Corn flour is one of the most popular flour variants. It is versatile in its application and very easy to work with, and it is also a must-have for anyone in the kitchen.
But, like every food ingredient, corn flour isn’t perfect. There are times when you will need to use something different in your recipe.
So, what is the best substitute for corn flour? Cornstarch is the most ideal substitute for corn flour, thanks to its similarity in taste. There are several differences between the two, but it’s expected. Cornstarch works perfectly as a corn flour substitute, and it takes the cake here.
An Overview of Corn Flour
Corn flour is a famous part of any kitchen. It is ideal for cooking and baking, and it is a highly versatile option for you to have around.
In its simplest sense, corn flour is a finely-milled flour made of dried whole corn kernels. It contains several nutrients, including proteins, starch, fiber, and vitamins. Corn flour comes in different colors, primarily yellow and white. The color you get will depend on the type of corn used in making it.
As for flavor and taste, corn flour is similar to the usual corn itself – usually because of the processing method. It has a mixture of sweet and earthy tastes, thanks to the finely-milled processing method.
When tasted raw, corn flour has a bitter aftertaste. However, baking, grilling, or cooking really lets the natural sweetness shine through.
Why Replace Corn Flour?
- Taste difference: Some people might not like the taste of corn flour. Thankfully, there are many substitutes for it.
- Non-availability: If you’re unable to find corn flour around, something else will have to do.
Options for Corn Flour Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Corn Flour: Cornstarch
If you’re experienced in the kitchen, then you probably aren’t surprised by this. Cornstarch and corn flour are incredibly similar – so much so that many people even tend to confuse one for the other while cooking.
Before we look into why this choice is ranked at #1, let’s look at the differences between corn flour and cornstarch. Corn flour comes with a yellow color, a grainy texture, and a higher density. On the flip side, cornstarch is the starchy area of a corn kernel, and it is white in color with a powdery texture.
Despite the differences, cornstarch definitely acts as a great substitute for corn flour. You can adjust the taste profile to fit that of corn flour. Since cornstarch is relatively flavorless and bland compared to corn flour, you will need to add a little bit of seasoning if you know you want to make a savory dish.
When substituting them for one another, you will need to note that corn flour and cornstarch don’t serve the same purpose in dishes. There’s no gluten in corn flour, while cornstarch has a proper gluten content that allows it to also serve as a thickening agent in some dishes.
But, if you’re on a gluten-free diet, you can use cornstarch as a substitute for corn flour – especially as breading for fried dishes. Cornstarch is a good one-for-one substitute for corn flour, so don’t worry about application proportions. Note that you will need to add some cold water to the cornstarch when mixing it to let it dilute well.
Best Substitute for Soups: Rice Flour
Rice flour is another important dish that you can use as a substitute for corn flour. It is especially famous in Asia, with chefs and everyday people using it as a major ingredient in some of their most famous dishes – noodles, soups, and even desserts. Rice flour is obtained from rice, which is properly ground until a fine starch can be gotten.
Like corn flour, rice flour is also gluten-free. This makes it ideal for people who don’t like high-gluten dishes or are careful about their health. Unlike cornstarch, you don’t need to watch the water you dilute rice flour in – hot or cold, it’s game and ready to go.
With rice flour, you get a flour that is colorless when you mix it with water – much unlike corn flour and its yellow hue. This means that rice flour is much better if you’re making a broth or a soup.
The issue with rice flour is that it doesn’t have the same texture as corn flour. It is much lighter, and you will need about 2 times the quantity of rice flour to replicate the consistency of corn flour. This is especially important when you’re trying to thicken a soup. But, you might not like it if you use the method for deep frying since it won’t offer the same crunch as you get with corn flour.
A Great Option if You’re in a Bind: Wheat Flour
Wheat flour is what you get when you grind wheat into a fine texture. It comes with an extensive amount of fiber and protein, so you get a lot of nutrients here from the beginning.
In general, wheat flour works for almost every meal you can use corn flour for. You should note that it contains gluten. So, if you have celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities, you want to stay away from this one. On the flip side, if you’re not concerned about gluten and you don’t mind something different in your cooking, feel free to give this a try.
Wheat flour is whole grain. So, you will need to use twice the amount that you would use if you were cooking with corn flour. This is especially important if you’re thickening stews and soups. Like cornstarch, it is recommended that you use cold water to make your paste to avoid forming lumps in your soup.
Best Substitute for Baking: All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour is another option that won’t be surprising to people who have been making food for a while and are experts in the kitchen. It is common in making baked goods like pastries and bread, and it is a must-have in the kitchen if you’re a cook.
All-purpose flour is obtained from heat grains following the removal of their brown coatings. Thanks to this refinement process, all-purpose flour is white in color.
As for application, you can use all-purpose flour in deep frying and to thicken soups. But, baking is where it shines the most. You get different textures and tastes when you use all-purpose flour to coat fried dishes, although most times, you get a ticker and chewier taste compared to the crisp effect of corn flour.
As for proportions, you need double the amount of all-purpose flour than you need for corn flour.