Tapioca starch is known for its unique texture and thickening properties. It’s used in various dishes, from gluten-free baking to thickening soups.
But there might be times when you find yourself out of tapioca starch.
Here are four of the best tapioca starch substitutes for different occasions:
- Cassava flour
- Potato flour
- Arrowroot flour
Best all-around gluten-free substitute for tapioca starch: Cassava flour
Tapioca starch can be hard to find in stores, so cassava flour is the next best thing.
Made from the same root as tapioca, cassava flour is naturally gluten-free and possesses a similar starchy texture. It’s an excellent 1:1 replacement for tapioca starch in most recipes, whether you’re baking or thickening sauces.
Not only does cassava flour mimic the texture of tapioca starch, but it also tastes very similar. I would describe it as mild and slightly nutty. This means your dishes will maintain their original taste without any major differences.
Best budget-friendly tapioca starch substitute: Cornstarch
Most of us have cornstarch in our pantry. It’s widely available and typically cheaper than specialty flours like cassava or arrowroot.
Cornstarch comes in handy when you need a thickening agent for sauces, soups, or desserts. Just remember that cornstarch has a greater thickening capacity than tapioca starch, so you’ll need less of it (roughly half the amount). So, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch, use ½ tablespoon of cornstarch.
Best easy-to-bake-with tapioca starch substitute: Cassava flour
If you’re baking, you can’t exactly substitute large amounts of cornstarch. You’ll need another gluten-free alternative to traditional wheat flour.
Due to its fiber content, cassava flour can help create a more substantial structure and may provide better results for certain baked goods that need structure and moisture retention. Think moist and tender cakes, muffins, and cookies.
Closest neutral flavor tapioca starch substitute: Cassava flour
As I mentioned, cassava flour is the closest thing to tapioca starch in terms of taste. This is because they both come from the cassava root.
Like tapioca starch, cassava flour has a relatively neutral flavor. This is important when substituting in recipes where you don’t want the substitute to significantly alter the taste of the final dish.
Best healthy substitute for tapioca starch: Cassava flour
Cassava flour is naturally grain-free, nut-free, and gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for individuals with dietary restrictions or those simply looking to make healthier choices.
Plus, cassava flour is a decent source of fiber and resistant starch, which can promote gut health and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Best high fiber, high protein tapioca starch substitute: Potato flour
While it might not be “high” in protein per se, potato flour does offer a decent protein content compared to other alternatives. It’s also a great source of dietary fiber.
With its slightly earthy flavor and impressive thickening ability, potato flour is great in soups and stews, but also baked goods.
Due to its high-fiber content, potato flour may impact the texture of your dish, so it’s best used in combination with other flours or starches.
Best lower calorie tapioca starch alternative: Arrowroot flour
If you’re watching your calorie intake, arrowroot flour generally has fewer calories per serving compared to tapioca starch.
Arrowroot flour is particularly handy for making clear, glossy sauces and gravies, and it’s an excellent thickener for pie fillings.
Best keto tapioca starch substitute: Arrowroot flour
Arrowroot flour can be used in some low-carb or keto recipes as a substitute for traditional flours like wheat flour or cornstarch, but it’s not considered a strict keto-friendly ingredient due to its carbohydrate content.
On average, arrowroot flour contains about 7-9 grams of net carbohydrates per tablespoon. While this might be lower than some other flours, it can still add up quickly if used in larger quantities.
Best paleo/whole30: Cassava flour
Finally, for those following paleo or Whole30 diets, cassava flour ticks all the boxes: gluten-free, grain-free, and entirely compliant with both paleo and Whole30 guidelines.
So, whether you’re making paleo-friendly tortillas or adhering to the Whole30 plan, cassava flour is a great choice!
For pie fillings, both arrowroot flour and cornstarch can work as effective substitutes for tapioca starch. Experiment with quantities to achieve the desired thickness.
Yes, you can generally replace tapioca starch with cornstarch in recipes as a thickening agent, but keep in mind that cornstarch has slightly stronger thickening power, so you may need to use a bit less of it to achieve the same consistency.
Arrowroot flour is a good low-carb substitute for tapioca starch in recipes. It’s also a starch-based thickener, but contains fewer carbohydrates.
Yes, xanthan gum can be used as a substitute for tapioca starch in recipes to provide thickening and binding properties, but the texture and results might vary due to their different properties.
When substituting xanthan gum for tapioca starch as a thickener, a general guideline is to use about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of liquid or as specified in the recipe, as xanthan gum is quite potent in small quantities.