Arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder are two names that are often used interchangeably to refer to the same starch extracted from the arrowroot plant. Both are increasingly popular gluten-free and grain-free alternatives to traditional flours and starches like wheat flour and cornstarch.
But some people wonder - is there actually a difference between arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder? Or are they really just two names for the exact same ingredient?
What is Arrowroot Flour?
Arrowroot flour is a fine, white powder made from the starch extracted from the tuberous roots of the arrowroot plant (Maranta arundinacea). To make arrowroot flour, the roots are first washed, peeled, and grated to release the starch. The milky liquid is then strained out, allowed to settle, and the starch is dried and ground into a soft, powdery flour.
Arrowroot flour is sometimes labeled as arrowroot powder or arrowroot starch, but it's all the same product - a naturally gluten-free and grain-free starch powder. Some key characteristics of arrowroot flour include:
- Flavorless & Odorless: Arrowroot flour has no discernible taste or smell, allowing the flavors of your dish to shine.
- Gluten-Free: Contains no gluten, making it suitable for gluten-free diets.
- Grain-Free: As it is made from a root vegetable, arrowroot flour contains no grains.
- Paleo-Friendly: Arrowroot flour fits into Paleo diets as it comes from an unprocessed, whole food source.
- Vegan: Arrowroot flour contains no animal products or byproducts.
- Non-GMO: Most arrowroot flour is not genetically modified. Always check labels.
- Neutral pH: Arrowroot flour can withstand acidic ingredients like citrus, vinegar, and wine.
arrowroot flour acts as an incredibly versatile starch flour that works well in a wide variety of dishes.
What is Arrowroot Powder?
Arrowroot powder refers to the same soft, white starch flour made from the arrowroot plant. There is no difference between arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder. The names are used interchangeably.
Arrowroot powder is most commonly used as a thickener and binding agent in cooking and baking. It can quickly thicken sauces, gravies, soups, and fillings for pies and tarts. In baking, arrowroot powder helps give structure to gluten-free baked goods.
Some advantages of using arrowroot powder over other starches:
- Provides a clear, glossy finish - doesn't turn sauces cloudy
- Can withstand acidic ingredients like citrus and vinegar
- Holds up to freezing - stays viscous when thawed
- Has a neutral flavor - doesn't alter taste of foods
Arrowroot powder is ideal as a thickener in recipes where transparency and sheen are desirable. It also works well in gluten-free baking.
Arrowroot Flour vs. Arrowroot Powder
Now that we've defined both arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder, it becomes clear that they are the same product. Both refer to the soft, white starch powder extracted from the arrowroot tuber.
The terms "arrowroot flour" and "arrowroot powder" are used interchangeably on packaging labels across brands. There is no discernible difference between something called "arrowroot flour" versus "arrowroot powder" - they can be used identically in recipes.
Some reasons why both terms are used:
- Regional preferences: In some areas, "flour" is more common while others use "powder."
- Gluten-free substitutes: Arrowroot flour is marketed as an alternative to wheat flour.
- Thickening agent: Arrowroot powder highlights use as a thickener like cornstarch.
But whether the package says arrowroot flour or arrowroot powder, you can be assured it is the same starchy powder extracted from arrowroot tubers.
Nutrition of Arrowroot Flour and Powder
Arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder have nearly identical nutritional profiles as they come from the same source. Here is the nutrition information per 2 tablespoons (14 grams) of arrowroot flour or powder:
- Calories: 35
- Carbohydrates: 8g
- Protein: 0g
- Fat: 0g
- Fiber: 0g
Some key highlights:
- High in carbs: Around 80% of arrowroot is carbohydrates in the form of starch.
- Low in protein: Arrowroot contains very little protein.
- No fat: Arrowroot flour and powder contain no fat.
- Minimal fiber: There is almost no fiber in arrowroot, unlike other root vegetables.
- Rich in minerals: Provides small amounts iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, and B vitamins.
Arrowroot flour and powder are predominantly composed of starch carbohydrates and minimal other nutrients. They are not a significant source of protein, fat, or fiber.
Texture of Arrowroot Flour vs Arrowroot Powder
When added to recipes, arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder produce nearly identical textures and mouthfeels:
- Light & airy: Creates light body without heaviness.
- Soft & powdery: Smooth and silky texture.
- Non-gritty: Dissolves more finely than other starchy flours.
As a thickener, arrowroot imparts a glossy, gel-like texture to sauces. It gives a clear finish that doesn't dull or discolor the sauce.
In baking, arrowroot lends a delicately crumbly texture with Binding Ability that provides moisture without turning baked goods gummy.
The fine nature of arrowroot flour and powder allows it to produce superior textures compared to other starch thickeners like cornstarch.
So whether using arrowroot flour or powder, you can expect nearly identical lightweight and velvety smooth results.
Thickening Ability of Arrowroot Flour vs Powder
One of the primary uses of arrowroot flour/powder is as a thickening agent. Let's examine how the thickening power compares:
- Twice as effective as wheat flour: Arrowroot thickens twice as much as wheat flour when used in equal amounts.
- Superior to cornstarch: Provides clearer, shinier results compared to cornstarch.
- Well-suited for acidic liquids: Won't break down in acidic ingredients like fruit sauces.
- Adds body when heated: Swells and gels when heated to thicken soups, gravies, sauces.
- Creates stability: Helps bind ingredients smoothly without separation.
To use arrowroot as a thickener, it's best to create a slurry. Mix the arrowroot with a bit of cold water before adding to hot liquids. This prevents clumping.
Arrowroot also thickens at relatively low temperatures, so it can be added at the end of cooking. Extended high heat will cause arrowroot to thin out.
