What can I use instead of corn flour? Learn the best corn flour substitute for frying, baking, thickening, and so much more! The corn flour alternative you need depends on what you’re making and where in the world you are. Find out- is corn flour the same as corn starch? The answer is different depending on whether you’re in the UK, Australia, or America!
- 🌽 Corn Flour vs Cornmeal
- 🍳 Corn Flour Substitute for Frying
- 🍲 Corn Flour Substitute for Thickening
- 🤔 Can Corn Flour Substitute Cornstarch?
- 🍮 Corn Flour Substitute for Custard
- 🥣 Corn Flour Substitute for Soup
- 🍪 Substitute for Corn Flour in Cookies
- 🍰 Corn Flour Substitute for Pavlova
- 🧁 Cornmeal Substitute
- 📋 Corn Flour Nutrition
- 👩🏻🍳 Corn Flour Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
🌽 Corn Flour vs Cornmeal
If you need an alternative to cornflour, it’s important to define what corn flour is. Cornflour in the UK and other European countries is what we call cornstarch in the US. Corn flour in the US is similar to UK corn meal.
Maize flour in the UK is what we call cornmeal in the US. Then there’s also masa harina, which is ground nixtamalized corn, often treated with lime water. Masa harina is commonly used in tamales and tortillas.
What is Cornflour Chart
|US Name||UK Name|
|Corn flour||Corn meal|
|Corn starch||Cornflour, maize starch|
|Corn meal||Maize flour|
It’s a little confusing! I will specify which type of corn flour I’m talking about throughout the article. These flours and starches have different baking and cooking applications.
Difference Between Cornstarch and Corn Flour
American cornstarch (UK cornflour or maize starch) is the starch extracted from the endosperm of corn kernels. Since the entire corn kernel isn’t used, US corn starch is not a whole grain.
US corn starch is used as a thickener for soups, sauces, and gravy. This is likely what you’re looking for if you need a substitute for corn flour in the UK. You’ll find lots of substitutes for corn flour thickeners below.
American corn flour (UK cornmeal) is made from finely ground whole corn kernels that are dried. It is similar to a finely milled cornmeal in the US.
If you’re looking for a corn flour replacement in the US, you’re probably using it for frying or baking. I will also provide many ideas for this type of cornflour alternative below.
One of the benefits of using corn flour (all types) is that it’s naturally gluten-free. Luckily there are many gluten free corn flour substitutes you can use as well. Save yourself a shopping trip and grab the substitute for cornflour you already have on hand!
🍳 Corn Flour Substitute for Frying
If you want to substitute corn flour for frying, you can substitute another flour in a 1:1 ratio. The finished dish will likely have a different flavor and brown a bit differently depending on the corn flour substitutes used. This is for dishes like fried chicken.
An exception to this is in Chinese cooking, where American corn starch is used to give foods a light and crispy crust. For the best result, you’ll want cornflour alternatives with similar properties to corn starch, such as white rice flour. Again, it’s important to determine whether we’re talking about American corn flour or UK and Australian cornflour to get the best results.
Here are some of the best substitutions for corn flour in deep frying (US corn flour):
White flour (AKA plain flour or AP flour) is the best substitution for corn flour in frying, IMVHO. The taste will be a little different, but both types of flour produce a crispy crust on fried foods.
Corn Flour vs All Purpose Flour
The disadvantages of using plain flour vs corn flour are that it’s not a whole grain and it contains gluten (and not compatible with gluten free diets). All purpose flour is lower in fiber than whole grain corn flour. AP flour may also be lower in B vitamins if it hasn’t been enriched.
Whole wheat flour (AKA wholemeal flour) is a good substitution for cornflour if you want a whole grain flour option. You keep all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are stripped from refined grains like white flour.
Whole wheat flour tends to taste a bit too “healthy” for some. This is perhaps not what you’re looking for in fried foods. Luckily, there are other whole grains you can use instead.
Whole grain spelt flour is my favorite whole grain substitute for corn flour in frying. I find spelt more delicious than whole wheat. Unfortunately, it tends to be more expensive than wheat flour.
Spelt is a gluten-containing grain, so it’s not appropriate for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Consider one of the other flours on this list if you need a corn flour substitute for gluten free diets.
Self rising flour is made with all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. You can use it in frying recipes in place of the flour, baking powder, and salt. (If there is no baking powder in the recipe, you’re better off using plain white flour.)
Can I replace cornflour with self raising flour?
UK self-raising flour is made with plain flour that has baking powder mixed in. You can use it as a substitute for UK corn meal in place of the cornmeal and baking powder in the recipe.
Brown rice flour is a gluten free substitute for US corn flour. You can use it as a 1:1 substitute for corn flour in frying. However, the color and texture of the fried foods will be different.
Rice flour can also be used as a thickener. If using rice flour to thicken foods, I’d recommend white rice flour instead.
Sorghum flour is another option if you want to substitute corn flour but keep it gluten free. Though more commonly used in breads, cakes, and cookies, you could try adding some to fried recipes. Try replacing about 20% of the corn flour in the recipe with sorghum flour, and the rest with a refined flour.
Despite the name, buckwheat flour is not related to wheat, and is a gluten free grain. Buckwheat flour is used in savory French crepes and works as a substitute for corn flour in some recipes.
Millet is naturally gluten free. It works well in both savory and sweet recipes due to its mildly sweet flavor. This flavor profile makes it an ideal substitute for corn flour in frying.
If you’d like a high protein alternative to corn flour, try chickpea flour. Chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour) works well in frying, as well as in flat breads, pancakes, and baked goods. With the right herbs and spices, your fried foods may taste a bit like falafel when you use chickpea flour.
