Are you looking for a gluten-free thickener for your sauces and desserts?
Have you heard of arrowroot powder but can’t seem to find it in your local grocery store?
Don’t worry, you may already have a suitable substitute in your pantry – cornstarch!
While arrowroot powder has become a popular choice for those with corn allergies or who want to avoid GMOs, cornstarch can provide similar thickening effects and a glossy shine to your dishes.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between cornstarch and arrowroot powder, when to use each one, and how to substitute them in your recipes.
So let’s dive in and find out if cornstarch can be a suitable replacement for arrowroot powder.
Can I Substitute Cornstarch For Arrowroot Powder?
Yes, you can substitute cornstarch for arrowroot powder in most recipes. Both cornstarch and arrowroot powder are starch thickeners that can be used interchangeably in the same amounts. However, there are some differences between the two that you should be aware of.
Cornstarch is made from corn grains and is the most popular substitute for arrowroot powder. It works well as a thickening agent in sauces and desserts, and provides a glossy shine similar to arrowroot powder. Cornstarch is also gluten-free, making it a suitable option for those with gluten sensitivities.
On the other hand, arrowroot powder is made from the roots of a West Indian plant and is a go-to for gluten-free cooking. It creates a glossy texture and silky mouthfeel in dishes, and can be added to simmering sauces at the end of the cooking process. Arrowroot powder is also naturally GMO-free.
While both cornstarch and arrowroot powder can be used as substitutes for each other, there are some situations where one may work better than the other. For example, arrowroot powder is ideal for sauces with acidic ingredients or that you intend to freeze, while cornstarch may break down in acidic dishes and doesn’t hold up as well in the freezer.
What Is Arrowroot Powder?
Arrowroot powder, also known as arrowroot starch or arrowroot flour, is a fine white powder made from the dried and ground roots of the arrowroot plant. This plant is native to South America and is now cultivated in many tropical regions around the world. Arrowroot powder has a neutral taste and is often used as a thickening agent in cooking and baking.
One of the benefits of arrowroot powder is that it thickens at a lower temperature than cornstarch, making it ideal for use in delicate sauces and desserts. It also creates a crystal clear, shimmering sheen and a silkier mouthfeel in dishes. Arrowroot powder is a popular choice for gluten-free cooking as it is naturally free of gluten and can be substituted for wheat flour in many recipes.
Another advantage of arrowroot powder is that it freezes and thaws without changing its texture or consistency, making it a great option for frozen desserts and sauces. However, it should be noted that arrowroot powder does not thicken up the way cornstarch does, so it may not be suitable for dishes that need to be thick enough to slice.
It’s important to note that arrowroot powder should not be combined with dairy-based sauces as it can create a slimy texture. Additionally, while arrowroot powder and cornstarch can be used interchangeably in most recipes, there may be some differences in the finished product depending on the specific dish and ingredients used.
What Is Cornstarch?
Cornstarch is a fine white powder that is made from the endosperm of corn kernels. It is a common ingredient in many recipes, especially in sauces, soups, and desserts. Cornstarch is a starch thickener that works by absorbing water and forming a gel-like substance when heated. It is often used to thicken sauces and gravies because it has a neutral flavor and creates a smooth texture.
Cornstarch is also a popular substitute for arrowroot powder because it provides a similar glossy shine and can be used interchangeably in most recipes. However, it is important to note that cornstarch may not be suitable for those with corn allergies or sensitivities. Additionally, cornstarch may break down in acidic dishes or when frozen, so arrowroot powder may be a better option in these situations.
Differences Between Arrowroot Powder And Cornstarch
Although cornstarch and arrowroot powder can be used interchangeably in most recipes, there are some notable differences between the two.
Firstly, cornstarch is made from corn grains, while arrowroot powder is made from the roots of a West Indian plant. This difference in origin makes arrowroot powder a go-to for gluten-free cooking and a naturally GMO-free option.
Another difference is that arrowroot powder creates a glossy texture and silky mouthfeel in dishes, while cornstarch provides a similar glossy shine but may have a slight taste and leave food cloudy and opaque. Arrowroot powder is also a better option for sauces with acidic ingredients or dishes that you intend to freeze, while cornstarch may break down in acidic dishes and doesn’t hold up as well in the freezer.
It’s also worth noting that arrowroot powder thickens at a much lower temperature than cornstarch, which means it can be added to simmering sauces at the end of the cooking process. In contrast, cornstarch requires higher temperatures to thicken properly and should be added earlier in the cooking process.
When To Use Arrowroot Powder Vs. Cornstarch
When deciding whether to use arrowroot powder or cornstarch as a thickening agent, there are a few factors to consider.
Firstly, if you’re looking for a gluten-free option, both arrowroot and cornstarch are suitable choices. However, if you’re trying to avoid GMOs, arrowroot powder is the better option as it is naturally GMO-free.
Secondly, if you’re making a sauce with acidic ingredients, arrowroot powder is the better choice. It can handle acidic ingredients without breaking down and losing its thickening properties, while cornstarch may not hold up as well in acidic dishes.
Thirdly, if you’re freezing your dish, arrowroot powder is once again the better choice. Arrowroot can freeze and thaw without changing its texture or consistency, while cornstarch may break down and create a watery sauce.
When it comes to texture and mouthfeel, arrowroot powder creates a glossy and silky texture in dishes, while cornstarch can leave a slightly starchy taste and create a cloudy appearance.
In terms of cooking process, both arrowroot powder and cornstarch should be added towards the end of cooking to avoid over-thickening or breaking down.
How To Substitute Cornstarch For Arrowroot Powder In Recipes
To substitute cornstarch for arrowroot powder in recipes, use a 1:1 ratio. For every teaspoon of arrowroot powder called for in the recipe, use one teaspoon of cornstarch. If you need to thicken a sauce or dessert, make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with an equal amount of cold water before adding it to the dish. It’s important to note that cornstarch may break down in acidic dishes, so it may not be the best choice for recipes with high acidity levels. In these cases, arrowroot powder may be a better option. Additionally, if you’re looking for a gluten-free option, both cornstarch and arrowroot powder are suitable choices. However, if you’re making a recipe that requires long cooking times or that will be frozen, tapioca starch may be a better substitute for arrowroot powder as it holds up well under these conditions. Overall, substituting cornstarch for arrowroot powder is a simple and easy process that can be done in most recipes without affecting the final outcome significantly.
Tips For Using Cornstarch As A Thickener
If you’re using cornstarch as a thickener, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the best results:
1. Make a slurry: Like arrowroot powder, cornstarch needs to be mixed with a liquid before adding it to your recipe. To make a slurry, mix equal parts cornstarch and cold water until smooth.
2. Add it at the end: Cornstarch thickens quickly, so it’s best to add it at the end of the cooking process. If you add it too early, your dish may become too thick or clumpy.
3. Use the right amount: Cornstarch is a 1 for 1 substitute for arrowroot powder, so use the same amount called for in your recipe.
4. Avoid acidic ingredients: While arrowroot powder can handle acidic ingredients, cornstarch may break down and lose its thickening power. If you’re making a dish with acidic ingredients, consider using arrowroot powder instead.
5. Don’t overheat: Cornstarch can break down if overheated, so be sure to remove your dish from heat once it reaches the desired thickness.
By following these tips, you can successfully substitute cornstarch for arrowroot powder in your favorite recipes.