For the past few years, cassava flour has become more of a trendy grain. It is ideal for baking, cooking, and as a thickener. Its gluten-free composition makes it ideal for people with possible digestive issues.
However, cassava flour isn’t perfect, and you might need to get some substitutes at times.
What is the best substitute for cassava flour? All-purpose flour has emerged as the most ideal substitute, thanks to its versatility and ease of use. While they might not taste the same, all-purpose flour packs a lot of nutrients and can work with the same meals as cassava flour.
An Overview of Cassava Flour
As its name suggests, cassava flour is a type of flour obtained from the cassava plant. While it originated from South America and goes by many names (including “Brazilian arrowroot” and “Yuca”), cassava flour has increased in popularity pretty much across the world.
This flour is now particularly famous in many third-world countries, where cassava has become a critical part of the daily diet. While there are sweet varieties of cassava flour, it comes with a predominantly bland taste. It primarily contains water, protein, and carbohydrates. However, many love it because it is gluten-free.
Why Replace Cassava Flour?
- Non-availability: Cassava flour is pretty rare, and you might not be able to find it around you. Thankfully, other substitutes are more readily available.
- Taste differences: It’s possible that you might not like cassava flour so much. If you don’t, then a substitute will just have to do.
Options for Cassava Flour Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Cassava Flour: All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour is what you get when you refine and grind wheat. It provides just about everything you could need from cassava flour, making it the most versatile option – not much of a surprise, considering that it is called “all-purpose”. In fact, all-purpose flour comes with more nutritious content than cassava flour. So, it can improve a dish’s nutritional content profile and still deliver that good taste.
Note that the taste isn’t exactly similar. Compared to cassava four’s nutty and earthy flavor, all-purpose flour comes with a milder taste.
You can use all-purpose flour for different things, whether as an ingredient in your pastry or as a thickener for soups and more. It provides the same effects as cassava flour, so you don’t have to fear when using it.
All-purpose flour is a great one-for-one substitute for cassava flour. However, you should note that cassava flour comes with a much lighter consistency than the former. So, you might want to increase the amount of liquid in your recipe if you use all-purpose flour.
The only slight issue with all-purpose flour is that it isn’t a gluten-free option. If you’re gluten intolerant, you might want to try something else without any gluten content.
Best Substitute for Baking: Tapioca Starch
It goes without saying that tapioca starch will be a great substitute for cassava flour. It comes from the same cassava plant, so it provides a similar taste profile from the start. In fact, tapioca starch and cassava flour have become so similar that they tend to be confused for each other.
The primary difference between cassava flour and tapioca flour is in their method of processing. Most of tapioca flour’s nutrients and fiber have been removed, so it is more of a refined product
Like cassava flour, tapioca starch doesn’t have any gluten. So, if you’re worried about gluten intake, you have a healthy substitute right here. While it might be a modified product, tapioca starch still comes with some significant health benefits. For instance, it has properties that can help to reduce your insulin levels. Tapioca starch also doesn’t have any cholesterol, so it is an ideal option for people looking to watch their weight
The only issue with tapioca starch is that it has a high glycemic index. So, if you’re looking to cut your intake of sugar, tapioca starch might not be the best product for you.
Best Substitute as a Thickener: Potato Starch
Potato starch is another gluten-free option that serves you if you’re looking for a cassava flour substitute. Considering that many people always look out for gluten-free options, this one has basically passed the first and most significant hurdle.
While potato starch is also a versatile product, it especially shines when it is used as a thickener. It has a heavier consistency than cassava flour, so it provides a more dense outcome when added to a recipe. As expected, its thickness also makes it an ideal substitute in baking applications – even though thickening is where it shines the best.
If you’re using potato starch for thickening, you can easily swap it out for cassava starch in a one-for-one ratio. However, if you have a lot of baking to do and you will need a lot of potato starch, this is where you might need to do a little bit of guesswork.
Experts say you will only need about 25 to 50 percent of the usual amount of potato starch, then you could simply add some other flour-like ingredients to make up the difference.
Best Substitute if You’re in a Pinch: Arrowroot
Arrowroot is a bit of a complicated one. Many people tend to use it to mean cassava flour or tapioca flour, but these things aren’t exactly the same. Arrowroot doesn’t even come from the same plant as the other two – it originates from a second tropical plant.
Primarily, arrowroot works as a thickener. It works as an ideal substitute for things like cassava flour or cornstarch, and it is especially famous because it is available if you’re in a rush. You can find arrowroot pretty much anywhere, so you don’t have to stress over it so much. In cases where cassava flour might be scarce, get yourself some arrowroot and start cooking.
While arrowroot works best as a thickener, it is also great in baking and in dredging dried foods. Note that arrowroot is best when you blend it with other flavors – especially when you’re using it in baking operations. However, you can use it alone if you’re making something that should be crisp – biscuits, cookies, etc.