Corn Flour Substitute – Best Alternatives to Corn Flour and How to Use Them

Published Categorized as Journal, Ingredients Tagged

When finding the perfect substitutes for corn flour there are many things you have to consider. You have to think if you still want to make the recipes gluten-free. When substituting corn flour you also have to look for an ingredient that has the same thickness and powder form to be able to replace corn flour. Finding good corn flour substitutes can be tricky but can be done! Let’s look at some common corn flour substitutes and how you can use them if you don’t have corn flour in your pantry.

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Corn Flour Substitute – Best Alternatives To Corn Flour And How To Use Them

Table of Contents

Purpose of Corn Flour

Corn flour is one of the best flours out there that does not include gluten and is a great ingredient to use in many recipes. Corn flour can be used in many savory dishes, especially when coating meats and fish to make a batter and fry.

Corn Flour Substitutes

IngredientProsConsRatio of Substitution
All-Purpose FlourSame texture and thickness, good for baking and fryingMakes cakes/bakes rise, contains gluten2 cups of APF for every 1 cup of corn flour
Plain FlourSimilar consistency and texture, good for coating and frying, adds a crunchy outer layerNot gluten-free1:1
Tapioca FlourGluten-free, light and fluffy texture, excellent thickening powerLess grainy, tricky in bread, doesn’t brown or crisp wellAdjust as needed, more binding agents may be needed
Masa HarinaAuthentic taste for Mexican cuisine, imparts a delicate sweetnessRequires specialty store, higher cost, not for general bakingAdjust as needed, might not be 1:1
Rice FlourGluten-free, neutral flavor, similar light texture, good thickenerDoesn’t brown well, may require additional binders1:1
Potato FlourSoft texture, good moisture, neutral flavorLess grainy, might impart a potato taste, needs starchier floursAdjust as needed, depends on recipe
Guar GumGluten-free thickener, neutral taste, enhances moistureCan be gummy, requires precise mixing1/2 to 1 tsp per cup of corn flour, adjust as needed
Ground FlaxseedNutrient-rich, binds ingredients wellDoes not replicate texture, might turn densePartial or complete substitute, adjust ratio
Arrowroot PowderGluten-free, good for thickening, neutral flavorDoesn’t replicate texture, may lose potency with high heat1:1
Sorghum FlourHigh in fiber and antioxidants, gluten-freeDifferent texture and color, may require additional bindersAdjust as needed, might not be 1:1
Whole Wheat FlourHigh in nutrients, hearty textureContains gluten, may alter taste and texture1:1
Self-Rising FlourConvenient with built-in leavening agent, tender and fluffy textureContains gluten, not suitable for all dishesAdjust as needed, not 1:1 for corn flour
CornstarchNot recommended
Baking PowderNot recommended

1. Can I Substitute All-Purpose Flour For Corn Flour?

All-purpose flour is a great substitute for corn flour in many ways. It can be used in a lot of recipes and provides the same qualities as corn flour.

All-purpose flour has the same texture and thickness as corn flour and therefore can slot into corn flour recipes nicely. The biggest downfall when using all-purpose flour instead of corn flour is that APF will make your cakes and bakes rise. Corn flour will not affect your recipe in that way. Corn flour is also one of the best flour options that contain no gluten. It’s safe for people who have gluten intolerances and allergies.

If you are going to replace corn flour with all-purpose flour, the tricky part is getting the proportions right. Both flours measure to different weights. Therefore you will need more all-purpose flour than you would need corn flour.

For every cup of corn flour that is needed in your recipe, you should add 2 cups of all-purpose flour to match the amount. This is because corn flour needs less flour to create the thickness it can create in recipes. But all-purpose flour will need more to match this thickness.

2. Can I Use Plain Flour Instead Of Cornflour For Frying?

The main difference between plain flour and corn flour is what ingredients they are made from. Plain flour is made from grains of wheat. Corn flour comes from corn and, as mentioned, does not contain any gluten.

Plain flour is also known as all purpose flour. As in the previous section, APF is a great substitute for corn flour for any type of frying recipe. Plain flour can add a great taste to the food if it is coated while frying.

If you decide to use plain flour, this may be your best bet when looking for a good substitute. Regular flour has a very similar consistency and texture when compared to corn flour. Plain flour can also be used as a thickening agent. It will make whatever type of food it is coating have quite a crunchy outer layer once it has been fried.

Can You Use Plain Flour Instead Of Cornflour To Coat Chicken?

The quick answer to this question is yes. It’s possible to use plain flour instead of corn flour to coat chicken for frying.

If you would like to replace your corn flour and find a flour substitute to coat your chicken in, it is best to choose all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour can add more flavor to the food you are frying. It also adds a nice golden brown color to your coated chicken.

