9 Best Substitute For Tapioca Flour

Tapioca Flour Substitute

Navigating dietary restrictions and embracing culinary experiments often lead us to the discovery of alternate ingredients. Among these, tapioca flour has carved a niche for itself as a versatile gluten-free thickening agent, lending a slightly sweet flavor to a plethora of dishes. But what if this adaptable ingredient isn’t at hand or you’re eager to try a different culinary path? That’s where the exploration of substitutes for tapioca flour takes center stage.

This guide is your ally in unlocking the potential of such alternatives, which not only match tapioca flour’s gluten-free quality but also mirror its performance as a thickener in diverse recipes. These substitutes, ranging from cornstarch and arrowroot to coconut and almond flour, offer their unique characteristics, making your cooking and baking ventures an exciting gastronomic journey. So, when you run out of tapioca flour or crave experimentation, these alternatives serve as excellent understudies, ready to step in and shine.

What is Tapioca Flour?

Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is a white, fine powder made from the starch extracted from the cassava root. This tropical plant native to South America is peeled, cleaned, and then processed to extract the starch, which is finally dried and ground to produce tapioca flour. It is gluten-free and offers a slightly sweet, neutral flavor, making it a go-to choice for thickening soups, sauces, and fillings, as well as an ingredient in gluten-free baking. However, like many specialty ingredients, tapioca flour may not always be readily available in your pantry, necessitating a search for viable alternatives.

A Quick Glimpse at Tapioca Flour Substitutes

  1. Cornstarch
  2. Potato Starch
  3. Arrowroot Starch
  4. Rice Flour
  5. Coconut Flour
  6. Almond Flour
  7. Xanthan Gum
  8. Guar Gum
  9. Agar Agar

Best Substitutes For Tapioca Flour

While tapioca flour has unique characteristics, there are several alternative ingredients you can use that will offer comparable results. Let’s explore these substitutes in more detail.


Cornstarch is perhaps the most common and accessible substitute for tapioca flour. Made from the endosperm of corn kernels, cornstarch shares similar characteristics with tapioca flour, such as being gluten-free and excellent for thickening.

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Its mild flavor profile and ability to create a glossy finish make it suitable for a range of applications. However, it’s worth noting that cornstarch can create a slightly chalky texture if used in large quantities, so it’s best used in recipes that require a small amount of thickening agent. Additionally, when used in baking, cornstarch can lend a lighter texture to baked goods, making them more airy and less dense.

Unlike tapioca flour, which can stand up to prolonged cooking and freezing, cornstarch tends to break down when exposed to such conditions, so it’s not ideal for recipes that need to be frozen or cooked for an extended period. Regardless, in many recipes, especially those that call for a small quantity of tapioca flour for thickening, cornstarch can be a straightforward 1:1 substitute.

Potato Starch

Potato starch, made from the starch extracted from potatoes, is another fantastic gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour. Just like tapioca flour, potato starch is a powerful thickener and can give your dishes a glossy sheen, making it perfect for gravies, sauces, soups, and stews.

It’s crucial to remember that potato starch should be added at the end of the cooking process as it can lose its thickening power when boiled. This characteristic makes potato starch differ from tapioca flour, which holds up well under longer cooking times.

In baking, potato starch can give your baked goods a moist crumb, and similar to tapioca flour, it can also provide a chewy texture. While it may not be the best option for creating a crispy crust on bread, it is an excellent choice for moist, dense baked goods like brownies or pancakes.

Arrowroot Starch

Arrowroot starch, another gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour, is derived from several tropical plant roots. It’s an excellent thickening agent and can withstand acidic ingredients and prolonged cooking times, much like tapioca flour. However, arrowroot has a more neutral flavor, so it won’t add any additional taste to your dishes.

In baking, arrowroot can give your goods a light and delicate texture. Its fine texture and ability to blend seamlessly into a mixture make it an excellent choice for gluten-free baking, especially for delicate baked goods like cakes and cookies. Arrowroot starch can also bring a unique, slightly crispy texture to the crust of pies and bread, a feature that sets it apart from other substitutes.

