure, use a photo of tapioca boba for reference. 
  • If the coconut sticks together while you are covering them with cornstarch, gently separate them. 
  • Stirring the pearls periodically while they are cooking will help to prevent them from getting stuck to oneanother. 

How To Make Boba With All-Purpose Flour

If you don’t have any tapioca or cornstarch, don’t worry!

You can also make these adorable pearls with all-purpose flour. 

Like the other methods, simply trade out the tapioca starch for flour in your recipe and you’re good to go!

Easy peasy. 

boba without tapioca flour

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Make Tapioca Pearls With Rice Flour? 

Yes, you can also use rice flour as a supplement for tapioca starch in your bobas. 

Rice flour will give you a chewier and lighter texture than the all-purpose flour and also acts as a 1:1 replacement for the tapioca starch. 

We highly recommend adding honey or sugar to these pearls as rice flour is quite bland. 

Are You Supposed To Chew Boba?

This may seem like a silly question, but for first-time bubble tea drinkers, it may not be so obvious. 

Yes, you should chew the bobas (do not simply swallow them! It’s dangerous and let’s be honest, less fun). 

How Do You Store Boba?

After cooking boba, it should be stored at room temperature and for no longer than 12 hours. 

Do not refrigerate or freeze boba pearls, as they will become too soft. 

 

Boba corn starch

How To Make Boba With Corn Starch & White Sugar

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Medium

Water and white sugar are combined in a saucepan and then mixed with cornstarch and cooked until a dough is formed. The dough is then made into tiny pearl formations, coated in cornstarch, and cooked in boiling water for 10-12 minutes. Finally, the resulting boba is placed in cold water before use. 

Materials

  • Cornstarch
  • White sugar
  • Water

Tools

  • Saucepan
  • Knife
  • Bowl
  • Spoon strainer

Instructions

  • Retrieve a saucepan 
  • Mix together white sugar and water in the saucepan on low heat 
  • Once it is mixed well, add in the cornstarch and combine thoroughly
  • Allow the mixture to cook on low heat until it turns into a dough-like consistency 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and roll out the dough once it has cooled
  • Cut the dough into small pieces and create tiny ball shapes
  • Roll the balls in more cornstarch until they are totally covered
  • Meanwhile, bring another pot of boiling water to a boil 
  • Place the babas in the boiling water
  • Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every once in a while 
  • Once they are fully cooked through, remove them from the heat and place them in a bowl of cold water 
  • Add them to your favorite bubble tea and enjoy!
Make Boba With Corn Starch & Brown Sugar

How To Make Boba With Corn Starch & Brown Sugar

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

Water and brown sugar are combined in a saucepan and then mixed with cornstarch and cooked until a dough is formed. The dough is then made into tiny pearl formations, coated in cornstarch and cooked in boiling water for 10-12 minutes. Finally, the resulting boba is placed in cold water before use

Materials

  • Cornstarch
  • Brown sugar
  • Water

Tools

  • Saucepan
  • Knife
  • Bowl
  • Spoon strainer

Instructions

  • Retrieve a saucepan 
  • Mix together brown sugar and water in the saucepan on low heat 
  • Once it is mixed well, add in the cornstarch and combine thoroughly
  • Allow the mixture to cook on low heat until it turns into a dough-like consistency 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and roll out the dough once it has cooled
  • Cut the dough into small pieces and create tiny ball shapes
  • Roll the balls in more cornstarch until they are totally covered
  • Meanwhile, bring another pot of boiling water to a boil 
  • Place the bobas in the boiling water
  • Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every once in a while 
  • Once they are fully cooked through, remove them from the heat and place them in a bowl of cold water 
  • Add them to your favorite bubble tea and enjoy!
How To Make Boba With Corn Starch & Coconut

How To Make Boba With Corn Starch & Coconut

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

Coconut is cut up into small balls and coated in cornstarch before cooking in boiling water, resting off the heat, and then being placed in cold water. The pearls are then strained and mixed with sugar.

Materials

  • 1 cup fresh coconut hard meat, rinsed with water and pat dry
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • Just under a cup (0.8 cups) water
  • 2 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • Jasmine flavor extract (optional)

Tools

  • Knife
  • Large bowl
  • Spray bottle
  • Pot
  • Strainer spoon

Instructions

  • Dice the coconut flesh into balls 3mm in size 
  • Place the balls in a large bowl 
  • Put your water in a spray bottle and moisten the balls lightly 
  • Add in your cornstarch 
  • Using your hands, ensure all of the coconut is covered in cornstarch 
  • Strain out the balls to ensure all lumps are gone 
  • Boil water in a pot on the stove on high heat 
  • Add in the coconut pearls and reduce the heat to medium 
  • Stir the coconut using a strainer spoon 
  • Cook until the pearls have turned translucent and they have floated to the surface
  • Turn off the heat
  • Allow the pearls to rest in the pot for 10 minutes 
  • Strain the pearls and place them in a bowl of cold water
  • Allow them to rest in the water for 2 minutes
  • Add the sugar to them and mix thoroughly (so that the sugar dissolves)
  • Serve and enjoy!
How To Make Boba With All-Purpose Flour

How To Make Boba With All-Purpose Flour

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

Water and brown sugar are combined in a saucepan and then mixed with cornstarch and cooked until a dough is formed. The dough is then made into tiny pearl formations, coated in cornstarch, and cooked in boiling water for 10-12 minutes. Finally, the resulting boba is placed in cold water before use.

Materials

  • All-purpose flour
  • Brown sugar
  • Water

Tools

  • Saucepan
  • Knife
  • Bowl
  • Spoon strainer

Instructions

  • Retrieve a saucepan 
  • Mix together brown sugar and water in the saucepan on low heat 
  • Once it is mixed well, add in the all-purpose flour and combine thoroughly
  • Allow the mixture to cook on low heat until it turns into a dough-like consistency 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and roll out the dough once it has cooled
  • Cut the dough into small pieces and create tiny ball shapes
  • Roll the balls in more all-purpose flour until they are totally covered
  • Meanwhile, bring another pot of boiling water to a boil 
  • Place the bobas in the boiling water
  • Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every once in a while 
  • Once they are fully cooked through, remove them from the heat and place them in a bowl of cold water 
  • Add them to your favorite bubble tea and enjoy!
Jess Smith
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