Plain flour still works very well for replacing corn flour when you want to turn the ingredients in your dish into fried foods. Regular flour can provide the same thickness as corn flour. This thickness will leave a bulky and crispy outer layer.

If you do want to substitute corn flour for plain flour when frying food it is best to match the amounts equally. Therefore, if the original corn flour recipe states that you will need 1 cup of corn flour, replace this 1 cup of corn flour with 1 cup of plain flour. If you follow this method the results should be pretty good.

3. Is Corn Flour A Substitute For Cornstarch?

Many people believe that corn flour and cornstarch are the same ingredients, which is false. Although, you are not far off if you think this.

Corn flour and cornstarch are very similar and come from the same plant, which is corn. Just because corn flour and cornstarch are very similar does not mean that corn flour is a good substitute for a recipe that requires cornstarch.

In fact, cornstarch can actually work as a better substitute for corn flour recipes than corn flour can work as a substitute for cornstarch. This is because cornstarch has the same consistency and can work better in baked goods.

4. Can I Use Baking Powder Instead Of Cornflour?

If you replace corn flour with baking powder when baking you may not have the best results. Therefore it is best not to replace corn flour with baking powder in cakes or biscuits.

Baking powder is a chemical leavening agent which is a mixture of acid and bicarbonate. It does not provide a powerful taste to food but allows the food to rise quickly.

The way baking powder makes your food rise is by a chemical reaction. This happens when the baking powder is mixed with a liquid. Even though baking powder does not provide a powerful flavor to your food, it will still change the overall taste if you use it to replace corn flour.

Some Other Alternatives Worth Trying

Though the ingredients we talked about are the popular options people think of or work best when trying to replicate the signature style of corn flour, there are certainly plenty more to choose from, including:

  • Tapioca Flour
  • Masa Harina
  • Rice, Kuzu, Tapioca, or Potato Starch
  • Rice Flour
  • Potato Flour
  • Guar Gum
  • Sorghum Flour
  • Ground Flaxseed
  • Arrowroot Powder

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour offers a versatile gluten-free alternative for recipes calling for corn flour. Derived from the starchy cassava root, tapioca flour consists of starch granules that impart lightness and structure to baked goods.

Pros

  • Gluten-free and safe for those with sensitivities
  • Pure flavor that won’t overpower other ingredients
  • Light, fluffy texture thanks to starch granules
  • Excellent thickening power for sauces and fillings
  • Imparts chewiness paired with stretch and pliancy

Cons

  • Less grainy texture than corn flour
  • Unable to replicate the sandy mouthfeel
  • Requires more binding agents for structure
  • Tricky to use for bread recipes due to lack of elasticity
  • Doesn’t brown or crisp as readily when baked

Masa Harina

Masa harina offers an authentic alternative to corn flour for Mexican recipes. This finely ground cornmeal consists of dried corn kernels that have been soaked and cooked in limewater, then dried and ground into a smooth flour. Beyond imparting subtle corn notes, masa possesses a rich historical lineage within Mesoamerican cuisine dating back thousands of years.

Pros

  • Imparts a delicate sweetness and tanginess from the traditional nixtamalization process
  • Adds moistness and structure critical for tamales, tortillas, and other corn-based foods
  • Enables authentic recreations of staples within Mexican cuisine
  • Revitalizes heirloom Mesoamerican recipes originating before European contact
  • Deepens cultural connections through time-honored Aztec and Mayan cooking traditions

Cons

  • Requires locating a specialty Mexican grocery store or ordering online
  • Substantially higher cost than basic corn flour
  • Imparts a uniquely savory, earthy flavor that may seem unusual at first
  • Doesn’t work as seamlessly for general baking applications outside of Mexican cuisine

Rice Flour

Rice flour offers a versatile gluten-free option for those seeking an alternative to corn flour in recipes. Milled from finely ground rice, this light-colored flour works well in a variety of dishes from baked goods to sauces.

Pros

  • Gluten-free and safe for those with sensitivities
  • Neutral flavor profile that won’t overpower other ingredients
  • Light texture thanks to very fine grain size, similar to corn flour
  • Excellent thickening power for roux, gravies, stew, and chili
  • Imparts softness and moisture retention in cakes, cookies, muffins
  • Can be used as a 1:1 substitute ratio for most recipes calling for corn flour

Cons

  • Doesn’t brown or crisp as readily due to a lack of protein
  • Less grainy texture compared to traditional corn flour
  • Requires additional binders like xanthan gum for optimal structure
  • Can impart a slightly gritty mouthfeel in some dishes
  • Not recommended for yeast bread recipes, as it inhibits the rise

While rice flour ticks many boxes as a replacement for corn flour, adjustments in texture and chemistry should be accounted for when swapping between the two in recipes. Adding cornstarch or tapioca flour can help mitigate structural differences.

