Substitute For Cornstarch

Things Used as a Substitute for Cornstarch

When it comes to cooking and baking, many recipes include cornstarch but in some cases when this ingredient is not on hand, you may be faced with trying to find a viable substitute for cornstarch.  In most cases, cornstarch is used as a thickening agent for making gravy, sauce, soup, etc, but it serves other purposes too.  Although using flour to thicken foods is an option, the problem is that by adding extra flour to the dish, a distinct flour flavor is noticed.

Now, flour is usually an option but for this ingredient to work, it would be important to also reduce liquids in the recipe, lower cooking heat, and increase cooking time.  That way, the dish would cook thoroughly and have enough time to thicken.  The final dish would provide the flavors wanted but without the lingering floury taste.  One important tip is that when using flour as a thickening agent, the dish would need to simmer for a full three minutes, helping to eliminate the raw flour flavor.  Additionally, the amount of flour to use as a substitute for cornstarch would be two tablespoons to every one tablespoon of cornstarch.

In addition to using regular white flour, another great substitute for cornstarch would be the use of rice or potato flour.  Although you would still need to cook the dish longer on lower heat and simmer for three minutes after the dish thickens, the primary benefit of using flour types such as these is that the finished dish would not have a raw flour taste.  Instead, you would notice the dish having a unique flavor coming from the potato or rice, actually enhancing the overall taste.

Now, if you have no flour around the house of any kind but you find yourself in the middle of making something that needs to be thickened, another great substitute is tapioca.  You can purchase tapioca beads at any grocery story, which come in a small box and will stay fresh on the shelf for months.  Even if you do not eat tapioca itself, keeping this product around is always a good idea because it can be used for other things in addition to a substitute for cornstarch.

You could also use arrowroot as a substitute for cornstarch.  Although this perennial herb is most commonly sold under the name “arrowroot”, you may find it in specialty or organic food stores as the “obedience plant.”  Grown in rainforests, this plant is starchy so when dried, it can be purchased in powder form.  Just as with flour, arrowroot as a powder would be great to use as an ingredient to help thicken different dishes but also create a unique flavor that most people love.

Of course, the exact substitute for cornstarch you choose would depend largely on the recipe being made.  Although most substitutes would produce the same thickening effect, remember that different ingredients can also alter the original flavor.  Therefore, regardless of the substitute ingredient you ultimate choose, follow the same basic rule of using a small amount until the right consistency is reached, cook a few minutes longer, and reduce the heat.