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One of the things I like most about baking is the flexibility it affords me to make adjustments to a recipe’s components and ingredients. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that I’ve begun baking something, only to find that I’m missing a key component later on in the process!

Cornstarch is one of the most typical things that I run out of first, whether I’m baking or cooking. I opted to start my experiment with baking powder since it was the first powdered material that came to my mind.

Cornstarch cannot be replaced with baking powder in any recipe. Baking powder does not have the chemical components necessary to operate as a substitute for cornstarch since cornstarch works as a thickening agent in certain recipes. Baking powder, when added to a mixture, will cause air bubbles to form but will not cause the fluid to thicken.

After learning that baking powder is not a suitable replacement, I was forced to put on my thinking gear. I then went on to locate cornstarch alternatives that were superior in both quality and performance. Now, if I’m baking and I go in the cupboard and realize I’m out of cornstarch, I don’t get stressed out about it because I have so many other options available.

How is Baking Powder Different From Cornstarch

Baking Powder Cornstarch
Leavening agent Thickening agent
Causes formation of air bubbles in the mixture Starch molecules and heat react to thicken the mixture
Used to make light and airy desserts Used to make liquids thicker
Made from an acid, base, and a buffer Made from starch extracted from corn kernels

When I am in my kitchen baking, I get the impression that I am a crazed scientist laboring in my laboratory to create a variety of unique concoctions. Because there are so many components that must go through chemical processes in order to produce stunning and delectable sweets, I really should start wearing a lab coat whenever I’m in the kitchen.

The combination of the many components will produce a certain end result, but only after they have interacted with one another. Cornstarch is an example of an ingredient that may be used to thicken liquids.

To begin using, you must first prepare a slurry, which is nothing more than a combination of water and cornstarch in equal parts. Due to the need of heat, this will not yet cause your liquid to thicken. When you have reached the desired consistency, add your cornstarch slurry to the mixture, and then gently heat it. This will cause the mixture to become thicker.

Cornstarch and baking powder, on the other hand, are not comparable in terms of their properties. As a consequence of this, it is a very ineffective thickening agent, and as such, it should not be employed as an alternative.

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Because baking powder is a leavening agent, it cannot be used as a substitute due to the scientific principles that underlie this fact. Baking powder is used in desserts because it causes the release of carbon dioxide, which gives the treat more height (like I said, very science-y). The formation of air bubbles, which results from the release of carbon dioxide, is what gives sweets their light and airy texture.

Because I was doing research on the viability of using baking powder in place of cornstarch, I came to the conclusion fairly fast that doing so is not a good idea. The addition of baking powder will not cause your mixture to become more thick. Instead of thickening the liquid, it will create air bubbles in the liquid you are working with.

Is baking powder and cornstarch the same?

Baking powder and cornstarch are two very different ingredients. Baking powder comprises both an acid and a base, as well as an intermediate buffer, which stops the acid and base from interacting with one another until the baking stage is completed. The starch that is found in corn kernels, which are themselves extremely starchy, is what is used to make cornstarch.

Let’s pretend for a moment that we are insane scientists. When an acid and a base are mixed together, you will see a response in the form of fizzing and expansion. For example, if you add vinegar to baking soda, you will observe this reaction. When we bake, we give our cakes their characteristic height by using baking powder in the batter of our cakes.

On the other hand, cornstarch is produced from the pure starch that is removed from kernels of maize. Cornstarch has a thickening effect on a combination after being combined with water, then heated to activate it. This approach is used rather often in the baking and culinary worlds (in fact, it is the strategy that is utilized when one makes gravy!).

In spite of the fact that they both have a powdery texture, a side-by-side comparison reveals that baking powder and cornstarch have quite distinct properties, despite the fact that they seem very similar to one another.

What can be used instead of cornstarch?

We need to delve into the science that behind this enchanted thickening agent in order to discover what ingredients may successfully replace cornstarch and why baking powder is not a suitable alternative in culinary applications.

Substitutes for Cornstarch

Cornstarch Substitute Amount to Replace 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch
Flour 2 Tablespoons
Arrowroot 1 Tablespoon
Tapioca 2 Tablespoons
Potato Starch 1 Tablespoon
Ground Flax Seeds 2 Teaspoons
Rice Flour 2 Tablespoons
Xanthan Gum 1 Tablespoon

Use Flour

Due to the presence of starch, flour is generally considered to be the most suitable alternative to cornstarch. The interaction of heat and starch is the process that causes liquids to become more viscous. Because flour and cornstarch both have a high percentage of starch, they are excellent choices for use in recipes that call for thickening liquids.

So why don’t we simply thicken all of our recipes with flour like everyone else does? However, in addition to carbohydrates, flour also contains other components such as fiber and protein. This makes it somewhat more difficult to thicken liquids, which is why, with reference to the table that was just shown, you should use two tablespoons of flour for every one tablespoon of cornstarch.

When replacing cornstarch with flour, the same procedure should be followed (the method below is used to substitute 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a recipe).

  1. Prepare a small bowl, a tablespoon, and your flour
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of flour into the bowl
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water into the bowl
  4. Mix well until no clumps remain in the slurry
  5. Slowly add slurry into the liquid you are thickening
  6. Heat up the liquid that you are thickening
  7. Gently mix your mixture until it has thickened

If you want to replace cornstarch with flour, here are some crucial considerations you should keep in mind:

  • When you are preparing a slurry, be sure that you use the same quantity of flour and water.
  • The process of thickening your liquid requires the use of heat.
  • To avoid giving your dish a raw taste, make sure you cook the flour in your combination for a few more minutes than you would cornstarch. This will eradicate any traces of flour’s natural flavor.
  • Your mixture will have a matte appearance after using flour, whereas it will have a glossy appearance after using cornstarch.

