Gluten-free, corn-free, and with twice the thickening power of all-purpose flour – arrowroot flour is an excellent alternative to plain flour and cornstarch for baking and cooking.
But when and how should you use it? Here’s the full scoop on arrowroot flour vs all-purpose flour.
Comparing arrowroot flour vs all-purpose flour
|Arrowroot flour||All-purpose flour|
|Common Allergens||None||Wheat, gluten|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)||3-4 years||6-8 months|
|Best for||Thickening agent for sauces, puddings, and fruit pie fillings, and in cakes and cookies.||Non-yeast recipes (think cookies, biscuits, and some breads)|
*I generally don’t recommend arrowroot flour as a replacement for all-purpose flour in large quantities. But as a thickener, you can use 1 part of arrowroot flour for every 2 parts of flour. Add arrowroot flour slowly because too much can quickly turn a sauce into jelly!
Both can be used as a thickening agent in puddings, sauces, soups and gravy, but arrowroot flour is far better at thickening than all-purpose flour, which reflects the 1:2 ratio above.
All-purpose flour will generally work well for most recipes, but it is best used to bind or thicken heavier batters such as pancakes or waffles.
Let’s take a closer look at what each one has to offer.
Differences between arrowroot flour and all-purpose flour
The main difference between arrowroot flour and all-purpose flour is that arrowroot flour has a much higher starch content. For this reason, it can thicken liquids faster and more evenly (without clumps) than all-purpose flour. Plus, arrowroot flour cooks up clear and glossy which makes it perfect for thickening soups and sauces without altering the color.
Arrowroot flour is made from the root starch of a tropical tuber – the arrowroot plant (Maranta arundinacea), whereas all-purpose flour is made from refined wheat and contains gluten.
Arrowroot also has a neutral flavor which won’t alter the taste of recipes as some other thickeners do.
Since arrowroot flour has no gluten and is much lighter than all-purpose flour, it’s ideal for delicate recipes such as cookies. All-purpose flour can be used in more types of recipes but cannot create the same light texture as arrowroot or provide a glossy sheen when cooked.
Baking with arrowroot flour vs all-purpose flour
All-purpose flour is most commonly used in baking because it contains gluten protein which gives baked goods their structure and elasticity when rising during the baking process.
Arrowroot is best used as a thickener or as an egg replacement in vegan baking, but it is not ideal on its own for baking because it does not contain gluten. This means that baked goods will lack elasticity or cohesiveness compared to all-purpose flour. In my experience, arrowroot flour works well when mixed with other gluten-free flours like almond flour and coconut flour in cake or cookie recipes.
Adding arrowroot powder to fillings or custards also gives a clear, glossy sheen while thickening, whereas all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and corn flour result in a milky appearance.
Plus, unlike all-purpose flour, arrowroot flour won’t break when combined with acidic ingredients like fruit juice, making it perfect for fruit pies and tarts!
Ingredients in arrowroot flour vs all-purpose flour
Compared to all-purpose flour which is often bleached or processed with additives such as preservatives or enzymes, arrowroot contains no chemicals or added ingredients.
Naturally gluten-free, arrowroot flour is a natural starch powder derived from the root tuber of various tropical plants. It contains only one ingredient: arrowroot. It may also be labeled as arrowroot powder or arrowroot starch.
Because arrowroot is a natural absorbent, it’s also a great ingredient in deodorant! See this natural homemade deodorant recipe with simple ingredients like arrowroot powder.
Arrowroot flour + all-purpose flour nutritional facts
|Nutrient||Arrowroot flour (Per 1 tbsp)||All-purpose flour (per 1/4 cup)|
|Glycemic index score||65-85||85|
Arrowroot is naturally low in calories and fat while being high in minerals like potassium and magnesium, vitamins including folate and B6, as well as antioxidants that are beneficial for health.
Arrowroot flour is high in fiber and resistant starch which both help to slow down the rate of digestion, resulting in a longer-lasting feeling of fullness. If that’s your ultimate goal, then it may be worthwhile to consider adding arrowroot flour to your cooking or baking!
On the other hand, all-purpose flour has more protein but is also higher in carbohydrates. But arrowroot flour is also high in carbs, so if you’re watching your carbohydrate intake or want something more keto-friendly, coconut flour would be a better option.
Arrowroot flour vs all-purpose flour storage
To store arrowroot flour or all-purpose flour, I recommend keeping them in airtight containers in a cool and dry area. Arrowroot flour should last you a long time – up to 3-4 years when stored properly, whereas all-purpose flour only lasts up to 8 months.
In my opinion, both flours deserve a spot in your pantry! Here’s why:
Arrowroot flour is a great gluten-free, allergy-friendly starch best used for thickening sauces, as it gives them a glossy finish without changing the flavor or color of the recipe.
All-purpose flour is an inferior thickening ingredient that is more prone to clumping, cloudiness, spoilage, and breaking down with acidic ingredients like fruit juice and vinegar. That said, it is the more versatile baking flour that can be used for MUCH more than thickening sauces.
Arrowroot flour is gluten-free and better at thickening than plain flour. Another major benefit of using arrowroot flour compared to plain (all-purpose) flour is its ability to mix clear when thickening.
It depends on your dietary needs. Arrowroot flour is rich in minerals like potassium and calcium and is gluten-free, making it a healthier choice for those with gluten allergies or sensitivities.
Arrowroot flour is used as a gluten-free, corn-free thickening agent. It can be used in place of all-purpose flour or cornstarch to thicken sauces, gravies, puddings, and other dishes.