Arrowroot flour has become very popular these days. It is often referred to as arrowroot powder or arrowroot starch.
You can buy it at your grocery store. It is normally placed together with other thickeners or at the natural foods section. Alternatively, you can buy it online.
Arrowroot flour is commonly used in paleo, vegan, and gluten free cooking. It is a versatile ingredient that is used in several dishes.
Arrowroot is an amazing ingredient. However, you may not always have it on hand. Luckily there are several suitable substitutes that work just as well as arrowroot powder does. Tapioca, rice flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, wheat flour, and kuzu are all suitable substitutes for arrowroot flour.
But first, let us learn everything we can about this amazing ingredient.
So what exactly is arrowroot flour?
Arrowroot flour is made from the root of the Maranta arundinacea plant which is basically the arrowroot plant.
The arrowroot plant greatly resembles the kudzu, yuca, and cassava plant in terms of resemblance.
Since time immemorial, arrowroot flour has been used in Indian cuisine. Arrowroot gained popularity in the United States and Europe when people took an interest in vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free produce.
Arrowroot flour uses
Most people use arrowroot flour as a thickener. If you are like me, you do not like soups, sauces, and stews that turn out watery.
In case you want a natural thickener, then arrowroot flour is exactly what you need. Arrowroot flour has a neutral taste.
It alters the thickness of your dish without necessarily changing the flavor. That is exactly why it is my go-to thickener at all times.
When using arrowroot flour as a thickener, keep in mind that it works better when added towards the end of your cooking. When it is exposed to heat for a long time, it tends to lose its thickening power.
In order to use arrowroot flour as a thickening agent, pour the arrowroot flour into cold water and mix until the flour and water form a thick paste.
All you need to do is add the paste to your dish and voila, your dish will be as thick as you want it to be.
You can also use arrowroot flour in pie fillings, pancakes, custards, and jams. Arrowroot flour works well when used in fruit fillings and jellies because it does not alter the color of other ingredients. The ingredients maintain their color and shine when mixed with arrowroot flour.
The flour also doesn’t fall apart when mixed with acidic ingredients, which makes it a perfect addition to jellies and fruit fillings. The best part is that your end product won’t look cloudy.
When cooked, arrowroot flour can be sprinkled on chicken drum sticks and sweet potato fries. It significantly enhances the flavor of these two dishes.
Making something that needs to be frozen? You should use arrowroot flour. Arrowroot flour stands up perfectly to freezing temperatures.
In vegan dishes, arrowroot flour is used as a binding agent. It basically works the same way that eggs work in non-vegan dishes.
If you are making something like burgers and don’t want to use eggs as a binding ingredient, you can use arrowroot flour instead. The arrowroot flour will hold the ingredients together so that they don’t fall apart.
You can use arrowroot flour in batters for frying. When using tofu instead of meat in stir fry recipes, you can coat the tofu with seasoning and arrowroot flour. The tofu will fry perfectly, and it will have a nice, crispy exterior.
These are some of the most suitable substitutes for arrowroot powder. They may not give you the exact results that arrowroot flour gives you but they will still give you good results.
Tapioca is arguably the best substitute for arrowroot flour. It is made from cassava and is similar to arrowroot flour in many ways. First, it has a very neutral taste. It will not interfere with the flavor of your dish.
Second, it is gluten-free. This makes it a perfect fit for those on gluten-free diets. Tapioca is also a natural thickening agent that gives dishes a glossy texture.
Tapioca also freezes well, just like arrowroot flow. It can be used as a thickening agent in dishes that you intend to freeze. Tapioca maintains its stability even in very low temperatures.
Unlike arrowroot powder, tapioca can withstand long cooking times. Therefore, you do not necessarily need to add it towards the end of your dish for the best results.
The only downside is that tapioca does not work well when mixed with acidic ingredients. Therefore, if you are making something like a tomato-based sauce, do not use tapioca as an alternative to arrowroot flour. It will break down and lose its form.
All in all, tapioca works well in non-acidic dishes especially soups and gluten-free dishes.
You should also know that Tapioca does not completely dissolve the way arrowroot powder does. If you add it to your recipe as it is, you may end up having tiny balls of tapioca in your dish. Therefore, I suggest grinding it into a fine powder before you add it to your recipe.
- Rice flour
Another amazing gluten-free thickener is rice flour. Rice flour is a very common ingredient in Asian cuisines. It is made from rice. The rice is finely milled to form a fine powder.
Rice flour works best as a binding agent especially in dishes that require freezing. It prevents the separation of liquid in your dish. I suggest using rice flour as a substitute for arrowroot flour in dishes that require slow cooking. Add it at the beginning of your cooking for the best results.
Another plus with this substitute is that it mixes well with acidic ingredients. You do not need to worry about it separating or breaking down. You can comfortably use it in tomato-based dishes.
The only downside with rice flour is that it tends to give dishes a cloudy appearance. Therefore, it may not be a perfect addition to your jellies and fruit fillings especially when you want them to have a glossy appearance.
However, it still works well in other dishes. If you are making jelly or fruit fillings, you can try using the other substitutes.
Cornstarch is an amazing thickening agent that is a staple in many American homes. It is usually extracted from corn kernel. Since it is always readily available, a lot of people use it as a substitute for arrowroot flour. If you are like me, you always have a box or tin of cornstarch in your pantry.
Cornstarch has a neutral flavor. Therefore, you do not have to worry about it altering the taste of your dish.
Cornstarch may thicken your dish, but it may not give you that glossy appearance that arrowroot flour does.
It also does not mix well with acidic ingredients and this limits the number of recipes that you can use it in. All in all, it is still a suitable substitute for arrowroot flour.
- Xanthan gum
Xanthan gum is a good alternative to arrowroot powder. I’m pretty sure you have seen this name on several commercial food labels. Xanthan gum is mostly used as a thickening agent in processed foods.
It gives them that creamy texture that you love. Xanthan gum can also be used as a thickening agent in home cooking. It is made from fermented wheat, soy, or corn.
The best thing about xanthan gum is that it is gluten-free and 100% vegan. You can use it in baking as well as dairy free cooking. If you are allergic to dairy then you should definitely use this substitute.
When using xanthan gum as a substitute, mix it with water, and blend it for the best results. The rule of the thumb is that you use ⅛ a teaspoon of xanthan gum for every cup of water.
- Wheat flour
Another readily available substitute that is a good thickening agent is wheat flour.
Unlike most of the other substitutes, wheat flour is not gluten-free. Therefore, if you are on a gluten-free diet you should use another substitute.
To use wheat flour as a thickening agent, mix it with butter and cook on low heat until it forms a roux. Add it towards the end of your cooking for the best results.
Kuzu is an amazing arrowroot flour substitute.
I have heard people say that it works even better compared to arrowroot flour, and I can attest that my stews and soups turned out better when I used Kuzu.
Compared to the other substitutes, Kuzu is expensive. However, it is worth every coin.
The glossy and smooth texture it gives dishes is amazing. It also has a neutral flavor and will not interfere with the flavor of your dish.
Substituting arrowroot flow with other ingredients is quite easy. You just need to pay close attention to whether or not the substitute mixes well with acidic ingredients.
I love using tapioca, kuzu, rice flour, and xanthan gum as arrowroot flour substitutes. Try using any of the substitutes we have discussed and let me know the results.