14 Best Corn Flour Substitutes To Use When You’re In A Spot

Corn Flour Substitute

Corn flour (or cornflour, if you will) is a handy ingredient that finds use in several recipes. It’s practically an essential ingredient for a cook and goes well with everything from chicken and fish to waffles. But what if you can’t or don’t want to use cornflour? Using corn flour substitutes will make things easier.

There are quite a few versatile ingredients that can realistically replace cornflour. Some work better than others and have more uses, but a few can be excellent for specific recipes, even if they can’t replace cornflour in every dish. 

So, let’s get started to see what substitutes and options are available

Corn Flour Substitute Picks For You

1. Cornstarch

A lot of people think that cornflour and cornstarch are the same thing. These are different products, even though they are quite similar. It is this inherent similarity that makes corn starch a viable alternative to corn flour in most foods. 

Both of these have the same consistency (which is good for substitution), but the color and texture are different. It is for these points that you’ll have to exercise some caution when using cornstarch as a replacement.

Corn flour is yellow, dense, and grainy. On the other hand, cornstarch is a white powder extracted from the starchy part of the corn kernel. 

Due to their different compositions, corn flour and cornstarch can’t be interchanged for several recipes. Cornstarch works great as a thickening agent. Remember to add cold water to cornstarch before using it in a recipe.

You can substitute flour for cornstarch in a 1:1 ratio.

2. Cornmeal

Here’s another sibling to cornflour. In fact, cornmeal and corn flour are nearly identical with a small difference. It’s amazing to see how even a little change makes a world of difference in how these substances work.

Cornmeal and corn flour are made from milled and dried corn. Corn flour is finely ground while cornmeal is coarsely ground and has a rougher texture. 

Substitute cornmeal for cornflour in a 1:1 ratio. If the texture is important, run the cornmeal through a food processor or grinder until it’s a finer grind. It’s unlikely that a home food processor will turn cornmeal into corn flour, but it could be a decent approximation.

3. Masa Harina

Masa Harina is popular in Mexico, where this flour is used to make several delicacies like tortillas and tamales. It has a fine texture, slightly coarser than corn flour, but finer than cornmeal. 

This comparison in texture is important, because Masa Harina too comes from corn. Although, there is a twist in its production. In the case of masa harina, the corn is placed in a lime solution (calcium hydroxide) before being ground. This process is partly responsible for the unique flavor of masa harina.

It’s possible to replace cornflour with masa harina in a 1:1 ratio. It works even better if your recipe is Mexican or Latin American. Mix masa harina in cold water when using it, so it doesn’t become lumpy.

4. Rice Flour

Very popular in Asian cuisine, rice flour is an excellent replacement for cornflour. It has a touch of sweetness, and as the name implies, it comes from rice. Rice flour is gluten-free and finely ground, so it does match corn flour in texture.

Rice flour tends to be on the stickier side of things. So, avoid it for recipes that need a crunchy exterior. You can build on its inherent sweetness to help with recipes like muffins. Apart from baked goods, it’s pretty useful as a thickening agent too. 

Use rice flour in a 2:1 ratio when substituting corn flour (this means, use twice the amount of rice flour over the amount of corn flour required).

5. Wheat Flour

Wheat flour is finely ground wheat. It’s very popular in cuisines all around the world and is rich in nutrients. Keep in mind, wheat flour contains gluten, which also helps this flour be sticky and easy to use.

Whole wheat flour can give the food a bit of a malty flavor and might affect the texture. Both of these aren’t that big a deal with conventional white wheat flour, though there will be some changes. When used in deep-fried foods that need a crispy coat, corn flour is the better choice. However, wheat flour can be an acceptable stand-in, though it won’t be as crispy.

It’s possible to use wheat flour for tortillas and similar recipes. The replacement ratio is 2:1 (use two cups of wheat flour to replace one cup of corn flour).

6. Potato Flour

Potato flour is made from crushed and dried potatoes. It’s worth adding that potato flour is different from potato starch, so the two shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

The fine potato flour can work as a replacement for corn flour, especially as a gluten-free thickening agent. It is, however, rich in carbs and fats, so keep your eyes on that calorie counter and use potato flour moderately.

In most cases, potato flour can replace corn flour in equal amounts (1:1 ratio). But, there is a need to modify the recipe slightly. Even if you intend to use it as a thickening agent, add potato flour as late in the recipe as possible. 

Potato flour can absorb a lot of water. Conversely, it can lose its water-absorbing properties if it stays on the heat for too long. Either of these situations is bad for a dish. Therefore, adding it later is an acceptable workaround.

7. All-Purpose Flour

Made from wheat, all-purpose flour is finely ground and highly refined. It’s used in countless recipes and is an indispensable item for any cook. This flour finds use in all kinds of baked goods, for deep frying, as a thickening agent for gravies and sauces, and several other recipes.

It tends to feel thicker and chewier than cornflour when used for frying and as a thickening agent. But it does its job quite well and is a decent substitute where necessary.

When using all-purpose flour as a corn flour substitute, follow a 2:1 ratio. 

8. Self-Rising Flour

This is not an ideal choice, but if you’re in a pinch, self-rising flour will do the job. It is a mix of all-purpose flour with added baking powder and salt. It works pretty much the same as all-purpose flour, but allowances are necessary for the presence of baking powder and salt.

When using it as a thickening agent or for frying, follow a 2:1 ratio (use 2 cups of self-rising flour for every cup of corn flour). When using it for baked goods, you can follow a similar ratio, but reduce the amount of baking powder and salt to account for their presence in the flour.

