Can I use cornstarch instead of flour?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can I use cornstarch instead of flour?” and will discuss how cooking is different with cornstarch instead of flour.

Can I use cornstarch instead of flour?

Yes, you can use cornstarch instead of flour. You may use cornstarch to cover the fried chicken, fish, and other foods instead of flour when making baked goods. Cornstarch will not only perform similarly to flours, but it will also hold up better against sauces and use less oil throughout the frying process as compared to flour. If you use less oil, your meal will be lower in fat.

What is cornstarch?

Similarly, to flour, cornstarch comes in the form of a fine, white powder. Flour, by definition, is any finely ground substance derived from grains, seeds, or nuts, whether whole or ground. Flour, on the other hand, is most frequently used in the US to refer to wheat flour. The word “flour” will always refer to plain old wheat flour in this piece.

Cornstarch, like flour, may be used to thicken sauces, sauté food, and bake goods. However, the effects, dosage, and method of administration may all be very different. Flour, for example, is the primary ingredient in baked goods, whereas cornstarch, except shortbread recipes, is seldom an ingredient in cookies and cakes.

 Due to the difference in composition, all-purpose flour has more nutrients. Cornstarch, on the other hand, is made up entirely of starch. Gluten is one of these proteins, and it contributes to the elasticity and chewiness of bread. People with celiac disease can eat cornstarch since it does not contain gluten.

What’s the difference between cornstarch and regular flour?

There are two types of corn flour: yellow corn flour, which comes from finely ground dried corn, and white cornstarch, which comes from the starchy portion of the grain, which is a fine, white powder. Where you reside may have a distinct name for both. Acorn flour may be used like any other flour, although it is more often used to thicken things like sauces and breading.

Cornstarch vs. Flour for Thickening Sauces

Thickening characteristics may be found in all starches, even in simple ones like cornstarch and flour. They absorb fluids and then expand like a sponge. After that, they gelatinize and become solid as they cool. Cornstarch has double the thickening ability of flour since it is made up of just a little amount of starch. Because of this, it takes twice as much flour as cornstarch to have the same thickening effect.

A slurry of cornstarch and cold water is used to thicken sauces. In contrast, a roux is formed by cooking flour in oil. To begin, make a roux, and then add a slurry at the end to finish the dish. Since flour must be cooked for a longer time to eliminate the floury flavor, cornstarch must be boiled for a shorter period at a higher temperature to activate the thickening characteristics. A roux shouldn’t include any cornstarch.

Making the sauce opaque and murky using flour instead of cornstarch results in the desired effect. Fruit pie fillings and sauces, particularly in Chinese stir-fries, benefit from this property.

Cornstarch won’t thicken a sauce as effectively if it’s very acidic. It’s the same with sauces prepared with tomato or citrus juice and vinegar, or with yolks or butter as well. Recipes using cornstarch become spongy when refrigerated or frozen if you use too much.

Using Cornstarch vs. Flour for Frying

To prevent food from sticking to the pan while deep-frying, a mixture of flour and cornstarch is used to coat it. When compared to flour, cornstarch usually produces a crispier result.

Because cornstarch expands when it comes into contact with moisture from food, it gives fried items such as chicken and fish a crispy exterior. When food is fried, the moisture in the cornstarch cooks away, resulting in a puffy, crackly exterior. (This is why cornstarch is used instead of flour in most Asian fried dishes)

As long as you use a lot of flour to get the same result, you’ll get a thicker and chewier coating. Crispiest chicken recipes typically ask for a 50/50 mixture of flour and cornstarch to get the right balance and a lovely brown finish.

Cornstarch Baking vs. Flour Baking

Baking, on the other hand, is a no-go for a full switch. If flour is substituted with cornstarch in a cake recipe, the result will be disastrous. Proteins in flour (gluten) help give baked products their body and texture. Gluten-free baking recipes abound, but you should keep in mind that cornstarch isn’t the only flour or starch used in most.

Cornstarch, on the other hand, helps to make baked goods softer when added to cookie or cake recipes. Cake flour prepared from scratch uses cornstarch instead of 2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour.

Other FAQs about Cornstarch that you may be interested in.

What can I use as a substitute for cornstarch?

Is cornstarch safe to eat by itself?

Are potato starch and cornstarch interchangeable?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can I use cornstarch instead of flour?” and discussed how cooking is different with cornstarch instead of flour.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.