What can I substitute for tapioca flour?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for tapioca flour?” with an in-depth analysis of all the possible substitutes for tapioca flour. 

What can I substitute for tapioca flour?

You can substitute tapioca flour with: 

  • Tapioca starch
  • Cornstarch
  • Cassava flour
  • All-purpose flour
  • Potato starch 
  • Rice flour
  • Arrowroot

Tapioca flour is made of cassava root. Cassava is one of the most important staple foods in Uganda. It is estimated that 60% of the production is destined for household consumption and 40% for marketing. The annual cassava production in Uganda is 6.7 million tonnes, compared to over 30 million tonnes produced annually in East and Central Africa (1).

Substitutes for tapioca flour

Tapioca flour is added in sauces, soups, puddings, and custards where it gives a chewy texture. But,  if you have run out of tapioca flour, then no need to worry, here we have prepared a long list of substitutes that you can use as a replacement for tapioca flour. 

Tapioca starch:

Tapioca starch can be used as a substitute for tapioca flour. It is made up of a cassava plant. You can use it in the pudding, noodles, bread, and other food products. You can use tapioca starch for food thickening for sauces and gravies, and for controlling blood sugar. 

You can use tapioca starch for baking sweets like pies, dough, and pudding. It gives a light, airy, crispy, and chewy texture. Moreover, it can be used in pre-cooked dishes, sauces and soups, desserts, and meat industries. It helps in making more elastic doughs, it helps in improving the texture of creamy sauces. 

Cassava starch has a carbohydrate content of more than 90% and therefore is very poor in proteins and other nutrients, as well in vitamins and minerals, thus the processing of tubers to extract the starch removes the fiber-rich bran and the  vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, it is a high glycemic index (GI) food. High GI food consumption was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, while the reductions in dietary GI may also lower the risks for various conditions associated with hyperinsulinemia, such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease (2). 

Health benefits of tapioca starch:

  • It keeps teeth and bones healthy and strong. 
  • It helps in the proper contraction and dilation of the muscles and blood vessels. 
  • It contains a low amount of sodium. High intake of sodium diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart diseases.
  • It helps in gaining weight. One cup of tapioca starch has 544 calories.

Corn starch:

Corn starch is the most common substitute for tapioca flour. It is easily available in everyone’s kitchen. It is used for thickening soups and gravy. 

Corn starch is gluten-free. It contains 30% calories, 0 grams of fats, 0 grams of sodium, 7 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fibre, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein. Thus, it contains sodium diseases very a minimal number of vitamins and nutrients. 

Health benefits of corn starch:

  • It is helpful in the management of hypoglycemia. Uncooked cornstarch is a low-glycemic index carbohydrate characterized by a slow intestinal degradation and absorption. For these characteristics, it has been used in the management of conditions associated with a high-risk of hypoglycemia, including glycogen storage diseases, type 1 diabetes, and insulin autoimmune syndrome (3).
  • It helps in making liquids easy to swallow. Cornstarch can be used to thicken liquids in the diet management of Dysphagia (4).
  • It can be a healthier replacement for corn syrup.

Cassava flour:

Cassava flour can be the replacement for tapioca flour. It gives some structure to the baking product. It acts as a thickening agent in watery dishes like soups, stews, etc. It is rich in fibres, so; you do not need to add it to other thickening agents. 

You can replace it in the ratio of 1:1 with tapioca flour. A slight difference is tapioca flour is flavourless, but cassava flour gives a nutty flavour to the dish. Due to the fiber content in cassava flour, it provides health benefits (5).

Health benefits of cassava flour:

  • It helps in improving digestion.
  • It helps improve colon health.
  • It helps in improving insulin sensitivity.
  • It helps in losing weight.

All-purpose flour:

You can replace all-purpose flour with tapioca flour. But a slight difference is that it contains gluten. So, it may affect the texture of baking products. It becomes less chewable and denser. If you are replacing it with tapioca flour, then you need to cook it for a longer time. 

All-purpose flour is the finely ground endosperm of the wheat kernel separated from the bran and germ during the milling process. All-purpose flour is made from hard wheat or a combination of soft and hard wheat from which the home baker can make a complete range of satisfactory baked products such as yeast breads, cakes, cookies, pastries and noodles. Enriched All-Purpose Flour has iron and B-vitamins added in amounts equal to or exceeding that of whole-wheat flour (6).

Health benefits of all-purpose flour:

  • It contains protein, vitamins, fibre, and complex carbohydrates.
  • It has low fat and cholesterol.

