Cornstarch vs. Potato Starch | Bob's Red Mill
Cornstarch vs. Potato Starch: Which One's Better?

Cornstarch vs. Potato Starch: Which One’s Better?

Looking for a starch that works great with every recipe? You're not alone. While there are a variety of starches out there, not all of them work interchangeably. When making specific recipes, finding the right starch for each one can be challenging. If you're struggling to decide which starch to use to thicken your next soup or stew, then don't worry, we're here to help!

Cornstarch and potato starch are two of the most common starches out there, and while they can be used interchangeably in some recipes, they have very different properties. To say one starch is better than another is simply not the case. Because of the various features these starches possess, it's not a one-size-fits-all scenario. While cornstarch might work better in certain soups, potato starch works better at thickening dishes like macaroni and cheese. Keep scrolling to learn more about each of these starches and determine when to use each. 

Cornstarch: What Is it?

Knowing which starch to use is half the battle when it comes to baking. But the real challenge lies in how to use each starch correctly. When it comes to cornstarch, knowing where and how the starch originates can help you determine if it's the right one for your recipe. So let's dive in! 

It's no surprise that cornstarch comes from corn, it's in the name! Cornstarch derives from a very specific part of the corn, the endosperm. Upon extracting the starch from the endosperm, a white powdery substance is created. This substance is what you see on grocery store shelves today. Virtually flavorless and odorless, cornstarch can be added to a wide variety of recipes. Add it to savory soups as a thickening agent or sweet desserts to create a light and airy texture. Whatever recipe you choose to add cornstarch too, you won't have to worry about it changing the flavor. 

Cornstarch vs. Potato Starch: Which One's Better? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

When it comes to cooking, cornstarch has a few different uses. The most common use is being a thickening agent. When adding cornstarch to soups, stews and puddings, the molecules in it work to absorb water. When heated, those same molecules expand and soak up even more moisture in a recipe. This starch reaction makes cornstarch the perfect starch to use to boost the consistency and texture of the soup. 

Additionally, cornstarch can be used in baked goods like brownies, bread, cakes and cookies. To add more structure to your favorite dessert, just add cornstarch! Using cornstarch in your baked goods recipe will help bind the ingredients in the recipe together, resulting in a light and chewy dessert. 

Lastly, cornstarch is also commonly found in commercially produced products like powdered sugar and shredded cheese. When added to packaged goods, cornstarch works to absorb moisture and condensation. This process helps prevent lumps from forming and food from spoiling. 

How to Use Cornstarch

Now that you've begun planning out the various ways you're going to use cornstarch, you must learn how to use it. After all, just one wrong measurement can ruin a recipe! While we're sure that all your recipes will be baked to perfection, we've gathered some of our favorite cornstarch tips and tricks to get you started.

When cooking with cornstarch, the cornstarch must be mixed into the recipe at room temperature. To make sure this is the case, we recommend first making a slurry. Creating a slurry, or cornstarch paste will ensure that the starch is introduced to a cool or room temperature liquid. Plus, it can also help guarantee that the cornstarch is evenly distributed through the recipe. To create a slurry, mix a few tablespoons of cornstarch with a cold liquid like water or plant-based milk. Once a paste is created, you can then add it to the desired recipe. 

It's important to note that cornstarch is sensitive to extreme temperatures. When added to too hot of a mixture, the molecules in cornstarch can break down, causing it to release all the moisture, as if it was not added in the first place. Conversely, when sauces and soups that contain cornstarch are frozen, the molecules in the starch are harmed, and when thawed, the liquid will revert to its runny state. 

Potato Starch: What Is It?

Potato starch is one of our favorite starches. Add it to everything from stews to pie fillings. Potato starch is a great way to take your favorite recipe to the next level. But how does it stack up next to cornstarch? We've gathered the pros and cons of potato starch so that you can make the right choice when adding starches to your favorite meals. Keep scrolling to discover all that potato starch is, and if it's the right choice for you!

Cornstarch vs. Potato Starch: Which One's Better? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

It's not hard to guess where potato starch comes from. Potatoes, of course! The starch inside of a potato is extracted to create a powder-like substance. Though whole potatoes contain a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients, potato starch itself is not very nutritious. That's not to say that it doesn't have some pretty amazing benefits, though! Gluten free, easy to cook with and practically tasteless, potato starch is a great starch to use if you don't want to change the flavor of a recipe.

Plus, unlike cornstarch, potato starch can tolerate higher temperatures. This being, it's often used as a replacement for cornstarch in many baked goods recipes. When added to baked goods, potato starch acts as a binding agent and results in a moist and chewy texture. 

How to Use Potato Starch

Sometimes labeled as potato flour, potato starch has a wide variety of uses. Being that it is one of the most affordable starches on the shelves, it's a great ingredient to keep on hand. When purchasing potato starch, we recommend carefully reading all the labels on the packaging before buying. High-quality potato starch will often be gluten free, non-GMO and organic.

