Tapioca flour is one of the most popular flours in the world. It is highly prized as a South America and Caribbean baking staple for quick cheese bread. In addition, it can be used to thicken pie fillings, gravies, soups, and sauces. It’s not quite as expected in the United States, but it is gaining popularity quickly. As a result, tapioca flour is showing up in recipes more and more. Don’t worry if you need tapioca flour in a recipe and don’t have it. There are a few easy tapioca flour substitutes that you can try in a pinch. Read these simple tricks and tips to find the one that works best for your recipe. At the end of this guide you’ll find our recipe for Brazilian tapioca cheese buns! Give them a try.
When we first mentioned tapioca flour, did you think of tapioca pudding? Tapioca flour is not the pearls used for your grandma’s dessert. As lovely and delicious as that stuff tastes with the whipped cream and the cinnamon. You’re not off to think that way since those gummy pearls are made of a starchy root vegetable known as yucca or cassava. Tapioca flour comes from the same plant. The plant is peeled, dried, and the starch is processed into a fine powder. It is flavorless. It is lovely for savory or sweet recipes and can be labeled as tapioca flour or tapioca starch. It can be used similarly to cornstarch in most recipes. We’ll show you that the best substitute for tapioca flour is other flour or starches.
Our tapioca flour is gluten-free! Because it is not only naturally so but also because it is processed in a certified gluten-free facility. We take great pride in that level of safety for our customers who have gluten intolerance and celiac.
Okay, and this looks like it may be obvious, but Tapioca starch is Tapioca Flour. Yes. They are, in fact, the same product; they are just labeled differently from brand to brand. The fiber is removed from the starch of the dried cassava, so it is referred to as tapioca starch. Don’t be confused. The flour is the starch—the starch in the flour. You are not crazy. Feel validated. Ahhh.
Another gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour is Potato starch. Potato starch is heavy in a baked good. As a rule, use 25% potato starch and 75% of other flour like cassava or rice in baked goods. For thickening sauces, use equal parts potato starch for tapioca flour.
Not many people realize this, but regular wheat-containing all-purpose flour can be used 1:1 for tapioca flour in most recipes. Keep in mind that it contains gluten. The texture may be slightly different, having a little less chew and a touch more density, but the results will be similar. The raw taste needs to be cooked off a little longer when used as a thickener for sauces or gravies. Adding a bit more liquid may also be necessary. Tapioca flour has a glossier finish than all-purpose flour in final products, making it a preference in dessert sauces or anything painted on a plate for presentation purposes.
You probably already have cornstarch in your cupboard right now. Check. Okay. Don’t check. Our point is it is probably already in your radical kitchen, ready to use—and it is a fantastic substitute as a thickener for sauces and soups. You only need half the cornstarch in place of tapioca flour called for in a recipe. Cornstarch is stronger stuff! Cornstarch is also gluten-free.
Cassava flour is fantastic! If you haven’t baked with it yet, it lends structure to baked goods in a remarkable way and is used by many bakers as a one-flour wonder for gluten-free baking. It also acts as a thickener in soups, stews, and desserts. Cassava flour comes from the same root as tapioca flour but is made from the entire root. It has all the fiber. Cassava flour has a nutty flavor to it. Tapioca flour is flavorless. Cassava flour replaces tapioca flour in a 1:1 ratio. Bonus, again, cassava flour is gluten-free. Yes, we produce cassava flour here from our dedicated gluten-free facility.
Our chef is in love with rice flour as a substitute for tapioca flour. It’s gluten-free! Hooray! It is thicker than tapioca, so use about half the amount of tapioca called for in a recipe for thickening. In baking, use 50% rice and 50% of another flour like cassava.
Like tapioca, arrowroot is labeled flour or starch. Virtually flavorless, it is similar in texture to tapioca flour. It can be used as an even swap to thicken a sweet and sour chicken dish. You’ll want to use arrowroot with cassava flour in a 25% arrowroot and 75% cassava flour substitution. If you use arrowroot alone, your baked goods will be too dense.
Here’s our wonderful recipe for Brazilian Cheese Buns! Remember if you don’t have our tapioca flour yet, you can use the substitutes we suggested above. Or, you can order tapioca flour right here on our website. Hint. Hint.
¼ cup vegetable Oil
½ cup Milk
2 ½ cups Panhandle Milling Tapioca Flour
½ cup mixed Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses shredded
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp chili powder (if desired)