Tapioca Flour Substitutes: Top Alternatives for Gluten-Free Baking

Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is a popular gluten-free thickening agent derived from the cassava root. Its unique characteristics make it an essential ingredient in many recipes, especially for those who follow a gluten-free diet. However, there are times when you may need to use a substitute for tapioca flour in your recipes, whether due to dietary restrictions, allergies, or simply because you’ve run out of the ingredient.

Understanding the properties of tapioca flour and the various alternatives suitable for substitution is crucial for achieving the desired results in your dishes. Some tapioca flour substitutes may excel in a specific recipe, while others may not produce the exact same texture or consistency. Knowing which tapioca flour substitute to use and how to adjust your recipe accordingly can make a world of difference in your cooking.

Key Takeaways

  • Tapioca flour is a gluten-free thickening agent derived from cassava root
  • There are multiple substitutes available for tapioca flour in case of dietary restrictions or availability
  • Understanding the properties and substitution ratios of alternatives is crucial for successful recipes

Understanding Tapioca Flour

Origin and Use

Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is derived from the cassava root. Cassava, also known as yuca, is a staple ingredient in South America. Cassava root has been an integral part of their diet and cuisine for centuries. You’ll often find tapioca flour used as a thickening agent in recipes, as well as in gluten-free baking.

Cassava Source

The cassava plant is native to South America, and its roots are used to extract the tapioca starch. This starch is produced by grinding the root, and then going through a process of washing, steeping, and drying. The final product is a fine, white powder, which is used in various recipes.

Gluten-Free Property

Tapioca flour is a popular choice for gluten-free baking due to its lack of gluten. As a gluten-free alternative, it provides an excellent option for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. When used in gluten-free recipes, tapioca flour helps maintain a light texture and promotes browning.

Cooking Characteristics

When using tapioca flour in cooking, there are a few characteristics to consider:

  • Thickening: Tapioca flour makes for an excellent thickening agent in recipes like sauces and soups. It thickens at a lower temperature compared to other starches, making it a reliable choice when cooking at lower heat levels.
  • Binding: In gluten-free baking, tapioca flour acts as an effective binder, providing structure to baked goods and helping them hold their shape.
  • Texture: Tapioca flour contributes a chewy, elastic quality to recipes and can be used to create a crisp crust on baked goods.
  • Neutral Flavor: As tapioca flour has a mild taste, it does not interfere with the primary flavors of your dish, allowing other ingredients to shine.

Keep in mind these various properties to ensure that you utilize tapioca flour effectively in your recipes and gluten-free baking needs.

When to Use Tapioca Flour Substitutes

Dietary Restrictions

If you or someone you’re cooking for has a tapioca allergy or intolerance, substituting tapioca flour is essential. While tapioca flour is naturally gluten-free, it may not be suitable for individuals with specific allergies or dietary restrictions. Gluten-free baking can still be achieved by using other gluten-free flours like almond flour, coconut flour, or rice flour. These flours can be used to create delicious gluten-free baked goods without causing any adverse reactions.


Tapioca flour might not always be readily available at your local grocery store or supermarket. In such instances, you’ll need to find a suitable substitute to continue with your gluten-free cooking or baking. Some alternative flours with similar properties are:

  • Arrowroot flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Potato starch

These options are generally more accessible and can be used to achieve similar textures and results in your recipes.

Cooking Needs

Different recipes may call for specific textures, thickness, or binding properties that tapioca flour alone might not provide. In these cases, you’ll want to consider using a combination of gluten-free flours or starches to meet your cooking needs. For instance, a blend of flours might be required for creating the perfect gluten-free pie crust or fluffy cake. Experimenting with various substitutes and ratios can help you achieve the desired outcome for your recipes. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your flour choices to find the perfect balance for your gluten-free baked goods and cooking requirements.

Types of Tapioca Flour Substitutes


One popular substitute for tapioca flour is cornstarch. It is a suitable choice for thickening sauces, gravies, and soups due to its similar consistency and properties. To replace tapioca flour in your recipe, it’s recommended to use a 2:1 ratio, meaning for every 1 tablespoon of tapioca flour, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

Rice Flour

Rice flour, made from finely ground rice, is another decent alternative to tapioca flour. It works well as a thickener and is especially suitable for gluten-free baking. You can substitute rice flour on a 1:1 basis with tapioca flour. Keep in mind, it may result in a slightly grainy texture in some baked goods.

Potato Starch

Derived from potatoes, potato starch can also be used as a substitute for tapioca flour. It has excellent thickening properties and is commonly used in gluten-free recipes. To replace tapioca flour, use an equal amount of potato starch. However, it’s essential to note that potato starch loses its thickening ability at high temperatures, so it’s not an ideal choice for recipes requiring prolonged cooking.


