Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot powder, also called flour or starch is an effective thickening agent used to add texture and structure in cooking and baking applications. Learn how this grain-free starch is used to thicken sauces, fillings and lighten up the texture of alternative flour baked goods.

Arrowroot powder in a wooden jar and on a wooden spoon

Arrowroot powder is made by extracting the starches from the tubers of the arrowroot plant, Maranata arundinacea and is cultivated from tropical climates. However, it is often commercially manufactured from the cassava root, which is popular in Brazilian cuisine, though it likely includes other ground tropical tubers.

Occasionally, it will contain potato starch, so take care when reading labels. It’s also sold as arrowroot flour and arrowroot starch, depending on the brand. This easily digestible starch is an excellent nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and corn-free thickener and binder. A huge plus is that it is flavorless, so it can be seamlessly added to savory dishes and baked goods.

Wooden spoon holding a scoop of arrowroot powder

What is Arrowroot Powder?

Cornstarch is a near-ubiquitous thickener and binder used in a wide variety of recipes, but it’s something that is not allowed for those who are on the Whole30 or Paleo diet. That’s where arrowroot steps in.

The arrowroot starch is a very fine white powder that has excellent thickening abilities similar to cornstarch. It also has no pronounced flavor and does not add opacity to sauces. If you’re avoiding corn, potatoes, and gluten, arrowroot starch is a good substitute for a thickening agent.

Cooking with Arrowroot Powder

Make a Slurry: When incorporating into a hot sauce a 2-to-1 room temperature water, to arrowroot slurry should be made.

Thickening: It’s best to add the arrowroot slurry to a simmering liquid at 185-206°F (85-96°C) at the very end of cooking. It only takes about one minute to thicken a hot liquid. Wait until you get the texture you want, and then remove it from the heat. You’ll know if the liquid is too hot–it’ll start to clump and will become unusable.  To make a medium consistency sauce, start with 4 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot powder, combined with 3 tablespoons water to make a slurry, then add to 1 cup of hot liquid. You can use 3 tablespoons less hot liquid for a thicker sauce.

Watch the Temperature: The sauce or mixture will start to thin out if overheated or reheated because arrowroot does not keep its thickening power as long as cornstarch or wheat flour.

Adding Acid: What’s even better, arrowroot powder doesn’t break down in acidic ingredients, like cornstarch does with fruit juices, it creates a clear gel, freezes well and thaws properly. Anything with acid, like cranberry sauce or sweet and sour sauce, will do well with the thickener.

Uses: Soups, stews, gravies, sauces, pancakes, pie fillings and custards are all great uses for arrowroot powder. It’s great as a coating for meat and fish, especially for fried foods.

Substituting

When substituting arrowroot powder for cornstarch, the ratio to follow is 4 1/2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Use 2 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder for every 1 tablespoon of wheat flour.

What is arrowroot NOT good for?

It’s not compatible with cream-based sauces as it undesirably changes the texture. It’s also not recommended for any non-frozen dairy products, seeing as it will create a slimy and undesirable consistency.

Closeup photo showing clumps of white arrowroot powder on a wooden spoon

Baking with Arrowroot Powder

Baking with a gluten sensitivity or while on a special diet can be a pain for many reasons. While the restriction of grains is an obvious one, there are other ingredients hidden in baked goods and other cooked foods that can prove a sneaky culprit for those with any kinds of sensitive eating needs. That’s why many baking recipes that do not contain gluten use a blend of different alternative flours and starches.

One of the hallmarks of arrowroot is that it’s a useful ingredient to help lighten the textures in cakes, quick bread, and cookies in gluten-free and grain-free baking. It has become a favorite ingredient to use in conjunction with almond flour to make those products less dense. If you’re baking and need to use eggs as the primary binder, adding arrowroot powder will significantly help the process.

Arrowroot recipes

Purchasing Arrowroot Powder

Now, the downside. Finding arrowroot powder is easy online, more difficult in stores. Every day grocery stores won’t carry it, though many Whole Foods or specialty health food stores will almost definitely have it in stock. Wherever you shop, look for it in the grains or baking supplies aisle or if there is a gluten-free section. Arrowroot powder is also called arrowroot starch and arrowroot flour on labels and recipes.

Popular on Amazon

Here are a few of the most popular Arrowroot powder products listed on Amazon.com

Three bags of Arrowroot flour found on Amazon

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you!

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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32 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Laura Olevsky says

    I would like to use arrow root instead of xanthan gum in my baked goods. I know more arrow root is needed than xanthan gum. Is there some sort of ratio as 1 to 1 doesnt seem to be it? Most of the recipes I use call for 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp xanthan gum. What would you suggest for arrow root measurement?

  2. Donna Guidry says

    I am confused… you say (and others say) arrowroot can be used instead of cornstarch in pie fillings (puddings), but then you say arrowroot is not “compatible with cream-based sauces as it undesirably changes the texture. It’s also not recommended for any non-frozen dairy products, seeing as it will create a slimy and undesirable consistency.” Let me confirm, please, I am not sure I understand that quote—- I can use arrowroot (making a slurry, of course, to introduce it) to my pie fillings (puddings) and the texture won’t change? I always made puddings with cornstarch and loved them not, stored the leftovers in the fridge, but warmed them up in the microware to have hot pudding again. Can I do that, I hope, with arrowroot. I really don’t want to use cornstarch with all the negative stuff written about most corn being GMO. Thank you for your time–I really appreciate it and your article. Donna, a grandma in Texas

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great questions, Donna! Arrowroot can be used for effectively thickening gravies and some pie fillings. It could be used in thickening dairy based fillings for puddings and custards, however, you will notice a texture difference (slimier) compared to using cornstarch. Therefore, it’s not ideal. If you reheat the pudding using arrowroot, it will thin out in consistency because the gel-like matrix begins to break down and release the moisture that was trapped. So it won’t taste as good reheated.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      There are some products sold containing arrowroot powder for children. However, I would consult with your doctor first before giving it to your child if there are having diarrhea symptoms.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can use arrowroot powder for banana pudding, just follow my substitution and cooking tips in this post. I don’t have a banana pudding recipe yet to share. Let me know how it goes!

  3. Clive Woolley says

    Can I use arrowroot to help set a cheesecake, not baked, made with creme fraiche and ricotta? If not, what should I use?

  4. Liz says

    Hi Jessica! Thank you for this information, it was helpful when I baked a quick bread and had no arrowroot powder on hand, I used cornstarch instead, it came out good.
    I have one question tho, would you suggest arrowroot powder to replace egg in baking ?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great to know that the cornstarch worked as a good substitute for arrowroot powder! You can use some arrowroot powder to substitute for the egg as a binder. However it will not leaven the baked good, so the texture will be denser. What are you making?

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