What Can You Use In Place Of Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a versatile thickening agent commonly used in cooking and baking to give the ideal consistency of sauces, soups, and desserts. But what happens when you realize you’re out of cornstarch in the midst of a recipe? Or perhaps you’re seeking a gluten-free or low-carb substitute? 

The good news is that several alternatives can effectively supplant cornstarch in a variety of culinary applications. 

In this article, we will check out these substitutes, discussing their properties, usage ratios, and the types of recipes for which they are best fitted.

What Can You Use In Place Of Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is often used as a thickening agent in recipes, but there are several alternatives you can use if you don’t have it on hand or need a substitute for dietary reasons. Here are some common substitutes for cornstarch, along with guidelines on how to use them:

1. Flour

  • Ratio: Use twice the amount of flour as cornstarch.
  • How to Use: Create a roux by mixing it with an equal amount of fat (like butter) and cook for a few minutes to remove the floury taste before adding it to your dish.

2. Arrowroot Powder

  • Ratio: Use the same amount as cornstarch.
  • How to Use: Mix with a cold liquid before adding to hot liquids. It’s good for acidic and high-temperature recipes but can create a slimy texture if overcooked.

3. Potato Starch

  • Ratio: Use the same amount as cornstarch.
  • How to Use: Like cornstarch, it’s a strong thickener. Add it at the end of the cooking process and avoid boiling it, as it can break down with prolonged heat.

4. Tapioca Starch (or Tapioca Flour)

  • Ratio: Use the same amount as cornstarch.
  • How to Use: It thickens quickly at a lower temperature but can create a chewy texture and should be used in recipes that will be consumed immediately.

5. Rice Flour

  • Ratio: Use twice the amount as cornstarch.
  • How to Use: Best for recipes that are meant to be refrigerated or frozen as it prevents the liquid from separating.

6. Guar Gum

  • Ratio: Use 1/6 the amount of cornstarch.
  • How to Use: Effective in small quantities and works well for cold foods like ice cream and pastry fillings.

7. Xanthan Gum

  • Ratio: Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per cup of liquid.
  • How to Use: Effective in very small amounts and can be used in a wide range of recipes. It’s a popular choice for gluten-free recipes.

8. Gelatin

  • Ratio: For each cup of liquid, use 1 tablespoon of gelatin.
  • How to Use: Good for recipes that require chilling to set, like puddings and mousses.

9. Agar-Agar

  • Ratio: Use 1 tablespoon for each cup of liquid.
  • How to Use: A vegetarian alternative to gelatin, it’s used in a similar way but sets more firmly.

10. Quick Cooking Oats or Bread Crumbs (for meatloaf or meatballs)

  • Ratio: Varies depending on the recipe.
  • How to Use: Can be used to absorb excess moisture in recipes like meatloaf or meatballs.

Tips for Using Substitutes

  • Temperature: Certain substances, such as arrowroot, are sensitive to elevated temperatures.
  • Acidity: Cornstarch does not perform well in acidic preparations, whereas arrowroot does.
  • Freezing: If you intend to preserve a dish, use a substitute that freezes well, such as rice flour.
  • Gluten-Free: If you require a gluten-free option, select arrowroot, potato starch, or tapioca.
  • Texture: Choose a thickener based on the intended texture of your dish, as different thickeners can have varying effects.
  • Quantity: Always begin with less and add more as necessary, particularly when using potent thickeners such as xanthan gum.
  • Mixing: Before adding thickeners to hot liquids, always combine them with a small amount of cool liquid to prevent clumping.

Bottom Line

If you run out of cornstarch, you do not have to sacrifice the dish’s texture or quality. There are a number of viable alternatives, such as arrowroot, potato starch, and even all-purpose flour, each with its own characteristics and optimal applications. 

Understanding the properties of these alternatives and adjusting the quantity to achieve the intended consistency is essential for a successful substitution.

Read More: How To Make Brown Sugar Without Molasses?

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