Arrowroot powder is a popular ingredient used as a thickening and binding agent. If a recipe calls for arrowroot powder and you don’t have it, don’t skip it. You will ruin your dish. Instead, look for alternatives.
What are the best substitutes for arrowroot powder? Here are the best options – cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca flour, rice flour, and xanthan gum.
You will have at least one of these ingredients in your pantry.
What Is Arrowroot Powder?
Arrowroot powder, also known as arrowroot flour or starch, is extracted from the arrowroot plant. The latter is a starchy vegetable with a faintly sweet taste.
There are numerous benefits to arrowroot powder.
- Arrowroot powder is gluten-free.
- It can be mixed with acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice and vinegar, and not lose its qualities.
- You can successfully freeze mixtures that contain arrowroot powder. Unlike cornstarch mixtures that don’t take freezing well, the ones thickened with arrowroot powder don’t suffer major changes.
- The shelf life of arrowroot powder is quite long. If you store it in a dry and cool place in a tightly sealed container, arrowroot powder will keep for 3 to 4 years.
- Arrowroot powder can be incorporated into grain-free diets.
One thing to keep in mind with arrowroot powder is that it is best not to mix it with dairy products. It will result in a slimy mixture.
Uses of Arrowroot Powder
As arrowroot powder doesn’t have a distinctive taste and is almost flavorless, it can be used in a variety of dishes, be they sweet or savory.
Being extracted from a starchy root vegetable, arrowroot powder has a thickening property. It is used as a thickening ingredient in sauces and stews. As arrowroot powder has no flavor, it is often used as a thickener for jams if they come out too thin.
To use arrowroot powder as a thickening agent, you should first mix it with a cold liquid and only then add the mixture to the dish.
Arrowroot powder is also used to fry food. It provides a crunchy finish and overall golden color.
Arrowroot powder is also a great binding agent. It comes in handy especially in vegan dishes where no eggs can be used to hold the ingredients together.
If you are still not convinced that this powder is truly versatile, know that you can also use it in baked goods and in the making of certain desserts.
As arrowroot powder has no scent and its flavor is undetectable in dishes, it can be used to make sweet treats too. You can use arrowroot powder to make creams and custard with spot-on consistency and structure. Arrowroot powder is also used in the making of puddings and for the glossy finish of pies.
5 Best Substitutes for Arrowroot Powder
Arrowroot powder can be substituted with other starchy ingredients. Some of these substitutes you may already have at home.
Cornstarch is the best substitute for arrowroot powder. This is a very versatile ingredient and you are likely to have a bag of cornstarch sitting in your pantry.
Cornstarch is the most common thickening agent used in stews, casseroles, sauces, and gravies. It is also used to fry food. The coating made with cornstarch makes fried food very crispy.
Cornstarch finds its uses in baking too. When used to bake cakes, cookies, or other treats, cornstarch makes them light if you mix it with flour.
Cornstarch is also a good binding agent for meatballs.
It is usually cornstarch that is substituted with arrowroot powder as the latter is considered to be a healthier alternative to it. However, if you are using cornstarch in moderation and are okay with the calories and carbs it contains, then you shouldn’t experience any problems with using it.
Use 3 parts of cornstarch for 1 part of arrowroot powder.
2. Potato Starch
Potato starch falls behind arrowroot powder as far as the nutritional value is concerned. However, it certainly does the job as a thickening agent. It is popularly used to improve the consistency of sauces and gravies. But unlike arrowroot powder that thickens the sauces and gives them a glossy finish, potato starch makes them cloudy.
Potato starch is also widely used in baking. It gives baked goods structure and makes them tender. But be careful to not overdo it. Otherwise, your baked goods will turn out too crumbly.
Potato starch will be a great substitute for arrowroot powder in baking quicks bread, muffins, etc.
Potato starch is also gluten-free, which is a plus if this is a point you take into account.
3. Tapioca Flour
Just like arrowroot powder, tapioca flour is also derived from a root vegetable. It is extracted from the cassava root and has very high starch content.
Tapioca flour is a great thickening agent. Unlike arrowroot powder that doesn’t take heat cooking well, tapioca flour can be added to dishes that are still cooking.
Tapioca starch has a slightly sweet flavor. Thus, don’t use too much of it in order not to add sweetness to your dish.
When using tapioca flour, start small. If you overdo it, your dish will turn out chewy.
Another good thing about substituting tapioca flour for arrowroot flour is that you can use it with dairy products.
The two cases when it is better not to substitute arrowroot powder with tapioca flour is when acidic ingredients are involved and if you are planning on freezing your food. Remember that arrowroot powder undertakes freezing well and performs perfectly when paired with acidic liquids.
Tapioca flour is also a good binding ingredient. It is popularly used in gluten-free baking. Baked goods with tapioca flour turn out crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
4. Rice Flour
If you are looking for an arrowroot powder substitute with similar carbohydrate content, then rice flour is your best option.
While the carbs content in both products is low, rice flour contains more starch. Thus, when using it instead of arrowroot powder, it is best to use half as much as the recipe calls for arrowroot powder.
If you want an arrowroot powder substitute for baking, go with sweet rice flour. Desserts made with sweet rice flour are stable and take freezing and defrosting well.
Regular rice flour can be a substitute for arrowroot powder as a thickener for sauces, stews, and gravies.
When using rice flour as a thickening agent, don’t add it directly into the dish as you do with cornstarch. Mix it with water and only then add it to your dish. This way you will avoid clumps and uneven texture.
5. Xanthan Gum
If you use arrowroot powder as a binder, you can easily substitute it with xanthan gum. The latter is a food additive with thickening and binding properties.
Using xanthan gum instead of arrowroot powder in a recipe that calls for eggs will produce a similar result. But pay attention to the ratio. One tablespoon of arrowroot powder should be substituted with only a teaspoon of xanthan gum.
While swapping arrowroot powder with xanthan gum is not as easy, it is certainly a great option for vegans. In recipes where eggs need to be substituted with a binding agent, both arrowroot powder and xanthan gum work great.