Gluten-Free Substitutes for Corn Starch

Updated February 21, 2017

If you're planning on making the perfect gravy, soup or cake icing, you'll need a thickening agent. To keep your sauces and baked goods healthy and gluten-free, cornflour conveniently does not contain gluten, a protein found in wheat. This makes it an ideal substitute for flour. Yet, cornflour isn't the only gluten-free thickener you can use. There are many alternatives to try out if you don't have cornflour on hand.


Made from West Indies tubers, arrowroot starch is an ideal thickening substitute. Arrowroot has an even more neutral flavour than cornflour, making it a nearly tasteless thickener. According to Cook's Thesaurus, arrowroot also works well at lower temperatures (such as making icing) and withstands prolonged cooking and acidic ingredients. It's also a great substitute if you're trying to avoid corn- or potato-based products. As an added bonus, arrowroot adds an eye-pleasing glossiness to foods, perfect for desserts.

Tapioca Starch

Tapioca starch, also known as yucca or cassava starch, is another useful thickening alternative. Often used for pie fillings, tapioca starch can also be added to a soup or sauce for a creamy texture. If you cannot find tapioca starch, simply use instant tapioca and turn the tapioca balls into a powder using a coffee grinder.

Potato Starch

Gluten-free and kosher, potato starch is another substitute for cornflour. As you would with other thickeners, mix potato starch with warm water and add to sauces and soups. Since potato starch can get lumpy, be sure to stir constantly and gently as you cook to keep your sauce smooth. As an alternative to potato starch, add a small mashed potato to your soup to thicken it and create substance.

Lotus Root Flour

A popular Chinese thickening alternative, lotus root flour can be found at Asian food markets. Made from the roots of lotus water lilies, lotus root flour is a cream coloured, easy-to-digest, gluten-free flour. It's often used to make batter for frying vegetables and meat. However, this elegant alternative is more expensive than cornflour.

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June Lee has been writing professionally since 1999. Her areas of expertise include education, art, fashion and travel. She holds a B.A. in English and has been writing online professionally since August 2010.