Arrowroot vs. Corn Flour

What's the Difference?

Arrowroot and corn flour are both popular types of starch used in cooking and baking. However, they have some differences in terms of their origins and properties. Arrowroot is derived from the rhizomes of the arrowroot plant, while corn flour is made from ground corn kernels. Arrowroot has a more neutral flavor and is often used as a thickening agent in sauces, gravies, and puddings. On the other hand, corn flour has a slightly sweet taste and is commonly used in baking to add structure and texture to cakes, cookies, and bread. Additionally, arrowroot is known for its ability to create a glossy finish, while corn flour tends to produce a more matte appearance. Overall, both arrowroot and corn flour have their unique characteristics and can be used in various culinary applications.


AttributeArrowrootCorn Flour
OriginTropical South AmericaMesoamerica
PlantMaranta arundinaceaZea mays
Starch Content23-32%70-80%
TextureLight and silkySmooth and fine
UsageThickening agent, gluten-free bakingThickening agent, breading, baking

Further Detail


Arrowroot and corn flour are two popular types of starches used in cooking and baking. While they may seem similar at first glance, they have distinct differences in terms of their origin, nutritional composition, culinary uses, and texture. In this article, we will explore the attributes of arrowroot and corn flour, highlighting their unique characteristics and helping you understand when to use each one in your culinary endeavors.

Origin and Production

Arrowroot is derived from the rhizomes of several tropical plants, including Maranta arundinacea. These plants are native to South America, particularly in the Amazon rainforest. The rhizomes are harvested, washed, and peeled before being crushed to extract the starch. The starch is then dried and ground into a fine powder, which is the arrowroot flour we commonly find in stores.

Corn flour, on the other hand, is made from the endosperm of corn kernels. Corn, or maize, is a cereal grain that originated in Mesoamerica and has been cultivated for thousands of years. The corn kernels are dried and milled to separate the endosperm, which is then finely ground to produce corn flour.

Nutritional Composition

When it comes to nutritional composition, arrowroot and corn flour have some differences. Arrowroot is known for its high carbohydrate content, providing a good source of energy. It is also fat-free, low in calories, and contains small amounts of protein and fiber. Additionally, arrowroot is gluten-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Corn flour, on the other hand, is also rich in carbohydrates but contains a slightly higher calorie count compared to arrowroot. It is low in fat and protein, similar to arrowroot, but it contains more dietary fiber. Corn flour is not gluten-free, as it is derived from corn, which is a gluten-containing grain. However, there are gluten-free corn flours available for those with gluten sensitivities.

Culinary Uses

Arrowroot and corn flour have different culinary applications due to their unique properties. Arrowroot is often used as a thickening agent in sauces, gravies, and soups. It has a neutral taste and produces a glossy, clear finish when cooked, making it ideal for delicate dishes where a transparent appearance is desired. Arrowroot is also commonly used in gluten-free baking as a substitute for wheat flour, providing a light and tender texture to baked goods.

Corn flour, on the other hand, is widely used in both savory and sweet dishes. It is a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine, where it is used to make tortillas, tamales, and various corn-based dishes. Corn flour is also commonly used as a thickener in stews, puddings, and custards. Its slightly sweet flavor and distinctive yellow color add depth and richness to dishes.

Texture and Consistency

When it comes to texture and consistency, arrowroot and corn flour differ in their performance. Arrowroot has a very fine texture and is known for its ability to create a smooth, silky texture in sauces and desserts. It has a higher thickening power compared to corn flour, meaning that a smaller amount is needed to achieve the desired consistency. Arrowroot also has a more neutral flavor, allowing the other ingredients in a dish to shine.

Corn flour, on the other hand, has a slightly grainy texture due to its larger particle size. It provides a thicker and heartier consistency to dishes, making it suitable for recipes that require a more substantial texture. Corn flour also imparts a subtle corn flavor to dishes, which can be desirable in certain recipes but may not work well in others where a more neutral taste is desired.


In conclusion, arrowroot and corn flour are both versatile starches with unique attributes that make them suitable for different culinary applications. Arrowroot is a gluten-free option with a neutral taste and excellent thickening power, making it ideal for delicate sauces and gluten-free baking. Corn flour, on the other hand, provides a heartier texture and a subtle corn flavor, making it a staple in Mexican cuisine and dishes that require a more substantial consistency. Understanding the differences between these two starches will help you choose the right one for your specific cooking or baking needs.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.