Cornmeal is a vital ingredient in baking many products, including cornbread, muffins, and even tortillas. It is also a good source of nutrients, which is why it can be a typical breakfast food.
There are cases, though, in which finding cornmeal may be hard. Thus, you should know some of the options out there.
What Is Cornmeal?
Cornmeal is a meal made from ground maize. It can be sold as finely or coarsely ground, but it isn’t as fine as regular wheat flour. In some countries, cornmeal is referred to as cornflour.
This food is also shelf-stable because it doesn’t contain the germ and bran. Because corn can differ in colors, you can find white, yellow, or blue cornmeal. Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have some replacements ready at hand.
See More: Does Cornmeal Go Bad?
What Can I Replace Cornmeal With?
These are the best cornmeal substitutes to use:
Best For Baking Bread, Muffins, or Corndogs:
#1. Corn Flour
In baking, corn flour can be a perfect choice, as it is simply a finely ground version of cornmeal. It is a bit harder to find in some places but can be used for baking cornbread, muffins, or corn dogs.
Using cornflour can work in the same way, but you may need to add more for your baked goods to come up with an equally dense product.
Corn flour can be bought in most grocery stores, but if they don’t have any, search your local organic supermarket instead. Consider changing some of the other ingredients, as cornmeal is much lighter, so the end product may end up very crumbly.
#2. Wheat Flour
Though this option may not be a good choice for those that are allergic to gluten, regular wheat flour is a great alternative when you are looking to bake bread or any other baked good.
You can find wheat flour in any grocery stores and even convenience stores. You can use the same amount, but keep in mind that flour is denser, so you may need to adjust the liquids in your recipe.
Flour is a very easy ingredient to use, but make sure you measure accordingly, as too much can create a product that is too dense. Also, keep in mind that the flavor of the corn could be lost since flour is flavorless.
See more: Best Wheat Flour Alternatives
#3. Rice Flour
This flour is a healthy alternative for those with gluten intolerance or allergies. If you are planning on baking, rice flour will work just as well, but consider adding more liquid and eggs as this type of flour is very dense. This flour is a good alternative in baking bread, muffins, and cookies.
You can find rice flour in any health or organic store, though some grocery stores may sell it too. We recommend you use the same amount as the recipe calls for, but make sure you adjust for liquid too.
Best For Frying, Pizza, and Polenta:
This choice is simply ground corn that is a bit coarser than cornmeal. Commercially, you can find many types of polenta, from finely ground to very coarse.
Usually, this item is prepared as a side dish to accompany meals, but it can be used for making pizza or even as a coating for frying foods.
You can buy polenta in most grocery stores or organic supermarkets. If you are going to replace cornmeal with polenta, we suggest you do so, to add thickness and body to the dish by using the same amount.
#5. Masa Harina
This type of flour is made from corn as well, and it is famously known as the flour used in tortillas. Masa harina is traditionally Mexican and Latin American, so finding it may be a bit harder depending on where you live, but you can try a Latin American specialty store.
Also called Maseca sometimes, you can use it in making tamales, gorditas, arepas, and tortillas, but also to bake a gluten-free pizza.
To use this replacement, follow the instructions carefully, as it may be denser and require more liquid. Most times, this flour doesn’t need eggs either.
#6. Corn Grits
Grits are a great choice when it comes to making a tasty side dish or giving your meal more body. Corn grits are simply ground dry corn that is coarser than most.
This choice is very common in Southern food, so it may be easy to find in grocery stores, but you can try organic supermarkets, too.
To use corn grits instead of cornmeal, reduce the amount by about half. This option is very thick and dense, so adding too much can make the meal extremely dry or thick.
Corn grits aren’t the same as polenta because of the strain of corn they are made of, but you can use them in the same way.
This flour is made from middling durum wheat, so it does contain gluten and isn’t safe for those with allergy. The texture is very fine.
Thus it can be used in making tortillas, for giving sauces thickness, but also for frying. It is very dense despite its size, so consider adding more liquid and eggs.
Semolina flour can be found in most health and organic stores, but it may also be available in Italian specialty stores. If you choose this as a replacement for cornmeal, start with a bit less to the amount required, to see if your dish needs more as you go.
You can use cornstarch only if the cornmeal is used as a thickener, especially in roux or sauces. However, if your recipe uses cornmeal to bake or fry, cornstarch isn’t a suitable replacement. Try one of the above mentioned items instead.
Cornmeal is a flour without gluten, so it acts in the same way as any other flour does. It doesn’t expand because it is gluten-free, but it can rise. It is often used in making cornbread and muffins.
The main difference between yellow and white cornmeal is the corn used. In yellow cornmeal, the kernel is white, but in yellow cornmeal the corn kernel is yellow. White cornmeal is less sweet and can be used in bread and frying, while yellow cornmeal is sweeter.
Using cornmeal is second nature to a lot of people, but sometimes it can be hard to find. Don’t make the mistake of using the wrong replacement. One of these six options will certainly work depending on the dish you are preparing. Let’s get cooking!
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