Cornstarch is a versatile pure starch that is extracted from corn kernels. The endosperm of the wheat plant is milled, and all non-starch components evaporate away, leaving nothing but carbohydrates.
Corn Flour is no stranger in every household’s kitchen as cooks rely on it for cooking and baking. It is usually used for breading meats as it gives a savory crunch to fried dishes. Other than that, it’s a perfect thickener for stews and soups without adding too much flavor. From thickening to baking and frying, Cornstarch is a fantastic tasteless ingredient adding nothing but texture to each dish.
Cornstarch mainly contains carbohydrates and a small amount of protein, sodium, iron, and dietary fiber. When you add it to flour, it prevents gluten formation to a degree, lowering the gluten count for those who have sensitivities and avoiding gluten.
Cornstarch Nutrition Facts
Corn Flour vs. Corn Starch
First of all, let’s differentiate cornflour and Cornstarch. The color of these two ingredients is a big identifier for each. Corn flour is quite yellow in color, denser, and a little bit grainy in texture, whereas Cornstarch is the starchy part of a corn kernel, resulting in a white powdery texture.
Corn flour can be mistaken for cornstarch and vise vasa because of the shared “corn” name. Don’t be confused when trying to buy those in the grocery stores. It’s all about the label. If the label says corn flour, then it’s corn flour and not Cornstarch. Also, when substituting it from one another, it’s important to note that both cannot serve the same purpose in some dishes. Corn flour does not have gluten, making some bread crumble and dense, whereas Cornstarch is more common as a thickening agent for dishes.
Frying With Cornstarch vs. Flour
Both flour and Cornstarch are used to coat chicken, fish, and vegetables before deep-frying. Cornstarch typically makes for a crispier finish than flour. Also, Cornstarch absorbs moisture from the food and expands, giving deep-fried foods a crispy coating. When the food is fried, the moisture cooks out of the Cornstarch, leaving a crackly, puffy coating on the outside (hence why most Asian fried recipes call for using Cornstarch instead of flour.)
The flour will achieve this to some extent, but since more flour is needed to achieve the same effect, the coating will be thicker and too chewy. Recipes touting the crispiest chicken will often call for a 50/50 mix of flour and Cornstarch to create the perfect balance and a beautiful brown exterior.
One of the common substitutes for Cornstarch, especially in frying, is Rice Flour. This flour is widely used in Asian culture as the main ingredient for noodles, soups, and desserts. It’s extracted from finely ground rice until a refined white starch is produced. It’s also gluten-free, perfect for individuals trying to stay away from any high gluten dishes. Unlike Cornstarch, rice flour can be diluted with either hot or cold water.
To achieve the same consistency as corn flour, you’ll need 2 tbsps of rice flour to replace 1 tbsp of cornflour. This substitute won’t give the same crunch as Cornstarch will, but it will pass a decent substitute.
Wheat Flour comes from finely grounded wheat. It contains a generous amount of protein and fiber, making it a nutrient-dense superfood. The only thing is that it contains gluten, so if you have celiac disease, you might not want to consider this alternative.
Since it’s whole grain, you’ll need to double the ratio to replace it over cornflour. For frying, apply as you would some cornstarch, graciously. This substitute will give a decent crunch to your fried chicken. 2 tbsps of wheat flour can replace 1 tbsp of cornflour when thickening soups and stews.
This powdered white thickening agent acts similarly to Cornstarch, with a few exceptions. It is not good to use in dairy-based recipes as it will cause the dish to become slimy, but it is a good substitute for cooked dishes that plan to be frozen. Take note that arrowroot recipes may need to be cooked a little longer to reach the desired thickness. Use the same amount of arrowroot as Cornstarch called for in the recipe.
A popular ingredient in Passover recipes, potato starch is also an excellent replacement for Cornstarch. An equal amount, or maybe a little more, should be used in place of the Cornstarch as a thickening agent. It is best to eat the finished dish as soon as possible because this starch doesn’t hold together well with the rest of the ingredients. For frying, use as you would some cornstarch: generously.
Tapioca starch resembles Cornstarch in color and form. In frying, it should be used as you would some cornstarch. If making a pie, tapioca starch is an ideal alternative as it creates an even shiner appearance than Cornstarch. For the best results, the tapioca should be mixed into the ingredients and left to sit for about 10 minutes before cooking to allow the tapioca to absorb the liquids and thicken properly. Use an equal amount of instant tapioca but avoid adding to dairy-based sauces. It is a good choice for recipes cooked at high temperatures and foods that will be frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Is Cornstarch suitable for frying?
Yes, in fact, word on the street is that this option is the best for frying. Chinese cooking uses Cornstarch for frying to yield a light yet crispy crust. It’s a much better choice than all-purpose flour, which can be heavy and take too long to crisp up, resulting in over-cooked or oil-logged fried foods.
Can you mix Cornstarch and flour for frying?
Yes, this was discussed in the article. Cornstarch is one of our recommended ingredients for the crispiest fried chicken. The combination of the flour with Cornstarch produces the crispiest result. For a gluten-free recipe, you can simply replace all the flour with cornflour. The result is almost the same.
Does Cornstarch get rid of dark spots?
Yes, it does. Cornstarch contains vitamin A which is responsible for color correcting dark spots on the face. It also contains iron and calcium, which are responsible for skin cell renewal.
Cornstarch is great as a coating for fried chicken, fried fish, or other fried dishes. Cornstarch will create a crisper coating that will hold up to sauces better and will absorb less of the frying oil (leading to a lower-fat meal). However, in its absence, these substitutes listed above will do just perfectly.