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Cornflour Alternative

If you run out of cornflour in the middle of a recipe, don't panic, this guide will help you determine the best cornflour alternative to keep your recipe on track.

jar of cornflour on a shelf among other jars in a pantry.
Photo by Jake Charles on Unsplash

Cooking and baking are delightful arts that often require a delicate balance of ingredients. One such crucial component in many recipes is cornflour. But what happens when you find yourself in the middle of baking and realize you've run out of cornflour?

Understanding and having a readily available cornflour substitute can save your day. This blog post delves into everything you need to know about cornflour and presents 15 fantastic alternatives you can use in your baking endeavors.

What is Cornflour?

Cornflour, also known as corn flour, is a type of flour made from dried corn kernels. These whole corn kernels are finely ground to form a smooth, powdery consistency that is commonly used as a thickening agent in various dishes and baked goods. When used in baking, cornflour contributes to a light and airy texture in the final product. 

What Does Cornflour Taste Like?

Despite being made from entire corn kernels, cornflour has a subtle flavor profile. It possesses a faint sweetness but, overall, it doesn't taste strongly of corn. Its primary role in recipes is to add structure and serve as a thickening agent, rather than contribute a distinct taste.

Cornflour Vs Cornstarch

A common query that often arises is about the difference between cornflour and cornstarch. While both are derived from corn, they're not exactly the same. Cornstarch is extracted from the endosperm of the corn kernel and is typically used as a thickening agent.

On the other hand, cornflour is made from finely ground whole corn kernels, endosperm included, and is used for thickening, baking, and even coating foods for frying. Thus, cornflour and cornstarch serve different purposes in cooking and baking.

How to Use Cornflour in Baking

Cornflour's lightness and fineness make it an excellent ingredient for baking. It's especially favored for its ability to help baked goods achieve a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture. For instance, if a cake recipe calls for one tablespoon of cornflour, it's best to sift it with the rest of the dry ingredients to ensure even distribution.

However, cornflour isn't always interchangeable with regular plain flour in a cake, as it lacks gluten and can change the texture of the finished product.

What’s the best Cornflour Substitute?

Numerous cornflour substitutes exist, including but not limited to arrowroot powder, tapioca flour, potato flour, and all-purpose flour. The best substitute depends on the specific needs of your recipe.

The Best Substitutes for Cornflour

While cornflour serves specific purposes in recipes, there are several alternatives to consider if you run out of it. Here are 15 corn flour substitutes you can use, each with a unique characteristic that makes it an excellent choice for different culinary requirements.

1. Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour, as the name suggests, is flour made from entire wheat grains. This whole grain flour substitute is denser than cornflour, so it can result in a heavier texture in baked goods.

How to Use It

In most recipes, you can substitute whole wheat flour for cornflour in a 1:1 ratio. However, remember that it has a stronger flavor and may impact the taste of your dish. 

2. Brown Rice Flour

Brown rice flour is made from finely ground rice. It's a gluten-free alternative to cornflour, making it ideal for those with dietary restrictions.

How to Use It

Substitute brown rice flour in a 1:1 ratio for cornflour. However, it might not have the same thickening power, so you may need to experiment a bit with quantities.

3. Cornstarch

Cornstarch, despite its differences with cornflour, can be used as a corn flour substitute, especially as a thickening agent. It offers a similar texture and is gluten-free.

How to Use It

For thickening purposes, use half the amount of cornstarch as cornflour called for in your recipe. If your recipe uses cornflour for frying, though, using cornstarch instead can give an equally crispy result.

4. Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot powder is another gluten-free alternative to cornflour. It's a fantastic thickening agent, particularly suitable for those looking for a cornflour alternative.

How to Use It

For thickening recipes, use arrowroot powder in the same quantity as cornflour. However, avoid high-heat cooking methods, as arrowroot can break down under such conditions.

5. Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour, derived from the cassava root, is another gluten-free substitute. It adds a certain chewiness to your baked goods, setting it apart from other alternatives.