Much like cornstarch, potato starch is used to thicken soups, sauces and pie fillings. It's also an essential part of gluten free baking. Depending on which potato starch you buy, it can be gluten free, dairy free, grain free and soy free. All of which makes it a safe add-in ingredient for those with food allergies.

While potato starch can often hold up to higher temperatures better than cornstarch, you'll still want to pay attention to how hot your dish is getting. If potato starch is added to a dish that is too hot, it can cause the molecules in the starch to break down and not absorb moisture correctly. This means that you could end up with a runny mess. When cooking with potato starch, we suggested adding it to a warm recipe. This will ensure that the starch works as intended. 

Are Cornstarch and Potato Starch Interchangeable?

Now if you’re still wondering, can I substitute potato starch for cornstarch? Then the answer is yes. Because both starches can be used similarly, they are interchangeable in most recipes. However, there are some exceptions.

Cornstarch vs. Potato Starch: Which One's Better? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

When using potato starch as a cornstarch substitute, it works best added to recipes that are not going to be cooked for elongated periods. Dishes like soups, gravies, pie fillings and puddings are all recipes in which you can use cornstarch and potato starch interchangeably. If you're substituting cornstarch for all-purpose flour as a thickener, for every 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour that a recipe calls for, it is recommended to use 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch. 

Before adding cornstarch to a recipe, it's crucial to consider the acidity and sugar content of the dish. While cornstarch works well with dairy-based recipes, if a recipe is high in sugar or extremely acidic, then cornstarch may not be the best substitute. Acidic foods include tomatoes, canned fruit, juices and vinegar. Cornstarch should also not be used in a recipe that you intend on freezing. Freezing cornstarch could cause the recipe to become spongy once thawed out. 

An example of a recipe that would benefit from cornstarch is pasta sauce. Whereas potato starch is not able to withstand long cooking times, and would not work well in this type of recipe. 

From savory soups to fruity pie fillings, each of these starches offers incredible baking benefits for you to experiment with. Now that you understand the different benefits that these two starches possess, we hope you feel more confident when adding them to your tasty treats. 

Have a favorite starch of your own? We'd love to hear it. Let us know what it is in the comments below!

 

42 Comments

  1. eve knafler
    How would you use potato starch, ot amy other to mskeVegsn yoghurt with Vegan milk
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Eve - Much like cornstarch, potato starch is used to thicken soups, sauces and pie fillings. It's also an essential part of gluten free baking. We unfortunately do not have any information about starches used in vegan milk recipes.
      Reply
  2. kristen exon
    I was using both corn starch and potato starch, and might have mixed up their containers and lids. Does anyone know how to tell them apart by physical means? Taste, color (yes, both are white, but the whites are a tad bit different), by mixing with an acid and checking the reaction? I can always mix them together and know I have a 50/50 mix of potato/corn starch, so they won't go to waste. Thanks for any help with this. In the future, I will label both lid and container.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Kristen - Hm, that's quite a conundrum. We suggest mixing 1 Tbsp of each in ½ cup of water. The thicker one will be cornstarch, though they may be very similar. Ultimately, this means they are fairly interchangeable save allergy concerns.
      Reply
  3. Jody Watts
    Greetings, I typically use "modified cornstarch" also known as Clear Jel to thicken my pie fillings that I can in a hot water bath for 40 minutes (as I'm at high altitude). Can I substitute potato starch for this application?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Jody - that might require some experimentation. Our Potato Starch is not modified; it may not react in the same manner as modified cornstarch.
      Reply
  4. james booth
    i have a recipe that says use 1/4cp cornstarch on the meat this will thicken the sauce as it cooks in the slow cooker but it makes so much food and i cant freeze this cause next time around its no good so if i use potato starch will i be able to freeze left overs and when slowly reheated will it be just as good as the first time?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi James, if when reheated from frozen you find the mixture thinner, you can always whisk in more cornstarch as it heats, though it will likely hold its texture.
      Reply
  5. RosiePea
    This is an excellent article. Thanks for the information. I would like to use potato starch to thicken chicken stock. I would then use the thickened stock as a base for a chicken casserole that will w baked in the oven. Would this work? I am not sure what you mean by “prolonged cooking times” when you advise against using potato starch In these applications. Thank you very much!
    Reply
  6. Leah Brown
    I would like to use potato starch to thicken a blend of cooked vegetables and cashews. All the ingredients go into the blender at either room temperature or colder. The are blended for 15 minutes. By the end of that period, the friction of the process raises the temperature up to between 65 - 70. My question is this, should I add the potato starch at the beginning of the blending processes, part way through or towards the end.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi! You could add the potato starch at the beginning of blending. This will help if become completely incorporated. You will need to heat the mixture after in order for the starch to thicken.
      Reply
  7. Carrie hill
    Hello im making sous vide egg bites and have had the hardest time finding rice starch. For a substitution would you suggest using the cornstarch or potato starch? Surprisingly I already have potato starch but not corn starch thank you!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Carrie - I think Potato Starch would be the best substitute here.
      Reply
  8. Tracy Quinnell
    On this subject may I throw Tapioca Starch into the mix ?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Tracy, here's a great blog article comparing all of our starches.

