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Substitute Cornstarch for Baking

Cornstarch is a thickener used in cooking for changing the consistency of sauces, baked goods and other foods. This ingredient is commonly required in many recipes. If you are ever missing it or are avoiding cornstarch for other reasons you can consider the following substitutions.


1. Flaxseed

Ground flaxseed can be a great way to increase the thickness in place of cornstarch. Powdered or ground flaxseed is high in fiber and supplies omega-3 fatty acids. This goes well in stews and baked goods. Add a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

2. Flour

Whether it is wheat, nut, or another type of grain, flour is the easiest go-to for cornstarch substitution. All-purpose wheat flour has a ratio of about 2 tablespoons for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch required by the recipe. Add liquid to the flour then warm. You may want to heat it on low heat for a little bit until a more neutral flavor is achieved. But be aware that this should be for a short amount of time, you can overcook flour which causes it to thin and have less elasticity. Some people have problems with flour creating an inconsistent texture when cooked with fat or chilled.

Other popular flours include rice, potato, or konjac flour. These all work well in recipes that require the food to be frozen afterwards.

3. Tapioca

Tapioca has long been used as a thickener. When substituting it for cornstarch, try a ratio of 2:4 tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Another plus is that tapioca chills better than all-purpose flour. Avoid overcooking.

4. Arrowroot

Commonly available in the baking sections of grocery stores, this substitute is often even better than cornstarch. A ratio of 1-2.5 tablespoons of arrowroot for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch will meet your cooking needs. This substitute has a very mild flavor and can be refrigerated. For beginning cooks, this can be accidentally overcooked and still works well. One negative of arrowroot is that doesn't work well with dairy products.

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Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.

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