Are you looking for a way to thicken your sauces, gravies, and soups without using cornstarch?
Cornstarch is a common ingredient in many recipes, but it’s not always the healthiest option.
Fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes that can be used instead.
In this article, I’m going to share 14 of the best substitutes for cornstarch.
From arrowroot powder and tapioca starch to xanthan gum and psyllium husk powder, these alternatives will help you create delicious dishes without compromising on taste or texture.
What is Cornstarch?
Cornstarch is a white powdery substance made from the endosperm of corn kernels.
It’s used as a thickening agent in many recipes, such as sauces, gravies, custards, and puddings.
When mixed with cold water or other liquids it forms a paste that can be added to hot liquids to thicken them without changing their flavor.
Cornstarch is composed mostly of carbohydrates and contains no fat or protein.
It has twice the thickening power of flour and works best when combined with cold liquid before being added to hot dishes like soups or stews.
The starch molecules swell up when heated and form a gel-like consistency which helps thicken the dish without making it too heavy or dense.
Cornstarch also helps keep food moist by trapping moisture inside its granules so that foods don’t dry out during cooking.
When using cornstarch for baking, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t contain gluten like wheat flour does so you may need to add additional ingredients like eggs or xanthan gum for structure and texture in your baked goods.
Additionally, because cornstarch absorbs moisture quickly you should use less than what is called for in recipes calling for wheat flour since there will be more liquid present in those recipes due to the presence of gluten.
The 14 Best Substitutes For Cornstarch
Cornstarch is a great thickener for sauces, gravies, and other dishes.
However, sometimes it can be hard to find.
If you’re looking for an alternative to cornstarch, here are fourteen substitutes that will still give you the same results:
1 – Potato Starch
Potato starch is a great alternative to cornstarch when you’re out of the latter.
It is extracted from potatoes and contains leucoplasts, which are found in the cells of potato root tubers.
The process for extracting potato starch involves crushing the potatoes and releasing the starch grains from the destroyed cells.
Potato starch has a neutral flavor and can be used as a thickener for sauces, soups, stews, gravies, custards, pies, and other desserts.
It also works well as an ingredient in gluten-free baking recipes.
Unlike cornstarch, potato starch does not require cooking before use; it can simply be added directly to cold liquids or mixtures that will eventually be cooked.
It also has a higher tolerance for heat than cornstarch so it won’t break down as quickly when exposed to high temperatures during cooking processes.
This makes it ideal for dishes that need to simmer or boil for extended periods of time without losing their desired consistency.
2 – Tapioca Starch
Tapioca starch is a great substitute for cornstarch when you’re out of the latter.
Extracted from the storage roots of the cassava plant, tapioca starch has been used in South America for centuries.
It is a white powder that can be used as a thickener and stabilizer in many dishes.
Tapioca starch has a neutral flavor and adds an almost creamy texture to sauces, gravies, soups, and stews.
It also helps bind ingredients together while providing structure to baked goods like pies and cakes.
When substituting tapioca starch for cornstarch, use half as much tapioca starch as you would cornstarch – it’s twice as powerful!
Additionally, make sure to mix it with cold liquid before adding it to hot mixtures so that it doesn’t clump up.
3 – Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide that has many industrial uses, including as a common food additive.
It is an effective thickening agent, emulsifier, and stabilizer that prevents ingredients from separating.
When added to recipes, xanthan gum helps create a smooth texture and can even be used to replace cornstarch in some cases.
The powdery substance dissolves easily in water and forms a gel-like consistency when mixed with other ingredients.
This makes it ideal for creating sauces or dressings that are creamy yet still pourable.
It also works well as an egg replacer in vegan baking recipes and can help bind gluten-free doughs together without the need for eggs or dairy products.
For those looking to substitute cornstarch in their cooking, xanthan gum may be the perfect solution!
4 – All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour is a great substitute for cornstarch when it comes to thickening sauces and gravies.
The key to using all-purpose flour as a thickener is to make sure that it’s mixed with an equal amount of cold liquid before adding it to the hot mixture.
This will help prevent lumps from forming in your sauce or gravy.
It’s also important to remember that all-purpose flour won’t thicken as quickly as cornstarch, so you may need to simmer the mixture for longer than usual.