Potato starch:

Potato starch can also be the substitute for tapioca flour. It is gluten-free. It has much thickening ability. So, if you want to make your gravy or any dish thick in small amounts then use a ratio of 1:1. 

It helps in increasing the crispiness of baking products. It is used to add texture to bakery products.

Uncooked potato starch displays the B- or C-type polymorph of starch and is highly resistant to enzymatic hydrolysis and is an example of type II resistant starch. Enzyme-resistant starches pass through the upper digestive tract to the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria, producing important metabolites, appear to have  which important biological effects, including reduction of colon cancer precursors, systemic regulation of macronutrient metabolism, and altered secretion of hormones, which can lead to improved physical and mental health.However, after cooking, most of the starch, such as that in baked potato, becomes highly digestible as a result of starch gelatinization and loss of the B- and C-type crystallites (7).

Health benefits of potato starch:

  • It helps in improving insulin sensitivity.
  • It helps in improving digestive health.
  • It helps in improving colon health.
  • It helps in losing weight.

Rice flour:

It is also a gluten-free substitute. It also contains resistant starch, which is beneficial for gut health (9). It can be replaced with tapioca flour. It gives a sticky and thick texture to the baking products, soups, and stews. It can be used for frying many fast-food dishes like French fries. 

Health benefits of rice flour:

  • It helps in improving liver health because it contains choline which is beneficial for transporting cholesterol and triglycerides from the liver to the essential body parts (8).
  • It is the best choice for gluten-intolerant people and for those who suffer from Celiac disease.
  • It contains insoluble fibre, so it helps move the waste material through the intestine (9). 
  • It reduces the risk of diverticular diseases, colon diseases, and hypertension.

Arrowroot:

It can be a substitute for tapioca flour. Arrowroot is gluten-free. It is flavourless just like tapioca flour. If you want to use it in your dishes for thickening, then you should use it in equal ratio to the tapioca flour as 1:1. 

But if you want to use it in baking products then you should not use it alone. Because it may result in making your dish too dense.

Health benefits of arrowroot:

  • It helps in losing weight.
  • It helps in promoting digestion.
  • It is known as the powerhouse of vitamin B (11)
  • It helps in improving blood circulation.
  • It used to relieve stomach pain and treat diarrhea (10)
  • It is a good source of potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zync

Other FAQs about Tapioca that you may be interested in.

What can i use instead of quick cooking tapioca

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for tapioca flour?” and discussed all the possible substitutes for tapioca flour with in-depth knowledge of their health benefits.

References

  1. Kleih, Ulrich, et al. Cassava market and value chain analysis–Uganda case study. Gates Open Res, 2019, 3, 187.
  2. Omoregie, E. S., and A. U. Osagie. Glycemic indices and glycemic load of some Nigerian foods. Pakistan J Nutr, 2008, 7, 710-716.
  3. Lembo, Erminia, et al. Implementation of low glycemic index diet together with cornstarch in post-gastric bypass hypoglycemia: two case reports. Nutrients, 2018, 10, 670.
  4. Ong, Jane Jun-Xin, Catriona M. Steele, and Lisa M. Duizer. Sensory characteristics of liquids thickened with commercial thickeners to levels specified in the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI) framework. Food Hydrocoll, 2018, 79, 208-217.
  5. Chirinang, Pornariya. Extraction process and cholesterol-lowering property of dietary fiber from cassava pulp. Diss. School of Food Technology Institute of Agricultural Technology Suranaree University of Technology, 2016.
  6. Kumar, Pawan, et al. Nutritional contents and medicinal properties of wheat: a review. Life Sci Med Res, 2011, 22, 1-10.
  7. Birt, Diane F., et al. Resistant starch: promise for improving human health. Adv nutr, 2013, 4, 587-601.
  8. Fletcher, John Palmer, Charles Herbert Best, and Omond McKillop Solandt. The distribution of choline. Biochem J, 1935, 29, 2278.
  9. Miura, Satoko, et al. Generation and starch characterization of non-transgenic BEI and BEIIb double mutant rice (Oryza sativa) with ultra-high level of resistant starch. Rice, 2021, 14, 1-16.
  10. Martinescu, Casiana–Damaris, et al. Nutritional and sensory evaluation of gluten-free cake obtained from mixtures of rice flour, almond flour and arrowroot flour. J Agroalim Proc Technol, 2020, 26, 368-374.
  11. Francis, Twinkle, and AK Anjali Jayalakshmi Somasundaram. Use of Arrowroot in dentistry-A review. Annal Roman Soc Cell Biol, 2021, 6275-6287.