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What's A Substitute For Cornstarch

What’s A Substitute For Cornstarch When Cooking & Baking?

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Lori Walker

Cornstarch is a versatile ingredient commonly used to thicken dishes and sweet treats. Made from the endosperm of corn kernels, it is a commonly added ingredient to a variety of recipes.

There was a time when I found myself in the midst of preparing a recipe that called for cornstarch, only to realize that I had run out of it.

Luckily, I found some substitutes for cornstarch that can be used in cooking and baking. 

Top 5 Alternatives For Cornstarch

1. All-Purpose Flour

measuring flour

All-purpose flour can be used as a substitute for cornstarch as a thickening agent in cooking and baking. It is made from wheat and is a staple in most kitchens.

To use all-purpose flour as a substitute for cornstarch, you must use twice as much as cornstarch. 

For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of cornstarch, you would use two tablespoons of all-purpose flour.

When using all-purpose flour as a substitute, it’s important to remember that it may not thicken as well as cornstarch, and it can add a floury taste to the dish.

“Embrace the culinary alchemy of ingredient substitution, as you transform recipes with ingenious alternatives, and unlock a world of flavors beyond the confines of cornstarch.”

Leonelli Bakery

It’s also important to add the flour slowly and whisk it in gradually to prevent lumps from forming.

Additionally, mixing the flour with a small amount of cold liquid is a good idea before adding it to the hot mixture. This will create a slurry that can be slowly poured into the hot mixture, helping to prevent lumps from forming.

Lastly, remember that all-purpose flour contains gluten, so if you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative, consider using a different substitute. But is it possible to mix bread flour and all-purpose flour?

2. Arrowroot

Arrowroot [1] is a fine powder that can substitute cornstarch as a thickening agent in cooking and baking.

It is made from the root of the arrowroot plant and is a great alternative for those looking for a gluten-free option.

Arrowroot has a similar thickening power as cornstarch but is more heat-stable, which means it can thicken at higher temperatures without breaking down or losing its thickening power.

This makes it ideal for high-heat cooking methods like stir-frying or deep-frying.

You will need to use the same amount when using arrowroot as a substitute for cornstarch. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of cornstarch, you would use one tablespoon of arrowroot.

It’s important to note that arrowroot has a clear, glossy finish, which makes it a great thickener for clear liquids or sauces like gravies, but it may not be the best option if you want a thickening agent that will give a cloudy or opaque finish.

Also, similar to cornstarch, it’s a good idea to mix arrowroot with a small amount of cold liquid before adding it to the hot mixture to make a slurry. This will help to prevent lumps from forming.

Read: Can Cornstarch Be Used Instead Of Baking Soda?

3. Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour, or tapioca starch, can substitute cornstarch as a thickening agent in cooking and baking. It is made from the root of the cassava plant, which is native to South America.

Tapioca flour has a similar thickening power as cornstarch and can be used in equal amounts. It can be used in various recipes, such as gravies, sauces, pies, and puddings. It can also be used to thicken soups and stews.

Tapioca flour is gluten-free and has a neutral flavor, which makes it a great option for those with gluten sensitivities or allergies. It also creates a clear and glossy finish, which makes it ideal for clear liquids or sauces like gravies.

Like cornstarch, it’s important to mix tapioca flour with a small amount of cold liquid before adding it to the hot mixture to make a slurry. This will help to prevent lumps from forming.

It’s also important to note that tapioca flour can add a slight chewiness to the final product, which can be desirable in some recipes, such as in chewy, gluten-free baked goods, but it may not be suitable for others.

Also Read:

4. Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum [2] can be used as a substitute for cornstarch as a thickening agent in cooking and baking. It is a natural thickener and stabilizer made by fermenting glucose or sucrose with a type of bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris.

Xanthan gum is a powerful thickener, so you will only need to use a small amount to achieve the desired thickness. A general rule of thumb is to use 1/8 tsp of xanthan gum for every cup of liquid in the recipe as a substitute for cornstarch.

“My father was a preacher in Maryland and we had crab feasts – with corn on the cob, but no beer, being Methodist – outside on the church lawn.”

– Tori Amos, American Singer-Songwriter

It’s also important to note that xanthan gum can improve the texture and stability of gluten-free baked goods. It can help bind the ingredients together and create a texture similar to that of traditional wheat-based products.

It can also be used as a thickener for salad dressings and sauces, and it can help prevent ice crystals from forming in frozen desserts.

When using xanthan gum as a substitute for cornstarch, it’s important to mix it with a small amount of cold liquid and whisk it in gradually to prevent lumps from forming, just like cornstarch. 

Also, adding xanthan gum directly to the hot mixture can cause clumps to form, so it’s important to use a blender or a hand mixer to mix it in properly.

Check out these ways to clean oven glass without baking soda here.

5. Psyllium Husk

Pack of Psyllium Husk

Psyllium husk can be used as a substitute for cornstarch as a thickening agent in cooking and baking. It is a natural thickener that is made from the husks of the Plantago ovata plant.

Psyllium husk is rich in dietary fiber, and when mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance that can thicken liquids.

To use psyllium husk as a substitute for cornstarch, mix 1 tsp of psyllium husk with 3 tsp of water and let it sit for a few minutes until it becomes thick and gel-like. Then, add this mixture to your recipe as you would with cornstarch.

It’s important to note that psyllium husk can also add some health benefits, such as helping to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels and promote digestive health.

Also, when using psyllium husk, it is important to remember that it can absorb liquid, so it’s important to add it to your recipe before adding any other liquid ingredients.

Additionally, it can change the texture of your recipe, so it may not be suitable for some recipes, such as in delicate baked goods, where the texture is critical.

Also Read: Can You Use Baking Soda From The Fridge-N-Freezer To Bake?

FAQs

Can I use baking powder instead of cornstarch?

Baking powder can be used as a leavening agent in baking to help the dough rise, but it cannot substitute cornstarch as a thickening agent. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, an acid, and cornstarch.

Also, the proportion of cornstarch in baking powder is minimal and insufficient to act as a thickener. But how long can baking soda be stored in the freezer?

Are cornstarch and flour the same thing?

Cornstarch and flour are not the same things. They are both powdery substances used in cooking and baking, but they are made from different ingredients and have different properties.

Find out what you can make if you mix flour and water here.

In Conclusion

Cornstarch is a versatile ingredient often used as a thickening agent in cooking and baking.

Some of the most common substitutes include all-purpose flour, arrowroot, tapioca flour, potato starch, rice flour, xanthan gum, guar gum, ground chia seeds, psyllium husk, and corn flour. 

Each of these substitutes has unique properties and choosing the one that best suits your recipe, and dietary needs are important. Some of them are gluten-free, and others are not. Some will give a glossy finish, and others will give a cloudy finish. 

It’s important to remember that, when using a substitute, you may have to use a different amount and pay attention to the specific instructions and properties of each substitute.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-arrowroot
  2. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-340/xanthan-gum
Lori Walker

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