How To Make Boba With Cornstarch

Making boba pearls from scratch is not as hard as you might think! You can create chewy boba pearls perfect for topping off your bubble tea with patience and the right ingredients. Keep reading to learn how to make boba with cornstarch in just a few simple steps.

Total time shouldn’t exceed one hour. For me, it takes around 45 minutes. I can make boba pearls within 15 minutes, and the cooking takes 30 minutes.

The first part might take approximately 30 minutes for beginners, but that shouldn’t bother anyone. As they say, you can’t be a specialist on your first try.

From my perspective, I don’t recommend using cornstarch instead of tapioca starch. Yes, you can go with cornstarch, but the result isn’t that good, and you probably don’t get these nice and chewy pearls.

Step #1: Gather Your Ingredients & Tools

To make boba pearls, you will need the following ingredients. By clicking these links, you’ll see the products I used for this recipe.

Cornstarch6/10 cup / ~75 g
Brown sugar1/4 cup / ~50 g
Water1/4 cup / 60 ml
Light corn syrup (optional)1 tsp.

These ingredients sizes are enough for four bubble teas with regular pearls size. If you want to make more bobas, you can form smaller pearls or increase the sizes.

You will also need the following tools: 

  • Two medium pots (one for making the boba and one for cooking).
  • A spoon for stirring (or something similar).
  • Two bowls (one for making the boba and one for cooking).
  • A strainer (optional).

If you have all the essential ingredients and tools, let us show you how to make boba with cornstarch.

Step #2: Cook the Sugar, Starch & Water Mixture

  1. Turn on the heat to medium and take a medium pot.
  2. Add the water (medium temperature) to the pot and add all the brown sugar.
  3. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and then turn off the heat.
  4. Now add a quarter of the cornstarch and stir. It’s highly recommended that you stir consistently to avoid lumps.
  5. When it is all mixed, turn the heat to medium, and continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil or starts thickening.
  6. Once it boils/thickens, turn off the heat and keep stirring until you see how it thickens. It shouldn’t be 100% thick, but more thickened.

If you followed the instructions correctly, you are good to move to the next step.

Step #3: Add Remaining Starch & Light Corn Syrup

  1. After removing the mixture from the heat, add the light corn syrup (optional) and stir it.
  2. Add the rest cornstarch.
  3. Stir until the starch and mixture have mixed.
  4. Shake a bit of starch on the table and put the dough into the starched spot.
  5. Let it cool a bit before moving forward with the next step.

Cooling is reasonably needed for the next step, but if you are in a hurry, you can move on. It’s just because there is a chance that dough rises a bit, and you might get bigger boba pearls than expected.


If it seems complicated to stir after you add the rest of the starch, you can empty the pot onto the table and knead with your hands. You should also add a bit of starch to the table before emptying the pot.

Step #4: Forming The Boba Pearls

Now it’s time to start forming your boba pearls! There are two great ways of doing that: the cube and log methods. Choose one of these methods, and then you can continue forming the pearls.

The cube method:

  1. Roll the dough out about 0.4 inch / 1 cm thick.
  2. Cut 0.4 inch / 1 cm lines with a knife or another cutting tool.
  3. Now cut across again 0.4 inch / 1 cm.
  4. You can start forming if you have finished cutting and have all your cubes ready.

The log method:

  1. Roll the dough out about 0.4 inch / 1 cm thick.
  2. Cut 1 inch / 2.5 cm lines with a knife or another cutting tool.
  3. Take each line and start rolling them longer until each has a diameter of 0.4 inch / 1 cm.
  4. When you get your “logs” done, line them all next to each other.
  5. Cut them crosswise and try to make them 0.4 inch / 1 cm wide.
  6. You can start forming if you have finished cutting and have all your cubes ready.

Now let’s give them the actual shape!

  1. Before we start, put 1 tbsp of starch in the dry bowl. That’s because we don’t want the pearls to stick together.
  2. Take a cube and roll it out to pearl with your palms.
  3. When you get your lovely pearl, put it into a bowl with starch.
  4. Repeat this process until all of the dough has been used up. 

Occasionally, you can mix the pearls in a bowl to cover them with starch.


You can roll multiple cubes together. It might take some skill, but you should try it!

Step #5: Let’s Cook The Boba Pearls

Once all of your boba pearls have been formed, we can start cooking them. It might take up to 30 minutes, but you shouldn’t hesitate. It’s an easy process and probably quite exciting, especially for beginners!

  1. Take a pot and boil 7.5 cups / 1.8 liters of water.
  2. When the water starts boiling, add boba pearls.
  3. You should stir them to ensure they don’t stick on the bottom and to each other. Pearls should start floating.
  4. Allow them to cook for 15 minutes on medium/high heat. You can occasionally give them a light stir to ensure the pearls don’t stick.
  5. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let them stay there for another 10 minutes. And again, you can give a stir or two, but it’s not needful.
  6. Take a bowl, and fill it with cold water (leave enough room for the pearls).
  7. When boba pearls are done cooking, put them into that bowl you just filled.
  8. Let them rest there for a few minutes, strain the water, and you are done!

Cooking the pearls is not difficult but more like a time-consuming process. Nevertheless, it’s totally worth it!

If you made it here, you have done a fantastic job. For a sweet reward, I decided to make a bonus step. If you are interested in flavoring your pearls, keep reading!

Bonus Step: Flavor Your Boba Pearls

Well, if you are here, I suppose you want to flavor your handmade boba pearls. Then you are in the right place!

  1. Take a pan and let it warm on medium/high heat.
  2. When the pan is warm, turn the heat to medium-low and pour your favorite syrup onto it (around 0.5 cups / 120ml should be fine).
  3. Stir the syrup for a minute, add your cooked boba pearls, and turn off the heat.
  4. Keep stirring until you get a good consistency. Not too thick/sticky, but a nice liquid consistency.
  5. When your desired consistency is achieved, you are finished!

With these quick steps, you can give your boba pearls fantastic flavor and enjoy them as you like.

Read my article on making brown sugar syrup for boba to make a classic bubble tea syrup.

Storage Instructions

There is a rule to remember; I like to call it the “triple three rule.” Cooked boba should be consumed within 3 hours. Refrigerated cooked pearls last up to 3 days. Refrigerated raw boba can last up to 3 months. However, they might not retain their original texture.

Although it is possible to freeze boba, it is not recommended as it will become soft and crunchy. It is best to cook only as much as you will consume.

I strongly recommend consuming cooked pearls within the same day; the quicker, the better. If you need to store the raw or cooked boba pearls, do it in the refrigerator, but ensure the pearls are correctly sealed. Ensure raw pearls are covered with starch, and use an airtight container. Then you can achieve that three months lifespan for them.

Last Words

And there you have it – your homemade boba pearls! These chewy pearls are perfect for adding to bubble tea or any other beverage.

You can enjoy fresh boba pearls anytime with just a few simple ingredients and patience! If some of your friends wonder how to make boba with cornstarch, you are free to share that article with them.

  • If you want to make different bubble teas, browse my bubble tea recipes.
  • If you are interested in making boba pearls with tapioca starch, read my article on how to make boba pearls.
  • If neither tapioca starch nor cornstarch doesn’t feel right to you, and you wonder how to make boba pearls without tapioca starch and cornstarch, I have a solution here.


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