Corn Starch: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Explore the origins, uses, health benefits, and storage tips of corn starch, a versatile gluten-free ingredient for cooking and baking, with our ultimate guide.

What is Corn Starch?

Corn starch, also known as maize starch or cornflour, is a fine, white powder made from the endosperm of corn kernels. It is a popular ingredient in both cooking and baking, often used as a thickening agent for sauces, gravies, and soups. Corn starch has a neutral taste, making it an ideal choice for thickening dishes without altering their flavor.

Is Corn Starch Healthy?

Corn starch is a carbohydrate-rich ingredient, containing mostly starch and very little protein, fat, or fiber. While it is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals, it is naturally gluten-free and can be a suitable option for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, it's important to consume corn starch in moderation, as excessive intake can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

7 Benefits of Corn Starch

  • Gluten-free: Corn starch is a safe and suitable option for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, as it is naturally gluten-free.
  • Energy source: As a carbohydrate, corn starch provides a quick source of energy for the body.
  • Thickening agent: Corn starch is an excellent thickening agent, helping to create smooth and velvety sauces, gravies, and soups.
  • Baking aid: Corn starch can improve the texture of baked goods, making them lighter and more tender.
  • Low in allergens: Corn starch is less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to other common thickeners like wheat flour.
  • Easy to digest: Corn starch is easily broken down by the body, making it a suitable option for those with digestive issues.
  • Cost-effective: Corn starch is an affordable ingredient, making it a budget-friendly choice in many recipes.

History and Background of Corn Starch

Corn starch was first produced in the United States in the mid-19th century as a byproduct of corn milling. Its popularity grew rapidly due to its versatility and affordability, making it a staple in many households. Today, corn starch is used in a wide range of applications, from food and beverages to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

What Is The Best Way to Store Corn Starch?

To maintain the freshness and quality of corn starch, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Properly stored corn starch can last for several years.

Different Types of Corn Starch

There is really only one form of corn starch that most people use for cooking.  

What Is The Best Substitute for Corn Starch If I Don't Have Any?

If you don't have corn starch on hand, suitable substitutes include arrowroot powder, potato starch, tapioca starch, or all-purpose flour. However, the substitution ratios and thickening properties may vary, so it's essential to adjust your recipe accordingly.

Cuisines That Use Corn Starch

Corn starch is used in various cuisines, including American, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican cooking. It is particularly popular in Asian cuisine, where it is used to thicken sauces and coat proteins for stir-fries.

Why Use Corn Starch in Cooking and Baking?

Corn starch is used in cooking and baking for its excellent thickening properties, ability to create smooth textures, and its neutral taste. It can also improve the texture of baked goods by making them lighter and more tender.

Can I Use Corn Starch as a Thickener for Sauces and Gravies?

Yes, corn starch is an excellent thickening agent for sauces and gravies. To use corn starch as a thickener, mix it with a small amount of cold water to create a slurry, then add the slurry to your sauce or gravy and cook until it reaches the desired thickness.

Is Corn Starch Gluten-Free and Safe for People with Celiac Disease?

Corn starch is naturally gluten-free and is considered safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, it's essential to ensure that the corn starch you purchase is not contaminated with gluten during processing so double check labels. 

Nutritional Facts
1 cup
Amount per serving
116.8 g
0.1 g
0.3 g
Saturated Fat
0 g
11.5 mg
1.2 g
0 g