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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Starwest Botanicals Organic Arrowroot Powder
- Feel Good Organic Arrowroot Powder
- Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Starch/Flour
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you!