The rise of gluten-free cooking as well as other healthy options for cooking and eating, has seen the rise of healthy ingredients and flour. Tapioca flour is yet another healthy and gluten-free flour.
This flour is useful when you are looking for a neutral-tasting flour that has a shiny surface and smooth texture.
To make your work easier, this article is meant to show you the substitutes you should consider for your tapioca.
What is tapioca flour?
Image: Slice Pizzeria
This is a no-gluten, powdery and fine powder that’s made from the root of the tapioca plant or better known as cassava roots. This plant is used for various kinds of cooking and it’s therefore grown in almost every part of the world.
It’s also known as tapioca starch or cassava flour in some countries.
To make the flour, the roots are ground and the result is separated cyanide and purified starch. This is then sold as tapioca, cassava, or manioc flour. Sometimes the manufacturers sell them as sticks, flakes, and pearl.
It has a high level of water absorbing-ability which makes it suitable for thickening your stews and sauces. It features the purest starch available in the market with its slightly mild and sweet taste that some people find neutral.
How it’s made
You will find tapioca being sold in different forms as listed below:
- Tapioca flour: it’s fine in texture and best used for gluten-free baking.
- Tapioca starch is just another name of tapioca flour: it’s a soluble powder that is best used for thickening your gravies and soups.
- Tapioca pearls/Boba: they are small pearls that are soluble in heated water. It’s produced using tapioca starch.
- Tapioca flakes: you will find them in either a fine or coarse option.
These products are used interchangeably but the ones used for thickening and baking arethe tapioca starch or flour.
Step 1: Begin by peeling the cassava.
Step 2: Find its starchy root and grate it then dry it.
Step 3: Ensure you remove all the water and fibers.
The result is fine powdered flour or starch.
Top 6 Tapioca Flour Substitutes
1. Arrowroot powder
This is your other root flour that has similar characteristics to tapioca flour. It’s made from arrowroot and it’s the closest we have to tapioca. It’s a house of starch and it’s also gluten-free which matches the characteristics of tapioca.
It’s a neutral thickener and like tapioca leaves your thickened meals glossy and without much change.
It can stand the acidity of food without losing its properties. But it like other root starches, should be added at the end of your cooking when using it for thickening. This avoids breaking. Don’t use it in dairy products though because it may make them slimy.
When using it as a substitute in your recipe, consider the ratio of 2:1 between tapioca and arrowroot.
Arrowroot vs tapioca flour
The flour is like tapioca in various ways but also different in some. Unlike the tapioca flour that’s made using cassava root only, arrowroot is made using various root plants which include cassava, arrowroot among others.
Its uses are like those of tapioca flour. However, while tapioca is easy to digest, the arrowroot flour is even easier to digest.
Organic Arrowroot Powder (Flour)
The flour is made using arrowroot tubers from Vietnam. The product is GMO-free and contains no additives. It’s also gluten-free.
It comes in a bag that is resealable once you open it. It’s perfect for thickening your sauces and a great substitute for cornstarch, all-purpose flour, and even tapioca. What’s more, it gives you a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
2. Cassava flour
Image: Slice Pizzeria
This flour is produced from a root called yuca or cassava. It’s popular across Africa Asia and South America. The flour is closely related to tapioca flour which is basically the starch you extract from cassava.
I mean they are both from the same plant. Nevertheless, it has a mild flavor that works best in binding foods.
Tapioca flour vs cassava flour
The difference lies in the fact that the cassava flour is made from the whole cassava root. The cassava root has brown rough skin and a soft yellow or white interior. The tapioca flour, on the other hand, is made from the extracted starch.
The flour-like its sister tapioca flour is low in calories, protein, fat, and fiber but higher in vitamin than the tapioca flour. They are both free of gluten and will act as thickening agents.
Cassava flour doesn’t need processing it simply grows and when harvested you peel the skin and mill it. For the tapioca flour, you need a lot of processing and extraction where sometimes it’s subjected to high heat. Some people will prefer to use unprocessed cassava flour.
The cassava flour is easier to digest than the tapioca one. This is good for those with digestive system problems because it doesn’t have pure starches.
Cassava Flour by Anthony’s
The flour is made using the cassava from Brazil. Just as earlier stated, the cassava is naturally grown, peeled off the outer skin, then inspected and grounded to a fine powder. It contains no additives or GMO.
It’s a good thickener for your sauces and soups. It can also act as a good substitute for your gluten-free pastry recipes.
There are some recipes that you may make use of cornstarch as a substitute for tapioca. I love the fact that it’s easily accessible compared to other substitutes. The flour is widely used as a thickener and it’s almost impossible to miss it in a house where people love cooking.
It’s a grain starch that comes from the corn’s endosperm. This makes it both beneficial and with drawbacks. The cornstarch never breaks down when you subject it to prolonged heating like the root starches.
