Cornstarch, sometimes known as corn flour, is a white powder made from the dried and ground endosperm of corn. It’s most commonly used as a thickening agent in sauces, gravy, soups, puddings, and pie fillings because its starch molecules swell and gelatinize when heated, thereby thickening whatever it’s added to. But if you don’t have cornstarch to hand, you might be wondering what could be suitable substitutes for cornstarch?
Arrowroot powder, also known as arrowroot starch or flour, is made from dried and ground arrowroot tuber. It’s best used to thicken sauces and gravies. Just be sure to add it soon before serving, as it doesn’t hold its thickening power for an extended period of time. Substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot powder for one tablespoon of cornstarch.
2. Wheat Flour
Wheat flour can easily be used as a substitute for cornstarch when you’re in a bind. Generally speaking, wheat flour is the most common flour used in baking, so you’re more than likely to have this alternative ready to use in your pantry or cupboard! There are different types of wheat flour, and the different types are distinguished by the amount of gluten that they contain. Substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot powder for one tablespoon of cornstarch.
3. Rice Flour
Like all-purpose flour, rice flour also has half the thickening power of cornstarch, so you’re going to want to use two tablespoons of rice flour for every one tablespoon of cornstarch called for. It’s also colorless when added to recipes, making it great for use in clear liquids.
4. Tapioca Starch
Tapioca is a flavorless ingredient that is extracted from cassava, a root vegetable found throughout South America. It doesn’t have quite the thickening power of cornstarch, so for every tablespoon of cornstarch required, you’ll need to use two tablespoons of tapioca starch. You’ll want to avoid boiling tapioca starch as this can cause the thickened sauce to become stringy.
5. Sorghum flour
People make sorghum flour from ground sorghum grains. Sorghum is high in protein, antioxident, and dietary fiber. Sorghum flour is a great thickener for soups, stews, and chowders. People in the Pacific Islands commonly use sorghum flour to thicken their stews. Sorghum is naturally gluten-free and high in many nutrients.
6. Guar gum
People make guar gum by grinding the gum-containing tissue inside cluster bean seeds. It is available in a few different forms but often comes as a fine, white-to-yellowish powder. The uses of guar gum in cooking, such as thickening, stabilizing, and emulsifying, are similar to those of cornstarch. Guar gum can be a particularly good alternative to cornstarch when it comes to thickening frozen foods or making foods to store in the freezer. This is because it contains compounds that help prevent the formation of ice crystals. Guar gum is also a highly nutritious and potentially healthful alternative to cornstarch. Guar gum has fewer calories and carbohydrates and more dietary fiber than cornstarch.