Corn flour is a staple in many kitchens. But, if it’s not something you always keep on hand or don’t have access to, there are several substitutes that will work just as well. Rice flour (not to be confused with rice starch) and potato flour are good one-to-one substitutes in most recipes. Kendra loves using these in fried foods, like her Homemade Queso, and for coating veg or tofu before frying.
1. Rice Flour
Rice flour, made from grinding rice grains, is a great substitute for corn flour. It has the same thickening power but is gluten-free, which makes it suitable for those with dietary restrictions. It also lacks a distinct corn flavor and can clump together quite easily, so it’s important to mix it with cold water before adding it to hot liquids.
Another common option is potato flour, which can be used as a cornflour substitute for soups and sauces. However, it is more prone to getting clumpy, so it’s best to use it in smaller amounts than cornflour. Also, it cannot stand up to high heats for long periods of time. For those who prefer a more authentic corn flavor, masa harina is an excellent choice.
2. Potato Flour
While corn flour is an excellent thickening agent, you can also use a variety of flours and starches to get the job done. Instant flour like Wondra, as well as all-purpose or wheat flour, can be used in a similar manner to cornflour to thicken soups, sauces and gravies. However, you need to simmer and reduce the liquid longer than when using corn flour.
Another good option is potato flour. This starch is obtained by cooking, drying and grinding dehydrated potatoes into a fine powder. It has a neutral flavor and strong thickening power, which makes it a great substitute for cornflour in almost any recipe. However, it can cause some recipes to become dense and gummy if used too much. This is why it’s important to follow the substitution ratio for best results.
3. Arrowroot Powder
This gluten-free starch is made from the root of a plant called Maranta arundinacea and has the same thickening power as cornflour, without any taste or odor. It is best used when a recipe is going to be cooked and served immediately, as it doesn’t hold up well with acidic ingredients or when frozen (unlike cornstarch). Mix a small amount of cold water with the powder before adding it to avoid clumping. The key difference between arrowroot and corn flour is their respective origins. The former is derived from corn, while the latter is derived from arrowroot roots.
Arrowroot can also be added to gluten-free baking recipes to help create a light texture, but should always be combined with other flours like rice, tapioca, sorghum or xanthan gum in order to prevent the batter from rising too much. It also works great as a dusting agent for protein dishes like General Tso’s chicken, or to make extra-crispy French fries.
4. Masa Harina
The key ingredient for Mexican dishes like tortillas and tamales, masa harina is a staple in many households. Whether it is an allergy, a dislike of the taste or a shortage, there are plenty of options to try if you don’t have Masa Harina.
A literal translation of “dough flour,” masa harina is a nutty and faintly sweet flour made from dried, ground corn that’s been treated with lime solution to make hominy. Though it is usually sold in a powder form, you can also find it in dough form, which is easier to work with.
Grits are another option, but their coarser texture doesn’t lend itself to the same kind of cooking as masa harina. Instead, use it as a thickener in soups or stews to get the same effect.
From breading to baking and making soups and gravies thicker, there are plenty of things you can use as corn flour substitutes. Most of them are starches that you have in your pantry already.
For example, potato flour works as a cornflour substitute for coating and frying foods because it has a light texture. Just be sure to dissolve it in cold water before adding it to hot liquids, since clumping is likely.
Another option is masa harina, which is made from nixtamalized (cooked and soaked in lime water) corn and is used to make tortillas and other Mexican dishes. It is a great option if you want to give your recipes more of a corn flavor but don’t have corn flour on hand.
Guar gum, a common ingredient found in the health food section of grocery stores, can also be used as a cornflour substitute. It has a neutral taste and is a good choice for those with allergies to gluten.