What Is It? Wednesday: Arrowroot Starch - Bob's Red Mill Blog
What Is It? Wednesday: Arrowroot Starch

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. 

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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.

Arrowroot Starch

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 tablespoons 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:

35 Comments

  1. Ben Griswold
    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 .
    Reply
  2. Diana R
    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?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      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.
      Reply
    2. debi tricerri
      i’ve used it in baking and has worked well for me. also used it as a substitute for tapioca flour when making paleo tortillas. mixed fine with the almond milk.
      Reply
  3. Jessica
    Does your arrowroot starch contain sulfites in the processing? I cannot tolerate even low amounts of sulfites.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      No, our arrowroot starch does not contain sulfites or use any in the process.
      Reply
  4. Janice
    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.
    Reply
  5. Jody
    My question: Is arrowroot starch the same as arrowroot powder?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Yes, they are the same product.
      Reply
  6. Michelle Mann
    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?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      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.
      Reply
    2. Dot
      Sareena, As of January 2018, the blueberry ice cream recipe is still recommended on this page, but the link goes to an error page. You might want to remove the blueberry ice cream link from this blogpost above.
      Reply
    3. Dot
      Also, some of the other recipe links in this blogpost go to an error page, such as the pound cake and the vanilla pudding.
      Reply
      1. Sarena Shasteen
        Hi Dot, we are sorry for the inconvenience. The links must have gotten broken when we updated our website. I have fixed the links, but had to change a few recipes since we no longer have them on our site. Please feel free to contact our recipe specialist at 1-800-349-2173 if you need more help with using arrowroot. We are happy to help.
        Reply
  7. Sandi Ramirez
    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
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      We can not guarantee that they products are not contaminated with corn. We are not a corn free facility.
      Reply
  8. Helen
    This is great! I am new to baking/cooking, what a wonderful resource.
    Reply
  9. Subha
    Hi Cassidy
    Can arrowroot starch be used as coating on alginate beads. Can you throw some light on how arrowroot starch will behave when freezedried?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      I'm sorry, but we don't experiment with it for anything other than food purposes. We recommend searching google for that information.
      Reply
  10. ??
    why isn't it organic????????????????????????????????
    Reply
  11. easong
    I use arrowroot in place of cornstarch or flour in fruit pies to good effect. In particular berry pies like blackberry and loganberry, which tend to break down during cooking and release massive amounts of juice. Arrowroot never leaves an off flavor or color, whereas cornstarch can leave a sticky sheen.
    Reply
  12. Amanda Lancaster
    Amanda Lancaster
    I see where it says does not do well in milk-based cream sauces so would this work well as a thickening agent for homemade frappuccinos which contains 4 cups of milk per gallon? I've been using 1 Tbsp of Hoosier Hill Fruit Pectin powder per gallon but I came across this as I was looking for cheaper alternatives. Also could I add it just as it is or would I need to create the 'slurry sauce' you refer to? When I make my frappes I basically just make a pot of strong Folgers Black Silk coffee, 12 Tbsp Non-Dairy Creamer, 12 Tbsp Sugar, 10 Tbsp Cappuccino Mix (also powder) and 1 Tbsp of Fruit Pectin then after it is all stirred/blended I add 4 cups of whole milk then I put it in the freezer for almost 40 mins or until like a slushy.

    Which while typing this I just realized that if I use your 'slurry' recipe for all of these 'dry powders' I won't have to add them one by one as tablespoons as I do it to prevent the clumping. So I guess I just basically need to know if you think this would work as a good thickening agent for my frappes.

    Either way, thank you so much as if nothing else I have learned how to prevent powders from clumping. Blessings to you and yours! Amanda
    Reply
  13. Heather
    How does the arrowroot starch differ from arrowroot flour. I grow the roots and am confused how to process. Do people use the flour from roots because producing the starch is more complicated and I get very small amounts?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Arrowroot starch, arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder are all the same thing. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact customer service at 800-349-2173. They will be able to give you more details to answer your questions about processing and how to use the product.
      Reply
  14. […] 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. – Bob’s Red Mill […]
    Reply
  15. JD
    Because of food allergies and diabetes, we are dairy-free, gluten-free, and low carb. It took a couple of tries to understand how arrowroot works as a thickener but I got there. I use it to thicken cashew milk to make a seasoned, mock "white" sauce for my mock crustless, low-carb chicken "pot pie" recipe. It works perfectly!
    Reply
  16. Nancy
    I have tried using your arrowroot in place of corn starch/flour for thickening sauces. I followed the directions on the bag and this site, but haven't been very successful. I take cooked meat juices, from a roast or crockpot, 1 cup of broth, seasonings in saucepan on the stove top. The juices are hot from previous cooking, So, when I add the slurry of cold water and 2T of arrowroot, stir, turn down the heat, no thickening. Is there a way I could make this work? Am I doing something wrong or won't this work? Thanks
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Nancy - I'd recommend heating to medium after you add in the slurry. The starches do need some heat to thicken, they just won't stand up to continuous boiling periods.
      Reply
  17. Linda Ann
    Hi!! God Bless You All!!!
    I was online looking to see where Bob's Mill, obtains their Arrowroot flour from? Hopefully I can find this inquiry answer, here?!
    Great Company!!
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Awe, thank you for your kind words! Our amazing customer service team can help with this question. You can reach them at [email protected]
      Reply
  18. Shontell Mason
    Can you please tell me if this is something that I could use to thicken a creamy chicken soup? It does call for 4 cups of broth and 5 cups of milk.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Shontell - Yes, you can use this to thicken a soup. For that amount of liquid, I'd starch with 1 cup of broth and 1/4 cup of Arrowroot Starch. Whisk them together in a separately bowl then incorporate into your larger pot of soup. Heat to thicken.
      Reply
  19. Frances T. Paine
    Why don't you sell: Blue corn meal anymore?? I can't find it in Massachusetts or in California at any grocery stores
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Unfortunately our Blue Cornmeal has been discontinued. I apologize for any inconvenience.
      Reply

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