Potato Flour

With its soft texture and mild potato flavor, potato flour makes for an adaptable gluten-free alternative to corn flour. Thanks to its starch content, potato flour lends moisture, structure, and binding capabilities ideal for hearty recipes like breads, pancakes, and pastries.

Pros

  • It Imparts soft, pillowy texture great for muffins, rolls, scones
  • Absorbs liquids exceptionally well to prevent soggy baked goods
  • Neutral flavor doesn’t overpower other ingredients
  • Thickens soups, gravies, and sauces effectively
  • Blends smoothly into batters for a lump-free consistency
  • Works well alongside other gluten-free flours like tapioca and rice

Cons

  • Doesn’t replicate corn flour’s grainy sandy texture
  • Has less pronounced corn flavor than masa harina
  • Requires precise mixing method and ratios to avoid dense results
  • Can impart subtly earthy, potato taste in some recipes
  • Needs starchier flours like tapioca to improve elasticity

Guar Gum

Guar gum offers a versatile gluten-free thickening agent for those seeking a corn flour substitute in recipes. Derived from the seeds of the guar bean, this powdery substance shares similarities with corn flour through its ability to thicken liquids and bind dry ingredients.

Pros

  • Excellent thickening and binding properties, able to withstand high temperatures
  • Emulsifies and improves texture of gluten-free baked goods
  • Enhances moisture retention qualities compared to corn flour
  • Adds dietary fiber and aids digestion
  • Simple substitution for corn flour in most recipes
  • Neutral in taste so won’t alter flavor profiles

Cons

  • Can turn gummy or sticky if overused
  • Imparts a slightly slimy mouthfeel
  • Doesn’t replicate grainy corn flour texture
  • Requires precise mixing method to avoid clumping
  • Too much guar gum inhibits the rise in yeast breads

While guar gum shares similarities with corn flour through its thickening aptitude, care should be taken to avoid overdoing it. Start by substituting a small amount such as 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup of corn flour called for, adding more as needed.

Ground Flaxseed

Ground flaxseed offers a nutrition-packed gluten-free alternative to corn flour. Milled from whole flaxseeds, this fine golden powder provides a hearty dose of plant-based omega-3s along with fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

Pros

  • Excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid
  • Adds wholesome texture and subtle nutty flavor to baked goods
  • Binds ingredients effectively for improved structure
  • Enhances nutrition profiles with ample fiber, protein, and antioxidants
  • Simple substitution for partial or complete corn flour replacement

Cons

  • Doesn’t replicate corn flour’s grainy sandy texture
  • Imparts subtly earthy, nutty taste that may seem unusual
  • Lacks stretchiness and elasticity vital for raised bread recipes
  • Needs starchier flours like tapioca to fully mimic corn flour traits
  • Can turn dense or oily if using too high a ratio

For the best results, use flax alongside other gluten-free flours and starches.

Arrowroot Powder

A versatile, gluten-free alternative to corn flour, arrowroot powder offers several advantages as a substitute thanks to its natural thickening abilities.

Pros

  • Provides thickness and structure without wheat or other allergens
  • Ideal for those on grain-free, paleo, or keto diets
  • Blends smoothly into sauces, gravies, and fillings
  • Aids with moisture retention in baked goods
  • Neutral in flavor to let other ingredients shine
  • A simple 1:1 substitution ratio in most recipes

Cons

  • Doesn’t replicate corn flour’s gritty sandy texture
  • Loses potency when cooked over high heat
  • Has less binding strength than corn flour
  • Imparts slightly gummy texture if overused
  • Requires careful mixing to avoid clumping

Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour offers a hearty, gluten-free substitution for corn flour thanks to its high fiber and antioxidant content. This whole grain flour comes from grinding sorghum, a cereal grain that thrives in hot, dry regions of the world. 

Pros

  • Packed with fiber, protein, iron, and antioxidants
  • Subtly sweet, nutty flavor profile
  • Naturally gluten-free
  • High protein content promotes feelings of fullness
  • Adds moisture retention for fluffy texture

Cons

  • Doesn’t replicate gritty cornmeal texture
  • Imparts pale color instead of golden yellow
  • Requires added binders like xanthan gum for structure
  • Needs starchier flours to improve elasticity
  • May seem unusual or strong-tasting at first

Whole Wheat Flour

Compared to corn flour, whole wheat flour imparts a bolder, wheaty flavor within recipes thanks to its higher bran and germ content. 