Arrowroot is another suitable alternative, made from the starch of various tropical tubers. It has a neutral taste and gives a shiny, transparent appearance to sauces and glazes when used as a thickening agent. You can use arrowroot powder on a 1:1 basis to substitute tapioca flour. However, it’s sensitive to acidic ingredients and may not work well in recipes that contain vinegar or lemon juice.

Cassava Flour

Cassava flour is made from the whole root of the cassava plant, while tapioca flour is derived from its starch. Although they come from the same source, they have different properties. Cassava flour can be used as a substitute for tapioca flour, but keep in mind that it is denser and has a stronger flavor. The substitution ratio is typically 1:1.


There are other options for replacing tapioca flour, such as all-purpose flour, wheat flour, and cake flour. These may work well in certain recipes but may not be suitable for those requiring gluten-free ingredients. Additionally, ingredients like xanthan gum and guar gum can help to bind and thicken recipes, but they should be used sparingly. Generally, for every 1 cup of flour, use about 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Remember to consider each substitute’s specific properties and desired result in your recipe to select the most appropriate option.

Substituting Tapioca Flour in Recipes

Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is a popular thickening agent used in many recipes. It is commonly used in Asian cooking and is especially beneficial for its ability to create a smooth, glossy finish in sauces and soups. If you are in need of a tapioca flour substitute, the options listed below should help you achieve the desired results in your recipes.

In Baking

When using a tapioca flour substitute for baking, consider the specific requirements of your recipe. Some possible substitutions include:

  • Sweet Rice Flour: This flour is a suitable alternative for tapioca flour in baked goods. It is less starchy and provides a slightly sweet flavor.
  • Cornstarch: To maintain the texture and elasticity in your recipe, substitute tapioca flour with an equal amount of cornstarch.
Sweet Rice Flour1:1 ratio
Cornstarch1:1 ratio

Remember to consider the specific needs of your recipe when choosing a substitute.

In Cooking

In cooking, finding a suitable tapioca flour substitute is essential to maintain the desired texture and appearance of your dish. To replace tapioca flour in savory recipes, such as soups, stews, and sauces, consider the following options:

  • Cornstarch: Use this starch as a 1:1 substitute for tapioca flour. Mix it with cold water to create a slurry before adding it to your dish to avoid lumps. Cornstarch’s neutral taste makes it a versatile choice for both sweet and savory dishes.
  • Flour: Regular flour can also be used as a thickening agent, although it may require a longer cooking time to eliminate the raw taste. In general, use twice the amount of flour as you would tapioca flour for similar results.
  • Arrowroot: This natural thickener is an excellent gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour in cooking. Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting arrowroot for tapioca flour.
Cornstarch1:1 ratioMix with cold water first
Flour2:1 ratioLonger cooking time
Arrowroot1:1 ratioGluten-free alternative

For recipes that require a crispy, fried coating, consider using:

  • Potato Starch: This starch yields a similar texture to tapioca flour when used as a coating for fried foods. Use it as a 1:1 substitute for tapioca flour in your recipe.

Remember that when substituting tapioca flour in recipes, it is crucial to test your chosen alternative to ensure that the results meet your desired outcome.

Considerations When Substituting Tapioca Flour

Texture and Consistency

When substituting tapioca flour, pay attention to the texture and consistency of the alternatives. Tapioca flour is often used as a thickening agent and provides a chewy texture in recipes. The ideal substitute should have a similar effect on the dish. For instance, rice flour can serve as an alternative due to its thickening properties. However, bear in mind that using rice flour might yield a less chewy texture. Other starches, such as cornstarch or potato starch, can also be effective thickeners.


Tapioca flour is odorless and flavorless, which makes it an ideal choice for recipes where maintaining the original flavor is crucial. When substituting tapioca flour, opt for alternatives that are also mild in taste, like arrowroot powder or potato starch. Some substitutes, like almond flour and coconut flour, have a slightly nutty flavor that may alter the taste of your dish. Therefore, consider the desired flavor profile before choosing your tapioca flour substitute.

Quantity and Proportion

Substituting tapioca flour also requires adjustments to the quantity and proportion of the alternative ingredients. Each substitute has a unique starch content, which affects its thickening ability. For example:

SubstituteProportion Ratio (compared to Tapioca Flour)
Potato Starch1:1
Arrowroot Powder2:1
Rice Flour1:1

To maintain the desired structure and consistency, modify the quantity of the substitute accordingly. Additionally, when using tapioca flour in a gluten-free flour mix, consider the binding properties of the alternatives. Regular flour may not provide the chewy consistency and structure that tapioca flour offers.

In summary, when substituting tapioca flour, evaluate the impact of the alternative on the texture, flavor, and quantity. Consider the specific needs of your recipe to ensure a successful substitution.

Advanced Substitutors Guide

Potential Effects of Freezing and Thawing

When substituting tapioca flour in your recipes, it’s essential to consider how freezing and thawing may impact the thickening power and final texture. Some substitutes, like cornstarch or arrowroot powder, may not hold their thickness when frozen and thawed. This means that dishes like gravies or sauces might become too thin or watery after reheating.

