How To Make Boba With Cornstarch?

How To Make Boba With Cornstarch
Boba With Cornstarch

Boba is the translucent, squishy bubbles usually found as one of the ingredients Bubble tea or “boba tea”. Bubble tea is a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s. It is a sweetened drink made of flavored tea, milk and bubbles.

The usual ingredients to make these tapioca pearls are tapioca flour, water and brown sugar. The secret to achieve the squishy tapioca pearls would be the temperature of the water. The chewy tapioca balls would be the best to accompany the milk tea. However, you can also use grass jelly, aloe vera, red bean, etc as an alternative toppings. 

Since boba is made from tapioca starch, also known as cassava starch, it is normally labeled aka tapioca pearls. To give them a sweet taste and dark black color, these tapioca pearls are often simmered in a brown sugar syrup. 

How To Make Boba With Cornstarch

Is It Difficult To Make Boba Pearls?

Making homemade boba pearls can be quite tricky, especially if you are using tapioca starch as the main ingredient due to its very sticky texture. Making boba pearls into round balls may need several testing as it can be too sticky and wet to being too dry. 

To  ensure better results, you will need to use tapioca starch/flour. Using other ingredients for the tapioca pearls may provide a different result, as you will need to achieve the perfect texture and round shape of the tapioca balls. 

Make sure that the liquid gets heated enough when heating up your water and dark brown sugar. This will ensure that the tapioca starch can dissolve perfectly and will create the best boba pearls. 

Do it fast upon moving the sugar water and starch mixture back onto the stove. Also ensure to constantly stir the liquid during the cooking process. If you see it thickening at the bottom of the pan, remove it before it gets too sticky. It might be hard to remove starch mixture if that happens. 

It is also very important to knead your dough properly. This will incorporate the ingredients and prevent too much dryness. While kneading the dough, make sure to don’t overdo it. It should be warm to the touch and only stop kneading if it becomes too cold and dry. 

Too much dryness will lead to a crack on the dough. The right texture is achieved once you pull your dough apart quickly and it will snap in the middle. Once you have this perfect texture, top kneading and start making your round tapioca pearls.  

To prevent the dough from drying out before you roll it out into round boba balls, keep it all under cling wrap. If needed, use more tapioca starch to cover the finished boba pearls to prevent them from sticking together. 

Dry the boba pearls for about two hours before you put them into boiling water and start making boba. Though you can cook your boba immediately, drying them first will provide that better round shape.  

Can We Use Cornstarch To Make Boba Pearls?

Technically, it is not recommended to use cornstarch in making boba pearls or tapioca pearls. First, you will need to achieve the chewy texture and to make tapioca pearls, you will need the tapioca starch. Unfortunately, cornstarch will not provide you the same outcome as they have different properties. 

However, you can still make it work if you know the right cooking process to make boba pearls out of cornstarch. If you still want to use tapioca flour, you can buy them in various Asian grocery stores or even in grocery stores. In the US, tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the same.

How To Use Cornstarch in Making Boba Pearls

Sometimes referred to as cornflour, cornstarch is the starch derived from corn grain. Obtained from the endosperm of the kernel, this white  powdery substance is used to thicken sauces or soups, and to make corn syrup and other sugars.

It is also used in different Asian desserts, along with corn flour. Corn flour is a yellow powder made from finely ground, dried corn, while cornstarch is a fine, white powder made from the starchy part of a corn kernel. 

To make homemade boba pearls with cornstarch, you will need: 

  • ¼ Cup Brown sugar Water 
  • 1/3 cup Water 
  • ¾ Cup Cornflour 
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa powder 
  • 4-5 tbsp water or as required
  • ¼ Cup Brown sugar and water


