Do you love to bake or cook? If so, you know all about the importance of cornstarch. This seemingly plain and simple powder is a crucial ingredient! In the food industry, cornstarch is used to thicken, gel, and bulk up recipes.1 It might be just what you need to save a runny soup or sauce. But what if you don’t have any on hand?
Don’t fret, because cornstarch has many possible substitutes. Here’s what you can use as an alternative.
1. Wheat Flour
There’s a good chance that you have wheat flour on hand. However, you’ll need more flour to get the same effect. For every 1 tablespoon of cornstarch needed, use 2 tablespoons of flour. Do keep in mind that this is made from wheat and not corn. If you have Celiac, avoid using this as a replacement.
2. Arrowroot Powder
This option is made from the rhizomes of the arrowroot plant. It’s more expensive than cornstarch, but it does contain some protein and fiber.2 Because of this, many people like to use it for a nutritional boost. As a replacement, you’ll need 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder for every 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
3. Potato Starch
Like arrowroot, potato starch isn’t made from a grain, so it’s ideal for gluten-free folks. And while it doesn’t offer much nutrition, the bland flavor won’t mess with a recipe. Use potato starch in place of cornstarch at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Ground Flaxseed
Trying to take your fiber intake up a notch? Use ground flaxseed, a delicious functional food.3 Substitute for 2 tablespoons cornstarch by mixing 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 4 tablespoons water. The consistency won’t be as smooth, but the fiber content will be worth it.
5. Rice Flour
When it comes to gluten-free cooking, rice flour is an all-star. It can even make delicious bread!4 To substitute, use the same ratio as wheat flour of 2 tablespoons for every 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
6. Guar Gum
Guar gum, a powder made from guar beans, doesn’t mess around. It has a high capacity for gelling, thickening, and emulsifying liquid.5 You’ll only need a small amount, so start with ¼ teaspoon until you reach the preferred consistency.
7. Xanthan Gum
When sugar ferments with a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris, the result is xanthan gum.6 The food industry values it for its thickening and bulking properties.7 As with guar gum, start with ¼ teaspoon or less. A little goes a long way! Using too much can cause sliminess or digestive problems.8
8. Tapioca Starch
Tapioca is made from a root veggie called cassava.9 Therefore, it’s perfectly suitable for gluten-free diets. The general recommendation is 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons tapioca.
Psyllium husk is another fiber-rich option. One plant produces about 15,000 tiny seeds, which is then made into a powder. By itself, psyllium husk is awesome for relieving constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.10 Because it’s so bulky, you’ll only need a small amount, about ½ teaspoon. Slowly add more from there.
|↑1||Sandhu, Kawaljit Singh, and Narpinder Singh. “Some properties of corn starches II: Physicochemical, gelatinization, retrogradation, pasting and gel textural properties.” Food Chemistry 101, no. 4 (2007): 1499-1507.|
|↑2||Pérez, Elevina, and Mary Lares. “Chemical composition, mineral profile, and functional properties of Canna (Canna edulis) and Arrowroot (Maranta spp.) starches.” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum) 60, no. 3 (2005): 113-116.p.|
|↑3||Kajla, Priyanka, Alka Sharma, and Dev Raj Sood. “Flaxseed—a potential functional food source.” Journal of food science and technology 52, no. 4 (2015): 1857-1871.|
|↑4||Yano Hiroyuki, Akiko Fukui, Keiko Kajiwara, Isao Kobayashi, Koh-ichi Yoza, Akiyoshi Satake, and Masumi Villeneuve. “Development of gluten-free rice bread: Pickering stabilization as a possible batter-swelling mechanism.” LWT-Food Science and Technology 79 (2017): 632-639.|
|↑5||Thombare, Nandkishore, Usha Jha, Sumit Mishra, and M. Z. Siddiqui. “Guar gum as a promising starting material for diverse applications: A review.” International journal of biological macromolecules 88 (2016): 361-372.|
|↑6||Garcıa-Ochoa, F., V. E. Santos, J. A. Casas, and E. Gomez. “Xanthan gum: production, recovery, and properties.” Biotechnology advances 18, no. 7 (2000): 549-579.|
|↑7||Habibi, Hossein, and Kianoush Khosravi-Darani. “Effective variables on production and structure of xanthan gum and its food applications: A review.” Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology (2017).|
|↑8||Daly, J., J. Tomlin, and N. W. Read. “The effect of feeding xanthan gum on colonic function in man: correlation with in vitro determinants of bacterial breakdown.” British Journal of Nutrition 69, no. 3 (1993): 897-902.|
|↑9||Hall, Michael J. “The Dangers of Cassava (Tapioca) Consumption.” Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Journal 102, no. 2 (1987): 37.|
|↑10||Psyllium. University of Maryland Medical Center.|