Taiwanese Taro, Sweet Potato and Purple Yam Balls (芋圓, 地瓜圓)

Taro balls

The Chinese name for these balls are 芋圓 “Taro Balls”, but they could be made from taro, sweet potato and purple yam.  You will find the texture of these balls slightly different, as sweet potato balls have an elastic texture.  The main reason is because sweet potatoes contain more liquid and need more tapioca flour to form the dough while kneading (more flour means higher elasticity).  In order to make these balls a little more chewy, I increased the water amount to make the dough more wet and add more flour during the kneading process.  Play around with it and you will get to the texture you like.


Taro Balls Purple Yam Balls Sweet Potato Balls
Taro: 100g Purple yam: 100g Sweet potato: 100g
Tapioca flour: 55g* Tapioca flour: 55g* Tapioca flour: 55g*
Boiling water: 40g Boiling water: 40g Boiling water: 25g
Cane sugar: 20g Cane sugar: 20g Cane sugar: 20g

* Plus extra tapioca flour for kneading (this will give the elasticity to the balls).


  1. Measure flour in 3 separate bowls (100g each) and set aside.
  2. Slice taro, purple yam and sweet potato, put them in separate containers and then steam for 20 minutes until soft.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  4. Start with one type of root vegetable first.  Pour 40g of boiling water into the first bowl of flour and let it sit for 30 seconds.   (Picture 1)
  5. Mix the flour and water and then add purple yam.  Use a fork to mix yam and flour (be careful, it may be very hot).  (Picture 2)
  6. Transfer the yam mixture to a clean floured work surface, use your hand to knead the dough.  (Picture 3)
  7. The dough will be very sticky in the beginning, add tapioca flour while kneading until you get a soft and smooth texture.  (Picture 4)
  8. Cut the dough into small portions.  Take a small portion of dough and roll it out into thin long log (around 1.5cm in diameter).  (Picture 5)
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 to make the taro balls and sweet potato balls (water amount for sweet potato balls is 25g).  (Pictures 6 and 7)
  10. To cook the taro balls, bring a pot of water to a boil then add the balls in.  When the balls float to the top, they are cooked.  (Picture 8)
  11. Use a strainer to take the balls out from the pot and put them in a bowl.  Add sugar to the bowl and mix well.  If you want to freeze some uncooked balls, adjust the sugar amount.  (Picture 9)

taro collages


Dust the balls with a thin layer of tapioca flour to prevent them from sticking together. Put them in a container and store in the freezer.


These balls are best eaten with the (i) taro, coconut and tapioca dessert, (ii) red bean dessert, or (iii) just pure brown sugar water.

To make the red bean tapioca pearls dessert:

200g adzuki beans
130g brown sugar
6 cups water
1 cup tapioca pearls

Put all ingredients (except the tapioca pearls) in the pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 60 minutes and then natural release the pressure.

Bring a pot of hot water to a boil, add 1 cup of small tapioca pearls and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, cover and let the pearls soak for 10 minutes.  They will become translucent.  Drain and rinse with running water.

Add tapioca pearls and taro balls to a bowl of red bean dessert.  You can eat it hot or cold but the taro balls have to be made fresh without being refrigerated. Otherwise, the texture is very hard.

taro ball 3

To make the brown sugar drink:

2 slices of ginger
4 cups of water
1/4 cup brown sugar

Put all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil until sugar has dissolved.  Serve taro balls and brown sugar water in a bowl.