Chestnut flour is a more common flour in Italy, and tends to be pricey and hard to find in the US. However, if you can get past the price tag, chestnut flour is a fun ingredient to experiment with. It can make a great alternative to cornflour in frying.
Try almond flour instead if you’re having trouble finding chestnut flour.
Can Corn Flour Substitute Plain Flour?
Can you use plain flour instead of corn flour? You can use plain flour in place of American corn flour in frying. To use plain flour instead of UK corn flour for thickening, see the conversion table below.
🍲 Corn Flour Substitute for Thickening
If you’re looking for an alternative to corn flour to thicken, you are likely looking for a corn starch substitute. Here is a table to convert corn starch amounts to other types of thickeners (sources: Food52, Healthline)
|Cornstarch Substitute (UK Cornflour)||1 tablespoon cornstarch equals...|
|All-Purpose Flour||2 tablespoons|
|White Rice Flour||2 tablespoons|
|Arrowroot Flour||1 tablespoon|
|Potato Starch (Potato Flour)||1-1.5 tablespoons|
|Cassava Flour||2 tablespoons|
|Kuzu Starch (Kudzu)||2 tablespoons|
|Tapioca Starch (Tapioca Flour)||2 tablespoons|
|Ground Flaxseeds||0.5 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons water|
|Guar Gum||0.25 teaspoon|
|Xanthan Gum||0.25 teaspoon|
Gelatin can also be used to substitute for corn flour as a thickener in some recipes. Note that unlike the above cornflour alternatives, gelatin is not appropriate for vegetarian and vegan diets. Always use good judgement regarding which type of corn flour substitute is best for which recipe!
🤔 Can Corn Flour Substitute Cornstarch?
Corn flour is another name for cornstarch in the UK and Australia. To substitute for corn starch as a thickener, use 2 tablespoons American corn flour per 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the recipe.
🍮 Corn Flour Substitute for Custard
Custard typically uses corn flour (AKA US cornstarch) for binding and as a thickening agent. You can substitute cornflour in custard using the cornstarch substitute conversion chart above. These conversions will also work for thickening other desserts, such as puddings.
🥣 Corn Flour Substitute for Soup
Soup recipes may have corn flour (AKA US cornstarch) for thickening. Use the corn starch substitutions table above to substitute for corn flour in your soup recipe.
You can also use the table in reverse. For example, for a cornstarch substitute for flour in soups, use 1 tablespoon cornstarch for every 2 tablespoons flour in the recipe.
🍪 Substitute for Corn Flour in Cookies
For a corn flour substitute in baking, figure out what the corn flour is being used for. Small amounts of corn flour (AKA American cornstarch) are likely being used as a binder. Replace the corn flour in these recipes using the thickener table above.
Large amounts of US corn flour in baking can be substituted 1:1 for another type of flour. I recommend trying finely ground corn meal, all-purpose flour, or brown rice flour. These may also work as a substitute for corn flour in biscuits.
🍰 Corn Flour Substitute for Pavlova
The cornflour in pavlova (AKA US cornstarch) helps it stay crisp on the edges and soft in the center. To substitute corn flour in pavlova, use arrowroot powder in a 1:1 ratio.
🧁 Cornmeal Substitute
My favorite substitute for coarse cornmeal is semolina flour (AKA durum flour). Semolina works really well as a cornmeal substitute for dusting homemade English muffins.
You can use American corn flour as a 1:1 substitute for cornmeal in most recipes. US corn flour is simply more finely ground corn meal, which is why it works so well. Do not use British cornflour as a 1:1 cornmeal substitute.
📋 Corn Flour Nutrition
Here is the nutrition information for corn flour:
|Nutrient||Cornflour (UK, Australia) |
per 1 Tbsp
|Corn Flour (US) |
per 0.25 cup
|Calcium||0% DV||0% DV|
|Iron||0% DV||6% DV|
Yes, you can substitute 1 tablespoon UK cornflour (AKA American cornstarch) for 1 tablespoon arrowroot in recipes. Both ingredients will thicken foods like gravies, soups, and stews.
No, neither corn starch nor corn flour can substitute for baking powder in recipes. Baking powder provides leavening, or rising action to baked goods, that corn flour and cornstarch don’t provide.
US corn flour is basically a more finely ground cornmeal. These two ingredients can be used interchangeably in most recipes. UK corn flour (AKA cornstarch) does not work as a 1:1 cornmeal substitute.
Yes, corn flour is the closest substitute for masa harina, and the two can be interchanged in recipes. Masa harina has a slightly different flavor, and the niacin (vitamin B3) is more bioavailable in masa harina due to the nixtamalization process.
No, corn flour is not a good substitute for cream of tartar. (This includes UK cornflour and American corn flour.) The best cream of tartar alternative is something like lemon juice or white vinegar that provides acidity.
The best low carb corn flour substitute depends on how you want to use it. I like xanthan gum as a keto corn flour substitute for thickening. I like chestnut flour or coconut flour for a keto corn flour substitute for frying.
👩🏻🍳 Corn Flour Recipes
Here are some recipes where you can use corn flour (US type) in place of cornmeal:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Corn Flour Substitute (20 Best Cornflour Alternative Ideas)
- Each of the ingredients above works as a corn flour substitute for thickening. Replace 1 tablespoon of corn flour (AKA American corn starch) for the amount listed of the ingredient. For example, replace 1 tablespoon of corn flour in the recipe with 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.
- For corn flour substitutes for frying or baking, please refer to the article.