      Bob's Red Mill Blog: All About Starches
      Reply
  9. Philip James Thirkettle
    Philip James Thirkettle
    I have been watching NHK ( Japanese national tv.).
    They frequently use potato starch to fry meat and vegetables as apparently it gives a nice crisp texture,but you make no mention of this on your site. Is this purely a Japanese style of cooking?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Philip - We haven't experimented with using potato starch to fry meat and vegetables, but it sounds like it would create a crisp exterior. If you do try it, we'd love to hear your results!
      Reply
  10. Catherine Kitz
    Is corn or potato starch better for vegan matzo balls?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Catherine - both would work equally well in that type of recipe. Enjoy!
      Reply
  11. Valerio Velez
    Which one is better of cheese production and how to use it.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Valerio - Hm, unfortunately we're not in a place to provide expert opinions on that matter.
      Reply
  12. Joyce Lewis
    After compiling all my ingredients for blue cheese cookies I realized I only had 1/2 c cornstarch instead of the full cup it calls for. Can I use potato starch to complete the cup requirement? I live on the end of an island so can’t run to the store for more cornstarch. Help!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Joyce - Yes, that should work fine.
      Reply
  13. Sabine
    Can potato starch be stored for longer periods? Does refrigerating or freezing increase the shelf life?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Sabine - our Potato Starch has a shelf life of 2 years. Each bag will have a specific best by date printed on the back/underside of the package. We recommend storing it in a cool, dry place (it does not need to be refrigerated or frozen). We also recommend enjoying the product within the best by date.
      Reply
  14. Tim Bullard
    I have a brownie recipe that uses potato starch instead of flour! Could I use cornstarch?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Tim - Hm, since it's not something we tested, we're not sure. The starches do behave in a similar manner, but that recipe sounds very unique. If you try it, let us know how it goes!
      Reply
  15. sharon A snyder
    sharon A snyder
    How long does cornstarch last
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Sharon! Our Cornstarch has a 2 year shelf life. There should be a best by date on the bottom of your package.
      Reply
  16. Aimee Schwartz
    I have a mostly flourless chocolate cake recipe that calls for 4 1/2 Tablespoons of flour. Can I use potato starch instead?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Aimee, we haven't tested that but I'm inclined to say no. I think the potato starch will gelatinize, giving the cake a different texture.
      Reply
  17. Ron Woodward
    You say potato starch can withstand higher temperatures and then say corn starch is better for long cooking. Neither like to be frozen and reheated or acid recipes. What temperature and time is the limit for corn starch and potato starch. Is there another starch that works better at high temps, Freezing and long cooking?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Ron - Cornstarch has a gelation temp of 144 – 180 F. Potato Starch has a gelation temp of 136 – 150 F. Arrowroot is good for high-temp and longer cooking; Tapioca freezes the best though all starch-thicken mixtures run the risk of weeping.
      Reply
  18. Michele
    I have a cookie recipe that calls for 1/2 cup cornstarch, and powdered sugar, and 1 cup flour. Can I use potato starch instead of corn starch?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Michele - Yes, that should work!
      Reply
  19. Stephen Rudolph
    Stephen Rudolph
    hi. i am going to follow an air fryer recipe for chicken wings (400 deg).
    they suggest dipping the wings in potato starch. i have corn starch. should i go out and buy the potato version
    Reply
  20. Vanessa
    I'm trying to workshop a recipe for gluten free lemon bars that calls for rice flour as a thickener for the custard. Rice flour has a chewy, gummy texture, and I'd rather the bars be much softer to the tooth. The filling will consist of eggs, lemon juice, sugar, and baking powder. I'd be willing to use any mix of cornstarch, potato starch, xanthan gum, and rice flour. Any suggestions?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Vanessa - Cornstarch is a traditional thickener for lemon bars and won't give that gummy/chewy texture like rice flour.
      Reply
  21. habeebah
    Hi
    Would like to know when making flat bread is potato starch a good option to use as a presivertive will it freeze well?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi! Hm, the potato starch itself will not act as a preservative though it may absorb any excess moisture. I'd recommend doing a test with a par baked and full baked flatbread. Let them cool, wrap and freeze. As the final step in the test, see which has the best flavor/texture when reheated.
      Reply
  22. kiers
    I'd like to use corn OR potato starch as a base coat for raw onions before dippng in an ethnic batter ("Besan" which is chickpea/garbanzo flour) and fry onion rings (aka onion pakoda). Would it work for me to use potato starch slurry, dip the raw onion ring into it, and then dip it in the besan batter before dunking into the hot frying oil?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi, we haven't tried that specifically but it should work, though I'd be careful with adding too much moisture by making a slurry rather than using the starch alone.
      Reply

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