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Rice Flour

Rice flour is another fantastic gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour. Made by grinding raw rice into a fine powder, rice flour can act as a thickening agent, much like tapioca flour. It can withstand longer cooking times and doesn’t break down, making it suitable for dishes that require simmering.

In baking, rice flour can give your baked goods a somewhat gritty texture if used alone, but when combined with other gluten-free flours, it can lend a pleasant, slightly crunchy texture. It’s worth noting that rice flour absorbs more moisture than tapioca flour, so adjustments to liquid ingredients in your recipes might be necessary.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour, made from dried and ground coconut meat, is a low-carb, high-fiber, and gluten-free substitute for tapioca flour. It has a mild coconut flavor that can add a tropical touch to your dishes.

However, its highly absorbent nature means you will need to adjust the quantity used in your recipe. When using coconut flour as a substitute, use one-fourth of the amount of tapioca flour called for and increase the liquid ingredients in your recipe to prevent your dish from turning out too dry.

In baking, coconut flour can provide a soft, delicate crumb to your baked goods. However, it tends to make your baked items more dense, which could be desirable in some recipes, such as those for pound cakes or certain types of cookies.

Almond Flour

Almond flour, made from ground almonds, is a protein-rich, gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and is widely used in baking and cooking.

However, almond flour has a heavier texture compared to tapioca flour, so it’s not a perfect 1:1 substitute. It’s best to mix almond flour with other gluten-free flours to mimic the texture of tapioca flour.

In baking, almond flour can give your goods a moist and tender crumb. It’s perfect for baking dense and rich treats like brownies, cookies, and quick breads.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a popular gluten-free substitute for tapioca flour, especially in baking. It’s a microbial polysaccharide produced through fermentation and has strong thickening and stabilizing properties.

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However, due to its potent thickening power, xanthan gum should be used in much smaller quantities than tapioca flour. Typically, a ratio of 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum for every cup of flour used is a good rule of thumb.

In gluten-free baking, xanthan gum is a boon. It helps to bind ingredients together and adds volume to baked goods, mimicking the elasticity and texture that gluten provides in traditional baking.

Guar Gum

Guar gum, made from guar beans, is a gluten-free thickening and stabilizing agent that can be used as a substitute for tapioca flour. Just like xanthan gum, it has potent thickening properties and should be used sparingly.

In baking, guar gum can help improve the texture and shelf life of baked goods. It helps to prevent crumbling in gluten-free baking, making it a great choice for baking breads, cakes, and cookies.

Agar Agar

Agar agar, derived from seaweed, is a vegan alternative to gelatin and can also substitute for tapioca flour. It is a potent gelling agent and can provide a similar texture to tapioca flour in applications such as pie fillings, jellies, and custards.

However, it should be noted that agar agar needs to be heated to activate its gelling properties, unlike tapioca flour, which can thicken at lower temperatures. In baking, agar agar may not provide the same chewy texture as tapioca flour but can still help to bind and stabilize baked goods.

Substitutes for Tapioca Flour: Nutritional Profile

IngredientGlutenCalories (per ¼ cup)Fat (per ¼ cup)Carbs (per ¼ cup)Fiber (per ¼ cup)Protein (per ¼ cup)
Potato StarchNo1600g40g2g0g
Arrowroot StarchNo1270g31g0.5g0g
Rice FlourNo1451g32g1g2g
Coconut FlourNo1204g16g10g4g
Almond FlourNo16014g6g3g6g
Xanthan GumNo300g7g7g0g
Guar GumNo800g20g16g0g
Agar AgarNo180g1g0.5g0.5g

Conclusion: Flour Power

Navigating the landscape of gluten-free and alternative flours can seem daunting, but the abundance of options opens up a world of culinary exploration. While tapioca flour is a fantastic ingredient with its unique properties, these substitutes each offer their characteristics and can bring new dimensions to your cooking and baking adventures. So the next time you find yourself without tapioca flour, fear not! One of these alternatives can save the day and potentially even elevate your dish to new heights.

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