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5 Things You Need to Know About Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot powder is frequently used in gluten-free, paleo cooking. Before you dive in, here are 5 things you need to know about arrowroot powder.

Arrowroot powder is frequently used in gluten-free, paleo cooking. Also known as arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch, here are 5 things you need to know about arrowroot powder.

Two years ago I wrote a blog post that became quite popular – 5 Things You Need To Know About Cassava Flour. At the time, cassava flour was just coming onto the radar of folks in the gluten-free and paleo cooking communities.

Arrowroot powder is another lesser known, alternative flour and I use it frequently in my recipes. Many of you have never cooked with arrowroot powder before and I receive emails weekly with questions about it.

So today I thought I’d follow suit with my cassava flour post and write 5 things you need to know about arrowroot powder. I even stopped by my local Asian market to grab some arrowroot to show you what they look like. Would you have guessed what these are?

After this post, hopefully you’ll know a little bit more about arrowroot. Let’s dive in!

1. Arrowroot powder is gluten-free, grain-free and paleo-friendly

Arrowroot powder is a starchy substance that’s extracted from the root of a tropical plant known as Maranta arundinacea. When the arrowroot is harvested, it looks similar to other underground tubers such as cassava, yucca or kudzu, which are oblong in shape.

But important to note is how the starch is extracted, which is unlike cornstarch. Arrowroot powder is extracted in simpler, more traditional methods, without the use of high heat or harsh chemicals.

Sometimes arrowroot powder is known as arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch and they’re all the same thing. It’s simply a white, powdery starch that’s naturally gluten-free, grain-free, vegan and paleo-friendly.

Arrowroot powder is frequently used in gluten-free, paleo cooking. Also known as arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch, here are 5 things you need to know about arrowroot powder.

2. Arrowroot powder can replace cornstarch as a thickener

Arrowroot powder is gaining in popularity (at least in the Western world) as people are looking for substitutes and alternatives to cornstarch, either due to corn allergies and sensitivities or to avoid anything GMO and pesticide-laden.

Cornstarch is the traditional thickener used in cooking for things such as gravies, stews and sauces. But good news – arrowroot powder is a great thickener and can easily replace cornstarch. Even better, arrowroot powder has no taste and leaves food glossy and clear, whereas cornstarch has a slight taste and leaves food cloudy and opaque.

3. Arrowroot powder can also be used in baking, roasting and frying

Arrowroot powder is enormously versatile, so you’d be remiss to only think of it as a thickener. In baking, I typically use arrowroot powder as a blend with other flours, such as almond flour, coconut flour and tapioca flour for bread and dessert recipes. But I find that it can definitely stand on it’s own as well, in small quantities.

If you’d like to make things crispy or crunchy, arrowroot powder is great for that. You could coat sweet potato fries in a dusting of arrowroot to make them crispier. You could also mix arrowroot powder with a blend of dried herbs to coat chicken before frying.

For a little recipe inspiration, I’ve used arrowroot powder in my Sweet Potato GnocchiTriple Berry Compote, Citrus Ginger Sauce, Baked Lemon Donuts with Blackberry Glaze, Cranberry Almond Biscotti, Pear Pomegranate and Maple Crumble, Mini Chicken Pot Pies and many, many more recipes.

4. Arrowroot powder has some nuances when you use it

Like most gluten-free and paleo flours, arrowroot powder isn’t typically used on a 1:1 ratio of whatever it’s replacing. Therefore, if you’re using it as a cornstarch replacement, your best bet is to start with 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of cornstarch required.

I once added too much arrowroot to a sauce and it turned into a gloppy, jelly mess. So it’s best to add conservatively.

When using arrowroot powder as a thickener, remember two things:

  1. Always make a slurry first. Stir the arrowroot powder with a small amount of cold liquid first (like water) to create a slurry, before adding to your recipe.
  2. Always add the slurry at the very end of the recipe. You don’t really want to cook with arrowroot as it will break down at higher temperatures, so stir in right before serving. Bonus: arrowroot holds up beautifully when used with acidic ingredients or frozen (not so with cornstarch), so feel free to batch cook and freeze your recipes.

Arrowroot powder is frequently used in gluten-free, paleo cooking. Also known as arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch, here are 5 things you need to know about arrowroot powder.

Arrowroot powder is frequently used in gluten-free, paleo cooking. Also known as arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch, here are 5 things you need to know about arrowroot powder.

