Whether cooking or baking, corn flour is a must-have in any kitchen. It has multiple uses, like thickening stews and breading meat, and it does that without adding strong flavors to your food. But, as it sometimes happens, you might run out of corn flour. So what do you do when your recipe calls for corn flour, and you have none available?
There are multiple corn flour substitutes that you can use and that you might have readily available in your kitchen. Let us look at what these substitutes are and how you can use them as replacements. We will also see some of our best recommendations for each of these products so that you can get the best corn flour substitute possible.
Best Corn Flour Substitutes
There is a debate around the difference between cornstarch and corn flour. Corn flour is yellow in color, is a lot denser, and has a grainy texture. On the other hand, cornstarch is white and powdery in texture and comes from the starchy part of corn kernels. Be careful when buying these two products, and make sure you check the label to ensure you get the correct product.
While you can substitute corn flour with cornstarch, you need to know that they have different purposes in different dishes. Corn flour makes bread dense and crumbly because it lacks gluten, while cornstarch is mainly used as a thickening agent in soup and stew dishes.
If you want to follow a gluten-free diet, you can use cornstarch as a substitute, especially when breading fried dishes. The ratio is 1:1. Use cold water when mixing cornstarch to make sure it is diluted properly.
My favorite brand of cornstarch is Argo’s pure cornstarch. It is soy, peanut, milk, egg, aluminum, MSG, and tree nut-free. It also has a strong thickening power, and you can use it in multiple dishes. Its packaging is re-sealable, and the container is recyclable.
Wheat is a nutrient-dense food with ideal amounts of fiber and protein. It is made from finely grounded wheat and contains gluten, so if you have celiac disease, it will not be a good alternative.
Wheat flour is whole grain, so you will need to double the recipe if using it as a corn flour substitute. Use 2 tablespoons of wheat flour to replace a tablespoon of corn flour when using it as a thickening agent in stews and soups. As with cornstarch, use cold water to mix it to avoid lumps in the soup.
The King Arthur White Multi-Purpose Flour is my flour of choice when substituting. You can use this in your soups and even when making flour tortillas.
Rice flour is a common staple, especially in Asian culture, where it is used as the main ingredient for multiple recipes, like desserts, soups, and noodles. It comes from finely ground rice which forms a fine white starch. The flour is also gluten-free if you are concerned about such things.
The flour is perfect when mixing with clear soups because of its colorless appearance. You can dilute it with both cold and hot water, and it will not form any lumps or show a cloudy white color. To get the same consistency, substitute one tablespoon of corn flour with 2 tablespoons of rice flour.
It is a suitable replacement for soup thickening but does not use it for deep frying. Rice flour is not as thick and does not have the same crunch as corn flour. My best brand is Bob’s Red Mill rice flour which is excellent for baking, breading, and thickening soups. The flour does not contain artificial flavors or preservatives.
Much like the name suggests, this flour is made from fresh, crushed, and dried potatoes. The potatoes are then ground further to form a white starch that you can use. It has a high-calorie count because of its high levels of fats and carbs, so you should avoid it if you are following a calorie-conscious diet.
Potatoes are not whole grain, so they do not contain gluten. They also absorb a lot of water, so be cautious when using flour as a thickening agent. Put it in later when cooking as it can get too thick if you add it earlier. Avoid heating it for a long time, too. That could cause it to break down and take away its thickening capability.
Substitute one tablespoon of corn flour with a tablespoon of potato flour for the perfect thickening agent. You can also use the flour to bread vegetables and meats; it has a lot of flavors, boosting the dish’s flavor.
My best potato flour brand is Bob’s Red Mill. The flour is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and it is Kosher Pareve. Though it contains tree nuts, soy, and sesame seeds, thus not suitable for those with these allergies, it is an overall great grain-free flour to use as a corn flour substitute.
Probably the most common substitute all over the world is all-purpose flour. On its own, it is suitable for baking and creating multiple wheat dishes, making it a permanent product in every kitchen. This flour comes from regular wheat grains that have the brown coating removed, hence the white color.
You can use it as a substitute when deep frying and when thickening soups. It is still tasty when you use it but has a different taste from corn flour, especially when using it as a coating. It will have a denser and chewier texture, different from corn flour’s crispy and light texture.
If you will use it for thickening soups, double the amount required in the recipe; substitute two tablespoons of all-purpose flour for a tablespoon of corn flour.
White Lily All-Purpose Flour is the best to use, for all uses, not just as a replacement. It is affordable, reliable, and has good taste.
What is the Perfect Corn Flour Substitute?
While the rest are good as substitutes, cornstarch and potato flour tie as the best corn flour substitutes. They hold their shape and still carry flavor when deep-fried. Their taste also makes them good for breading, made better by their light feel.
You can also use the flours to add flavor to dishes that do not require a lot of salt or spices. Their light, airy texture makes them crunchy, which is what you want in a fried dish.
They also work great for stews and soups, giving you the perfect thickening feel. When it comes to thickening, however, cornstarch is a better option. You can add it whenever you need it, and dilute it with cold water.
Potato flour absorbs water, making it an excellent thickening agent, but it needs more care because of its absorbent nature. Practice caution when using it to avoid making soup that is too thick. Potato flour also breaks down after boiling for a prolonged period, reversing the whole process.
When it comes to baking, both products do not make the cut. All-purpose and wheat flour are the best substitutes for baking. They both hold their shape and provide the right texture for baked goods.
My Favorite Corn Bread Recipe
- 1 cup corn flour or yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl; corn flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and whisk well to combine.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add in buttermilk and the eggs.
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly. You can do this manually or use a mixer at average speed.
- Add the melted butter and mix. Do not over mix; it will make the batter too smooth.
- Butter a 9-inch square baking dish or a cast-iron skillet. Heat the baking dish in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove the dish from the oven and pour the batter into the hot dish. Look for a sizzle as you pour; that should let you know if the pan is hot enough.
- Bake the batter for 20-25 minutes. Insert a toothpick to check if it is done after 20 minutes. If it comes out clean, the bread is ready; if it comes out still wet, leave for five more minutes, then take out of the oven.
- Let the bread rest for 10 minutes, then serve.
You can make your own buttermilk if you do not have any. To do this, add one tablespoon of white vinegar to a cup of full cream milk at room temperature. Mix it well, then put it aside for five minutes. You should see the curd forming; mix a little to help with the process. Taste it when done. If it is sour, you now have your homemade buttermilk.
You can add baking powder to the mixture, but it is entirely optional. The baking powder will make the bread lighter and airier, so you can skip the baking powder if you prefer denser and thicker bread.
So there you go, five of the best corn flour substitutes from products you can find in your pantry. Try them out, and let us know what your favorite is. Also, let us know when you make the cornbread and how it turns out. Share your favorite recipe in the comments too!