Use Arrowroot

In the last ten years, there has been a rise in demand for arrowroot powder, which is also referred to as arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch. The arrowroot plant is ground up into a powder to extract the starches, which are then packaged and sold. Because one of its primary functions is that of acting as a thickening in baking and cooking, arrowroot powder is an excellent substitute for cornstarch that may be used in these activities.

In contrast to the usage of flour, arrowroot is composed entirely of starch and may be substituted for cornstarch in a baking recipe at a ratio of 1:1. You may substitute 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder in any recipe that calls for cornstarch.

When it comes to aesthetics, arrowroot powder replicates the effects of cornstarch by making the texture of your thickened mixture shiny. This gives the impression that the combination is cornstarch-based. It imparts a wonderful opaque gloss, in contrast to the somewhat more matte appearance that other, less starchy flours produce.

Use Tapioca

Tapioca is another name for the root of the cassava plant, which is where arrowroot comes from. Because I am now obsessed with bubble tea, tapioca has become one of my personal favorites. Because of how nicely it thickens (and also because it’s so much fun to eat! ), the squishy bubbles that are seen in bubble tea are indeed formed from this delicious tapioca powder.

The most important thing to remember when exchanging cornstarch for tapioca is that the ratio has to be changed to 1:2. Tapioca powder may be used instead of cornstarch in recipes where 1 tablespoon of cornstarch is called for. The equivalent amount of tapioca powder is 2 tablespoons. To put it another way, if you want to have the right consistency for what you’re making, increasing the quantity of tapioca that you use will assist.

Use Potato Starch

Plants and vegetables with high starch content are often ground into powder after being reduced to their component parts. Potato starch is a wonderful alternative to cornstarch and serves as a good illustration of this point.

In recent years, a lot of individuals have started using potato starch as an alternative to cornstarch due to the fact that it has a lower carbohydrate content. Despite this, it is still able to adequately thicken a combination. This does not impede its ability.

Because potato starch and cornstarch have many of the same characteristics, the two may be interchanged using the same ratio of one to one. In other words, one tablespoon of potato starch may serve as a suitable replacement for one tablespoon of cornstarch.

Use Ground Flaxseed

Are you as taken aback as I am right now? Yes, in my opinion! Ground flaxseed, which is a kind of the ubiquitous flax seed that is used in cooking and added to smoothies for the nutritional benefits it provides, may actually be used as a thickening.

There is a naturally high concentration of fiber in flaxseed. As a consequence of this, it has the ability to have a thickening effect when it is combined with liquids. However, since ground flaxseed is not as rich in starch as cornstarch or even regular wheat flour, more of it is necessary. Cornstarch and regular wheat flour both have higher starch content.

It is necessary to thoroughly combine powdered flaxseed with water in order to produce a slurry that can be used to thicken your mixture. To get a consistent level of thickening, it is essential that the water containing the ground flaxseed be completely combined with it. Blend together 2 teaspoons of ground flaxseed and 4 tablespoons of water to make a cornstarch substitute. The recipe asks for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.

Use Rice Flour

Rice flour is a common ingredient that can be found on the shelves of kitchens all around the globe. It is also a mainstay in many different types of cuisine. Rice, which naturally has a high level of starch, may be milled into flour and utilized in a wide variety of applications in the kitchen, including baking and cooking. Because it does not contribute any color to the liquid, it is an excellent thickener that may be used with clear liquids.

Due to the fact that it is so comparable to wheat flour, the ratio for the replacement is one to two. Rice flour may be used in place of cornstarch at a ratio of 1 tablespoon of rice flour to 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.

Use Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a novel method that is also really efficient; thus, you should use it if you have an adventurous spirit and certainly more of a mad scientist mindset.

Xanthan gum is a gluten-free baking ingredient that works well when used in gluten-free dessert recipes. The addition of this to gluten-free flours helps offer structure as well as additional flexibility to dough and batter. However, one of the most common use for xanthan gum is to increase the viscosity of liquids.

Because of how effective it is as a thickening, the optimal ratio of xanthan gum to cornstarch is one part xanthan gum to one part cornstarch. This indicates that one tablespoon of xanthan gum may serve as a suitable replacement for one tablespoon of cornstarch.

How does cornstarch thicken liquids?

Baking and other types of cuisine sometimes call for the use of cornstarch as a thickening agent. Heat is necessary for the successful functioning of cornstarch. When cornstarch and water are combined, the mixture won’t become thick until it has been cooked all the way through.

Cornstarch is my go-to ingredient if I’m making a mouthwatering dessert that needs to be thickened, such as my husband’s all-time favorite lemon pie. I thicken the filling for my lemon pie by adding cornstarch and then heating it to the desired consistency. In spite of this, I found that if you overmix the ingredients and agitate the mixture for an excessive amount of time, it may become watery.

What is the difference between cornflour and cornstarch?

Cornstarch, on the other hand, is produced using just the starchy portion of the corn kernel, while corn flour utilizes the whole kernel in its production. Fiber and protein are both included in this. It is important not to confuse corn flour with masa flour, since the latter is what is often used to produce tortillas.

Because both corn flour and cornmeal are ground down from entire kernels of corn, the terms are often used interchangeably. The degree to which it is ground, on the other hand, is what makes the difference. Cornmeal’s coarse texture makes it perfect for making cornbread, but it also makes it an excellent ingredient for baking and cooking.

Due to the high degree of processing that cornflour undergoes, it does not perform as well as cornstarch when used in recipes that call for starch. Cornflour, in comparison to wheat flour and rice flour, has a lower amount of starch, which means that it cannot assist thicken a combination without first imparting a sour and uncooked flavor to it.

Because of this, the table that is shown above only includes rice flour and wheat flour as options for flours to use. This is because they have a greater amount of starch than other organisms.