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.
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.
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.
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 cornstarch. This way, you won’t ruin your dish by making it much too thick.
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.