Corn Flour vs Cornstarch: Everything You Need To Know!

image of corn flour vs cornstarch

Cornstarch and corn flour can be quite confusing for people who are just learning how to cook. 

Whether you are from the United Kingdom or the United States, the terms may be used interchangeably. This makes you wonder “is corn starch the same as corn flour?”

Since both cornstarch and corn flour come from corn, you might think these two ingredients are one and the same. However, knowing the differences between them can save you from a kitchen disaster.

With this in mind, we’ve written this post to prevent any cooking catastrophes you might go through. 

So, stick around if you want to find out whether cornstarch is the same as corn flour. 

Is Corn Flour The Same As Cornstarch?

There is no denying that cornstarch and corn flour seem almost identical. But if you’ve thought about using one as a substitute for the other in a recipe, you’re setting yourself up for a big cooking failure. 

Cornstarch and corn flour are not the same, no matter how similar they might seem. All you have to do is look at the way they are created and used in recipes – the difference will become as clear as day. 

What’s Cornstarch?

image of Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a type of starch derived from – you guessed it – corn. Only the small white endosperms that reside in a corn kernel’s center are used to create this powder. 

These little endosperms are then milled until they result in a very fine, white powder with a chalky look. It ends up in shops, where you buy it before you use it as a thickening agent for soups, sauces, gravies, and different dishes. 

Real talk: there is almost no substitute for cornstarch,” says Sarah Jampel. 

One tablespoon of cornstarch has about 30 calories, as well as 7 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, and 0 grams of sugar. The corn kernel endosperms lead to the lack of fiber, protein, and various other nutrients in cornstarch. (*)

What’s Corn Flour?

image of Corn Flour

On the other hand, corn flour results from milling corn kernels. The hulls, endosperm, and germ of the corn are also processed when making the flour. 

Due to the different corn parts that make the powder, corn flour can be found in varying colors, such as white, yellow, and sometimes blue. The texture of the flour is very fine and smooth. 

This fine powder can serve many purposes in the kitchen. It’s useful for grilling, frying, and baking, making it extremely versatile. 

Corn flour is present in about 0.64% of restaurant menus. One tablespoon of corn flour contains about 25.1 calories, as well as 5.1 grams of carbohydrates, 0.6g of protein, and 0.4g of fat. (*,*)

The use of whole corn kernels leads to a higher content of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and starch. 

So, are cornstarch and corn flour the same? They are not, so pay attention to which one you grab before sprinkling it into your dish. 

While cornstarch and corn flour are different things, people from various geographical locations might be confused with the two terms. In the U.K., cornstarch is referred to as “cornflour”. 

To avoid any problem, we recommend being very careful when following new recipes that contain either of the powders. Make sure you know what country the recipe is from to prevent using the wrong ingredient in your dish. 

Similarities Between Cornstarch and Corn Flour

There are a few similarities worth mentioning between cornstarch and corn flour. 

First things first, they are both made from corn. This is the most obvious connection between the two. 

Secondly, they are both gluten-free ingredients

Let’s take celiac disease as an example. This is an autoimmune condition that causes reactions when exposed to gluten. In this situation, cornstarch and corn flour come as a blessing. If you have this condition yourself, you can use these ingredients in your recipes without risking bad symptoms.  (*)

Another similarity is the form of the two ingredients. Both come as fine and smooth powders. 

Differences Between Cornstarch and Corn Flour

Knowing the differences between these two ingredients will help you in your cooking endeavors. So, here are some important aspects:  

1. Flavor

Cornstarch is largely tasteless. Its purpose is not to add taste to a recipe. Instead, it adds texture. 

Sometimes, it can be used to make omelets fluffy, but it can even make your waffles crispier when you have a distaste for soggy ones.

A friend adds it to her waffle mix to cheat getting a really crispy waffle crust,” says Kimberly Holland from Allrecipes. 

Conversely, corn flour has a taste. It features a pretty sweet and earthy flavor, just like corn. 

Corn flour is more complex than cornstarch, as it can serve multiple purposes. You can add it to your pastries, bread, waffles, pancakes, and many other recipes. 

When you use it for baking, frying, and grilling, corn flour can provide your food with a corn-like flavor. 

2. Processing

Although corn is the root for both cornstarch and corn flour, the powders are processed differently. 

To produce cornstarch, you only require the endosperm in the center of the corn kernel. The fiber and protein are discarded, after which the endosperms are milled until they result in a fine white powder. 

To make corn flour, you must use the whole corn kernel. By milling entire corn kernels, the process results in a powder full of starch, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

Unlike cornstarch, which contains very limited amounts of nutrients and no B vitamins, corn flour is rich in potassium, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and different nutrients. (*)

3. Recipe Use

Now let’s talk about one of the most important aspects: how cornstarch and corn flour are used in recipes. 

You might’ve noticed different recipes use either cornstarch or corn flour in the process. The two serve different purposes. Since the last thing you want is a disastrous cooking result, you must understand how their actions are different.

Cornstarch is used primarily as a thickening agent. It can thicken:

  • Gravies
  • Sauces
  • Stews
  • Soups

Cornstarch is not suitable for baking as a replacement for corn flour, as it’s devoid of any fat or protein. At the same time, it works great in breaded or fried foods as it can result in a crispy texture.

Sometimes, cornstarch might create lumps, which is why you should not forget to mix it with cold liquid first. Only then can you add it to your hot mixture. 

Let’s take a look at corn flour now. This ingredient has protein, fat, and an abundance of nutrients, so it is suitable for use in various dishes. 

Corn flour is useful in baking, grilling, and frying. This powder is often used for:

  • Waffles
  • Pastries
  • Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Pancakes 

It can add a more yellowish color to the dish and provide it with a bit of corn taste. Moreover, the resulting product can be a bit crumbly due to the lack of gluten.

In some cases, corn flour is used as a replacement for wheat flour or in addition to it. 

4. Labeling

The different labeling of cornstarch and corn flour is the reason behind the confusion. Each country has its own way of labeling products, and this includes cornstarch and corn flour. 

In the United States, telling the difference between the ingredients is a piece of cake. When you go shopping, you will notice corn flour and cornstarch labeled separately.

This is the correct way to label them. It also allows buyers to purchase the correct product for their needs. 

Still, if you ever go to the United Kingdom and you want to buy cornstarch or corn flour, you’ll find yourself in a complicated situation. The terms are used interchangeably. So, when someone is talking about corn flour, they might be referring to cornstarch. (*)

Also, in the U.K., corn flour is usually written as a single word when referring to cornstarch, so you will see it as “cornflour” instead. 

FAQs

1. Can I substitute cornstarch for corn flour?

Cornstarch cannot replace corn flour or vice versa. Corn flour contains protein, whereas cornstarch is a… well, “starchy” powder. Cornstarch is only used to thicken mixtures or add texture. Therefore, it doesn’t have the same role as corn flour in baking. 

2. What can I use if I don’t have cornstarch?

If you do not have cornstarch, you can substitute it with rice flour, arrowroot powder, potato starch, xanthan gum, tapioca flour, or all-purpose flour. 

  • Is cornstarch the same as corn flour in the U.K.?

In the U.K., people use cornflour to refer to cornstarch. Meanwhile, they call the U.S. corn flour “cornmeal”. 

Conclusion

We hope our answer to “is corn starch the same as corn flour?” was clear enough. The two powders are not the same and cannot be used as substitutes for each other. There are differences between cornstarch and corn flour in terms of labeling, recipe use, flavor, and processing.

Always check the packaging to make sure you are buying the right product, especially if you travel outside the United States.

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