Tapioca flour substitutes for thickening, frying, baking, and keto
Medically reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE — Written by Adam Rowden on May 24, 2021
Tapioca flour has a number of uses in cooking and baking. It works well as a thickener, makes a good gluten-free addition in baking, and is effective for coating ingredients before frying. There are many great substitutes for tapioca flour a person can use if they are looking for an alternative.
Tapioca flour comes from the starch of a vegetable called cassava, and is also known as tapioca starch. To make tapioca flour, a person peels the cassava root, washes it, and finely shreds it into small pieces. They wash and spin this pulp until the starch comes out of the mixture. They then dry this starch until it forms a white, powdery substance. This substance is tapioca flour.
Tapioca flour differs from cassava flour. Tapioca flour only contains the starch of the cassava, while cassava flour production uses the entire root.
This article will list the best alternatives to tapioca flour for thickening, frying, baking, and people following a ketogenic diet.
Tapioca flour makes a good thickener in soups, sauces, gravies, and pie fillings. Here are some alternative flours that may be effective thickeners:
Cornstarch is different from corn flour. Corn flour comes from finely ground, dried corn kernels. Cornstarch comes from the starchy part of a corn kernel only.
Cornstarch is a good alternative for tapioca flour when it comes to thickening sauces.
Cornstarch actually has a greater thickening capacity than tapioca flour. This means that a person should use half the amount of cornstarch than they would tapioca flour. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour, a person should use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Cornstarch is naturally gluten free, so it works well for gluten-free cooking.
Potato starch absorbs water effectively, making it a good alternative for thickening sauces. When thickening a sauce, a person can substitute potato starch for tapioca flour directly.
However, if a person is baking, potato starch may not be the best alternative. It has a heavier consistency than tapioca flour, which can make baked goods feel denser.
A person should use less potato starch than they would tapioca flour when baking.
Potato starch is also gluten free.
Cassava flour is another gluten-free substitute for tapioca flour. It also has more health benefits than tapioca flour, as cassava flour contains moreTrusted Source dietary fiber thanTrusted Source tapioca flour.
In most recipes, a person can substitute tapioca flour directly for cassava flour. However, due to its higher fiber content, cassava flour has more thickening power. Therefore, when thickening, a person should use slightly less cassava flour than they would tapioca flour.
Cassava flour has a slight nutty flavor, which a person may wish to bear in mind when using it.
Arrowroot is a starchy root vegetable that is similar to cassava and sweet potato.
The flour from arrowroot makes a good thickening alternative to tapioca flour. A person can substitute it directly when thickening a sauce.
Arrowroot works well in a baking mix that also contains other starches or flours. However, it is not effective as a stand-alone flour in baking.
Arrowroot is also gluten free.
Learn more about gluten-free recipes here.
People may use tapioca flour when frying food. It makes a good coating for meat, fish, or other foods before the frying takes place. This helps create a crispy crust or outer layer during the frying process.
Here are some alternatives to tapioca flour for frying:
Cornstarch is a very effective substitute for tapioca flour in frying. Like tapioca flour, cornstarch provides a crispy outer layer during frying. It also stands up to sauces well without going wet and soggy.
Like tapioca flour, cornstarch absorbs less of the frying oil than an all-purpose flour, making it a healthier alternative to wheat flours.
Potato starch is similar to cornstarch and offers another good frying alternative to tapioca flour.
Similar to tapioca flour, potato starch provides a light, crispy coating and does not soak up too much oil.
Potato starch is another gluten-free option, making it ideal for gluten-free frying.
Rice flour, consisting of finely ground grains of rice, is another gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour.
Rice flour makes a good alternative to tapioca flour for frying and produces a similar light, crispy coating on fried foods.
Tapioca flour features in a number of gluten-free baking recipes.
This is because gluten helps bind ingredients together when baking. Tapioca flour mimics gluten’s binding abilities and can prevent a gluten-free bake from becoming dry and crumbly.
When combined with another starch in a gluten-free flour mix, tapioca flour can give baked goods a light, airy, and chewy texture without losing their crispiness. However, too much tapioca flour can cause a baked good to become thick and gummy.
Baked recipes rarely include tapioca flour on its own. Here are some other options:
All-purpose flour may work as an effective alternative to flour mixes that contain tapioca flour when baking. However, it does contain gluten, so it is unsuitable for gluten-free recipes.
Chestnut flour comes from dried, roasted, and ground chestnuts. It can replace tapioca flour in a gluten-free baking recipe.
Chestnut flour makes a healthy alternative to tapioca flour as it is highTrusted Source in protein, dietary fiber and antioxidants.
Chestnut flour can also add a slight nutty, earthy flavor to the bake.
Rice flour works as a good alternative for tapioca flour in baking. It offers a mild rice flavor to bakes and is gluten-free.
Rice flour often features in recipes for rice noodles and some pancakes.
For keto diets
A ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is low in carbohydrates and high in fat.
The main goal of a keto diet is for a person to get more calories in their diet from fat than from carbs.
Some studiesTrusted Source suggest that a keto diet can help a person lose weight despite being high in fat.
Some health professionals believe keto diets are beneficial in tackling diabetesTrusted Source, cancerTrusted Source, and epilepsyTrusted Source.
There are a number of low-carb flours that are suitable for a keto diet, including:
Making almond flour involves grinding blanched, sweet almonds in a food processor. A person also can purchase it from a supermarket or health food store.
Almond flour is gluten-free, highTrusted Source in protein, and makes a good keto-friendly alternative to tapioca flour.
Almond flour is good for baking, particularly in pancakes, cookies, brownies, and pudding.
It may also work as a thickener in sauces, however, it is important that a person uses very finely ground almond flour for thickening. Store-bought almond flour may work best for this reason. If it is not fine enough, almond flour could add an unwanted texture to a sauce.
Chia seed flour
Chia seed flour consists of very finely ground chia seeds. It is gluten-free and containsTrusted Source omega-3 fatty acids, which offer a number of health benefits. It also contains dietary fiber, proteins, vitamins, and some minerals.
Chia seed flour is effective in thickening sauces and makes a good coating for fish, meat, or vegetables before frying. It can also work in a number of gluten-free baking recipes.
This makes chia seed flour an effective keto-friendly alternative to tapioca flour.
Chickpea flour consists of finely ground chickpeas. Chickpeas are low in carbohydrates, making them a good keto-friendly alternative to tapioca flour. They also have a number of health benefits and are highTrusted Source in protein, fat, vitamins, and fiber.
Similar to tapioca flour, chickpea flour works well in gluten-free baking when combined with other flours. It is effective in recipes for quick flatbreads, wraps, muffins, and cakes.
Chickpea flour is also effective in recipes that call for frying and thickening.
Other good keto-friendly alternatives to tapioca flour include hazelnut flour, psyllium husk, coconut flour, and flaxseed meal.
Tapioca flour features in a number of recipes and has a variety of uses in both cooking and baking.
Tapioca flour is an effective thickener of sauces, is a useful addition in gluten-free baking, and also works well as a coating before frying.
There are a number of effective substitutes for tapioca flour.
Alternative thickeners include cornstarch, potato starch, cassava flour, and arrowroot. Good substitutes for frying include cornstarch, potato starch, and rice flour. Alternatives in baking include rice flour, chestnut flour, and all-purpose flour. Keto-friendly substitutes include almond flour, chia seed flour, psyllium husk powder, hazelnut flour, coconut flour and flaxseed meal.
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