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Like flour, cornstarch can be supplied in thickening sauces, deep-frying, and also baking. However, just how much come use, exactly how to usage it, and its impacts can different greatly. Flour is the main ingredient in baked goods, for example, when cornstarch is seldom on the ingredient list for cookies and also cakes, except in certain shortbread recipes. This is because cornstarch is composed only of starch, while all-purpose flour includes starch, fiber, and protein. One of these proteins is gluten, i beg your pardon helps give bread that elasticity and also chew. Due to the fact that cornstarch doesn"t save gluten, it is gluten free and for sure for human being with celiac disease.

(Note that in the U.K., cornstarch is dubbed cornflour, not to be puzzled with corn flour—finely floor cornmeal—that is provided to do corn tortillas and also commonly found in the southerly United States.)

Sauce Thickener: All-purpose flour, rice flour

Deep-Frying: Rice flour, potato starch

Pudding: Tapioca starch

Fruit Pie Filling: Tapioca starch, arrowroot

Baked Goods: Rice flour


The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

Thickening Sauces through Cornstarch vs. Flour

All starches, including cornstarch and also flour, have thickening properties. Lock act choose a sponge, soaking up liquid and expanding. They then gelatinize, firming up as soon as they cool down. Since cornstarch is pure starch, it has actually twice the thickening power of flour, which is only component starch. Thus, twice as lot flour is necessary to accomplish the exact same thickening together cornstarch.

To thicken sauces, cornstarch is linked with cold water first, i m sorry is dubbed a slurry. Flour, ~ above the various other hand, is cooked with fat and made into a roux. A roux is made at the beginning of a cooking recipes while a slurry is added toward the end. This is due to the fact that the flour needs to be cooked longer to eliminate the floury taste; cornstarch requirements a shorter cooking time and also a greater heat come activate the thickening properties. Cornstarch have to not be cooked right into a roux.

Using flour as a thickener will make the sauce opaque and also cloudy while cornstarch leaves a shiny, more translucent finish. This is a desirable feature for fruit pie fillings and particular sauces, especially in Chinese stir-fries.

If a sauce is rather acidic, cornstarch won't thicken it quite as well. This goes for sauces with tomatoes, citrus, or vinegar, or one made v eggs yolks or butter. If you use too much, a recipe including cornstarch becomes spongy as soon as refrigerated or frozen.

Frying v Cornstarch vs. Flour

Both flour and cornstarch are used to coat chicken, fish, and vegetables before deep-frying. Cornstarch typically makes for a crispier finish than flour.

Cornstarch absorbs humidity from the food and expands, offering deep-fried foods items a crispy coating. As soon as the food is fried, the humidity cooks the end of the cornstarch, leave a crackly, puffy coating on the outside. (This is why most asian fried recipes speak to for utilizing cornstarch instead of flour.) Flour will attain this to part extent, however since an ext flour is necessary to accomplish the very same effect, the coating will be thicker and chewier. Recipes touting the crispiest chicken will certainly often call for a 50/50 mix that flour and cornstarch to create the perfect balance and also a beautiful brown exterior.

Baking with Cornstarch vs. Flour

Baking is wherein a complete swap won"t work. A cake recipe, for example, will not rotate out if cornstarch is supplied in the place of flour. Baked items rely ~ above the protein in the flour (gluten) to help create the body and also texture. Over there are countless excellent gluten-free baking recipes; simply note the cornstarch isn"t the just flour or strength in many of them.

Adding cornstarch come a cookie or cake recipe, however, will aid to do the finished product more tender. In fact, this homemade recipe because that cake flour replaces 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with cornstarch.

other Cornstarch Substitutes

Flour is the most common substitute for cornstarch. However, arrowroot, potato starch, tapioca starch, and rice flour deserve to work just as well, if not far better at times. Additionally, all of these cornstarch substitutes space gluten free.


This powdered white thickening agent acts an in similar way to cornstarch v a couple of exceptions. It is not great to usage in dairy-based recipes together it will reason the food to end up being slimy, yet it is a great substitute for cooked bowl that setup to it is in frozen. Take note that recipes using arrowroot may need to it is in cooked a small longer to reach the preferred thickness. Usage the exact same amount that arrowroot as cornstarch referred to as for in the recipe.

Potato strength

A popular ingredient in Passover recipes, potato starch is also terrific replacement for cornstarch. An same amount, or probably a little more, need to be provided in location of the cornstarch together a thickening agent. The is best to eat the finished food as soon as feasible because this strength doesn"t hold together well v the remainder of the ingredients.

Tapioca strength

If making a pie, tapioca starch is one ideal alternative as it creates an even shiner appearance than cornstarch. For the best results, the tapioca need to be mixed into the ingredients and left come sit for around 10 minutes prior to cooking to permit the tapioca to absorb the liquids and thicken properly. Use an equal amount of prompt tapioca yet avoid including to dairy-based sauces. It is a great choice for recipes cooked in ~ high temperatures and also foods that will be frozen.

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Rice Flour

White rice flour is the ideal an option for thickening sauces due to the fact that brown rice flour deserve to be gritty. Similar to flour, twin the amount of rice flour have to be offered in place of cornstarch. This carefully ground flour made indigenous rice is colorless when blended with water and also thus a good choice when thickening clear liquids. Rice flour is a popular ingredient in asian cooking and also can be included directly come a recipe without do a slurry. That can also be used to do a roux utilizing oil.