5 ingredients or less, for fun, sweets, vegetarian

Four Ingredient Brown Sugar Boba

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In recent years boba has become a worldwide phenomenon. One of the most popular and trendy flavors, brown sugar boba, has especially done well. Due to its popularity, some franchises found great success specializing only in brown sugar boba. Its ingredients are very simple, making it very accessible. This recipe describes how to make boba from scratch, but it also works with store-bought boba. 

I’ll be honest, homemade boba is a WORKOUT.

You have to knead for a long time, and then roll out each individual boba by hand. If this sounds like too much of a hassle then just buy the dried stuff. It’s plenty good enough, and not too bad for its price. You’ll still be saving money compared to buying a drink at a boba shop.

Then why make it at all?

The best reason is the same reason we do anything that’s not an optimal or efficient use of our time/money: because it’s fun! But even if you aren’t in it for the thrill, there are still some good reasons to make it from scratch…

  • It saves money!

 A 250 gram pack of boba from the store costs $4.99. This recipe uses about 98 cents of ingredients and yields 275 grams of boba!. Making boba at home is more than five times cheaper than store bought!

  • It tastes better!

While freshly boiled store bought boba is almost indistinguishable from homemade boba during initial blind taste tests, the store bought boba tends to firm up in a slightly unpleasant way after an hour or so. This effect is even more pronounced if the boba is soaked in cold liquid, like a milk tea. Homemade boba still remains pleasantly chewy and soft for a long time after it’s cooked.

  • It freezes very well!

You may think that store bought boba surpasses homemade boba in terms of convenience. And it does, but only up to a certain point. It may take some time and effort, but once you roll out all the boba, you can freeze them, boil them, stick em in a drink. No need for defrosting, just boil the boba an extra 15 seconds or so. High-quality hand-crafted boba on demand!

Four Ingredient Brown Sugar Boba



Prep time


Cooking time




  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar (50g)

  • ½ cup water (118ml)

  • 1 cup tapioca starch (140g)

  • 3 tbsp water (45ml)

  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar (50g)

  • ¼ cup boba

  • 2-3 cups milk of choice


  • Combine sugar, water, and about a third of the tapioca starch in a saucepot. Stir vigorously until no lumps remain. Turn the heat to medium and continue stirring for about 3-5 minutes or until a sticky dough forms.
  • Scrape the dough out onto a clean flat surface, and then add the rest of the starch. Knead until all the starch is incorporated into a single dough. This will take a while, but do not add any extra water. It helps to stretch the dough out and fold it in on itself to expose the wetter dough on the inside. Keep kneading until almost all of the starch is gone and a cohesive light brown dough forms.
  • In a bowl, set aside some extra tapioca starch. Pinch off an amount of dough, about slightly larger than a pea, and roll it in your hands to form a round ball. Place the finished boba in the bowl and roll it in the starch to prevent others from sticking to it. Repeat with the rest of the dough, adding more starch to the bowl as necessary. At this point you can freeze extra boba in a sealed container.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add boba and stir initially to prevent sticking. Let boil for 10 minutes. Drain completely. Add the cooked boba to an ice bath and let soak for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, add the water and brown sugar to the empty pot. Remove the boba from the ice bath and add to the pot as well. Bring the mixture to a boil on high heat, bring the heat to low and let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until a glossy and thick brown sugar syrup forms.
  • Let the boba cool slightly and add it to a glass. Tilt and rotate the glass to coat the sides with brown sugar syrup. Pour in the milk, enjoy with or without ice.

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