Used in a number of culinary and cooking applications, cornstarch is a fine, white, powdered grain that comes from corn grain. Fun fact: the actual starch is extracted from the endosperm of the kernel!
One of the best and most common uses for cornstarch is as a thickening agent, and it’s perfect for adding to soups or sauces if you don’t have the time to stand and reduce it.
Most people will choose to use cornstarch in place of flour, as the latter has a habit of becoming translucent rather than forming an opaque-looking mixture, or it also triples as a powdered sugar anti-caking agent.
But the question we’re all here for is simple - is cornstarch vegan? Is it gluten-free? Are there any good alternatives? Okay, maybe that’s three questions, but we’re here to answer them all for you in this article.
Is Cornstarch Vegan?
Yep, as you might have guessed, cornstarch is always vegan-friendly, or at least it is to our knowledge. It’s mainly corn-derivative-based, so there aren’t really any additional ingredients that need to be added to cornstarch, let alone animal ingredients or byproducts.
We scoured the shelves in our local grocery store and carried out some online research, but we failed to find any brand of cornstarch that wouldn’t be suitable for vegans.
Is Cornstarch Gluten-Free?
Perhaps more surprisingly, cornstarch is also completely gluten-free! But again, aside from corn-derived ingredients, there’s nothing included in the making of cornstarch that would trigger anyone who suffers from gluten intolerance or allergies.
Brands that Manufacture Vegan and Gluten-Free Cornstarch
After all our searching, here is a comprehensive list of the brands we could find who make and sell cornstarch:
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Clabber Girl
- Earthborn Elements
- Hodgson Mill
So, if you happen to spot any of these during your next trip to the shops, you’ll know that it’s safe to consume, whether you’re following a vegan or gluten-free diet (or both!).
Alternative Ingredients to Cornstarch
If you can’t find any of the brands above and you don’t want to risk it, or if your local supermarket is generally low on cornstarch, there are a few trusty alternatives you can turn to in its absence.
- Arrowroot. These share similar properties and work in the same way to form a clear gel paste. If using, replace the amount of cornstarch like for like with the arrowroot.
- Potato Starch. Great for the same reasons as given above.
- Wheat Flour. You’ll need to use a little more if you’re substituting cornstarch for wheat flour, as it doesn’t form a mixture that’s quite as thick. Instead of replacing like for like, use a 2:1 ratio of wheat flour to cornstarch.
- Tapioca: Similar to the substitute above, also requiring a 2:1 of tapioca to cornstarch.
- Rice Flour: Like cornstarch, rice flour is ground from rice into a fine powder and is naturally vegan and gluten-free. Like the first two alternative ingredients, you should replace the cornstarch with rice flour at a like for like ratio.