Best Tasting Tapioca Flour Substitutes

Tapioca flour is a popular alternative to normal flour, and it is even gluten-free, which is why it appeals to many more individuals that can’t have normal flour.

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The most common use for tapioca flour is to use it as a thickening agent for a variety of different purposes.

As well as it being able to thicken the overall consistency of your dish, it will also bring its own unique flavor to the table.

However, if you do find that your kitchen is lacking in tapioca flour, then there are some other things that you will be able to use as an alternative. 

This is a natural ingredient that also goes by a few different names, but it has a powdery consistency that is really good at absorbing water, which is why it is so good at thickening things like sauces and even gravy.

Different substitutes may require varying quantities, but you should still be able to make it work by following our guide. We'll help you find the perfect tapioca flour substitute.

What is Tapioca Flour?

For those who are just getting into different types of flour with their cooking and baking, you might be wondering what tapioca flour actually is.

Tapioca is a kind of starch that is taken from the cassava root, which is a tuber that can be found in South America.

The cassava root is actually really easy to grow, which is why it has become really popular in a variety of different countries, including Africa, Asia, and South America.

Interestingly, tapioca is almost completely made up of pure starch, which means that it has significantly low nutritional value, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it when cooking. 

The main reason why lots of people flock to using tapioca flour instead of any other type is due to the fact that it is gluten-free, making it a great cooking alternative for those that can’t have gluten in their diet.

It is a great substitute for wheat, and can still be used just as well as regular flour. Tapioca comes in a few different varieties and is typically found as either flour, flakes, or pearls. 

The way in which it is made varies depending on the place that it is being made in, but it usually involves getting as much starchy liquid out of ground cassava root as possible.

When all of this liquid is gone, it allows the water to evaporate, and when this happens, it leaves behind a fine tapioca powder. After this process is complete, the powder is processed into the different forms that we have mentioned above.

The most common form of tapioca is pearls, and these are used in bubble tea and a variety of different products of baking. They can also be used as a thickener in cooking.

So, if you are using tapioca flour specifically as a thickening agent, then you can also opt to use tapioca pearls as an alternative if you have them available to you.

While it might sound like it is, tapioca flour and cassava flour are not the same things. This leads us to our next topic of discussion.

Can I Use Cassava Flour Instead of Tapioca Flour? 

Cassava flour is another type of gluten-free flour substitute, and it even contains more fiber, which means that it has more nutritional value than tapioca flour.

Both of these different types of flour are made from the cassava root, though cassava flour actually uses the entire root, whereas tapioca flour only utilizes the starchy part of the plant instead.

In the majority of recipes, cassava flour and tapioca flour can be used interchangeably and the amounts of both of them will remain the same.

For example, if the recipe requires one cup of tapioca flour, you can apply this evenly with the alternative and use one cup of cassava flour. However, the higher fiber content of the cassava flour does mean that it has more thickening capabilities.

So, if your recipe does use any other types of thickening agents, like thickeners or gums, then you might no longer need to use them. If you do still need to use these thickeners, then you should use lower amounts as to not over-thicken the product. 

Something else that you should know about cassava flour is that it has a nutty flavor that is likely going to be noticeable in your dish, depending on what it is that you have created.

If you do not favor this flavor, then it might not be the alternative for you. 

Cornstarch

Another gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour is cornstarch, which makes it a great substitute if you are restricted by your diet.

It is more than suitable for gluten-free cooking and baking, and it makes almost the perfect replacement for tapioca flour.

This type of starch is also more widely available, making it easier to get your hands on when you need to. You might even have some in your pantry just waiting to be used. 

Something that you should be aware of is that it is able to thicken much more easily than tapioca flour, and so you should only use half the amount that the recipe states.

Essentially, if you were going to use one cup of tapioca flour, then you should only use half a cup of corn starch. This way, you won’t ruin your dish by making it much too thick. 

Potato Starch

The last tapioca flour substitute that we are going to look at is another gluten-free alternative by the name of potato starch.

However, you should know that it has a heavier consistency, which could make your overall dish much denser. This might not always be the case, but it can happen sometimes, depending on what you are making.

It is a little bit more difficult to estimate the ratio between potato starch and tapioca flour as it will depend on what you are making. This means that it might take a little bit more trial and error to work it out.

As a general rule, you should reduce the amount by around 25% to 50% when you are working with potato starch instead of tapioca flour.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute tapioca flour for cornstarch?

Yes, you can substitute tapioca flour for cornstarch. So, if you are happily cooking a meal only to find that you have no cornstarch available, you can use tapioca flour instead. However, there are some minor differences between the two, so you will need to be very careful when you are doing the substitution. 

While tapioca flour is a suitable substitution, there are some differences between these two ingredients, so you will need to alter the recipe accordingly. So, if you are using tapioca flour instead of cornstarch you will need to use a little more in the recipe than you would if you were using cornstarch.

For every tablespoon of cornstarch in a recipe, you will need to use 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour. So, while you can substitute tapioca flour for cornstarch, always ensure that you double the amount of ‘cornstarch’ listed in the recipe when using tapioca flour. 

Is cornstarch and tapioca flour the same?

No, tapioca flour and cornstarch are not the same thing. That being said, they are very similar to one another which is why it can be difficult to tell the two apart. However, there is one very major difference between the two, and that is the way in which they are sourced. This is because cornstarch and tapioca flour are sourced from two different places. 

As its name suggests, cornstarch is sourced from corn. Whereas tapioca flour is sourced from the root of the cassava plant. So even though they look very similar, and operate very much in the same way as one another, tapioca flour and cornstarch are very different from one another. 

However, despite the differences between cornstarch and tapioca flour, they can be substituted for one another as they both act in the same way when added to recipes. 

Can you replace tapioca flour with coconut flour?

Yes, you can replace tapioca flour in a recipe with coconut flour. This is mainly because tapioca flour and coconut flour are very similar to one another which means that they can be easily substituted for one another. So if you don’t have any tapioca flour at hand, but you do have coconut flour, simply use this in the recipe instead. 

Coconut flour and tapioca flour not only operate very similarly to one another, but they also have a very similar taste to each other. By taste, we mean that both of them pretty much don’t taste of anything, and they are also odorless too. This is why you can easily substitute them both as they do not have a massive impact on the taste of the food. 

So, yes, if you haven’t got any tapioca flour at home and need it for a recipe, then coconut flour is a suitable alternative. 

How do I substitute tapioca flour for almond flour?

When you substitute tapioca flour for something else, you will often need to change the amount that you add to a recipe. For example, when you substitute cornstarch for tapioca flour, you will need to halve the amount that you add to the recipe. However, substituting tapioca flour for almond flour is easy because you do not need to alter the amount that you add. 

This is mainly because tapioca flour and almond flour are very similar to one another. Not only in terms of taste and scent, but also in terms of consistency. It is mainly due to the similarities in consistency that you will not need to alter the amount that you add when substituting tapioca flour for almond flour. 

So, if you need to complete this substitute, all you need to do is use the same measurements as the recipe tells you too. 

You can also use rice flour, arrowroot, arrowroot flour, arrowroot powder, arrowroot starch, wheat flour, sweet rice flour, chickpea flour, cake flour, tigernut flour, or potato flour as well. Just experiment and have fun.

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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.
Cassie Marshall
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