Tapioca Flour And Cassava Flour

tapioca flour in a cake
Image by Elivelton Nogueira Veto from Pixabay

Tapioca flour is obtained from the roots of cassava (Manihot esculenta) but it is not the same as cassava flour.

Cassava flour uses the whole root whereas tapioca flour is mainly the starchy part of the plant. In all cases the caynogenic acid content needs to be kept to a minimum because it is a major toxin of cassava. 

Tapioca flour is usually preferred to wheat flours in the making of gluten-free baked foods. Tapioca starch is also extracted for specific product development purposes.

They are like most flours, naturally low in any fat. 

The flour is regularly used to thicken soups, stews and sauces and is alternative to arrowroot and cornstarch. It also adds a slightly crispier and thicker texture to loaves, muffins and scones which would other wise be too springy in texture.  It is a good thickening agent too for desserts especially puddings.

Can Cassava Flour Replace Tapioca Flour?

Cassava flour would be a natural substitute but because it has a higher fiber content, tends to make it a much more effective thickening agent. In any product development application, the levels of other thickeners such as gums and other starches can be reduced so that cassava flour is able to exert its additional thickening power.

Some consumers find tapioca flour has a less nutty flavour compared to cassava flour in baked foods.

Both are usually obtained from health-food shops although some supermarkets now stock it.


Cornstarch is a common cupboard essential whereas tapioca starch is much more difficult to obtain.

Arrowroot is a gluten-free flour with very little taste and comes from the Maranta arundinacea plant. It is used as a substitute for both cassava and tapioca flours on a like for like basis. It is a very effective thickening agent in sauces and gravy but must be combined with other starches like potato to obtain the same texture benefit in baked goods. 

If you compare muffins made for example from both types of starches, the ones prepared from cassava flour have the chewy texture.

Rice flour is also an effective alternative to tapioca and cassava flours.


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