What is it? Wednesday: Arrowroot Starch

We are very excited to bring you What is it? Wednesdays! Every other Wednesday, we’ll explore a different ingredient or product in depth. We’ll be covering the benefits, uses and common misconceptions about each. If you have any requests, leave them in the comments and we’ll work them into the schedule. 


Welcome to What is it? Wednesday! This week’s topic is Arrowroot Starch, AKA: Arrowroot Powder, Arrowroot Flour. A lesser-known ingredient than its starch brethren—corn, potato, tapioca—arrowroot is an incredibly useful ingredient that is often overlooked. It is frequently used in gluten free and allergy-free baking. Use it in place of cornstarch in baking, or for thickening cool liquids (read: ice cream). If you have questions we don’t address, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to find you an answer.

What is it? Wednesday: Arrowroot Starch | Bob's Red Mill

What is it? Arrowroot starch is a very fine, white powder akin to cornstarch made from the tubers of the arrowroot plant. The arrowroot plant, Maranta arundinacea, is a perennial herb found in tropical climates. The origins of its name are a little mysterious. One source claims that the Arawak Indians called the plant aru-aru, “meal of meals.” While another claims that arrowroot was used medicinally, being placed on wounds made with poisoned arrows to draw out the toxins. With its medicinal properties, it might just be a little of both.

How do you use it? Like other starches, arrowroot starch is used as a thickening agent in liquids and supports proteins in baking to give baked goods form. It has virtually no flavor and is allergy-friendly, making it a great option for those avoiding corn, potatoes or gluten in general.

Arrowroot does not hold its thickening abilities like other starches and is best added near the end of heating. It should be mixed with liquid to create a slurry before adding to hot liquids to prevent clumping. There is a secret to a smooth sauce with arrowroot starch. Bring the sauce base to a simmer over medium-low heat. Next, whisk ¼ cup water and 2 Tbsp. arrowroot starch together to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the simmering sauce and heat for one minute or until thickened.

How is it different from other starches? First off, arrowroot starch does not turn sauces cloudy like some starches, and it works at temperatures below a simmer. Arrowroot starch is neutral tasting and tolerates acidic ingredients, such as citrus (hello, lemon curd!). The starch also freezes well and dissolves well at lower temperatures. In fact, it must be cooked over low heat as it doesn’t endure high temperature cooking and does not reheat well. A final word to the wise, arrowroot does not do well in milk-based cream sauces (it changes the texture), but it bakes well in cakes, cookies and biscuits made with milk.

Sweet Potato-Almond Waffles with Crispy Oven-Baked Cornflake Chicken | Bob's Red Mill & Cara's Cravings

Try one of these fabulous recipes using Arrowroot Starch:


Ben Griswold says:

Fantastic article Cassidy. I’ve wondered why some people love this product and why it’s different- now i know. I am definitely going to use this as a reference .

Diana R says:

How well would this work as a substitute for tapioca flour in gluten free breads? My husband gets a reaction with tapioca flour and it is included in so many mixes and ready make GF breads, I am looking a starch that helps give breads that stretchy quality that many books say tapioca offers. Or do you have another substitute you could offer?

From what I know of Arrowroot Starch, it would work pretty well. Potato Starch might be a better option in this case, though either starch should work.

Jessica says:

Does your arrowroot starch contain sulfites in the processing? I cannot tolerate even low amounts of sulfites.

No, our arrowroot starch does not contain sulfites or use any in the process.

Janice says:

Do you know what pueraria powder is used for? Box says product name is arrowroot floul (I think that was a typo) and ingredient listed: Puerana Lobata Starch, Xylitol, Maltodextrin. I assume it’s from China.

Is this our product?

Jody says:

My question: Is arrowroot starch the same as arrowroot powder?

Yes, they are the same product.

Michelle Mann says:

You list Roasted Blueberry Ice Cream in your recipes links but there is no recipe on your site for this. Do you have a blueberry ice cream recipe using arrowroot powder?

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It appears as though that recipe is no longer on our site. We apologize for the confusion.

I need to know if corn is connected to the process of the arrowroot flour in anyway as i am allergic to corn and if it is I can not use it. Thank you so much. OH or if the flour is process in a facility that processes corn by products

We can not guarantee that they products are not contaminated with corn. We are not a corn free facility.

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