Arrowroot flour (also called arrowroot powder) is a common ingredient used for thickening sauces and soups. If you don’t have it on hand, here are the best substitutes for arrowroot flour and arrowroot starch including gluten-free, paleo, and grain-free options.

Arrowroot plant in basket with bowl of arrowroot powder.

Overview of Arrowroot Flour

What it’s made from

Arrowroot flour is a white powdery starch made from the root of the arrowroot plant. It’s mostly used as an excellent alternative to cornstarch for people with corn allergies. Arrowroot powder is available in most health food stores and online.

When baking with arrowroot flour, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t contain gluten. This means that it won’t add structure or rise to baked goods the way wheat flour does.

As a result, arrowroot-based recipes often require eggs or another binding agent to achieve the desired results.

How it’s used

Arrowroot powder is a white, starchy fine powder that is extracted from the arrowroot plant. Arrowroot powder can also be used to make gluten-free flour or as a natural alternative to cornstarch.

When used in baking, it gives baked goods a light and airy texture. Today, arrowroot powder is enjoying a resurgence in popularity as more people are looking for natural, whole food ingredients. Arrowroot flour is a versatile and healthy option.

Arrowroot powder with gluten free written in it.

What kinds of recipes use arrowroot flour or powder?

Arrowroot powder is rich in nutrients, including vitamin B9. Additionally, it contains several minerals, including magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron. Arrowroot powder is also low in fat, making it a healthy addition to any diet.

Arrowroot powder or arrowroot flour can be used in any recipe calling for gluten-free flour for baking.

How it’s used as a thickener

It is often used as a thickening agent in recipes such as soups, stews, and sauces.

I love using it to thicken my dairy-free gravy recipe.

How arrowroot powder differs from cornstarch

Cornstarch is made from the endosperm of the corn grain whereas, arrowroot powder comes from the root and is a grain-free alternative. It is also gluten-free, making it a good choice for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

7 Best Arrowroot Substitutes

1. Cornstarch

Spoonful of corn kernels with bowl of cornstarch.

If you’re looking for an arrowroot substitute, cornstarch is a good option. It has a similar texture and can be used in many of the same ways. Cornstarch dissolves completely when heated, making it ideal for use in sauces.

When cooking with corn starch, be sure to add it slowly and whisk it thoroughly to avoid any lumps. You may also need to cook the dish for a bit longer to allow the cornstarch to fully thicken.

To substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot, use one tablespoon of cornstarch.

2. Tapioca flour

Bowl of tapioca flour on wooden surface.
Tapioca flour.

Tapioca flour is a starchy powder that is extracted from the cassava plant. It is similar to an arrowroot in appearance and texture.

When heated, it creates a clear gel but does not dissolve completely, so I do not recommend tapioca flour for use in clear sauces. You can also use it to thicken pie fillings and puddings.

To substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot, use one tablespoon of tapioca flour.

3. All-purpose flour

Burlap sack with all-purpose flour and wheat grains.
All-purpose flour.

All-purpose flour is the most common arrowroot substitute. It can be used in a 1:1 ratio in place of arrowroot.

All-purpose flour will thicken a recipe, but it will also add flavor and opacity. You may also need to cook the dish for a bit longer to give the flour time to activate. For best results, mix the flour with an equal amount of cold water before adding it to your dish.

Keep in mind that all-purpose flour is not gluten-free, so it’s not an option if you’re looking for a gluten-free recipe.

To substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot, use one tablespoon of all-purpose flour.

4. Gluten-free baking flour

Spoons with different types of gluten free flours.

This type of flour is made by grinding gluten-free grains, such as rice, sorghum, or buckwheat and has a light texture.

Different grains will have different flavors, but they are good for baking bread.

To substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot, use one tablespoon of gluten-free baking flour.

5. Potato starch

Bowl of potato starch powder with whole potatoes.
Potato starch.

Potato starch is another possibility. It has a similar flavor and texture to arrowroot, but it has a slightly denser feel and isn’t as absorbent. Potato starch is also a fine, powdery starch.

You can use potato starch in the same way you would arrowroot, such as in thickening soups or sauces. Just keep in mind that it has an earthy flavor that may be noticeable in some dishes.

To substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot, use one tablespoon of potato starch.

6. Xanthan gum

Bowl of Xanthan gum with baking items.
Xanthan gum.

Xanthan gum is a common food additive that can be used as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer. It stabilizes the emulsion in sauces and salad dressings.

When added to liquids, it forms a gel-like substance that can help to thicken sauces, dressings, and soups.

In baking, it should be used sparingly as it can give baked goods a slimy texture.

To substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot, use one tablespoon of xanthan gum.

7. Rice flour

Bowl of rice flour beside bowl of rice grains.
Rice flour.

Rice flour is a popular choice for baking and cooking like in these rice flour pancakes. It is gluten-free and can be used to thicken soups and sauces. When used to make bread, it produces a lower loaf and a harder texture.

It also has a higher starch content than arrowroot powder.

Make sure to thoroughly blend the rice flour with water in a 1:1 ratio before adding it to the sauce and monitor it for clumping.

To substitute one tablespoon of arrowroot, use 1/2 tablespoon of rice flour.

Additional Substitutes

There are other options for arrowroot substitutes that are less common but equally good. I personally like cassava flour which comes from the cassava root.

Other bakers have had good results using psyllium husk, coconut flour, sweet rice flour, potato flakes, almond flour, and glucomannan powder.


In conclusion, each of these substitutes for arrowroot powder will thicken your recipe in different ways. Make sure to take into account the different flavors that each of these substitutes will add to your dish and be sure to experiment with each one to see which you prefer.

And, as always, cooking times may vary depending on which of these best substitutes for arrowroot powder you choose.

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About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 5 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.