The downside is that it doesn’t deal with high sugar and acid concentrations well. It may leave your dish chalky and thin when in such conditions. Although it’s a good thickener, it makes the liquid that you are thickening cloudy.
Consider making a cornstarch slurry whenever you want to use it.
How to substitute tapioca with cornstarch
When using it for baking, note that it will impart the same glossy and chewy texture to your products thus giving you a perfect end product. The difference being that tapioca flour cooks faster while corn starch cooks slower.
Confirm the amount of cornstarch you need to work as a substitution. Remember, the substitution is at a ratio of 1:2 or better illustrated as half the amount of tapioca flour you would use.
Mix as directed. Cornstarch works the same way as tapioca flour so whether you are making the bread or pies, follow the directions under the tapioca flour recipe.
What of baking time? The cornstarch will consume more time than tapioca flour when cooking. So, consider adding some baking time for the perfect results.
Pure organic ingredients corn starch
This product is made from purely natural ingredients. It’s also free from preservatives and fillers. This like your other root flours is free of gluten, MSG, nuts, soy, and dairies. It’s a high-quality product that is vegan-friendly.
You can use it to thicken your pudding, pies, sauces, soups, and gravies.
4. Potato starch
This one like the arrowroot and tapioca comes from the roots of a potato plant. It’s made from the starches extracted from the potato. There’s a difference between the potato flour and the potato starch in that it works and features almost the same characteristics as tapioca.
It’s neutral and gives your food a glossy appearance while not altering the color since it’s transparent when used. It features the same nutrients as those of the tapioca. However, it’s resistant starch.
Unlike other starches, it doesn’t get digested in the stomach and small intestines. It’s good for those managing their blood sugar. Consider the slurry method when adding it to your dish and use the ratio of 1:2 as other substitutes above.
Unmodified Potato Starch
Talk of the purest and high-quality potato starch. The potato starch is gluten-free and produced without additives. It contains no GMOs. It works well as a thickener and in your gluten-free baking because it will even add moisture to your baked goods.
This potato starch will add volume to your finished product and you may use it for your pizza crusts, and bread.
5. Rice flour
This will make a good baking substitution. The rice flour is made using either ground white rice or ground whole rice to make brown rice flour. They both feature a neutral and mild flavor. You can use them interchangeably.
They contain no gluten and they are readily available. Rice flour is heavier and denser than other flours so its best to mix it with other flours when you are ready to use it. This will help to remove the grainy feel in your mouth as you eat your baked products.
It will also work well as a thickener.
RYZE Gluten Free Flour
This is made using brown rice flour which makes it sticky and moist. It contains no added fillers or starches. It also has no gluten making it suitable for your gluten-free baked products. It’s a good substitute for most other flours including tapioca flour.
It uses no refined starches which makes it suitable for those with various allergens.
6. Wheat flour
I would never want to replace the tapioca flour with wheat flour but, if that’s all you have then use it in pinches. It works as a thickener although you should use it to a minimal level. When subjected to high temperatures, it thickens faster.
Nevertheless, understand that you will have a difference in taste. It’s not a good substitute we are reaching for because it contains gluten. The other drawback is that the pies that you thicken with this flour will separate in the freezer.
How to use tapioca flour
Whenever you are using the tapioca flour, consider mixing it with other gluten-free flours. This is because the flour when mixed with water from a gel substance which unless mixed with other flour types will not be rehydrated.
The tapioca flour absorbs water much faster. More so when the water is heated. This makes a quick dough paste. It’s natural to have it absorb a lot of water and swell thus render the moisture to your baked goods.
The tapioca flour uses
If you want to cook, confirm the recipe you are following. Tapioca flour is sometimes sold in instant form which means that if you use it in the wrong recipe you will have a wrong end-product because they work differently.
- The tapioca flour is used to make milk-based pudding and fruit juices. If you are familiar with tapioca pudding then note that it gets its name from the tapioca flour or pearls. People find it nostalgic and comforting.
- It acts as a thickener of pies, soups, and sauces. The way it works is that you whisk it in whatever you intend to thicken. It’s a better option than most choices because it retains its texture even when you freeze it. This is what makes it suitable for ice creams too. Your meal also remains glossy.
- Countries like Taiwan use tapioca to add texture to your tea. It works for your bubble tea and pearl milk tea. You make the tea by soaking the tapioca pearls in sugar. Use the extra-wide straws to suck the pearls through the straw.
- The tapioca is used when making sweet soups like the Chinese coconut red bean soup.
- You can mix it with your homemade flour. This is because it’s not going to add flavor to your flour, it’s fine and sticky. This gives your pastry or other meals a chewy texture.
- When you combine it with white rice flour, you will make crispy pancakes, waffles, pizzas, and cookies.
- You can use it to make French bread and white bread as well.
- It’s a good substitute for all the cornstarch dishes.
