Cornstarch is one of those things that you just need to have in your kitchen. You use it in many dishes whether it is savory or sweet.
It’s very handy in thickening sauces, gravies, making stir-fries, creating that crispy crust in fried goods, pie fillings, and puddings, we can go on and on with the list. Cornstarch is an integral part of cooking.
So what are you supposed to do when you suddenly realize that you’re all out? Don’t panic yet! We’re going to save you that run to the grocery with ingredients that can be used as cornstarch substitute!
#1 Flour: Good as Thickening Agent and in Baking
Flour may not be the best ingredient to be used as a substitute for cornstarch but this is probably the first thing that you will think to use when there’s no cornstarch at hand and also the most likely that you will find available in your pantry.
Use at least twice the amount of cornstarch you are supposed to use in your recipe when you use flour instead, because cornstarch has twice the thickening power of flour. Be careful not to add too much flour or your dish will turn out thick and gummy. It can be used as is but it’s better to make a roux first before mixing it in to sauces and is a great stand-in for cornstarch when you are making dairy-based sauces.
Flour won’t give you the same glossy look that using cornstarch will give you and it will also take more time to cook so you don’t get that raw flour taste, but it’s as good a substitute when you’re really in a pinch.
#2 Arrowroot: Good as Thickening Agent Especially When It Has To Be Refrigerated
Arrowroot, unlike flour, only requires the same amount as a recipe would when you use it as a substitute for cornstarch. Like cornstarch, it’s a starch thickener and produces that same glossy look on your dish. Basically they are interchangeable but definitely not the same since they yield better results in different recipes. For example, cornstarch is better used in pies and sauces with dairy and on the other hand arrowroot is used more in recipes with acid like lemon and vinegar in it.
It’s also a better option as a replacement for cornstarch if you’re going to refrigerate the sauce you’re making since it does not gelatinize!
#3 Potato Starch: The Equivalent of Cornstarch in European Households
Potato starch is to Europeans as cornstarch is to Americans. This one, like arrowroot, can be used as a backup for cornstarch by using the same amount in recipes. Because potato starch is a larger-grained starch compared to cornstarch, it is actually more ideal to use too if you’re going to make a huge batch of sauce or gravy and refrigerate it for future use since it doesn’t gelatinize the way sauces made with cornstarch does, instead the sauce made with potato starch thins but retains its texture. It gives that same glossy look but not the same opaque quality when you use it as substitute for cornstarch. You will also have to whisk it more carefully because it clumps more than cornstarch. Aside from that, potato starch can also be used to repair sauces that were not thickened enough and it is a good option as a substitute when frying.
#4 Tapioca Flour: Great for Pie Fillings
This cornstarch substitute is also known as tapioca starch. You have to use two times the amount of cornstarch that the recipe requires when you are using tapioca flour as your substitute. It doesn’t gelatinize as well and has a silkier texture to the mouth. It’s also a great stand-in for cornstarch, especially when making pie fillings, because it does not add much taste to the dish you are making. Actually, if you’re baking or cooking something slowly at a low temperature, tapioca flour will give you a better result than cornstarch.
When you’re using tapioca flour as a replacement for the cornstarch you need, it is better to add it in near the when you are cooking because it doesn’t react well to longer cooking.
#5 Rice Flour: Great for Thickening Clear Liquids
Rice flour is good as a replacement for cornstarch as a thickening agent, both are good but sometimes the other one is better. When using rice flour as replacement, you need double the amount compared to when you are using cornstarch. Unlike cornstarch which is used only as slurry, rice flour is more like white flour and can be used both as a slurry and roux. If you need to thicken a clear liquid, rice flour is even more preferable than cornstarch. Another advantage of using rice flour instead of cornstarch is that it’s more stable in higher and lower temperature as food made with cornstarch cannot be brought into a boil or it will lose its thickness. It can also be used as backup for cornstarch when you are frying.
#6 Potato Flakes or Granules: Great Alternative for Thickening Gravy and Soup
If you happen to have instant mashed potato granules lying around in your pantry, you can also use that as a replacement for cornstarch! Since potatoes contain starch, it can be used as a thickener for soup, sauce, and gravy. This is easier to use than flour since you don’t have to make a roux, you can just put it in as is.
As to how much potato granules or flakes to use when you’re using it as a backup, there is no definite answer, you just have to add it in a little at a time. Don’t go heavy on this, you don’t want what you’re cooking to turn into the same consistency as mashed potato!
You can also use it as stand-in for cornstarch in other recipes, especially in frying; just remember to add a little more seasoning to the dish you’re cooking with potato flakes.
Did you find this list informative? This list sure helps, especially to people like me who lives so far away from grocery stores. So the next time you find yourself suddenly out of cornstarch, don’t grab your car keys just yet, remember to check your pantry first for a possible cornstarch substitute, I’m sure you’ll find at least one of these ingredients there. This can also help if you have someone in the house with corn allergies!
Share this with your friends and make sure to leave some thoughts and maybe other ideas about this list in the comments section!