What to Use Instead of Cornstarch – 5 Healthy Substitutes

Last Updated on October 13, 2021 by Boniface Muriuki

If you love cooking and baking, then you understand the crucial role that cornstarch plays in bettering your meals. But what do you do when you desperately want to cook but you can’t access the ingredient?

Well, if you’re not sure of what to use instead of cornstarch, then this article is for you. We evaluate all the possible substitutes for cornstarch and how you can use each one of them. 

What to Use Instead of Cornstarch

What is Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a thickening agent that you can use when making soup, custards, gravies, and other liquid-based meals. 

It is made of long chains of starch molecules that break down upon exposure to heat, leading to gelatinization. The swelling leads to the thickening of your meals without altering their taste. 

What is the Use of Cornstarch in Cooking and Baking 

If you love soup, then you fathom the scrumptiousness that comes with thick yet tasty soups, right?

Cornstarch is one of the ingredients that you should always have in your kitchen cabinet’s lazy Susan organizer if you want such delicacies. 

This unique ingredient acts as the thickening agent, thus enabling you to achieve thick sauces, soups, and stir-fries. 

Other uses of cornstarch include making fluffy omelets, making waffles, and as a substitute for eggs when making baked goods. 

How to Use Cornstarch – Stepwise Guide 

If you’re wondering how to use cornstarch, then you should follow the following simple steps:

  • Add approximately 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in your bowl (we recommend 1 tablespoon per cup of liquid meals)
  • Add cold liquid and stir vigorously until you achieve a uniform slurry
  • Add the slurry into your hot liquid meals and let it simmer for approximately 15 minutes

That’s it!

Your meal is ready for serving. Always ensure that you don’t overcook since your broth may thin again!

Is Cornstarch the Same as Corn Flour?

Cornstarch vs. corn flour debate can be confusing, especially since the two products have relatively close names and are obtained from corn

However, these two are not the same and they serve different purposes when cooking. Here is an elaborate comparison and contrast analysis:

What is Corn Flour?

Corn flour refers to fine powder made from corn kernels. The color of the flour will entirely be dependent on the color of the corn from which it was obtained. It can be yellow, blue, or white.

Unlike cornstarch, corn flour is derived from the whole corn – including the endosperm, germ, and hulls. 

As such, the flour is rich in protein, starch, vitamins, and fiber. 

Cornstarch vs Corn Flour: What is the Difference?

From the name, it’s obvious that the two ingredients are derived from corn. However, there are substantial differences between them, including:

Corn Flour Cornstarch 
Relatively sweetFlavorless
Can be used instead of wheat flour when baking breads, waffles, and other confectioneries Only used as a thickening agent
Made by grinding whole corn kernels Made from the starchy corn part only 
Rich in proteins, starch, fiber, and vitaminsOnly carbs 

What to Use Instead of Cornstarch

If you do not have cornstarch, you should consider using the following substitutes that work perfectly well:

Corn flour vs wheat flour: Which is Better for Baking?
  • Wheat Flour

This is a fine powder obtained from finely ground wheat. It is rich in starch, fiber, and proteins.

While it is possible to substitute cornstarch with wheat flour, you’ll require more of it to achieve the same effect you would with the former (in the ratio of 1:2). 

For example, if you would require 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken your soup, then you need 4 tablespoons of wheat flour to thicken the same amount of soup. 

However, you’ll require higher amounts of brown or whole wheat flour if you want to achieve the same thickness as when using the white wheat flour.

  • Arrowroot Flour 

This flour is derived from dried and grounded arrowroots. It has more fiber than cornstarch and forms a clear gel when mixed with water.

Even better, the flour is gluten-free. Use it in a ratio of 1:2 (add 2 tablespoons when you’d need one tablespoon of cornstarch).

  • Potato Starch

This is a powder obtained by crushing potatoes and drying them, thus forming a fine powder. It has no gluten but it is high in carbs. 

When substituting cornstarch with potato starch, you shouldn’t change the ratio (use the same amount of potato starch as you would with cornstarch).

Additionally, you should add the thickener at a later cooking stage to avert breaking it entirely which would result in a loss in its thickening property.

  • Rice Flour

This is a powder made from ground rice and it’s particularly popular in Asia. It is gluten-free and ideal for people with celiac disease.

The flour is colorless when you mix it with water. As such, you may consider using it when thickening clear liquids. However, you should double the quantity to achieve the same effect as cornstarch. 

  • Tapioca 

This refers to processed cassava powder. However, you must ensure that the starchy powder is approved as cyanide-free before you start using it. The approval will mostly be written on the package. 

While these are the 5 best substitutes for cornstarch, you can also consider the following:

  • Flaxseeds powder
  • Glucomannan 
  • Psyllium husk
  • Guar gum
  • Xanthan gum 

Is Corn Flour the Same As Cornmeal?

When shopping, you need to be careful not to confuse these two. Different regions name these products differently.

As such, you need to understand the naming practice of your specific area. Here is a comprehensive guide:

  • In the United States, cornstarch is as described in this article. However, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel, and some other European countries refer to cornstarch as a corn flour. 
  • Additionally, these countries can refer to corn flour (as known in the US) as cornmeal. 

If you get to a shop and you’re unsure of which between the two to choose, you should check on how the product is used.

What to Use Instead of Cornstarch -the Bottom Line

Cornstarch is an important ingredient when you want to thicken your sauce. However, not many people know what to use instead of cornstarch to achieve a similar effect.

If you find yourself in such a situation, then you shouldn’t tense since there are myriad options at your disposal. Wheat flour is among the best substitutes for cornstarch. 

However, you may have to consider gluten-free substitutes if you’re suffering from celiac disease or any other gluten intolerance. Such substitutes include arrowroot and rice starch. 

For more comprehension, we implore you to read through this comprehensive guide on what to use instead of cornstarch. It outlines the benefits and disadvantages of each option. 

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