Cornstarch Boba Pearls (How To Make/Cook)

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Cornstarch boba
Cornstarch Boba

These are boba pearls that are made out of cornstarch. There are some things to know before attempting to make them and cook them. When they are made and cooked properly, the texture of them is more firm than the regular tapioca pearls. They are more durable and resilient if made/cooked right, but they do not have a soft and chewy (bouncy) consistency to them. The outside has a firm squishy texture, but not gummy. The inside is more chewy, not hard, but still has some firmness to it.

However, I still found them to actually be better than tapioca pearls in some respects. After making them, I definitely regretted not having made more.

The texture of them seemed to surprisingly be more acceptable than tapioca pearls when eating them over and over. This is good for individuals desiring a less chewy type of boba. It was like eating little small pieces of vegetarian cakes made out of corn, with the similar texture on the outer layer that boiled corn from corn on a cob has. The inside of course was firm and chewy.

Tapioca pearls are definitely easier to cook, but the cornstarch boba is easier to fix while they are cooking, since they are more resilient. When cooking the cornstarch boba, there were many points where the boba would stick to each other, so they had to be stirred more frequently.

However, when they did stick, it didn’t ruin the boba like it would for tapioca pearls. The cornstarch boba could be separated without destroying the boba. They barely made any mess, and they didn’t have to be rinsed after cooking them. They will lose their ball shape as they cook (if done right), and start to look like pieces of corn. They also retain their sweetness more, unlike tapioca pearls.

How To Make Cornstarch Boba

This will go over step-by-step details on how to make cornstarch boba from scratch. They cannot be done the same way that tapioca pearls are done from scratch. Some of the steps are similar, but a little different towards the end when making the dough.

Equipment needed to make cornstarch boba:

  • A non-stick pan.
  • A heat resistant spatula.
  • A measuring spoon.
  • A measuring cup.

Ingredients for making cornstarch boba:

  • 1.5 ounces of water.
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.
    • For flavor and color.
  • A pinch of xanthan gum.
  • Cornstarch.
    • Make sure that it is cornstarch, not flour.

It is very important to not attempt to make the cornstarch dough the same way that tapioca dough is made. They are two different things from two different plants. If the cornstarch dough is treated as tapioca dough, it may fall apart, crumble, or cause the cornstarch boba to melt and expand when they are cooking in water.

Cornstarch boba also doesn’t cook at the same time length as the regular tapioca pearls. They cook faster, in about half the time. Treat the cornstarch as a new experience separate from the tapioca dough. With these easy instructions, you should be fine. It is very straightforward and detailed.

1. Put 1.5 ounces of water into the pan.

1.5 ounces of water in a pan.

Start by putting 1.5 ounces of water into the pan. This will be more than enough for making boba for one drink. When the dough is made, it will actually provide more boba than what tapioca pearls would from the same amount of water.

2. Heat the pan on a stove at medium-low heat.

To be on the safe side, heat the pan to medium-low heat. I used a little less than medium heat. In the end, the dough will actually cook a lot faster than when it starts, so be ready. You can start with less than medium to be on the safe side.

3. Add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar into the pan and stir into the water.

3 tbsps of brown sugar added to the pan with water.

The brown sugar will be used to sweeten the cornstarch boba. I found 2 to 3 tablespoons to be enough for this amount. You are welcomed to add in a different type of sugar if you like. Mix the sugar into the water.

4. Add in cornstarch equal to half of the proportion of the entire mixture.

Cornstarch added to the pan.

Don’t over-think it. Add in half of the amount of cornstarch of what the size of the mixture in the pan is, to the mixture. If you still aren’t sure, then go with a little less than half. It will be fine as long as it is half or a little less than that.

The cornstarch used here is all that you will need for the entire dough making process.

5. Immediately mix the cornstarch in with all the other ingredients in the pan.

Cornstarch mixed in the pan.

