Tapioca Starch Vs Cornstarch: What’s The Difference?

Tapioca Flour

Imagine having a delicious serving of soup that has an appetizing appearance, just the right amount of seasoning, a mouthful of flavor – but the wrong consistency. This might end up being your next dish if you don’t use the right starch.

So, what’s the difference between tapioca starch and cornstarch? The difference between the two ingredients is the plants that they are extracted from. Tapioca starch is extracted from the roots of the cassava plant, On the other hand cornstarch is extracted from the maize grain

Cooking can be confusing if you don’t know the difference between different types of starches. However, this article contains all that you need to know.

Below, you will find more about the differences between tapioca starch and cornstarch, how to substitute them, and much more, so let’s take a look!

Tapioca Starch Vs Cornstarch: What’s The Difference?

Tapioca starch is extracted from the roots of the cassava plant. It is a staple food in many tropical countries and works as a thickening agent in many of their traditional foods. It is also a key ingredient in desserts and other dishes across the South Asian region.

Cornstarch is extracted from the maize grain. It works as a thickening agent in different dishes like soups, custard, sauces, gravy, etc. It is also the main ingredient in corn syrup and other sugars, as well as adhesives for non-culinary uses.

Tapioca Starch Vs Cornstarch: Comparison Table

Which one makes a great choice for your next dish? Let’s compare tapioca starch and cornstarch in detail and make a choice.

Product Tapioca starch Cornstarch
Source Cassava plant Mazie plant
Uses Thickening desserts, medicinal, starching, etc. Thickening, manufacturing, frying, starching, etc.
Taste Slightly sweet Almost flavorless
Origin South America In the USA (19th century)
Health factor Relatively healthy Less healthy

Source

The difference between tapioca starch and cornstarch is the plant through which it is extracted. Cornstarch is extracted from the kernel of Maize plants. On the other hand, tapioca starch is extracted from the Cassava plant.

This plant is indigenous to Brazil but is now found all across South America.

Uses

People use tapioca starch and cornstarch as thickening agents. However, they also have other culinary and non-culinary uses. They also take part in different dishes.

Tapioca starch is used for preparing flatbread, tapioca balls, tapioca pudding, sauces, and desserts. It is even used to prepare pancakes, cheese bread, chips, jelly, and more.

Tapioca starch has regional applications in many different dishes across Thailand, India, Belgium, France, Ghana, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. People also use it for medicinal purposes, starching out laundry, making biodegradable bags, and more.

On the other hand, cornstarch has a range of culinary and non-culinary uses. Of course, the most common one is thickening foods such as soups, gravies, custards, sauces, etc. It also works as a coat for frying foods like chicken nuggets.

Additionally, people use cornstarch to make corn syrup and other kinds of sugar. Before it became a cooking ingredient, cornstarch was primarily used for starching laundry. It is still used for producing baby powder, adhesive, medical gloves, airbags, and more.

Taste

Although they are indetectable when interchanged in most dishes, tapioca starch and cornstarch differ when it comes to the way they taste.

Cornstarch is mostly tasteless but has an earthy tone similar to wheat. On the other hand, tapioca starch has a slightly sweet taste with a starchy texture.

Origin

Cornstarch and tapioca starch have very different origins. One of them has been used since times immemorial whereas the other was invented by accident.

Cornstarch was invented by Thomas Kingsford in 1842. He discovered a way to isolate the endosperms of corn kernels while working in a wheat starch factory. However, for the first few years, cornstarch was used for starching laundry rather than cooking.

On the other hand, tapioca starch has always been used in the South American region. It is extracted from the cassava plant which is native to Northern Brazil. However, its uses take place in South America as well as different parts of Asia as ready as 1500.

Can You Substitute Cornstarch For Tapioca Starch?

You can easily substitute cornstarch for tapioca starch in a variety of dishes.

Cornstarch is already used as a thickening agent for dishes like soups, gravies, custard, sauces, and desserts. In fact, cornstarch is much more potent than tapioca starch.

In the following section, we stated the ratio that you should be using when interchanging cornstarch and tapioca starch. However, you can be certain that your recipes will turn out just as delicious if you use cornstarch in place of tapioca starch.

Moreover, cornstarch is much easier to find than tapioca starch. Thus, you don’t need to worry if you find a recipe that requires tapioca starch and you don’t have any.

When it comes to texture and taste, you don’t need to worry about your dish turning out any different. Cornstarch will give you just as creamy a texture without changing the taste of your dish.

In fact, cornstarch has no taste whereas tapioca starch tends to be slightly sweet. So, if you are preparing a dish where tapioca starch is the key ingredient, you might want to sweeten your dish while using cornstarch as a substitute.

Tapioca Flour Vs Cornstarch Ratio

As cornstarch is more potent than tapioca starch, you cannot substitute them directly. There is an easy rule that you can remember while interchanging these two starches.

When a recipe calls for two tablespoons of tapioca starch, you should use one tablespoon of cornstarch as a substitute. Alternatively, if you are using tapioca starch as a substitute, add double the amount of cornstarch required in the recipe.

Tapioca Starch Vs Cornstarch For Thickening

When it comes to the best thickening agent, cornstarch is better than tapioca starch. In fact, cornstarch tends to be much more potent than tapioca starch.

Tapioca starch has many culinary uses other than being a thickening agent. It plays a key part in making traditional South American and Asian dishes and desserts. But this does not mean that it is not an adequate substitute for cornstarch and other thickening agents.

Hopefully, after reading this article, all your questions about cornstarch and tapioca starch were cleared. You can easily substitute these two in your next delicious and creamy recipe, given that you keep the right ratio in mind. 

Related Questions

Is tapioca starch better than cornstarch?

There is no clear answer to this question.

Both starches have different potencies, uses, and nutritional factors. Each makes a better choice than the other in certain recipes depending on the texture and taste that you desire.

Can I substitute tapioca starch for cornstarch in puddings?

You can substitute tapioca starch for cornstarch in puddings.

However, because of the difference in potency, you will have to use a higher amount of tapioca starch. For one tablespoon of cornstarch, your substitute should be two tablespoons of tapioca.

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