Replacing Cornstarch with Arrowroot

Can I use arrowroot in place of cornstarch?

Can I use arrowroot in place of cornstarch?

Arrowroot is both a tropical plant and the name of the edible starch that comes from it. It’s used to thicken sauces and salad dressings, and when pastry chefs want crystal-clear candies and sauces (cornstarch makes them cloudy). Both starches need to come to a boil (or near boil for arrowroot) for their thickening power to kick in. Almost 1½ teaspoons of arrowroot thickens the same amount of liquid as 1 teaspoon cornstarch.

We substituted arrowroot for cornstarch in three of our recipes: General Tso’s Chicken, Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie, and Butterscotch Pudding. The arrowroot performed about as well as cornstarch as a coating for the chicken, and some tasters liked its sweet flavor better than that of “chalkier” cornstarch. The arrowroot also made for a clearer pie filling. In the pudding, however, tasters described it as slimy. Our science editor explained that arrowroot forms a “mucilaginous substance” when combined with liquid, an effect that may be exaggerated when the liquid is dairy.

THE BOTTOM LINE Arrowroot costs more than cornstarch, so save it for translucent sauces and fillings and avoid it in recipes with dairy.

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