In addition, all-purpose flour can be used in place of cornstarch when making batters for fried foods like chicken nuggets or tempura vegetables.
Just mix together equal parts of all-purpose flour and cold water until you get a smooth consistency, then dip your food into the batter before frying.
5 – Rice Flour
Rice flour is an excellent substitute for cornstarch in many recipes.
It’s made from finely milled rice and has a mild flavor that won’t overpower the other ingredients.
The texture of rice flour is slightly grainy, but it can be used to thicken sauces, soups, and gravies just like cornstarch.
When using rice flour as a thickener, you’ll need to use twice as much as you would with cornstarch since it doesn’t absorb liquid as quickly.
You can also use it to make gluten-free baked goods such as cakes, cookies, muffins, and breads. It’s especially great for making light and fluffy pancakes or waffles.
Rice flour is also ideal for coating foods before frying them since it creates a crispier crust than wheat flour does.
6 – Wheat flour
Wheat flour is a versatile pantry staple made from grinding wheat into a fine powder.
It can be used to make breads, cakes, pastries, and other baked goods.
When substituting wheat flour for cornstarch in recipes, it’s important to note that the two ingredients have different properties.
Cornstarch is much finer than wheat flour and has more starch content which helps thicken sauces and gravies.
Wheat flour on the other hand has more protein content which helps give structure to baked goods like breads and cakes.
For best results when using wheat flour as a substitute for cornstarch, use half the amount of wheat flour as you would cornstarch in your recipe.
Additionally, mix the wheat flour with cold water before adding it to your dish so that it doesn’t clump up or become lumpy.
7 – Arrowroot
Arrowroot is a starch derived from the rhizomes of tropical plants, such as Maranta arundinacea and Zamia integrifolia.
It has a mild flavor and is often used as a thickening agent in sauces, soups, stews, puddings, and other dishes.
Arrowroot is gluten-free and contains no fat or cholesterol.
It also has fewer calories than cornstarch.
When substituting arrowroot for cornstarch in recipes, it’s important to remember that arrowroot needs less cooking time than cornstarch does.
For best results when using arrowroot as a thickener, mix it with cold water before adding it to hot liquids.
This will help prevent lumps from forming.
In addition to its culinary uses, arrowroot can also be used topically on skin irritations like rashes or insect bites to reduce inflammation and itching.
8 – Ground flaxseeds
Ground flaxseeds are a great alternative to cornstarch for thickening sauces, gravies, and puddings.
Flaxseed is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, making it a nutritious addition to any dish.
It has a nutty flavor that works well with savory dishes like soups and stews, as well as sweet treats like muffins and cakes.
- When using ground flaxseed as a thickener, mix 1 tablespoon of the seeds with 3 tablespoons of water until it forms a paste.
- Then add the mixture to your recipe while stirring continuously over low heat until desired consistency is reached.
You can also sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ground or toasted flaxseed into yogurt or oatmeal for an extra crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
9 – Glucomannan
Glucomannan is a natural dietary fiber derived from the root of the konjac plant.
It has been used for centuries in traditional Asian cuisine as an emulsifier and thickener.
Unlike cornstarch, glucomannan is water-soluble and can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water.
This makes it an ideal substitute for cornstarch when making sauces or gravies, as it helps create a smooth texture without clumping.
It also works well as a binder in baking recipes such as cakes and muffins, helping them to hold their shape better during cooking.
In addition to being a great thickening agent, glucomannan also has numerous health benefits due to its high fiber content.
It can help lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels, making it an excellent choice for those looking to improve their overall health.
10 – Psyllium husk
Psyllium husk is a natural dietary fiber derived from the seeds of the Plantago plant.
It has many health benefits, including aiding digestion and helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Psyllium husk can also be used as an effective thickening agent in place of cornstarch.
When mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance that can be used to thicken sauces, gravies, soups, and stews.
Unlike cornstarch which needs to be cooked for several minutes before it will thicken properly, psyllium husk thickens almost immediately upon contact with liquid.
It is also gluten-free and vegan-friendly making it an ideal substitute for those on special diets or looking for healthier alternatives.
11 – Guar gum
Guar gum, also known as guaran, is a natural thickening and stabilizing agent derived from the guar bean.
It has been used for centuries in India and Pakistan to thicken sauces, soups, and gravies.