Overall, arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder perform identically when used to thicken recipes. They are excellent alternatives to cornstarch and flour thickeners.
Baking with Arrowroot Flour vs Arrowroot Powder
Arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder work similarly in baking applications. Here's how they can be used:
- Structure in gluten-free baking: Helps bind ingredients in the absence of gluten.
- Moisture in cookies: Contributes moisture to cookies without making them greasy.
- Crispness to crusts: Creates crispier, flakier pie crusts and tart shells.
- Lightness in cakes: Lightens density of cakes for a tender, moist crumb.
- Body for bread: Can be combined with other flours in yeast bread recipes.
- Shine on pastries: Gives a pretty sheen to the tops of baked goods.
When baking, arrowroot flour or powder should be combined with other gluten-free flours like tapioca, coconut flour, sorghum flour, etc. Arrowroot alone may cause crumbling.
For best results, arrowroot flour or powder should not exceed 25% of the total flour content in baking recipes. They produce comparable results.
Shelf Life of Arrowroot Flour vs Powder
Thanks to their low moisture content, arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder share an exceptionally long shelf life. When stored properly in a cool, dry location, they are reported to last:
- Unopened: 3-4 years in a sealed package.
- Opened: 6-12 months in an airtight container.
The shelf life depends on storage conditions, but arrowroot flour and powder stay fresh much longer than other gluten-free flours.
Be sure to keep arrowroot in an airtight container away from humidity to maximize shelf life. Look for any signs of moisture or clumping, which indicate spoilage.
But overall, arrowroot flour and powder have equally enduring shelf lives. There is no difference.
Cost of Arrowroot Flour vs Arrowroot Powder
Due to being the same product, arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder are typically priced identically. There is no cost difference whether a package is labeled as arrowroot flour or powder.
However, arrowroot tends to cost more than mainstream thickeners like cornstarch:
- Arrowroot: Approximately $0.20 per ounce.
- Cornstarch: Approximately $0.10 per ounce.
The higher cost of arrowroot comes from more intensive production methods compared to mainstream starches. But many gluten-free consumers find the superior thickening and health benefits of arrowroot worth the slightly higher price.
When purchasing, be aware that mainstream brands sometimes add cheap fillers like potato starch to cut costs. Check the ingredients list for pure arrowroot flour or powder.
Using Arrowroot Flour and Powder
Now that we've compared arrowroot flour and powder in detail, let's summarize how to use them interchangeably:
- Thicken sauces & gravies: Use instead of cornstarch and flour to thicken while retaining clarity and sheen. Make a slurry first.
- Thicken fruit fillings: Excellent thickener for berry pies, fruit cobblers, compotes. Withstands acidity.
- Gluten-free baking: Lightens texture of scones, cookies, muffins, breads. Combine with other flours.
- Crispy coatings: Dredge meat or tofu in arrowroot before frying for a crispy crust. Also great for roast potatoes.
- Smooth dairy-free puddings & custards: Replaces cornstarch as a thickener and provides creamy texture.
Whichever you have - arrowroot flour or powder - you can use them interchangeably according to these guidelines with great results!
Arrowroot Flour and Powder Recipes
Arrowroot flour and powder shine in recipes like fruit fillings, dairy-free puddings, sauces, and gluten-free baked goods. Here are some recipes that highlight their benefits:
- Lemon Curd Tart - Arrowroot thickens the bright lemon filling so it slices neatly and has the perfect consistency.
- General Tso's Tofu - Arrowroot gives the tofu a crispy exterior that keeps it from sticking to the pan.
- Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake - The arrowroot flour helps bind the crust and lends moisture to the filling.
- Beef Stew - Adding arrowroot at the end of cooking thickens the savory stew juices nicely.
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins - Arrowroot powder lightens the crumb for muffins that are perfectly moist.
Both arrowroot flour and powder thicken and lighten these recipes deliciously!
Arrowroot Flour and Powder Substitutions
Don't have any arrowroot flour or powder on hand? Here are some suitable substitutions:
- Tapioca flour/starch: Provides similar clear, glossy thickening. Reduce liquid in recipe by a few tablespoons.
- Cornstarch: Won't hold up as well to acid or freezing but works in basic recipes. Use equal amounts.
- Potato starch: Substitute 1:1 for arrowroot. Good for thickening but alters flavor more.
- Rice flour: Doesn't thicken as well but can provide binding in baked goods. Use 1 1⁄2 times the arrowroot amount.
While nothing matches arrowroot exactly, these alternatives work nicely in a pinch!
Can you use arrowroot flour the same as arrowroot powder?
Yes, arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder are the same product and can be used interchangeably in all recipes. There is no functional difference between the two.
What dishes can you use arrowroot flour or powder for?
You can use them as a thickener for sauces, stews, curries, gravies, and fruit fillings. They also help bind and lighten gluten-free baked goods like cakes, cookies, scones, and breads.
Is arrowroot flour or powder better than cornstarch?
Arrowroot is generally superior to cornstarch as a thickener thanks to its clearer finish and ability to withstand acidic ingredients and freezing better. But cornstarch is more affordable.
Can you make a roux with arrowroot flour/powder?
No, arrowroot does not contain the gluten necessary to make a traditional roux. It can replace cornstarch or flour in an already prepared roux, but cannot form the roux itself.
Does arrowroot flour or powder have a flavor?
Arrowroot flour and powder are both flavorless, making them versatile thickeners that won't change the taste of a dish.
After comparing arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder, it is clear they refer to the same gluten-free, grain-free starch extracted from arrowroot tubers.
Both arrowroot flour and arrowroot powder create luxuriously smooth sauces, puddings, and fillings while providing structure in gluten-free baking. They can be used identically in recipes for superior results compared to mainstream starches.