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Taiwanese Taro and Sweet Potato Balls

These Taiwanese taro and sweet potato balls are satisfyingly soft and chewy! With a few steps, you can make this dessert as a stand-alone dish or as a topping for a wide range of desserts, such as shaved ice and grass jelly dessert. 

Taiwanese Taro and Sweet Potato Balls Side

Taro and sweet potato balls are an easy dessert originating from Taiwan that has recently been rising in popularity. The Jiufen province (九份) is said to have the most popular taro tapioca balls, which is why they are sometimes called Jiufen taro balls. 

Taro balls (芋園, yu yuan) are similar to boba because both desserts use tapioca starch and have a “qq” texture (Taiwanese slang for the chewy texture). However, the taro balls have the added flavor of the taro root. 

Taro balls are a quick and easy recipe; they only require just two ingredients: taro and tapioca starch! Some people also like to add sugar to the dough for more sweetness. The sweet potato balls (地瓜園, di gua yuan) are similarly just made of sweet potato and tapioca starch as well. Different colored sweet potatoes, such as orange and purple, can be used for a more colorful dish. 

Serving Suggestions/Uses

There are many uses for these dessert balls. The simplest way is to serve the balls by themselves with sweet ginger syrup. However, you can get creative and add the taro and sweet potato balls to:

  • Shaved ice
  • Red bean soup
  • Coconut milk
  • Grass jelly dessert
  • Etc.

Taiwanese Taro and Sweet Potato Balls

These Taiwanese taro and sweet potato balls are satisfyingly soft and chewy! With a few steps, you can make this dessert as a stand-alone dish or as a topping for a wide range of desserts, such as shaved ice and grass jelly dessert. 
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword: sweet potato balls, taiwanese taro balls, taro and sweet potato balls, taro ball dessert, taro tapioca balls
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 185kcal

Ingredients

  • boiling water optional for adjustment

Taro Balls

  • 350 g sweet potato peeled and sliced
  • 120 g tapioca starch plus more for dusting and adjustment

Sweet Potato Balls

  • 350 g sweet potato peeled and sliced
  • 120 g tapioca starch plus more for dusting and adjustment

Ginger Syrup (Optional)

  • 2 large slices of ginger
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

Make the Taro and Sweet Potato Balls

  • Steam the pieces of sweet potato and taro separately for 20 mins or until the slices are soft.
  • Add the steamed taro and sweet potato to separate mixing bowls. Note 1
  • Immediately mash them while they are still hot until completely mashed. You can use a fork, hand masher, or another cooking utensil.
  • Add the tapioca starch to the mashed sweet potato and taro while they are still warm. Mix until incorporated. If the dough is too dry and cracking, knead in 1 tablespoon of boiling water at a time to adjust the consistency. If the dough is too wet, knead a small amount of tapioca starch in to adjust.
  • Take a portion of one of the doughs and roll it into a long, thin log. Cut the log into small pieces of your desired size. You can keep the balls in their cylindrical shape or use your hands to round them into balls. Repeat with the remaining dough. Note 2
  • Dust the pieces with extra starch to prevent sticking.

Cook

  • Bring a pot of water to boil, then drop in the taro balls. Once the pieces rise to the top, continue boiling them for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the balls to a bowl of cold water to cool. Note 3
  • Repeat with the sweet potato balls. Note 4

Assemble

  • Ginger Syrup: boil all of the ingredients together.
  • Serve the cooked taro and sweet potato balls with the ginger syrup or as part of the desserts mentioned in the post above.

Notes

  1. If the taro and/sweet potato looks quite wet after steaming, make sure to drain the excess water out. This step ensures that you will not need to add much more tapioca starch than the amount in the recipe. Too much starch can make your pieces hard.
  2. The larger you cut the pieces, the longer the cooking time will be later.
  3. If you are making both taro and sweet potato balls, boil them in the following order from first to last: taro, orange sweet potato, purple sweet potato. The purple sweet potato can release some color into the water, which may stain the other balls if they are cooked afterwards.
  4. Shocking the cooked pieces in cold water helps the taro/sweet potato balls to have a chewy texture.

How to Make Taiwanese Taro and Sweet Potato Balls (Step-By-Step)

Make the Taro and Sweet Potato Ball Dough

Steam the pieces of sweet potato and taro separately for 20 mins or until the slices are soft. Add them to separate mixing bowls, making sure to expel any excess water. This step ensures that you will not need to add much more tapioca starch than the amount in the recipe. Too much starch can make your pieces hard. 

Immediately mash the steamed sweet potato and taro while they are still hot. You can use a fork, hand masher, or another cooking utensil. 

Mashed Taro
Taiwanese Taro Ball Dough

Add the tapioca starch to each bowl while they are still warm. Mix until incorporated. If the dough is too dry and cracking, knead in 1 tablespoon of boiling water at a time to adjust the consistency. Conversely, if the dough is too wet, add in and knead a small amount of tapioca starch at a time to adjust the consistency. 

Cut Into Pieces

Take a portion of one of the doughs and roll it into a long, thin log. Cut the log into small pieces of your desired size. (Larger pieces will take longer to cook) You can keep the balls in their cylindrical shape or use your hands to round them into balls. Repeat with the remaining dough. 

Cutting the Taiwanese Taro Ball Pieces
Taro Balls Coated in Starch

Dust the pieces with extra starch to prevent sticking.

Boil the Pieces

Bring a pot of water to boil, then drop in the taro balls. Once the pieces rise to the top, continue boiling them for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the balls to a bowl of cold water to cool and develop the chewy texture. Repeat with the sweet potato balls. If you are making purple sweet potato balls, boil them last so that the purple color does not stain the color of the other balls. 

Cooking the Sweet Potato Balls

Serve

To make the optional ginger syrup, boil all of the ingredients in a pot together. You can serve the cooked taro and sweet potato balls with the ginger syrup or as a part of the desserts mentioned in the post above. 

Taiwanese Taro and Sweet Potato Balls Spoon

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