If done right, the cornstarch mixture will still be in liquid form, which is a good thing. This is all that is needed to make the cornstarch dough for cornstarch boba, except one more ingredient…

6. Add in a pinch of xanthan gum and thoroughly mix it in the pan.

A tiny amount of xanthan gum added to the pan.

Be careful to not add in more than a tiny amount of xanthan gum. If too much xanthan gum is used, it will gelatinize the mixture and ruin the cornstarch dough/boba. Only use a pinch.

7. Thoroughly mix in the xanthan gum and continously stir the mixture on medium-low heat.

Keep stirring the cornstarch mixture.

It is important to keep stirring the mixture using a spatula. Keep all of the contents in the pan together, and try to mix all of it into the center of the pan. Keep pushing the mixture to the center of the pan while occasionally stirring the middle.

Cornstarch dough getting thicker after heating and stirring.

Over time the mixture will thicken, become sticky, and then lose its stickiness as it is heated.

Cornstarch dough no longer sticky and ready to knead.

Once the dough has stopped sticking, remove it from the heat, take it out of the pan, and place it on a flat surface. It is very important that the dough is cooked until this time. The cornstarch boba will expand and easily melt if they are made out of flimsy cornstarch dough.

8. Place the dough on a flat surface.

Cornstarch dough taken off the heat and placed on a flat surface for kneading.

The dough is almost ready to form cornstarch boba balls, but not yet. The dough will be a lot tougher than tapioca dough, and it will feel leathery. This is good for the resiliency of the cornstarch boba, but if an attempt is made to roll the dough into pearls in the palm of the hands, it will only crumble to pieces..

9. Knead water into the cornstarch dough.

Cornstarch dough for making boba pearls.
Cornstarch dough kneaded with water and ready to make boba.

So instead of kneading more starch into it, like you would for tapioca dough at this point, instead water has to be kneaded into it until cornstarch pearls can be formed in the palm of the hands without crumbling.

Take the dough and add a few drops of water to it at a time. Knead it well into the dough, then take a small piece and attempt to form a pearl in the palm of your hands by rolling it. If it keeps crumbling, then keep repeating this process until it stops crumbling. The pearls should be able to easily be formed with no crumbling or cracks in them.

Cornstarch Boba being formed from the cornstarch dough.

10. Form the corn starch boba from the dough, and roll them lightly in corn starch.

Cornstarch Boba rolled and lightly covered in corn starch.

Make sure the boba pearls are big enough, but small enough to fit in a boba straw. After they are formed lightly roll them in cornstarch to keep them from sticking to each other.

How To Cook Cornstarch Boba

This is how to cook the cornstarch boba pearls after they have been made the right way from scratch. When they are placed in boiling water, they shouldn’t expand over time. If they do, it is because the dough hasn’t been cooked long enough to become thick and leathery when it was made from scratch.

  1. Fill a pot with 50% water and heat it to 425°F.
    • There needs to be plenty of water in the pot for all the cornstarch boba to be fully submerged in the water.
  2. Wait for the water to reach a rolling boil.
    • The water needs to be boiling to the point that there is a lot of motion from the water in the pot.
  3. Place the cornstarch boba into the boiling water.
    • Pour the cornstarch boba in the pot evenly across the pot. Try not to stack the boba.
  4. Immediately stir the boba gently.
    • Stir the boba immediately, as they may attempt to stick to each other.
  5. Keep stirring occasionally every 30 seconds for 2 more times.
    • If the boba is still sticking after 5 minutes, take the sticking ones out of the pot and manually separate them. They shouldn’t break or squash easily at this point.
  6. Let the boba pearls cook for 15 more minutes.
    • The cornstarch boba will boil at 425°F for at total of 20 minutes.
  7. Take the pot off the heat and let the cornstarch pearls rest in the hot water for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the boba from the pot with a strainer.
  9. Mix sugar into the boba at a 1:4 ratio; sugar to boba.

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