What Is Tapioca Flour & Where Does It Come From?

By: Bob's Red Mill | October 29 2022

Even if you're not an avid baker, you've probably heard about tapioca flour once or twice. Often considered a baker's secret ingredient, tapioca flour is just the thing you need to take your favorite recipe to the next level. If you've ever made a stew that was too watery or a pizza crust that didn't quite have the chewy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside crust that you were hoping for, then you've had reason to use tapioca flour.

Though incorporating starches into your baking routine might be a new concept to you, it's been around for years. Starches are an excellent way to amp up the texture of any recipe. Whether you'd like to thicken up your favorite pie pudding or create the ooey-gooey gluten free cookies that you have saved on your Pinterest board, tapioca flour is your new best friend. 

At Bob's Red Mill, we know just how useful starches can be. To help you get started, we created this all-in-one guide to tapioca flour. Use it to learn more about this helpful starch and determine which of your favorite recipes would benefit from it. Let's get started! 

Tapioca Powder

Tapioca is a starch that derives from the cassava root. This starch is extracted through a process of washing and pulping. Once enough wet pulp has been gathered, it is then squeezed to extract the starchy liquid. This cassava starch is a dietary staple in various countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

Tapioca starch is an essential ingredient in gluten free baking and a favorite amongst those following a paleo diet. Naturally gluten free, tapioca flour can serve as a wheat substitute in a variety of gluten free recipes.

Because this cassava starch is both odorless and tasteless, it makes it easy to add to any recipe (savory or sweet) without changing the flavor of the recipe itself. When added to baked goods, tapioca starch helps the ingredients properly bind together.

A function that gluten is often used for. Tapioca starch's binding abilities help bakers achieve baked goods that are fluffy, light and spongy in texture. Like many other starches, tapioca flour can also be used as a thickening agent in soups, stews and puddings. 

How to Cook with Tapioca Flour

What Is Tapioca Flour & Where Does It Come From? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Have some tapioca flour in your cupboard that you're not sure how to use? We've got you covered. Like other starches, tapioca flour works as a great thickening agent when added to liquid-based foods. However, there are a few differences between tapioca flour and other starches. One of the most notable differences is that tapioca flour retains its texture even after it's been frozen. This means that when using tapioca starch, you no longer have to worry about freezing the leftover soup you've made. Simply place it in the freezer, let it thaw once you're ready to eat, and enjoy! It will still have the same thick and creamy texture that it had before.

If you already use starches in your baked goods and want to change things up, then try using small tapioca pearls to make this Easy Tapioca Pudding. Simple to make, this creamy dessert is the perfect comfort food! 

Where to Purchase Tapioca Flour

Now that you know a little more about tapioca flour, it's time to start using it in your recipes. Our Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour is one of our most versatile gluten free flours. Certified gluten free, paleo, kosher, vegan and non-GMO, this flour comes straight from the cassava plant itself. No extra processing or ingredients necessary! Use it as a thickening agent or to make delicious desserts like bubble tea. 

Tapioca Flour Uses

Now that you know what tapioca flour is, it's time to start using it! When baking or cooking with tapioca flour, we recommend using it alongside other gluten free flours such as almond flour. This will help ensure that your recipe achieves the desired consistency. It's also important to note how much liquid is in the recipe.

When combined with liquid, tapioca flour will turn into a paste-like substance that can then be stirred into the rest of the recipe. Tapioca flour’s water-absorbing capabilities make it perfect when adding moisture to baked recipes or used to thicken sauces. Because it is tasteless and odorless, it can be added to a recipe without changing the flavor. 

Use It as a Thickening Agent

Want to thicken your favorite soup recipe without using traditional flour? Use tapioca flour! Despite its name, tapioca flour is a starch that makes a great gluten free thickener. Instead of using wheat flour to thicken a soup or dressing, you can use tapioca flour to achieve the same effect. Commonly substituted at a 1:1 1/2 ratio, we recommend first creating a slurry of tapioca flour and then adding it to your recipe. Doing so will ensure that the tapioca flour is evenly distributed and help prevent clumping. 

What Is Tapioca Flour & Where Does It Come From? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Another thing we love about tapioca flour is the ability to enhance the appearance of a dish. When combined with liquid, tapioca flour will give a meal a glossy finish, unlike cornstarch, which is known for producing more of a matte finish. While a glossy finish works well with pies and salad dressings, it might not be the perfect match for a gravy dish. Knowing how and when to use tapioca flour is key to perfecting your favorite recipe. 

