“I ran out of tapioca flour and only to find a pack labeled “tapioca starch” at the grocery store. Can I use it?”
Yes, take that from the shelves. Believe it or not, they’re both the same! Some manufacturers prefer to call it tapioca starch, but it’s just synonymous with tapioca flour. Don’t let it confuse you.
Tapioca flour is extracted from a cassava plant. Tapioca flour or starch is a gluten-free flour processed from the starch of cassava root. The starchy property of tapioca mainly serves as a thickener for sauces, stews, soups, as fillers for baked goods, and as a stabilizer for meat patties. Price-wise, tapioca is cheaper than flour.
In terms of nutrition, tapioca flour is starchy in nature. Hence, it contains carbohydrates but barely has fiber. Tapioca flour does not contain fat and protein too. Yet, it is gluten-free!
There are moments in your kitchen that you realized that you’re already out of specific ingredients. For instance, your canister of tapioca flour is already empty. And, you have a special dish to prepare that needs tapioca flour. Sometimes, you’re not sure what ingredient you might have that could replace it.
When in doubt, we’re here to help you out! We got the answers to your missing tapioca flour. Take your time to read the rest of this post. We hope this will help you figure out the right alternative you need to replace tapioca flour. You might be surprised that you already have it in your kitchen!
Table of Contents
Substitutes for Tapioca Flour
1. All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour (APF), also referred to as refined flour or just flour is derived from wheat grains wherein its brown covering is removed. The grains undergo a process of milling, refining, and bleaching.
Flour gives structure to bread, cakes, muffins, pancakes, and body to specific cuisines.
As a tapioca flour substitute, all-purpose flour can be an excellent thickening agent to your sauces, gravies, and soups.
A 1:1 ratio of all-purpose flour replace your tapioca flour will be fine.
Expect that there will be a difference in texture and appearance if you use all-purpose flour in your dish. Tapioca flour will give you a bright, glossy finish to your sauces, gravies, and soups while all-purpose flour will provide you with a matte finish and dull-colored food. Also, you will need to cook the dish a little longer to cook off the raw flour’s powdery texture.
If you are cooking for someone who cannot tolerate gluten, stay away from all-purpose flour. It is sourced from wheat; hence it has gluten.
2. Potato Starch
The extracted starch from potatoes is called potato starch. Potato is starchy in nature. Therefore, it is gluten-free! It’s a suitable replacement for tapioca flour only that its consistency is heavier. This will make your product denser.
For thickening stews or sauces, a 1:1 ratio swap will work.
And if you are baking, you may try reducing the amount of potato starch by a fourth or to a half of the recipe’s tapioca measurement.
3. Rice flour
Rice flour comes from finely grounded grains of polished rice with a very mild flavor. It makes another alternative for tapioca starch that is free from gluten.
In terms of thickening, rice is stickier than tapioca flour. Measure half of the tapioca flour quantity of your recipe. You need to make some adjustments so that you don’t overwhelm your dish. If your recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of tapioca flour, measure 1 teaspoon of rice flour instead.
4. Arrowroot starch
Arrowroot is a native tropical tuber in Indonesia. Like tapioca starch, arrowroot starch is gluten-free, and it shares the same qualities as a thickener that can give a smooth and clear finish without altering the taste of the food.
The advantage of arrowroot starch is its ability to withstand acidic without losing its thickening properties.
As to how much arrowroot starch you need to use, you may substitute it with a 1:1 ratio for most dishes. And if you think it’s thicker than you expected, just minimize the amount of arrowroot starch that you are going to add in your dish
In making an arrowroot slurry, mix it with cold water before adding it to your dish.
5. Cassava flour
Indeed, tapioca flour comes from cassava roots. So, why call it tapioca when its indeed from the cassava plant, and yet, there’s also cassava flour being sold in the market?
Here are the differences:
Tapioca flour, on the other hand, has to undergo extra processing by extracting only the cassava’s starch and leave out the rest of the root. This is fine by grating and washing the root to make starchy water. The water is allowed to evaporate, leaving a white starchy residue called tapioca. Tapioca gives no flavor to any dish or baked good, it mainly serves as a thickening agent.
Cassava flour is simply processed from the whole cassava root. The roots are dried and pulverized to finely textured powder. Since this type of flour is sourced from the cassava roots, it contains more fiber than tapioca flour. Hence, cassava flour makes an excellent gluten-free substitute for improving the texture of some baked goods with a hint of nutty flavor.
6. Corn starch
Also known as corn flour, corn starch is derived from the endosperm of corn. Corn starch is often used as a thickener for sauces, gravies, marinades, glazes, soups, casseroles, pies, and some desserts.
Like tapioca flour, corn starch is also gluten-free. Cornstarch is an excellent replacement for tapioca flour for cooking and baking since it’s always available in the market, or you might already have it in your kitchen.
Note that cornstarch is a potent thickening agent. If you are going to use it, measure half the amount of the recipe’s tapioca flour. For example, if a dish needs 2 teaspoons of tapioca, measure only 1 teaspoon of cornstarch instead.
7. Heavy Cream
Heavy cream or whipping cream is a thick cream that is high in fat and contains lots of buttercreams. These are useful thickeners for many dishes from pasta, sauces, soups, and casseroles. It also gives a yummy and creamy mouthfeel to desserts.
Keep your heavy cream in refrigerated conditions. It should not be left outside the fridge for an extended time, or else it will spoil.
Tapioca flour is gluten-free, and it is an ingredient that serves as a binding and thickening agent and as a filler for some types of bread that does not require fermentation, such as flatbread.
When tapioca flour is not available, there are quick alternatives you can find if you are looking for a thickener that can still make your dish look shiny with a smooth texture and, at the same time, does not alter the taste of your dish.
Remember these ingredients: all-purpose flour, potato starch, rice flour, arrowroot starch, cassava flour, corn starch, and heavy cream.
If you want your dish to be free from gluten, don’t use all-purpose flour because it contains gluten.
Minimize the amount of tapioca substitute especially if you are going to replace it with corn starch and rice flour
A 1:1 ratio swap will work if you are going to use cassava flour, arrowroot, potato starch, and all-purpose flour.
You can opt for heavy cream as a thickener as long as it is a good match for your dish.