How to Make Tapioca Pearls at Home

tapioca pearls
While they might look perplexing at the bottom of your bubble tea, learning how to make tapioca pearls is simple. These gluten-free tapioca pearls use minimal ingredients. You can make them plain white, light brown, traditional black, or any other color you desire.

Not only is making homemade boba fun, but it’s also cheap and easy! This is one of the simplest homemade tapioca pearl recipes you can find. It uses only two to three ingredients, is highly customizable, and is delicious.

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white tapioca pearls

Homemade Tapioca Pearls

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


These are a great addition to Taiwanese boba tea and other desserts.


Units Scale
  • 8 1/4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch


  1. Bring 1/4 cup of hot water to a rolling boil in a small pot.
  2. Add brown sugar to the boiling water on high heat and stir until it dissolves.
  3. When the sugar is completely dissolved, turn off the heat.
  4. Incorporate half of the tapioca starch into the sugar/water mixture. Stir it until it becomes sticky.
  5. While the ingredients are still warm, add the other half of tapioca starch.
  6. Continue to mix the ingredients until you form a dough. Allow the ingredients to cool before continuing to the next step.
  7. Knead the dough. You may want to throw some tapioca starch on your workstation so that the dough doesn’t stick to your countertop.
  8. Roll out the dough to approximately 1/2 inch in thickness. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch pieces using a knife.
  9. Roll each piece in your hands to give it a circular shape. Coat the pearl in tapioca starch so that the pearls don’t stick together.
    You now have raw tapioca pearls. If you are making them ahead of time, you can store the pearls in an airtight container until you are ready to cook them.
  10. Add the tapioca balls to a medium-sized pot with 8 cups of water. Cook them on medium-high heat for approximately 7 minutes.
  11. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook them for 5-10 minutes. When the pearls start to float in the water, they are ready. If it is your first time making them, taste test a few pearls along the way to see how the consistency changes and how you prefer them.
  12. Remove the pearls from the water, place them immediately in an ice bath to ensure they don’t become too soft and lose their famous chewy texture.
SEE ALSO:  Boba Buddha’s Keto Tapioca Pearls Recipe

Optional Brown Sugar Syrup

  1. To sweeten the pearls, even more, you can make brown sugar boba. Bring 1/4 cup of water and 1.5 tablespoons of brown sugar to a boil in a separate small pot. Boil it for approximately five minutes until a syrupy consistency is formed.
  2. Place the tapioca pearls into the brown sugar syrup on low heat. Allow the mixture to thicken for six to eight minutes.


Using brown sugar in the dough is optional, but the tapioca pearls are flavorless without it.

The longer you steep the pearls in this sweet syrup, the sweeter they will be.

You can use these pearls right away in a hot boba tea.

If you prefer a cold boba milk tea, let the mixture cool for about ten to fifteen minutes.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: tapioca pearls

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Tapioca pearls simmering in brown sugar syrup

How to Make Colorful Homemade Tapioca Pearls

You can make colorful boba or black tapioca pearls with a few different ingredients. The most common elements used to change the colors include:

The process depends on whether you are making the pearls from scratch or using store-bought dried tapioca pearls.

If you are making them from scratch, you can mix the colorant with the tapioca starch. Typically, for a powder colorant, 1.4 grams (1/4 of a teaspoon) is plenty. If you want to color to be more vibrant, add more.

From here, you can refer back to the process listed above and continue.

If you have dried tapioca pearls, you will need to follow the package directions. After straining the pearls and running cold water over them, put them in a bowl. If you plan to make multiple colors, you’ll need various bowls.

Add one to two drops of liquid or gel food coloring to the pearls and stir them. Give the coloring approximately 15 minutes to sink in, and then rinse the pearls under cold water. Once they are dry, they are ready to be added to your bubble tea.

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Colorful tapioca pearls

Can You Make Tapioca Pearls Without Tapioca Starch?

Most chefs consider Tapioca starch and tapioca flour to be the same ingredient. It is derived from the cassava plant. To substitute this ingredient when making tapioca pearls, you can use cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or potato starch.

How to Store Tapioca Pearls

You can leave cooked tapioca pearls at room temperature for four hours. If you store them in the refrigerator, keeping them in their syrup is best. Without the syrup, they will become dehydrated quickly. The pearls will last for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge.

A ziplock (with no excess air) is ideal for freezing cooped tapioca pearls. Place the bag flat in the freezer. Here, the pearls will last for a few months. When you defrost them, they likely won’t be as sweet. You might consider tossing them in a brown sugar syrup or maple syrup bath again.

According to the package, uncooked tapioca pearls (from the grocery store) can last up to 12 months. Once you have opened the product, keep it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.


Sami loves to travel and taste-tests Bubble Tea in every city she can. Her favorite flavor is Taro and she prefers 50% sweetness. She loves experimenting with recipes and is currently perfecting her homemade tapioca pearls.

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