Easy Homemade Tapioca Pearls aka Boba Pearls made with 2 ingredients. They’re perfectly round, glossy, and deliciously chewy, just like the ones you get at your local boba cafe! With this simple recipe, you’ll have a bowl of boba pearls in just 30 minutes.
HOMEMADE TAPIOCA PEARLS AKA BOBA PEARLS
Tapioca pearls are the best thing about boba tea. I genuinely order boba teas *just* for the pearls, I don’t even care for the drink. And these babies are just like the ones you get at your local boba cafe: round, glossy, and extra chewy.
When I realized that the only ingredients needed to make tapioca pearls were freakin tap water and tapioca starch, I was like WTF???? I was literally about to purchase a huge packet of (dried) tapioca pearls off Amazon for like 30 bucks. Hell no.
These have no preservatives or other chemical agents in them. They’re quick and easy to make and you can make any color you want: pink, green, orange, black, etc. You can make them whenever you want and, if you’re like me, you can snack on them without having to drink a whole jug of boba tea 😛
WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE TAPIOCA PEARLS
- Tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour).
- Food coloring – optional (black or any other color, if you don’t add food coloring, you’ll get clear boba pearls).
A NOTE ON TAPIOCA STARCH
Here’s the tea. Tapioca starch/flour (they’re the same thing) is always sold as pure tapioca, as in it’s not a mix of different flours or something, it’s just tapioca, *however* people have had problems when using certain brands.
From what I’ve gathered, different brands absorb liquids differently, like *VERY* differently (I’ll tell you what to do if that happens). Now, all flours do that to an extent (even all-purpose or bread flour) but some brands of tapioca are very hard to work with.
I always get my tapioca starch at my local Asian market. It’s super inexpensive and it comes in clear plastic bags (it had words on it but I can’t read Chinese so I couldn’t tell you what brand I got). I recommend checking out your local Asian market instead of buying fancy local brands, it’s more convenient and I’ve never had any problems with my tapioca.
HOW DO YOU MAKE TAPIOCA PEARLS AT HOME?
- Boil some water.
- Mix the tapioca starch to the hot water, and add food coloring (if using).
- Knead the dough.
- Cut the dough into strips, then into small bits, then roll into balls.
- Boil the pearls to make them perfectly chewy and glossy!
DO NOT FREAK OUT IF…
- Your boba pearls don’t look super bright and colorful when you’re kneading the dough. Look, black boba pearls look like freakin concrete when they’re still raw. *Do not* add more food coloring! A few drops are okay. Your pearls will go from meh to bold and vibrant when boiling!
- If your tapioca acts up and your dough is too hard: if the dough keeps cracking and breaking add 1 tsp boiling water, then knead and see if it’s enough. If you need more add 1 more tsp and knead again, repeat if necessary. Knead very well after each addition: you want to make sure that the ingredients are fully combined before you add more water.
- If your tapioca acts up and your dough is too liquid/sticky and you can’t knead it. In this case add 1 tsp tapioca starch and knead, if you need more, add 1 more tsp and knead again, repeat if necessary. Knead very well after each addition: you want to make sure that the ingredients are fully combined before you add more tapioca.
HOW DO YOU STORE TAPIOCA PEARLS?
If you have to store them, soak them in liquid honey or simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled until clear) to keep them from sticking together. Place them in an air-tight container and store for up to 2-3 days.
The pearls may shrink a bit or become dry, boil them again to get them back to their original state!
I personally wouldn’t recommend storing them as they’re homemade and they’re best eaten fresh (for texture and convenience). This recipe makes enough for 2 drinks, so if you need fewer pearls, simply cut the recipe in half!
HAPPY BOBA PEARL-MAKING lol!! I hope you’ll find this easy tapioca pearls recipe helpful!
Please leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating if you make it! I LOVE hearing from you! <3
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Homemade Tapioca Pearls aka Boba Pearls
- 2 tbsp and 1 tsp boiling water
- 6 tbsp tapioca starch/flour
- 1-2 drops food coloring (I used Wilton's gel-based black food coloring but you can use any color of your choice, omit for clear pearls)
- 1 tbsp honey or simple syrup
- Add the tapioca starch to a bowl.
- In a small saucepan over high heat, add up to 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.
- Add 1 tsp boiling water and a few drops of food coloring to a small bowl. Mix until fully combined and set aside.
- Add 2 tbsp boiling water and the colored water to the tapioca. Using a fork, mix vigorously until a dough starts to form.
- Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead until completely smooth. It should feel like Play-Doh. The color won't be vibrant at this point, it's okay, don't add more food coloring.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll each piece into a thin log. Cut into small bits and roll each bit into a pearl. The pearls should be able to get through your straw so you get to decide the size of your boba pearls. Cover the pearls and the remaining log with a clean kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
- To a saucepan over high heat, add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add the pearls to the boiling water and cook them for 6-10 minutes. Cook for 6-8 minutes for extra chewy pearls. Cook 10-12 minutes for soft pearls. The color of the pearls will change and become darker/more vibrant as they cook.
- Once the pearls are soft/chewy, remove them from the water and place them in a clean bowl. Immediately add 1 tbsp honey or simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, cooked until clear) to keep them from sticking. Allow to cool down to room temperature before adding to your drink. Enjoy!