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Cornstarch, also called corn flour, maize starch, and many other names is a starch derived from the endosperm of the corn (grain). This dry carbohydrate is usually used as a thickener for soups and sauces, syrups, frying, cooking, and even in baking. A while colored powder with almost no taste, read the article below and know more about cornstarch substitute, cornstarch nutrition, cornstarch health risks, how to thicken gravy with cornstarch, what it does to food and other recipes and processed food using this ingredient, to other uses of this ingredient from papermaking and adhesives, to the home, and many more!

what is cornstarch

A short Introduction

Cornstarch sometimes spelled “corn starch”, called other names like “Maize starch” is a powder derived from the endosperm of a corn kernel is a carbohydrate that has been used since 1844, developed in New Jersey, United States. Formerly used as starching laundry and other industrial uses. This ingredient is still being produced and now used not only in the culinary arts as soup and stew thickeners, in gravy, custard, an additional ingredient in the crust for premade breaded food, and sometimes as a ‘filler’ to help reduce production costs in cheese and yogurt.

But in industries such as airbag manufacturing, 3D printing, bioplastics, adhesives, and in paper and book conservation. In medicine; like baby powder, latex, medical gloves, and maintaining blood sugar levels for those with glycogen storage disease. Also used in the household industry for cleaning and laundry as well. Now with Asia and North America being the leading producers.

How to make Cornstarch ? or How is cornstarch extracted ? The kernel is fermented by being soaked for a total of around 30 – 48 hours. Separating the germ and endosperm, while soaked then grounded. Then they are washed to remove the starch; from corn liquor, germ, and corn gluten fibers ( which are used as animal feed  or to make corn oil ). Then using the starch to be modified depending on its purpose/industry being used.

alternatives to cornstarch

Is Cornstarch Healthy ?

While you can find this thickener used in almost every soup, stew, sauce, or gravy. One might suddenly think, “Is eating cornstarch bad for you ?” What happens if you eat cornstarch everyday? While it does have just a bit of nutritional value, it might raise blood sugar if eaten regularly. This starch should only be eaten in small amounts and not as often as this is considered highly processed. Some might also ask “Does eating cornstarch make you gain weight ?” while a bit used in cooking will not make you fat or gain weight. The raw starch might make you gain weight quickly.

Cornstarch Alternatives ?

  • Cornstarch vs Corn flour ? For Cornstarch vs Cornflour, one is a finely ground or milled starch and the other is a coarse yellow ‘powder’ or flour. The flour is mostly used similarly to other flours to make bread. The starch is used more like an additive for sauces or extra ingredients for cooking or baking.
  • Cornstarch vs Cornmeal – cornmeal is made from whole kernels that have been grounded, making it feel gritty. While the starch version only comes from the endosperm ( separated from the kernel ) that are finely grounded. Cornmeal is used almost similarly to cornflour but more textured.
  • Tapioca Starch vs Cornstarch – one comes from cassava and the other from a corn kernel. Root starches thicken better at low temperatures while the kernels are better with high temperatures especially when frying.
  • Substitute Cornstarch for Potato starch – one of the most common substitutes for cornstarch. Potato starch actually thickens the soup or sauces faster. But the grain-starch creates a crispier snack/is best used when frying.
  • For some cornstarch healthy substitutes – some examples include arrowroot flour, wheat flour, or rice flour. Some are harder to find than others but theres are healthier due to the fact that these are lower in calories and carbohydrates.
cornstarch vs flour


  • Is corn starch paleo ?

This is NOT paleo friendly since it’s full of carbohydrates and not enough nutrients. This is also considered highly processed unless GMO-free.

  • Is modified cornstarch gluten free ?

While some might not be, most maize starch has been highly processed. This starch itself should be gluten free but some brands might have additives in them. So those with severe gluten allergies might find it best to find “Gluten-Free” corn starch.

  • Is cornstarch keto ?

This is actually ‘forbidden’ in keto being that a cup can already have an incredible amount of 116 grams of carbs.

  • Is cornstarch vegan ?


  • Can you use expired cornstarch ?

This can be used past its expiration date. But if you do smell and taste sour or weird, as well as changes in color ( off white or yellowish ) it would be best to throw it out.

  • Is cornstarch bad for your skin?

DO NOT use this starch on an open wound or over the face as this will not only clog your pores but might cause an infection.

  • What does cornstarch do in cookies ?

If the amount of maize starch is more than all purpose flour, it will turn more crumbly and thick. In many cases, it creates a very soft center, with the addition of chocolate it just makes it look and feel even more decadent.

  • How to thicken soup with cornstarch ?

Use a cornstarch slurry ratio or 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons or water. Mix before adding it in the soup. Mix the soup until it feels as thick as you like. Make sure to turn the heat at low or medium low when adding in the slurry.

  • For how to thicken gravy with cornstarch ?

Use a ratio of 1 : 1 for the slurry. Mix it together before adding this into the gravy or sauce. Mix until the sauce bubbles. Turn the heat off, and the sauce will thicken as it cools. But if you want it thicker, repeat making the slurry, adding it in the sauce, mixing until it bubbles and cool.

what's a substitute for cornstarch

Cornstarch Uses aside from Food

Aside from being an ingredient to a number of recipes. This starch is also used in the production of the following : 

  • Adhesives
  • As well as a anti-stinging agent for some textiles
  • Paper production
  • This is used a medical supply to make glucose for people who have glycogen storage disease ( those who are affected by glucose breakdown )
  • Some might question “Is cornstarch good for diaper rash?” While some powders might be recommended for rashes, this starch is NOT recommended. This can actually irritate the skin as it holds the moisture in.
  • Another question you might find on the internet is “Is cornstarch good for your hair?” it is actually used by some to help absorb the oiliness and volumizing the top of the head, which in turn also soothes the scalp. A good alternative to dry shampoo. But not great to be used every time.
  • Cornstarch vs Baking soda for cleaning ? The starch is better used to absorb dirt, moisture, and stain better. How to clean with these? For grease stains or oily containers, you can dust these with the starch, letting it sit for a bit before washing with regular or soapy water. For textiles with grease, make a thick slurry and leave these for at least 12 hours before washing accordingly. The maize starch slurry is also great for cleaning watches and silverware.

Yummy Recipes

Check out these Yummy Recipes using this starch :

what can i substitute for cornstarch
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