The powder form of guar gum is made by grinding the husked seeds of the plant into a fine powder.
It can then be added to liquids or dry ingredients to create a gel-like texture.
Unlike cornstarch, which needs heat to activate its thickening properties, guar gum starts working immediately when mixed with liquid.
This makes it ideal for cold applications such as ice cream or salad dressings where you don’t want your ingredients to separate out over time.
In addition to being an effective thickener and stabilizer, guar gum also helps retain moisture in baked goods like cakes and cookies while providing structure that prevents them from crumbling apart too easily.
12 – Blended vegetables
Blended vegetables are a great alternative to cornstarch when it comes to thickening sauces and gravies.
Vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and onions can be blended into a puree that adds body and texture to dishes without the addition of starches.
The process is simple: just blend cooked vegetables with some liquid until smooth.
This mixture can then be added directly to sauces or gravies for an extra layer of flavor and creaminess.
It’s also a great way to sneak in more veggies while still achieving the desired consistency.
13 – Plain Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great substitute for cornstarch in many recipes.
It has a thick, creamy texture and a slightly tangy flavor that adds depth to dishes.
Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt to remove the whey, resulting in a thicker consistency than unstrained yogurt.
This process also concentrates the proteins and other nutrients found in the yogurt, making it an excellent source of calcium and probiotics.
When used as a replacement for cornstarch, Greek yogurt can help thicken sauces without altering their flavor or texture too much.
It can also be used to add creaminess to soups and stews while providing additional protein content.
For best results, make sure to use plain Greek yogurt with no added sugar or flavoring – this will ensure that your dish doesn’t become overly sweet or have any unexpected flavors.
14 – Sour cream
Sour cream is a great alternative to cornstarch when it comes to thickening sauces and gravies.
It has a tangy flavor that adds depth to dishes, as well as a creamy texture that helps bind ingredients together.
Sour cream can also be used in baking recipes, such as cakes and muffins, for added moisture and richness.
When substituting sour cream for cornstarch, use half the amount of sour cream as you would cornstarch – so if your recipe calls for two tablespoons of cornstarch, use one tablespoon of sour cream instead.
For best results, add the sour cream at the end of cooking or baking time to avoid curdling or separating.
The versatility of this dairy product makes it an ideal pantry staple for adding flavor and texture to all kinds of dishes!
Can I replace cornstarch with flour?
Yes, it is possible to substitute cornstarch with flour for thickening purposes.
However, you will need to use more flour than cornstarch in order to achieve the same effect.
In general, it’s recommended that you use twice as much white flour as cornstarch when making a substitution.
For example, if your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, then you should use 2 tablespoons of white flour instead.
Flour can be used in many different ways to thicken sauces and gravies – from roux-based mixtures to slurry additions.
It’s important to note that using too much flour can result in a pasty texture and flavor. So be sure not to overdo it!
Can I use baking powder instead of cornstarch?
It is not recommended to use baking powder or baking soda as a substitute for cornstarch.
While both of these ingredients are leavening agents, they have distinct chemical properties that make them unsuitable for thickening soups and sauces.
Baking powder and baking soda also impart their own flavor, which may not be desirable in certain dishes.
Cornstarch is the preferred choice when it comes to thickening liquids because it has a neutral taste and does not react with other ingredients in the same way that baking powder or baking soda would.
It also produces a smooth texture without any lumps, making it ideal for creating creamy sauces and gravies.
In conclusion, cornstarch is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different recipes.
However, if you don’t have cornstarch on hand, there are plenty of other ingredients that can be used as a substitute.
The best substitutes for cornstarch are potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, all-purpose flour, rice flour, wheat flour, arrowroot, ground flaxseeds, glucomannan, psyllium husk, guar gum, blended vegetables, plain Greek yogurt, and sour cream.
Each of these ingredients has its own unique properties that can be used to thicken sauces, soups, and other dishes.
So, the next time you’re in a pinch, reach for one of these substitutes and give it a try.
The 14 Best Substitutes For Cornstarch
- Potato Starch
- Tapioca Starch
- Xanthan Gum
- All-Purpose Flour
- Rice Flour
- Wheat flour
- Ground flaxseeds
- Psyllium husk
- Guar gum
- Blended vegetables
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Sour cream
- Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
- Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.