5. Arrowroot powder has multiple health benefits

Because arrowroot is not a grain, many people (especially those with digestive issues or sensitivities) find that arrowroot powder is more easily digestible. It also contains more fiber than potatoes and other starches, keeping things “moving” and helping to stave off hunger.

Arrowroot contains a good amount of potassium, iron and B vitamins, which is great for metabolism, circulation and heart health. Studies have even shown that arrowroot can stimulate immune cells and boost the immune system.

As always, ensure that whatever brand of arrowroot you purchase is high quality. This is the brand of organic arrowroot powder that I use and recommend.

Have you cooked with arrowroot powder before? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’d like a peek inside my pantry, to see all the products and ingredients I use, make sure to watch my Pantry Organization video.

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45 comments on “5 Things You Need to Know About Arrowroot Powder”

  1. Hi,

    I think it may be worth mentioning that here in the uk, it seems to be perfectly legal to describe and sell Cassava based flour (tapioca) as pure Arrowroot when it is certainly not.
    As this form of “Arrowroot” behaves differently with different caracteristics, it could be worthwhile to point this out to your audience.

    • Oh wow. Thanks for letting everyone know Adrian. They’re most certainly different and behave differently in cooking. I’m surprised they can get away with saying that?

  2. I love arrowroot, I make these little flatbreads with arrowroot, coconut flour and coconut milk  they were originally a chapati recipe…. they’re a staple for me as I don’t eat bread.
    They make a great sandwich !!! 

  3. I’ve been using cornstarch in a gluten-free sourdough bread recipe. If i use arrowroot as a substitution, should I decrease the amount by 1/3 or 1/2 as you mention above and increase the other flours to make up the difference? I know you don’t bake with grains so this may be a difficult question but I’m absolutely awful with baking lol

  4. I’ve been using arrowroot powder since
    1972. I found it in a recipe for fruit pies, used as a thickener. I believe it was in the Whole Earth Cookbook which was popular back then. It’s especially useful in gravies. It’s so easy and thickens the gravy right up.

  5. I use it to make dairyfree, gluten free Alfredo sauce. Delicious!

  6. I made a Chinese brown sauce with arrowroot, replacing cornstarch after reading your article, It was GREAT, thank you!

  7. How much would you use instead of flour to make turkey gravy?

    • I’d probably start with a tablespoon (assuming you’re making at least 1-2 cups of gravy) and add more as needed. But make sure to make a slurry with water first, then add it to your saucepan, stir until incorporated and thick, then remove from the heat. :)

  8. Thanks for this Informative post. I am now planning to include it in some of my restaurant items.

  9. Can you use arrowroot in fresh salsa to thicken or does it need to be cooked?

  10. I’ve used arrowroot for many years. It makes great custard – 2 tsps arrowroot, sprinkle of turmeric, and half pint sweetened soya milk. Of course mix to a paste with a little Soya milk before adding the rest. Cook slowly in saucepan, stirring all the time and VOILA !

    • I’ve never made custard with arrowroot – looks like I’ll have to change that! ;)

      • I am a gluten free vegan, so arrowroot custard makes a change from soya yogurt. It is also nourishing for delicate digestions. I make it with fortified soya milk as it contains vitamin B12. You could also add chia seeds for extra nutrition. It is great with a banana and all the berries or even apples.

  11. Arrowroot is great in facials too! It helps to tighten your skin naturally.

  12. Great info, thanks for putting such effort into this article.

  13. Can arrowroot be a negative for IBS sufferers ?

  14. Followed your link from Forleo comment. :) Go for it!
    I use arrowroot regularly in a crepe recipe and have a hard time finding its carb count. I use 1/4 c for about 4 crepes and wonder if it spikes my blood sugar. Any idea?

  15. Really interesting, i will definitely give it a try!!! (and you have my vote in Saveur… of course!)

  16. what an informative post! I’ve used arrowroot powder several times in my recipes and had no idea! Thank you!

  17. I’ve been using this quite a bit lately – I love it!

  18. I am familiar with Cassava flour, but have never heard of arrowroot before. Great post!

  19. This is great information. I haven’t used arrowroot but will definitely try it.

  20. Wow, I never really knew much about arrowroot~ this has been so informative! Thanks!

  21. I’ve used arrowroot powder in baking before – I like that it makes the texture less dense. Thank you for this extensive post and tips! Happy Saturday and almost Sunday xx

  22. Pingback: 5 Things You Need to Know About Cassava Flour