How to Cook Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca pearls, also known as boba, are a popular ingredient in many bubble tea and Asian-inspired desserts. These small, chewy pearls can also be added to puddings and soups for an interesting texture. However, cooking tapioca pearls can be intimidating for first-timers, as their unique properties may cause them to become gummy or mushy. With the following steps, you’ll be able to cook tapioca pearls to perfection.

Preparing the Tapioca Pearls

First, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients:

– Tapioca pearls
– Water

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil. For every cup of tapioca pearls, use 8 cups of water. If you have a small pot, you may need to adjust the ratio of water to tapioca pearls accordingly.

Once the water has boiled, pour the tapioca pearls into the pot. Be sure to stir the pearls immediately to keep them from sticking together.

Cooking the Tapioca Pearls

The cooking time for tapioca pearls can vary depending on their size and manufacturer. Generally, tapioca pearls take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to cook. Start by cooking them for 5 minutes, then sample a pearl to see if it’s fully cooked. The pearl should be soft and chewy all the way through, without any hard centers.

If the tapioca pearls require a longer cooking time, continue to cook them in 2-minute increments until they’re fully cooked. While cooking, stir the tapioca pearls occasionally to prevent them from clumping.

Draining and Rinsing the Tapioca Pearls

Once the tapioca pearls are fully cooked, drain them using a fine-mesh strainer. It’s important to rinse the pearls thoroughly with cold water to remove any excess starch. This also stops the cooking process and prevents the pearls from becoming overcooked.

For best results, transfer the tapioca pearls to a bowl of cold water after rinsing. This prevents the pearls from sticking together and turning gooey.

Serving the Tapioca Pearls

Now that your tapioca pearls are cooked and prepared, you’re ready to add them to your recipe! Serve them hot or cold, depending on your preference. Add them to drinks or desserts, or use them as a topping.

Tips for Cooking Tapioca Pearls

– Use a fine-mesh strainer to rinse the tapioca pearls. This helps to remove any excess starch, which can cause the pearls to become gummy or mushy.
– Don’t overcook the tapioca pearls. Overcooking can cause the pearls to become too soft and mushy.
– Use the right ratio of water to tapioca pearls. Too much water can cause the pearls to become waterlogged and mushy, while too little water can cause them to become clumpy and hard.


Can I cook tapioca pearls in the microwave?

While it’s possible to cook tapioca pearls in the microwave, it’s not recommended. Microwaving can cause the pearls to become unevenly cooked and mushy.

How long do tapioca pearls last?

Tapioca pearls can last up to 8 hours in the fridge, after they’ve been cooked. If you plan on storing them for longer periods of time, freeze them in an airtight container.

Can I add food coloring to tapioca pearls?

Yes, you can! Simply add a few drops of food coloring to the water before adding the tapioca pearls. Keep in mind that the color may fade slightly after cooking.

Can tapioca pearls be made in advance?

Yes, you can make tapioca pearls in advance. However, store them in water in the fridge until ready to use. Drain the excess water and rinse them before adding to your recipe.