Perhaps you have recently discovered tapioca through your latest boba tea fix. Or maybe you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity and so tapioca flour has become a staple in your pantry.
But you certainly don’t want to run out and be left without any choice, so we’re here to help you find some easy alternatives.
Tapioca flour is incredibly versatile and that’s why we all love it. From soups to muffins, and even drinks, you can use tapioca in almost everything. But don’t worry, if you don’t have any, there are other ingredients you can use for great results.
Before we get into it, do you know what tapioca flour is?
Tapioca flour is a very fine powder made from dried and ground cassava root. This flour is also often referred to as tapioca starch.
Cassava is a common root to the Caribbean and South America, but don’t get confused, cassava flour is very different from tapioca flour. Cassava flour uses the whole root, while tapioca only uses the starchy pulp.
Because of its thick, chewy character, it is a good alternative to regular flour as it can be used to bake, thicken sauces, and provide texture.
You will regularly find this type of flour in puddings, soups, dough, and in a common Brazilian pastry called Pao de Queijo, which resembles a cheese roll.
Here are some of the best tapioca flour substitutes:
You can find cornstarch everywhere, from the grocery store to your local pharmacy, and it is a great way to replace the tapioca flour in your recipe. Cornstarch is also gluten-free so you won’t have to worry about that when adding it to your cooking.
The one thing about cornstarch that you need to keep in mind is that it is much thicker and this requires you to cut the amount you use by half. Cornstarch is used in a variety of dishes, stews, sauce, roux, and sometimes even as a natural cleaning agent.
#2. Cassava Flour
You probably saw this one coming, but cassava flour is a great alternative to tapioca flour. This type of flour contains more fiber, which makes it more nutritious and beneficial for your digestion, but also makes it thicker.
This choice is also gluten-free, low in calories and fat. Because it is a denser option, you should swap it exactly for the same amount of tapioca flour, but consider that it has more fiber and could change the overall texture of the end product.
#3. Rice Flour
This an easy alternative as it has become common in many grocery stores, especially because it is a gluten-free option that doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it is very versatile. This flour is made from finely ground rice grain, but it can be stickier than a common type flour.
You can use this flour in baking and for certain sauces, especially in Southeast Asian recipes. A good way to measure is to use about half of what the recipe calls for, as it is stickier and can change the consistency.
#4. Potato Starch
Because the gluten-free scene is growing and more people navigate cooking with alternative options, potato starch isn’t as uncommon as it once used to be. As its name describes, this substitute comes from the root of the potato plant.
Be careful though, potato flour and potato starch aren’t the same, and it is the latter that has similar properties to tapioca flour.
This starch is heavier and glossy, so it can be used in lesser amounts than tapioca. In the past, potato starch was used to exchange other options in dishes like soups or stews because it doesn’t raise blood sugar as much. You can probably use ¼ to ½ of the amount called for in the recipe.
#5. Arrowroot Flour
This gluten-free and tasteless flour is made from the Maranta arundinacea plant native to Vietnam. Because it doesn’t have any strong flavor, it can replace your tapioca flour in the same amounts and can be added to your recipe without changing anything.
The only downside to arrowroot flour is that it isn’t chewy, so you may want to consider this if your recipe calls for tapioca flour to give a chewier end product. This flour is generally used as a thickening agent.
#6. Wheat Flour
This is not an ideal choice because it does contain gluten, but if it is all you have left, then be aware that you can replace tapioca flour with this choice. This type of flour is good for baking and is traditionally used for baking and dough.
Be careful when using it in very high temperatures, as it does thicken much quicker than tapioca flour. You probably need to replace only about half or less, because this flour is more coarse.
Tips to Consider
Before you make any changes, try using tapioca as indicated in the original recipe. It’s always better to know what the end product is supposed to taste, feel, and look like before using a replacement.
If you are using any of these alternatives, keep in mind that they are all different, so read the labels and instructions carefully. Gluten-free options are usually less absorbent, so if the recipe calls for wheat flour and you are using a non-wheat flour, make sure you use less liquid.
Tapioca flour is not the same as cornstarch. Tapioca flour comes from the cassava root, while cornstarch comes from corn. Because of this, they have different properties and these should be considered before their use.
Tapioca flour is often referred to as tapioca starch or cassava flour. Tapioca starch is the same as tapioca flour, but cassava flour comes from the whole root of the cassava plant, while tapioca uses only the starchy pulp.
Just like other white flour, tapioca does not easily spoil. It can be simply stored in an airtight container and can be used for up to a year or indefinitely.
These 6 options are easy to find and can substitute your tapioca without any problems. Be careful with your measurements though, as these are essential when baking.
Don’t worry if you run out of tapioca at some point, these choices can help you find an alternative, and who knows? You may even end up loving them!
*Photo by j_ilina/depositphotos