9. Arrowroot Powder

Whether your recipe needs frying or a thickening agent, arrowroot powder is up for the job. It’s a good thickener and can withstand frying, while maintaining a crunchy texture. That said, its best use as a substitute for corn flour is as a thickener. Avoid using it in baked goods.

When using it as a thickener, add arrowroot powder only in the later stages of cooking. The replacement ratio here is 1:1.

10. Potato Starch

Potato starch works best as a thickener to replace corn flour. When using it in a recipe, start by making potato starch paste with cold water. It is very prone to clumping, so make sure you move fast and get the paste in order quickly.

The replacement ratio is 1:1, which means you’ll use potato starch in equal amounts to the corn flour needed for the recipe.

11. Guar Gum

The gluten-free guar gum comes from guar beans. It’s an excellent binding agent and thickener and is immensely useful for several recipes. It’s an excellent substitute, but should be employed only when you need a small amount of corn flour (and hence, guar gum). 

Though it’s a healthy ingredient, its taste tends to be on the bitter side. Using a large amount of guar gum as a substitute won’t do any favors to your dish. 

When using it as a thickener, start with very small amounts. It’s okay to start using guar gum with as low as ⅛ the amount of cornflour needed for the recipe. You can increase the amount if your recipe (and your taste buds) allow it.

12. Other Starches (Tapioca Starch, Kuzu, Rice Starch)

Starches in general make a good showing as thickening agents to replace cornflour. While cornstarch and potato starch are especially good, you can use other options like tapioca flour, kuzu (or kudzu), and rice starch.

The replacement works in a 1:1 ratio, so use these starches in equal amounts to the corn flour needed by the recipe.

13. Sorghum Flour

The gluten-free sorghum flour (jowar flour) has been a part of the human diet for a very long time. It fell out of favor for a bit, but is making a wonderful comeback, thanks in no small part, to its high nutrition and other health benefits.

Sorghum flour is a decent substitute for corn flour when used for breading, coating, or as a thickening agent. Its sweet and mild flavor works well, but it doesn’t do as well when used as a binder. If you need a binder, consider mixing sorghum flour with another flour or adding another binder.

The replacement ratio for sorghum flour to corn flour is 1:1.

14. Ground Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds aren’t the best substitute for corn flour, so use this option only when you’re in a real pinch! Flaxseeds get all the love for being nutritious, but their flavor is on the bitter side of things. So, use this option only where you need a small amount.

The best use of flaxseed in replacing cornflour is as a thickening agent. Start with making a paste of the ground flaxseeds in cold water. For every tablespoon of cornflour, you’ll need ½ tablespoon of ground flaxseeds.

FAQs And More About Replacing CornFlour In A Recipe

What Can Replace Cornflour In Pavlova?

One of the key roles of cornflour in Pavlova is as a thickening agent. The best replacements here are starches. You can use corn starch, potato starch, or rice starch to replace cornflour in pavlova. Use the starch in equal amounts to cornflour for the recipe.

It’s best to avoid waxy starches, so the Pavlova can maintain that wonderful fluffiness all of us admire.

Is Corn Starch And Corn Flour The Same?

There can be a distinction between corn starch and cornflour depending on where you live. In the UK, cornflour and cornstarch are the same thing. Sometimes, a distinction in spelling could be applied. In this case, cornflour is the same as cornstarch. But corn flour (notice the space) is more like fine-ground cornmeal.

However, in the US, these are two different substances. 

In the US, these are different things. Cornstarch comes from the starch in the corn kernel. It’s usually a fine, white powder. Cornflour comes from dried corn kernels that are finely ground. Cornmeal is practically the same as cornflour, except it has a coarse grind.

Can I Make Corn Flour At Home?

Yes, you can and it is actually a fairly easy process. The key ingredient you need is dried corn kernels. In commercial use, Field & Dent Corn is the crop of choice for making corn flour. It has that prominent corn flavor and is starchier. The corn is sufficiently dried first, before it’s ground for use as flour.

Well, unless you live close to one of the corn-growing regions, you probably don’t have access to cobs or kernels of Field & Dent Corn. Besides, most people won’t really want to be troubled with drying corn.

Let’s pick a simpler option that you might have at home. Popcorn kernels! These are sweeter and already dry. Of course, this recipe is effective only if you want a small amount of corn flour (or cornmeal). If you want several pounds of it, it’s much better to buy corn flour from a store.

So, here’s what you need:

  • Unused popcorn kernels
  • A sieve
  • A food processor or grinder
  • A flat wide container to hold the corn flour (a large plate will do)

The method is simple enough. Put the popcorn kernels in the grinder and let it work for a couple of minutes. Empty it into the sieve and work on it so that the corn flour falls into the plate, while larger pieces remain in the sieve.

You can put these larger pieces back into the grinder and give them another whirr. Then sieve it again. Usually, doing this 2-3 times should get most of the larger pieces. There might still be a few larger ones, but that’s unavoidable.

This homemade corn flour may not be as fine as commercial options and it might even be closer to cornmeal in texture. But it’s good enough for quick use at home!

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The Versatility Of Replacing Corn Flour In A Recipe

Finding useful corn flour substitutes is thankfully possible and convenient. Versatile a material as corn flour is, there might be situations where a replacement is desirable. Most of the substitutes listed here are easily available, and many might already be in your home!

Cornstarch, cornmeal, wheat flour, and all-purpose flour are suitable and widely available replacements for corn flour. For corn flour’s use as a thickener, it might be useful to consider starches like potato starch and cornstarch as viable replacements.

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