How to Use It

Tapioca flour can be used in a 1:1 ratio for cornflour, making it an easy substitute.

6. Potato Flour

Potato flour is a great gluten-free alternative to cornflour. It's made from finely ground, dehydrated potatoes and imparts a mild potato flavor to your dishes.

How to Use It

Use it in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute corn flour for thickening soups or sauces. For baking, though, potato flour absorbs more liquid than cornflour, so you may need to adjust other recipe components accordingly.

7. Masa Harina

Masa harina is a type of flour made from dried corn kernels that have been treated with an alkali. It gives a more distinct, earthy corn flavor compared to cornflour.

How to Use It

Replace cornflour with an equal amount of masa harina in baking recipes that can benefit from a stronger corn flavor, like cornbread or tortillas.

8. Rising Flour

Rising flour, or self-rising flour, is a combination of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Its leavening properties make it a unique corn flour substitute.

How to Use It

This flour can be a useful substitute in baking recipes, although it's not ideal for thickening. Substitute it in a 1:1 ratio, but be sure to adjust any added leavening agents in the recipe due to the baking powder present in rising flour.

9. Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour is another gluten-free whole grain flour alternative. Its mild flavor and light texture make it suitable for a range of baking applications.

How to Use It

Substitute sorghum flour in a 1:1 ratio for cornflour, but be aware that it may not thicken as effectively.

10. All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is probably the most readily available corn flour substitute. While it contains gluten, its ubiquity and versatility make it a good backup.

How to Use It

You can use all-purpose flour in a 1:1 ratio as a corn flour substitute for thickening. When used in baking, be aware that it may result in a denser texture.

FAQ About Cornflour Substitutes

Can Cornstarch Be Substituted for Corn Flour?

Yes, but the quantity will change. Generally, use half the amount of cornstarch as cornflour when used for thickening.

Can I Use Flour Instead of Corn Flour?

Yes, plain or all-purpose flour can be used instead of corn flour. However, the result might be slightly heavier or denser in baking recipes and creamier when used as a thickening agent.

Can You Use Plain Flour Instead of Cornflour?

Absolutely. Plain flour works well as a substitute, especially for frying and baking. For thickening, it creates a creamier texture compared to the transparent glossiness of cornflour.

Best Corn Flour Substitute in Baking?

Rising flour, all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour are some of the corn flour substitutes you can use in baking. Just remember, each will contribute a different texture and flavor to your baked goods.

Can I Use Cornflour Instead of Cornstarch?

For most purposes, cornflour and cornstarch can be used interchangeably. However, keep in mind that cornflour may contribute a slightly corny flavor.

Can I Use Plain Flour Instead of Cornflour to Coat Chicken?

Absolutely! Plain flour creates a thicker coating and can yield a crunchier crust compared to cornflour when frying chicken.

Can I Use Cornflour Instead of Flour in a Cake?

Cornflour can be used as a part of the flour blend in a cake to provide a lighter, more delicate texture. However, it cannot entirely replace regular flour due to its lack of gluten, which is necessary for structure.

What’s the best substitute for Corn Flour in Cookies?

If your cookie recipe calls for corn flour, a great substitute is all-purpose flour. It can give your cookies a softer texture compared to corn flour.

Plain Flour Vs Corn Flour for Thickening?

Both can be used for thickening, but they offer different results. Corn flour provides a glossy, transparent finish, while plain flour results in an opaque and somewhat creamier texture.

Best Cornflour Substitute for Thickening?

Cornstarch, potato flour, and arrowroot powder are excellent substitutes for corn flour for thickening. These alternatives can provide a similar consistency while remaining gluten-free.


With this guide, you're now equipped to find the best cornflour alternative among a variety of substitutes that fit any culinary adventure. The best cornflour substitute depends on the recipe you're making, but with a little creativity, you can achieve the same effect whenever cornflour is unavailable to you.