Pros

  • Packed with fiber, protein, complex carbs, iron, and B vitamins
  • Substantial texture provides hearty appeal in baked goods
  • Natural source of nutrients instead of empty calories
  • Offers complete protein, unlike corn flour which lacks lysine
  • Simple 1:1 substitute ratio works in most recipes
  • May help with blood sugar regulation and weight loss

Cons

  • Imparts uniquely earthy, wheat flavor not suitable for all dishes
  • Lost cakey lightness compared to corn flour due to extra bran and germ
  • Trickier for gluten-sensitive individuals due to protein content
  • Can inhibit elasticity and rise for certain bread recipes
  • May seem dry or crumbly if used at too high a ratio

Self-Rising Flour

Self-rising flour offers a convenient substitution for corn flour thanks to its built-in leavening agent. By incorporating baking powder and salt during milling, this ready-made flour eliminates extra steps when preparing recipes.

Pros

  • Saves time by removing the need to manually add leaveners
  • No need to stock multiple ingredients like baking powder and salt
  • Soft and fine texture still works for most baking recipes
  • Imparts tenderness and fluffiness when baked
  • Blends seamlessly into batters without overmixing

Cons

  • Lacks corn flour’s slightly grainy mouthfeel
  • Imparts subtly sweet flavor from added sugar
  • Contains gluten unlike corn flour which is naturally gluten-free
  • Doesn’t deliver the same crispy exterior when fried
  • Restricted to sweet baked goods recipes, not for general cooking

How to Choose the Best Corn Flour Alternative for You

Of course, all of this is great in the abstract but how do you choose the best corn flour alternative for you?

  1. Considering your dietary needs are a must – cornflour’s popularity is at least in part due to its gluten-free qualities, so if this is something you are looking for in an alternative try cornstarch, rice flour, or sorghum flour.
  2. Paying attention to the flavor is equally important – many people are inclined toward corn flour because it bears the taste of corn. If this is something that you don’t want to do without, then try using cornmeal. If, though, your recipe could do with a different flavor, then try using potato flour or arrowroot powder.
  3. Honoring the recipe – do you need something to bake and coat food for frying? Try all-purpose flour, tapioca flour, and/or potato flour. Need a thickener? Try guar gum.
fried chicken with flour coating

What are the Best Corn Flour Alternatives by Method?

All this info is all well and good, but why can’t we skip to the real questions? Which substitute is best for frying? Which is best for baking?

Cooking ProcessBest Corn Flour Sub
BakingAll-Purpose Flour and/or Potato Starch
FryingAll-Purpose Flour
Deep FryingPotato Starch
SoupsCornstarch
SaucesCornstarch

Finding The Perfect Substitute For Corn Flour Can Be Tricky!

It is not as easy as it looks to try and replace corn flour with any other type of flour in a recipe. There are a lot of different things to consider when you are substituting corn flour.

If you would like to make your recipe gluten-free then cornstarch may be the best substitute for corn flour. If you do not mind including gluten in your recipe and want to make sure that the thickness of your flour matches corn flour as closely as possible, then all-purpose flour will be the best bet. Plain flour can also be a great substitute for corn flour if you want to fry your dish; plain flour can provide a nice golden but thicker layer to the food.

What do you use to substitute corn flour? What do you consider to be the best corn flour substitute?

Read more content on the blog about food alternatives:

Corn Flour Substitute FAQs

Is Corn Flour Similar To Plain Flour?

Corn flour is very different from plain flour. It does not have any gluten in it, making it a suitable option as a substitute for plain flour for people who suffer from gluten intolerances or allergies. Corn flour will also not rise like plain flour. Your bakes will not rise and aesthetically look the same compared to if you have used plain flour.

What Is The Difference Between Corn Flour And Cornstarch?

Corn flour and cornstarch are very similar ingredients. They both come from the same source, which is corn. Both powders have been finely grounded. Both corn flour and cornstarch are used to thicken sauces.
The main difference is that corn flour is made from the whole kernel of corn. On the other hand, cornstarch is made from only the ground endosperm.
If you need to replace corn flour with cornstarch in a recipe, you may not know the difference when looking at the end result.

Which Is Better Corn Flour Or Wheat Flour?

Knowing which flour is out of corn flour and wheat flour is a tricky one. Comparing the two really depends on what you are aiming to use them for.
For baking, we would recommend using wheat flour. It will work better with your recipes. However, corn flour is the better option when cooking. It contains higher amounts of fats when compared to wheat flour. If you are considering the health benefits of each flour, wheat flour is better than corn flour. Wheat flour has a larger protein content. It also has a higher fiber and vitamin content compared to corn flour.
Wheat flour is the superior flour to use between the two flours for health reasons.

Is Corn Flour Good For Frying?

If you’d like to use corn flour to coat your meat or veggies to fry them, your results should be pretty good! However, using just corn flour can leave your fried chicken or veggies a little dry.
It may be best to mix half of your corn flour with half of your all-purpose flour to make your batter. This mixture is perfect for deep frying as it will leave the exterior crunchy. Using corn flour when frying will help add a golden brown color to the food. 

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind CooksDream.com, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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