On the other hand, other substitutes like potato starch maintain their thickening power even after freezing. Be mindful of this aspect when deciding which alternative is best for your dish.

Choosing Between Glossy and Matte Finish

The finish of a sauce or gravy is often determined by the thickening agent used. Tapioca flour typically results in a glossy finish, adding visual appeal to your dishes. If you want to maintain this glossiness, choose substitutes like arrowroot powder or cornstarch, which provide a similar effect.

For a matte finish, consider using potato starch or rice flour. These alternatives deliver a less shiny appearance, which may be more suitable for certain recipes. Experiment with the quantity of your chosen substitute to achieve the desired thickness and finish.

Selecting the Right Substitute for Specific Dishes

The type of dish you are preparing will also play a role in determining the most suitable tapioca flour substitute. Here are some recommendations based on your dish’s requirements:

  • Thickening power: For thickening gravies, sauces, or soups, cornstarch and arrowroot powder can be excellent options. Use approximately 1 to 1.5 times the amount of tapioca flour your recipe calls for when using cornstarch, while using arrowroot powder in a 1:1 ratio.
  • Egg replacement: In recipes that call for eggs as a thickening or binding agent, consider using ground flaxseed or chia seeds. Combine 1 tablespoon of either seed with 3 tablespoons of water, and let it sit for a few minutes to form a gel-like consistency. This mixture can then replace one egg in your recipe.
  • Airy texture: When making baked goods with a light, airy texture, like cupcakes or bread, rice flour or potato starch can be suitable tapioca flour substitutes. Both can yield a delicate crumb, though you may need to experiment with the best quantity for your specific recipe.

Remember to carefully consider the specific needs and desired outcome of your dish when selecting the appropriate tapioca flour substitute. Confidence and knowledge in your substitutions can lead to delicious results in the kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can replace tapioca flour in Brazilian cheese Bread?

You can use arrowroot flour or cornstarch as a substitute for tapioca flour in Brazilian cheese bread recipes. Both options should give you similar texture and chewiness. Replace the tapioca flour with the same amount of arrowroot flour or cornstarch in the recipe.

What are some alternatives to tapioca flour in baking?

Some good alternatives for tapioca flour in baking include cornstarch, arrowroot flour, potato starch, and rice flour. When substituting, keep in mind that each has its unique properties, and the results may slightly vary. As a general rule, use the same amount of the alternative flour as the tapioca flour called for in the recipe.

What is the cornstarch to tapioca flour substitution ratio?

The cornstarch to tapioca flour substitution ratio is typically 1:1. This means that when substituting, you can use the same amount of cornstarch as the recipe calls for tapioca flour. For instance, if a recipe needs 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch instead.

What can be used instead of tapioca flour when making boba?

If you don’t have tapioca flour when making boba or bubble tea, you can try using cornstarch or potato starch as a substitute. Both are starchy options that can provide a similar texture to tapioca flour. However, keep in mind that the taste and texture of the boba pearls might not be exactly the same as tapioca flour.

What is a suitable tapioca flour replacement for frying?

A suitable tapioca flour replacement for frying is potato starch or cornstarch. Both options can provide the desired crispiness to the fried foods. Replace the tapioca flour with the same amount of potato starch or cornstarch for coating your food before frying.

Which keto-friendly ingredient can be used as a substitute for tapioca flour?

A keto-friendly ingredient that can be used as a substitute for tapioca flour is almond flour or coconut flour. Both options are low-carb options that can work well in many recipes. Keep in mind that these flours have a different texture and may require adjustments to the recipe’s liquid content. Start with a smaller amount of either almond or coconut flour and adjust the recipe as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

Best Tasting Tapioca Flour Substitutes

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
4.88 from 8 votes
Total Time 9 minutes
Course Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 3
Calories 133 kcal


  • Arrowroot starch: This is a common substitute for tapioca flour in recipes that call for it as a thickener. Use the same amount of arrowroot starch as you would tapioca flour.
  • Cornstarch: Another common substitute for tapioca flour cornstarch can be used in equal amounts in recipes that call for tapioca flour as a thickener.
  • Potato starch: This is a good substitute for tapioca flour in recipes that require a lot of binding power such as gluten-free breads and cakes. Use the same amount of potato starch as you would tapioca flour.
  • Rice flour: This is a good substitute for tapioca flour in recipes that require a light fluffy texture, such as cakes and muffins. Use 2-3 times as much rice flour as you would tapioca flour.
  • Cassava flour: This is actually made from the same plant as tapioca flour but is a whole food flour rather than a starch. It can be used as a substitute for tapioca flour in some recipes, but may require some adjustments to the recipe. Use the same amount of cassava flour as you would tapioca flour, but be aware that cassava flour is denser and may make the final product heavier.


  • Try our kitchen tested tapioca flour substitutes.


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Calories: 133kcal
Keyword tapioca flir substitutes
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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