Use It to Add Structure to Baked Goods

Tapioca flour is excellent for baking! Especially when it comes to gluten free goods. Adding just the right amount of tapioca flour to your baked treats will create a light, airy, crispy and chewy texture. Perfect for adding to bread, cookies, brownies and pie crusts, tapioca flour is a great way to ensure that your ingredients bind together without using gluten! When measuring out tapioca flour, it's crucial to get it just right. While adding the right amount will help you achieve the perfect texture, adding too much could turn your treats into a gummy mess.

Use it to Make Bubble Tea

Lastly, step out of your kitchen comfort zone and use tapioca flour to make bubble tea! To make a perfect tapioca pearl dough or boba pearl, simply add hot water and food coloring to tapioca flour. Then follow along with your favorite bubble tea recipe to create the perfect boba pearl. A fun and unique treat, be sure to buy extra-wide straws to drink your milk tea with tapioca balls. It's half the fun!

The Difference Between Tapioca Flour and Cassava Flour

You may be wondering what the difference between tapioca flour and cassava flour is, especially since they both come from the same plant. While the terms tapioca flour and cassava flour may sometimes be used interchangeably, these two flours are incredibly different. As we discussed earlier, tapioca flour is made by extracting the start from the cassava root through a method of washing and pulping. 

Cassava flour, on the other hand, uses a significantly different method. When making cassava flour, the whole root of the cassava plant is used. To make this flour, the root is peeled, dried, and ground. Because the entire root is used, cassava has much more dietary fiber than tapioca flour, which creates a different result when adding to recipes.

What Is Tapioca Flour & Where Does It Come From? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Ready to start adding tapioca flour to your recipes? Try it out in the Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie. The perfect comfort food to any season, adding tapioca flour to your pie, has several benefits. Adding this flour to the pie filling will help thicken it to the desired consistency. Whereas mixing tapioca flour into the gluten free crust will work to unite the ingredients together and create a light, airy and flaky treat. This creamy dinner can be made the night beforehand, or cooked and enjoyed the same day. Make it as one big pie to slice out, or turn it into six individual pies for the entire family to enjoy!

Now that we’ve answered the question “What is tapioca flour,” we hope that you have a better understanding of this incredible starch! From gluten free recipes to boba tea, we're confident that this guide will inspire you to create something great with tapioca flour. Because each dish is different, it's important to remember that tapioca flour won't work in every recipe. Follow these guidelines and get to know this excellent ingredient and some of the tapioca flour substitutes. We know you'll come up with something delicious! From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, Happy Baking!


  1. Kathe McBeth
    I have a favorite old (3 generation) recipe for Cranberry Bread (actually a loaf cake) from my Grandmother. I am gluten free, what is the amount of tapioca flour to use?
    1 cup flour + ??? tapioca (I've tried using almond flour and the cake comes out too moist - heavy & thick). Any suggestions you have would be welcome!
    THANK YOU for your forthcoming response! --- Kathe
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Kathe - I wouldn't recommend Tapioca Flour as a direct replacement for AP Flour in a quick bread recipe. Instead, I'd recommend using our Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. This flour blend can be used as a cup for cup replacement for AP Flour in your recipe, no other changes necessary.
      1. Christine Casados
        Christine Casados
        1:1 1/2 “one to one and a half”
  2. Karen
    You mention that it is used on a 1 to 1 1\2 ratio. Which one is 1 and which one is 1 1\2? Is the regular flour 1 and the tapioca flour 1 1\2?
  3. Grace I Miller
    I've ben useing minute tapioca in fruit pies can i subsitute tapioca flour for the minute tapioca? I discovered a bag of flour in my pantry and would use it if I had a clue how.
  4. Úrsula Izquierdo
    Úrsula Izquierdo
    Is it necessary to cook or bake the tapioca flour before consuming it?

    Or can I eat it raw?
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi - Yes, we recommend baking or heating this product before consuming.
  5. APJ
    I have an old recipe for Apple crisp, which a mix of flour and butter/sugar on top replacing the pie crust, but actually works as the crust, what would the ratio be to use tapioca flour instead of 1 cup of regular flour? Thanks
  6. Mele
    Is tapioca starch the same as tapioca flour? Because I haven't seen tapioca flour.
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      It is! You can find our Tapioca Flour here: https://www.bobsredmill.com/tapioca-flour.html
  7. April
    What is Bubble tea mention in the article…Then it mentions Boba tea. Is this something you drink?
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Elisabeth Allie
      Hi there! Bubble tea and Boba tea are interchangeable terms for a type of cold tea you drink. :)
  8. Rosalina
    Is Tapioca flour considered a refined product? Thank you so much!
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      It is!

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