Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jul 21, 2007 04:02 PM

Tapioca vs. Cornstarch?

Hi. I have a cherry pie recipe that calls for tapioca to thicken the filling. I assume they mean tapioca flour. This is not something that I have around the house, but I do have cornstarch on hand. Can I substitute the cornstarch for the tapioca? And if so, is the ratio different than 1 to 1? Thanks for your help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The tapioca called for is the kind called Minute, it is an instant type and found usually with either baking products or in puddings etc. in the grocery. It is an excellent pie thickener. You will be okay with the corn starch but I think you might like the tapiioca better. When you have time to experiment you might try 2 pies side by side. One with tapioca and one with cornstarch. I really prefer tapioca in most pies, especially berries.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      As I have no experience with Tapioca flour - why do you think it is preferred?
      Does it have a different flavor? Does it have a different texture? Does it behave differently in baking?
      Thank you

      1. re: abogin

        1) way different texture. little clear balls of cherry juice goodness.
        2) Doesn't taste floury like cornstarch/flour can -- that makes something that feels thicker.
        3) most importantly, the tapioca seems to drink up more juice and keep it than cornstarch does. This makes for a flakier pie. Am convinced this is why my flaky pie crusts are fabulous despite me breaking every pissant rule in the book.

        Lastly, USE SOUR CHERRIES.

        Won't hurt if you put 50% more tapioca than the recipe calls for -- that'll give you a solider pie, less runny.

        1. re: abogin

          It is not tapioca flour. They are small grains of tapioca starch.
          Then what Chowrin says plus:
          It doesn't get gloopy the way corn starch or flour can.

      2. Tapioca comes in many forms, but it all comes form the root of the Cassava plant. It's very starchy and can be used as an easily controlled thickening agent. Tapioca flour, the fine textured tapioca, combines with liquids somewhat more readily than Pearl Tapioca which is made by adding liquid to the raw flour and forcing it through a sieve under pressure. But if you want to avoid the "fish eye" appearance of some pearl tapioca in the finished recipe you can pulverize instant tapioca products in a food processor or mortar and pestle before adding it to your recipe.
        There are many good Internet sources for information on Tapioca.
        Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" (IMO a must for every kitchen) covers the science of thickeners very well. But, if you don't want to make the investment, try this web site.
        I prefer tapioca to corn starch or flour because, in the event you use just a little more than you should, the texture tends to remain more creamy than the stiff starchy texture you might expect from using too much corn starch or flour.
        Have you considered arrowroot?
        Things like corn starch, arrowroot, etc. are available in bulk at many super markets and it's a good idea to keep something like half a cup on hand in your pantry in a sealed container to make your culinary experiences less stressful.

        2 Replies
        1. re: todao

          Pulverizing the pearl tapioca is a good idea but if you have a clean coffee grinder, it's preferable to using a processor. If you only have a processor, do a whole box of tapioca, or mix the sugar from your recipe with the measured amount of tapioca and grind THAT in the processor, so there's enough volume for the blades to do their job.

          1. re: todao

            Thank you!
            Any experience with tapioca starch vs corn starch or potato starch in bread / Gluten Free bread?

          2. The original comment has been removed