- Some people use it to thicken the dairy products
- It will also work well in your pie and gravy fillings.
How to use tapioca flour as a thickener
Note that the different tapioca options are usable in various recipes.
- First, read the recipe to understand what it requires and how much flour is used. When you intend to use tapioca as a thickener one vital thing to consider is the measurements. They should be exact.
- Follow the other steps of the recipe until you are required to add the thickener. Almost all thickeners are usually added at the end of the recipe.
- To add the tapioca, use these measurements, for every ¼ cup of flour add 3 tablespoons of tapioca instant or starch powder.
- Stir or whisk the ingredient until thoroughly mixed. Note that, it thickens your liquid faster than other thickeners.
Measurements when making substitutes for tapioca
When you discover that your shelves have no tapioca flour you can use the discussed substitutes in the following method to achieve the same result
Instead of the 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour use 1 tablespoon of either corn starch or arrowroot flour. Combine it with water to make a paste the same way you do the tapioca flour. Then add it to the liquid you intend to thicken.
Cornstarch doesn’t work well with products that you intend to freeze but, it’s good with your dairy products. If you intend to freeze your dishes, consider replacing the tapioca with arrowroot. The arrowroot flour will also work best with fruit-based recipes.
When you need it for quick-cooking replace your 2 tablespoons of tapioca with 1 tablespoon of potato or rice starch. You mix the potato or rice starch with your other dry ingredients before you add the liquid ingredients.
You can also replace the 2 tablespoons of tapioca with the 2 tablespoons of your all-purpose flour. Combine it with sugar or flour then add the liquids.
You can use 3 tablespoons of kudzu powder for every 2 cups of liquid you require in your recipe.
Tips for consideration
- Gluten-free cooking is an art that you must experiment before you know what works for you. This is in terms of proportions and texture.
- The tapioca flour gives your baked goods a springy texture so, reduce the flour if you wish to reduce the springiness.
- In baking, if you want to change a traditional recipe to a modern gluten-free recipe, you must decrease the amount of liquid you use. This is because wheat flour is more absorbent than gluten-free flours.
- For the desired taste of your food, whether you are using tapioca flour or its substitutes, proper proportioning is mandatory. This is regardless of whether you need it as a thickening agent or for baking.
- When you are baking, don’t use the flour exclusively rather mix it with other flours. Excess tapioca flour will make the food slimy which is a texture that puts most people off.
Its nutritional facts
You now know that the tapioca flour is from the cassava roots. The root is entirely edible and it serves millions across the world with its nutrients. So, let’s check the tapioca’s entire nutrient composition. If you use a ¼ cup of tapioca flour you are consuming:
- 100 calories
- 26 grams of carbs
- Almost zero sugar, fat, and protein.
This flour lacks the most essential nutrients and only contain carbohydrates. We use it because it helps to recreate a healthier version of various baked goods. You don’t need to use the highly processed all-purpose flour instead choose tapioca flour.
The flour suits those who have allergies to gluten, proteins, and the likes because it contains none of that stuff.
You should use it because:
- It’s gluten-free and nut-free
This product is good for those following a strict no-gluten diet, paleo diet, and other diets. The tapioca flour is free of gluten, grains, nuts, sugar, veggies, and dairy. The cassava products apart from being free of the above listed they are also easy to digest.
It’s your alternative to all-purpose flour and seed flours like almond meal. It has healthy uses in the baking industry and will work best for all those with different allergens related to flours.
- Low levels of calories and sugar
It has a balance of carbohydrates and water. However, it has zero to no protein, sugar and fat. This makes it suitable for those concerned about their weight because it’s low on calories. Using it reduces the need to use butter and cream which helps balance your body calories.
- It’s tasteless and odorless
If you aren’t familiar with its texture you may not know that it’s in your food. The flour is odorless, and tasteless which makes it viable for your sweets and savories. The only thing you notice is the texture which reflects the sponginess in your baked goods.
It also has a crusty and springy feel but aside from that, it doesn’t influence your food.
- It’s a good thickener
A little bit of tapioca goes a long way. When compared to other thickeners, the flour is water-absorbent in nature. This makes it the best choice for moistening, thickening, or binding your sauces gravies, and pastries.
- Don’t overdo the tapioca flour. Instead, mix it with other nutritious flours or meals. Because it lacks essential nutrients.
- Almond flour and coconut flour are rich in fiber. Mix it with tapioca to give your dish a blend of nutrients.
- When processing the cassava, take caution not to make the cassava toxic. Use proper processing methods and standards.
- When you decide to make your own flour be aware that the flour may produce cyanide which is harmful. In my opinion, it’s best to buy from a popular brand because the effects of cyanide are dire.
Most people wonder why they should use tapioca flour since it has no essential nutrients. But when used as required you will receive other nutrients from other ingredients you are using for your recipe.
Besides, isn’t it better that you have a gluten-free product with less cholesterol in this era?