Need a Boba Substitute? Try These Options

Best Boba Substitutes

If you’ve ever run out of boba while craving delicious boba tea, you’ll understand the need for a boba substitute. No boba directly equates to no happiness. 

You’re probably asking – “What is Boba?” Boba tea is a traditional Asian beverage that is now popular across the world. It is really easy to make and luckily crystal boba isn’t the only boba substitute.

Read on as we delve into a list of boba dupes. Whether you’re a fellow member of the Asian dessert cult or a diehard boba fan, we have a boba substitute you’ll like!

8 Best Boba Substitutes

Here are 8 boba substitutes you can use without sacrificing the flavor:

Agar Boba

Agar boba is arguably the most popular tapioca pearls substitute out there. Its pearls go well in virtually every boba tea application, including drinks and bubble teas.

However, agar boba and regular boba have some distinct differences. For example, agar boba is white or translucent, and tapioca boba is black. Plus, agar comes from the root of the konjac plant and not cassava.

Agar boba is a wonderful substitute for boba because it has a mild taste and will easily conform to the drink’s taste.


Blueberries work magic in every recipe. If they didn’t, why would Lil Uzi Vert fiercely defend blueberry pancakes? 

As a boba substitute, blueberries will add a sweet and tart flavor combo to your bubble tea or drink and they’re a great way to wean off artificial sweeteners if you’re into that sort of thing.

To use, simply add a handful of blueberries to your drink. It may taste a little tart so you can drizzle in honey to balance the taste.

Popping Boba 

Popping boba is a popular boba substitute made from fruit extracts and seaweed. Since it is a naturally sweet ready-made product, popping boba is a no-brainer for recipes that call for tapioca boba.

Use popping boba the same way you would regular boba, by adding extra sweetener when desired.

Popping Boba
Image Source – Canva.com


Mangoes are a delicious and aesthetically pleasing tapioca starch substitute for boba pearls. They aren’t very conventional but so were tapioca pearls when they first came to California. 

The lesson here is to trust the process. First peel, dice, and blend your mangoes into a puree. Then add the liquid into a tapioca starch and knead small pearls from it. 

Next boil the mango pearls on medium heat until cooked and soft. Serve with your favorite drink or tea.


Like tapioca boba, taro comes from a root plant, inspires a traditional Asian beverage, and is popular on the block. Cafes and diners use taro to make delicious taro tea which is often a lilac-colored beverage.

You’ll use the same preparation as tapioca boba to make taro boba. First, boil the cubed taro on high heat until you can glide a fork through it. Next, sweeten the hot taro and knead it into a soft dough.

Cut the kneaded taro, roll it into small round balls, and then boil until they are cooked. You can now cool and use your boba substitute in your favorite drink.

Young Coconut Meat

Young coconut meat is synonymous with creamy desserts – like bubble tea. You might be challenged with the size but small strips and chunks can yield a gelatin-like, sweet boba substitute.

You can find young coconut meat in your local farmers’ market.

Sweet Potato Balls

While uncommon sweet potato balls can be a healthy and yummy tapioca pearls substitute. Think about it – tapioca boba, crystal boba, and taro are all derived from root corms and tubers. 

Adding sweet potato balls to your bubble tea can give it the much sought-after earthy, creamy flavor to your boba tea and it is vegan-friendly and completely free from gluten.

To prepare sweet potato boba, boil cubed sweet potatoes until soft. Next, mix your cooled potatoes with water and tapioca flour. Then, knead into a dough and cut small round pearls which you will boil over medium heat until soft, cooled, and ready to serve.

Dragon Fruit

Hear me out – dragon fruit is delicious in smoothies and teas and can be just as good in boba form. The flavor is a lovely combination of a mildly sweet taste and kiwi-like consistency.

Dragon fruit boba follows the same laws as most others. First combine the pulp with hot water, tapioca flour, and your preferred sweetener. Then cook the mixture till you have a sticky dough.

Turn off the heat and cut the dough into small pearls after cooling to room temperature. Then simmer your boba substitute over medium heat, cool, and enjoy!

Tapioca Pearls Substitute
Image Source – Canva.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Boba?

Boba isn’t necessarily healthy, especially since it is just tapioca, fruit, and sugar but you can easily customize your boba substitute to contain only a small amount of sugar. 

What Can I Replace Boba With?

You can replace boba with everything from taro root to mango fruit. The main idea is to extract a puree, combine it with tapioca flour or cornstarch, and cook till done. You can even experiment with your favorite fruit!

What Can I Use Instead of Tea in Boba?

The list is endless. Next time use milk, coconut water, or any plant-based milk instead of tea in boba.

What is The Healthiest Boba Option?

The healthiest boba options will be the ones with the least sugar. Customizing boba isn’t a new practice as people have tailored their bubble tea for decades. For a healthier boba substitute choose fruit options like mango and blueberries because they won’t require extra sweetening.

Ready to Serve!

Boba is a delicious, easily customizable drink that can be enjoyed in many ways. Thanks to its easy process, you can chop up your favorite additive, boil & sweeten, and make homemade boba.

Next time you run out of regular boba, just remember – If it can be boiled, kneaded with tapioca, and made into pearls it just might be your next favorite boba substitute!

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