Need some wheat starch substitutes for your recipe? Though wheat and flour are ubiquitous, the starch can be a bit tough to get hold of. It’s often used with bread, though it also finds favor as a food thickener. Several other recipes use it too, including noodles and pancakes.
Wheat starch is an interesting ingredient. It’s a fine powdery starch, similar to flour in appearance, but with very different properties. Wheat starch doesn’t have proteins and doesn’t behave like flour at all. If processed properly, wheat starch is gluten-free.
The FDA allows this starch to be placed in the gluten-free section. Though there are chances of contamination or impurities. Therefore, wheat starch must not contain more than 20ppm of gluten to be considered gluten-free.
Unique and interesting as this ingredient is, there will be times when you want to work with a substitute. Here are some options worth a try.
Top Substitutes For Wheat Starch
Cornstarch is the simplest and most straightforward substitute for wheat starch. Though derived from corn, it is quite similar to wheat starch and can replace it in most recipes. Cornstarch is also naturally gluten-free, so it’s favored by many people, including those with gluten allergies or related health conditions.
It is widely available and works great as a thickener. When added to a recipe, cornstarch adds a bit of cloudy appearance. It’s mostly tasteless, so it doesn’t alter the flavor of a recipe. This starch is popular because of its low cost and wide availability. Besides, it is very competent as a starch and works as an excellent thickener.
2. Potato Starch
Here’s another excellent alternative to wheat starch. Potato starch, as the name implies, is derived from potatoes. This is an excellent starch and works wonders when used as a thickener. Potato starch can absorb a lot more water than wheat starch and works pretty well for baking, making sauces, and more.
Though it doesn’t have a strong flavor, there is a chance of some potato flavor with this starch. It’s usually not enough to change or affect the flavor of a recipe. Yet, it does make for a welcome presence in recipes like breads.
Since potato starch absorbs more water compared to wheat starch, it makes sense to use less of it. Start with about half the quantity and add more if necessary.
3. Tapioca Starch
Tapioca starch is another commonly used starch. Its primary use is as a thickener, though it shows great promise with baking as well. Tapioca works with most recipes and is very versatile. When used for baked goods, tapioca can provide a clean, glossy finish to the recipe. That helps with the appearance of the food and makes it feel very delectable.
While it is versatile, avoid using this starch with high acid recipes. They will usually cause it to lose its properties as a thickener and the recipe won’t turn out well.
If you’re using tapioca starch to replace wheat starch, use twice the amount of tapioca compared to wheat starch for best results.
4. Arrowroot Powder
Arrowroot powder, also known as arrowroot starch and arrowroot flour, is a starch very similar to tapioca. This popular starch is extracted from the root of the plant maranta arundinacea, while tapioca comes from the root of similar tropical plant, cassava.
Both these flours behave similarly and add a glossy, clear finish to baked recipes. Arrowroot is convenient to use as a thickener and is quick and easy to use. When using arrowroot to replace wheat starch, it is best to use twice the amount of arrowroot.
This versatile starch can work with most recipes, though there are some exceptions. Arrowroot powder doesn’t go well with milk-based recipes or those that involve high heat. Conversely, it can handle low temperatures (like those in a freezer) without breaking down. For this particular quality, it is better than cornstarch, which can break down when placed in a freezer.
5. Ground Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are popular as a nutritious food that is rich in fiber. It’s a healthy food that does wonders for the body. While flaxseeds are not starch, they can be used as a thickener and work in place of wheat starch.
Conventional flaxseeds aren’t fit for this role, so it’s ground flaxseeds that get the job done. Once added to water, the ground flaxseeds absorb water and form a thick, often jelly-like consistency. Since this involves ground seeds, the mix won’t be smooth. Expect it to be somewhat coarse.
For recipes where you intend to use flaxseeds in place of wheat starch, use half the amount of the substitute and increase the water content slightly.
6. Rice Starch
Rice is the most popular food grain in the world, followed by wheat. So, it’s only natural that rice starch can work as a substitute for wheat starch. When used as a thickener, rice starch presents a smooth and creamy texture. It’s best used in soups or as a coating for some foods.
7. Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a good keto-friendly and gluten-free option. It works well as a thickener and can also function as a binding agent in food. This makes it useful for several recipes, where the qualities of xanthan gum can shine. It’s best used with custards, soups and puddings.
When working with this ingredient, remember to use only a small amount. If used in large quantities, xanthan gum can cause an upset stomach and digestive issues. In the same vein, rather than functioning as a thickener and binder, overuse of xanthan gum can make the food get a slimy feel.
8. Psyllium Husk
Much like flaxseeds, psyllium husk is a plant-based soluble fiber that can function well as a thickening agent. This is a calorie-dense ingredient with high fiber content. You’ll find that it’s useful and potent as a thickening agent.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that psyllium husk can absorb a good amount of water and the starch tends to get thick. So, it’s a good idea to start with a small quantity and work your way up to the desired consistency.
9. Guar Gum
Guar gum is another useful substitute that will work happily as a thickener and binder for several recipes. It’s an excellent thickener and creates a very thick solution with just a small amount. And that’s a good thing, because it’s not feasible to use large quantities of guar gum in a recipe.
Using large quantities of guar gum will have a marked effect on the recipe, veering it towards a bitter taste.
To use it as a replacement for wheat starch, start with a tiny amount. Using a quarter tablespoon of guar gum in place of one tablespoon of guar gum could work. Although it’s advisable to start with a small amount, perhaps something like ⅛ of a spoon for every spoon of wheat starch. You can add more if necessary.
FAQs About Wheat Starch Substitution And More
Can You Substitute Wheat Starch For Cornstarch?
Wheat starch is an acceptable substitute for cornstarch. It offers similar thickener qualities and works really well with most recipes. In fact, not just wheat starch, in smaller quantities, you could also use wheat flour to substitute for cornstarch.
However, wheat flour contains gluten, which may not be suitable for some people. On the other hand, cornstarch is gluten-free, and most of the available wheat starch doesn’t contain gluten.
Is Wheat Flour And Wheat Starch The Same?
While they are both sourced from the same grain, wheat flour and wheat starch are different products. Wheat starch undergoes further processing from the grain, where most of the protein content is stripped and carbohydrates remain. In most situations, this also means that wheat starch is gluten-free, while wheat flour contains gluten.
Bottom Line On Wheat Starch Replacements
Though it’s not a very popular starch by a long shot, wheat starch does have its uses. Still, there might be occasions where you can’t get hold of wheat starch and have to rely on wheat starch substitutes.
Thankfully, there are plenty of useful ingredients, many of them commonly available, that can replace wheat starch in a recipe. So, take a look at the options here, and hopefully, you’ll find something that fits your needs.