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Are White and Yellow Cornmeal Interchangeable in Recipes?

Can white and yellow cornmeal be used interchangeably in recipes? Do they taste the same?

The color of cornmeal comes from the variety of corn from which it is milled. Besides the common white and yellow kinds you find at most grocery stores, some companies mill red and blue varieties, too. To see if there is a noticeable flavor difference, we made our Old-Fashioned Corn Muffins, Hushpuppies, and Easy Baked Polenta with yellow cornmeal and then with white cornmeal.

With the corn muffins, a few tasters did detect sweeter notes, stronger corn flavor, and a slightly more delicate crumb in the batch made with yellow cornmeal. However, in the tastings of the hushpuppies and polenta, we did not find strong flavor or textural differences (though visually many tasters preferred the look of the yellow cornmeal).

While most of our recipes work with yellow or white cornmeal, our testing here did confirm a more important distinction: Coarseness is key. When a recipe calls for a specific grind of cornmeal, be sure to use what’s called for, as it can greatly affect the texture of the final product. If the recipe does not specify, use finely ground. The test kitchen’s favorite finely ground cornmeal is Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Cornmeal.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Feel free to use white and yellow cornmeal interchangeably in recipes since flavor differences are minor. Just be sure to pay attention to the grind.

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