  1. Add brown sugar, water & cook in a saucepan with medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved. 
  2. Turn off the flame and add 2-3 tbsp of corn flour and mix until well smooth, ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture. 
  3. Turn on the flame & cook on low flame for 1-2 minutes or until it thickens.
  4. Turn off the flame again and add the rest of the corn flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder & mix well.
  5. On a clean working surface, transfer the mixture and combine them until a dough is formed. Gradually add water (1 tbsp at a time) & knead the dough properly. 
  6. Cut the kneaded dough into portions & roll out each portion into long rod-like pieces and repeat with the rest of the dough.
  7. Once all of the pieces are ready, cut the rolls into small pieces & roll each into small balls, about a pea-size.
  8. Sprinkle some cornflour and coat well to prevent it from sticking. Meanwhile, prepare a kettle and add water & bring it to boil.
  9. Add prepared boba pearls & boil on medium flame for 20 minutes. Stir gently to prevent sticking at the bottom. 
  10.  Turn off the flame and cover the cooked boba pearls. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then strain and wash thoroughly with water.
  11. To sweeten your boba pearls, add brown sugar on a frying pan and mix well on low flame.
  12. Add the prepared boba pearls & stir well until sugar melts. Caramelize the pearls with the sugar and remove from the heat. Let it cook and put it in a jar.
  13. You can now create your bubble tea or milk tea by adding milk,cream, condensed milk in a jug. Whisk well and add your homemade boba. Serve with milk syrup or creamer.

Tips on How to Make Tapioca Pearls/Making Boba Pearls

To get the perfect texture, you should consume the tapioca pearls or own boba pearls after making them. The best time to do that is at least 4 hours within cooking them for the best chewy texture.

For it to be chewy for a long period, submerge them in a sweet, room temperature liquid until you are ready to use them for your boba milk tea or bubble tea. Avoid using cold water in submerging the boba pearls as they might begin to harden instead of being chewy. 

For the process of making tapioca pearls using tapioca starch or flour, you must combine the dark brown sugar and water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until the liquid warms up like hot water and the sugar is fully dissolved. This process takes about 45 seconds. 

Once you achieve that state, remove the pan from the heat and add two tablespoons of tapioca starch as you stir constantly to ensure even portions. Add the rest of the tapioca starch in your pan and mix thoroughly to incorporate all the tapioca starch into the mixture. The consistency of the dough should be thick and sticky. This procedure may  take about one minute. 

On a cutting board or pastry board, sprinkle  tapioca starch over and transfer the dough onto the surface. Add a little more tapioca starch on top of the dough to prevent sticking on the board. Start kneading your dough carefully and sprinkle more tapioca starch if it’s still too sticky. The dough is ready once it is smooth and snaps or breaks in the middle if pulled apart. 

Cut the dough in quarters, placing  three sections in cling wrap to prevent it from drying out. Use one quarter and roll it into a log-like shape with about a ¼ of a quarter diameter. Cut the shaped log into about ¼ of a quarter pieces and roll in between your palms to make small balls. 

In a tray or bowl, place the shaped tapioca pearls and sprinkle some tapioca starch on the tray to prevent them from sticking. Repeat with the rest of the dough until all is done. Place the rolled tapioca pearls in a strainer and remove the excess starch. 

In a large pot, boil about 10 cups of water and add  about ½ cup of tapioca pearls into the hot water. Wait for the tapioca pearls to float and cook on medium heat, uncovered for about 20 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat and cover with a lid. Let the tapioca pearls rest for another 20 minutes. Strain the boba from the water and run them under cold water to remove the excess starchy layer. You are now done and you can use the cooked tapioca pearls for your boba milk tea or bubble tea. 

How Boba Milk Tea/Bubble Tea is Made

If you want to make your own fresh boba milk tea or bubble tea, we also have a recipe for that. You will need to prepare :

  • 2 Tea bags
  • 1 Cup Hot water 
  • Ice cubes 
  • Whipped cream 
  • Brown Sugar


  1. Add tea bags and hot water in a cup. Cover and let it steep for 2 minutes then remove the tea bags. Your black tea is now ready. 

  2. Using a serving or mason jar, put in the ice cubes, boba pearls with syrup, black tea, milk syrup and top it with whipped cream. Sprinkle brown sugar at the top and use a blow torch to burn the toppings. Serve and enjoy. 

If you can’t find time making or cooking boba milk tea or tapioca pearls, you can buy them at the store. Store bought boba pearls can be stored at room temperature to prolong shelf life. There are also variations of these boba, including the black boba pearls or black tapioca pearls. 

But if you want to learn how to make a boba on your own for your bubble tea, feel free to follow the steps and tips provided above. 

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