How To Make Boba Without Tapioca Starch/Flour

Making boba pearls from scratch may seem intimidating initially. Still, with patience and the proper ingredients, it is possible to create delicious and chewy boba pearls to top off your bubble tea.

Total making 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 because you can’t be a specialist on your first try.

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.

All-purpose or wheat flour3/4 cup / ~100 g
Brown sugar1/4 cup / ~50 g
Water1/4 cup / 60 ml
Light corn syrup (optional)1 tsp.

The listed ingredients are sufficient for making boba pearls for four bubble teas. If you wish to make a larger batch, you can make smaller pearls or increase the amounts of the listed ingredients.

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 without tapioca starch.

Step #2: Cook the Sugar, Flour & 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 flour 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 thickens.
  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 before it started boiling.

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

Step #3: Add Remaining Flour & Light Corn Syrup

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

It is recommended to allow the boba dough to cool before proceeding to the next step, as this can help prevent the dough from rising and resulting in larger pearls than desired.

However, if you are short on time, it is possible to skip this step.


If the dough becomes too difficult to stir after adding the remaining flour, you can transfer it to a flat surface and knead it by hand.
It is helpful to sprinkle some flour on the surface before transferring the dough to prevent it from sticking.

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 flour 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 flour.
  4. Repeat this process until all the dough has been used up. 

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


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.
  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 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

A general rule to follow is the “triple three rule,” which states that cooked boba pearls should be consumed within 3 hours, refrigerated cooked pearls will last up to 3 days, and raw boba pearls stored in the refrigerator can last up to 3 months.

However, it is important to note that the texture of refrigerated raw boba pearls may not be the same as freshly cooked ones.

While it is possible to freeze boba pearls, it is not recommended as it can change texture, causing the pearls to become soft and crunchy. It is best to only cook as much boba as you plan to consume.

It is best to consume cooked boba pearls as soon as possible for the best quality. If you need to store the raw or cooked boba pearls, keep them in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Also, ensure that the raw pearls are coated with flour. Properly storing the pearls in this manner can help them last up to three months.

A Few 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 pearls without tapioca starch, you can share that article with them.


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