Corn Flour Vs Cornmeal: What’s The Difference?

Corn Flour

If you need to choose between corn flour and cornmeal, it is mandatory to understand the differences as well as the similarities between these two ingredients.

You can use both of these types of corn products in various dishes. So, it is definitely worth it to know how to make the most of them.

The main difference between corn flour and cornmeal is texture. You will notice at the first touch that corn flour is significantly finer in texture compared to cornmeal which could be rather gritty.

Let’s learn more about these ingredients below!

Can I Use Cornmeal Instead Of Cornflour?

You can use cornflour and cornmeal interchangeably in many recipes.

However, you will have to consider the texture difference. However, your final dish will turn out differently depending on what you choose to use when it comes to corn flour or cornmeal.

As a general rule, you can expect baked dishes that are made with cornmeal to be grittier in texture and not as smooth as they would be if you used cornflour.

At the same time, if you use cornflour instead of cornmeal, your baked dishes such as muffins or different cookies, will turn out less crumbly and smoother in texture.

Cornmeal

Can I Use Cornstarch Instead Of Cornmeal?

A common question people ask is if they can use cornstarch instead of cornmeal. While many consider cornstarch as being similar and even identical to corn flour, these two types of corn ingredients are actually quite different.

Corn flour is made of whole kernels while cornstarch is made from the endosperm of the corn kernels. Cornstarch is used as a thickener in many sauces and stews or different marinates.

If you want to replace your cornmeal in such a recipe, you can successfully use cornstarch. However, if you want to replace cornmeal in a cake or muffin recipe, cornstarch might not be your best choice. Cornstarch can be way too fine in texture for some dishes. And it will not rise properly either.

Still, people tend to use cornstarch instead of cornmeal even when they are baking goods. And while this might not be the ideal ingredient, it can still work in lack of other options.

There is confusion regarding cornstarch and cornflour. While in the US, they are different products, in the UK and different parts of the world, people see cornstarch and cornflour as the same product.

It is important to be aware of this aspect in order to know exactly what to choose when you are preparing your recipe. 

What Can You Substitute For Corn Flour?

If you have a recipe that calls for corn flour but you don’t seem to have it at hand, there is no need to worry. You can use cornmeal or any other type of flour as well as baking mixes that you can find on the market.

Either one of such substitutes can save your recipe but you will have to be aware of the fact that your final dish will turn out fairly different depending on what you are using.

Corn flour, cornmeal, and cornstarch make great gluten-free alternatives to wheat flour. If you want to maintain the gluten-free characteristic, you can always choose to use coconut flour, soy flour, almond flour, and other gluten-free flours on the market.

Some of these substitutes will change the taste of your final dish, particularly coconut flour and almond flour. But they will still offer you a great result at the end of your cooking process.

Is Cornflour The Same As Harina?

In certain parts of the world, such as in different European countries, people confuse cornflour for harina and vice versa. But if you try to use these two types of corn interchangeably, you will notice that there are significant differences between them.

Masa harina is a type of cornflour. However, it is made differently from corn flour that you can easily obtain from cornmeal by utilizing a food processor. To prepare masa harina, the whole grain kernels need to be soaked in lime water for several hours.

After this time passed, you will have to let the kernels dry out completely, then grind them. This type of masa harina works well in different baked recipes and cooks faster unlike other types of cornflour and even regular flour.

You can use masa harina for fast-cooking recipes due to its finer texture that will offer you a much softer type of dough. The best way to use masa harina is for cakes, cream cookies, and other desserts that you don’t want to crumble.

In Eastern Europe, masa harina is used to make sweet bread and ladyfingers, for those recipes that need to avoid gluten. The taste of corn is not as present in masa harina as it is in cornmeal and even cornflour. Also, this type of corn flour is more complicated to make at home as it takes a longer time and you will need lime water to soften the texture of the kernels.

Are Cornmeal And Cornstarch The Same Thing?

People usually confuse cornflour for cornmeal and vice versa. However, they’re very different.

Cornmeal has a gritty texture whereas cornstarch is as fine as cornflour and even finer in texture. The flavor between these products is different as well. For instance, cornmeal has a stronger and more defined corn taste compared to cornstarch that has more of a starchy flavor to it.

These differences make cornstarch perfect for thickening different sauces, stews, and marinates, while cornmeal can work well in baked dishes, just like cornflour.

How Do You Make Corn Flour From Cornmeal?

If you have cornmeal but you want to obtain corn flour, don’t fret! It’s easy and requires only a few tools. All you need is a food processor, a blender, or a grain mill to give your cornmeal the fine, powdery texture of cornflour.

Place the cornmeal in your food processor, with no other ingredients, and grind it until you obtain the texture that you are looking for. Once your cornmeal is fine in texture, you can use it as you would use cornflour in any recipe that calls for it.

Can You Use Cornflour For Cornbread?

Cornbread requires cornmeal if you want to get the crumbly texture and not a cake-like dough. But if you don’t have cornmeal, you can successfully use cornflour to prepare cornbread.

If you do use cornflour instead of cornmeal, you should expect a smoother texture of the dough and a milder corn taste.

Cornmeal has a stronger corn flavor that you will not find in other corn products you might use instead of it. You can even use masa harina for your cornbread. However, you will obtain a much smoother texture by doing that.

Final Words

Corn flour, as well as cornmeal, are some of the best alternatives to gluten flour if you want to avoid gluten. You will use them essentially the same as you would use any other flour but you have to be ready for a slightly different taste and texture.

Cornmeal will make your dish more crumbly while corn flour will give it a smooth texture that is ideal for cakes and other similar baked desserts.

If your recipe is asking for a much softer type of dough, you might definitely want to try using masa harina, even if it can be more difficult to find this cornflour in stores.

Allow yourself to get creative in the kitchen and see which type of corn product matches your preferences best!

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