If you’re a fan of gluten-free or paleo diets, you may have heard of cassava flour. This versatile and nutrient-dense ingredient has been gaining popularity in recent years as an alternative flour.
But what exactly is cassava flour? Where does it come from? And what makes it so special? Let’s dive in to find out!
What is cassava flour?
Cassava flour is a type of flour made from the cassava root, which is also known as yuca. Cassava flour is gluten-free and is often used as a substitute for wheat flour in baking.
It’s not the same as tapioca starch or tapioca flour, which is also made from the cassava root but is processed differently.
To make cassava flour commercially, the cassava root is first peeled, then grated or ground into a fine powder. The powder is then dried and sometimes fermented before being milled into a flour.
What’s the difference between cassava flour and regular flour?
Cassava flour and regular flour couldn’t be more different. Cassava flour is made from cassava plant roots and is gluten-free, grain-free, and high in fiber. On the other hand, regular (all-purpose) flour is made from wheat, contains gluten, and is overall less nutritious. However, it provides more versatility for baking. Both have their unique benefits, which you can read more about here.
Benefits of cassava flour
As a ground-up root vegetable, cassava flour is naturally gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, and paleo-friendly, so it’s a great option for people with dietary restrictions or allergies. If you’re interested, read more about how cassava flour can be incorporated into a low FODMAP diet.
Plus, it’s high in resistant starch, which can promote healthy digestion and help regulate blood sugar levels (note its lower glycemic index vs all-purpose flour in the table below).
And let’s not forget about its versatility, thanks to its light texture and relatively neutral flavor. Cassava flour can be used in a wide range of recipes, from pancakes to pizza crust and potstickers!
Cassava flour nutrition facts
|Flour (¼ cup)||Calories||Carbs||Fiber||Sugar||Fat||Protein||Glycemic Index|
|Cassava flour||130||31 g||2 g||0 g||0 g||0 g||46|
|All-purpose flour||120||24 g||1 g||0 g||0.5 g||4 g||85|
As you can see, cassava flour and all-purpose flour are roughly equivalent in calories, fiber, sugar, and fat. The big differences are in protein and glycemic index (both quite a bit higher for all-purpose flour) and carbs (cassava flour is in fact one of the highest-carb flours).
How to bake and cook with cassava flour
While other gluten-free flours are often combined with other flours, cassava flour can be used all on its own! But because cassava flour is gluten-free, it may need a binding agent like xanthan gum or psyllium husk powder to help hold your baked goods together.
Because it’s relatively high in fiber, cassava flour tends to soak up more liquid than all-purpose flour, similar to coconut flour. When substituting for all-purpose flour, use a 3:4 ratio. For example, if the recipe says 1 cup all-purpose, use ¾ cup cassava flour.
When it comes to more savory uses, cassava flour makes some of the best gluten-free tortillas, in my opinion. When cooked, cassava flour browns and crisps nicely, which works well for pizza and pie crusts.
Popular cassava flour baked goods and dishes
Cassava flour is a versatile ingredient that is commonly used to make the following:
- Pizza and pie crusts
How to make cassava flour at home
Here’s how to make homemade cassava flour:
- Harvest/choose your cassava roots: Choose fresh cassava roots that are firm and have smooth skin. Make sure to avoid roots that are soft or have any signs of mold or rot.
- Wash and peel the cassava roots: Rinse the cassava roots in cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Use a sharp knife to peel the skin off the roots.
- Grate the cassava: Use a grater to grate the peeled cassava into small pieces. You can also use a food processor or blender to make the process easier.
- Dry the grated cassava: Spread the grated cassava out in a thin layer on a clean, flat surface like a tray or baking sheet. Leave it to dry in a well-ventilated area for 2-3 days.
- Grind the dried cassava: Once the grated cassava is completely dry and crispy, grind it into a fine powder using a food processor or high-powered blender.
- Sieve the cassava flour: Use a fine mesh sieve to sift the cassava flour and remove any lumps or large pieces.
How to store cassava flour
Store-bought cassava flour is super shelf-stable, with a shelf life of up to 2 years! It should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for best results.
Homemade cassava flour doesn’t last quite as long and should be used within a few months. It’s important to ensure homemade cassava flour is completely dry and cool before transferring it to an airtight container. Make sure to label it with the date of preparation, and store it in a cool, dry place.
What are the best substitutes for cassava flour?
Tapioca flour/starch is made from the starchy root of the cassava plant, just like cassava flour, so it is the best substitute for most baking purposes.
Cornstarch is a good substitute in recipes where cassava flour is used as a thickener. I also recommend arrowroot flour as a healthy substitute in recipes that require a light and fluffy texture, such as cakes or muffins.
Cassava flour is healthier than normal flour as it is gluten-free, grain-free, and has a lower glycemic index. However, it may not be suitable for all dietary needs and should be consumed in moderation.
Another name for cassava flour is yuca flour, as the cassava plant is also commonly known as yuca or manioc.
Cassava flour and tapioca flour are made from the same plant, but they are not the same. Cassava flour is made by grinding the whole cassava root while tapioca flour is made by extracting the starch from the cassava root and then processing it into a fine powder.