5 Things You Need to Know About Arrowroot Powder


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Arrowroot powder is frequently used in gluten-free, paleo cooking and it’s extremely versatile in the kitchen. But 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 Gnocchi, Orange Glazed SalmonTriple 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 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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  1. Hello 👋: )
    Thank you so much for this information.
    I’m from Philippines and I like arrowroot. In our local market in Biliran, arrowroot is not that much popular and there are lots of arrowroot plants from the local farmers. I have an interest to make a product innovation of arrowroot and I’ll back it with research through developmental research new product food innovation, as an educator that is my way to support our local farmers and to make new product out of arrowroot. : )

  2. Hi:
    I have a brownie recipe that calls for 1/3 cup of all purpose flour. How much arrowroot flour should I use in place of the flour?

    1. Arrowroot flour isn’t a great substitute for all-purpose flour. Instead, use a gluten-free flour blend or almond flour!

  3. Very excellent article on forms of & uses for arrowroot powder. Thanks for clarifying that the flour is just the same as the powder. This was exactly the info I was looking for.

  4. Been using arrowroot for a couple of years and I am very pleased with the results. It seems to work in virtually every dish that I have tried. I only wish if someone knew if it can be used as a dough enhancer. If anyone knows the answer, I would appreciate a response.

  5. Is there a measurement chart of how much to use for thickening gravy or daises. I am totally new with arrowroot powder

  6. Funnily enough although this is in some ways increasingly fashionable I remember my mum using it in the 50’s and early 60’s as a thickener. Guess it’s a case of “what goes around, comes around!” 

  7. My red velvet cake recipe uses a frosting made with butter, granulated sugar, vanilla and cornstarch paste and whipped until fluffy (it’s a very old recipe). Could arrowroot paste  be used in lieu of cornstarch in this recipe??

  8. I would like to know the ratio of arrowroot and buckwheat blended to be able to make cookies. My recipe says you can use buckwheat but you have to blend it. Thank you..

  9. This is so helpful – THANK YOU. I am just transitioning now and want to use arrowroot for my thanksgiving gravy. Your information was super helpful :)

  10. I eat mostly raw foods….i actually use arrowroot powder strictly as a drink..One tablespoon of Arrowroot dissolved in a glass of trace mineral fortified water every night at bedtime.Im 80 years old..no aches and pains…no sore bones or muscles…clear headed and optimistic

  11. Thanks for all this great info! Just one question…do you know how long you can keep arrowroot before needing to throw it out and replace?

  12. That was very informative, I learn a lot today 
    Thank you I appreciate it.  I will be using it instead of maizena

  13. Hello Lisa,
    I’m making a sweet potato crust quiche with shredded sweet potato. Recipe calls for 3/4 cup of almond flour and one egg mixed in with the sweet potato. I’m thinking some arrowroot flour in with the mix will help make the crust light and flaky. What do you think?

  14. Hello Lisa. Arrowroot looks a lot like cassava. Do they have the same cooking uses and results?

    Also between the two witch one has better nutritional benefit?


  15. I love using arrowroot. I am wondering if it can be used in nobake treats?  Does the flour have to be cooked?  Thanks!

  16. Hi!
    I have found a lot of conflicting conversions on the internet- this post says use less arrowroot than cornstarch, other websites say the opposite.  Also, this site says “ always” make a slurry, is that true? Are there times when baking, by adding more liquid it will tamper with the recipe?
    Thank you.

  17. I made my first gluten free almond flour banana bread. Came out delicious  but too moist, how can i incorporate arrowroot powder next time to make it less moist since I can’t substitute it for cornstarch since none in recipe.

  18. How much arrowroot powder should I use to make the slurry? I didn’t see it listed. Thank you! I’ve been shedding weight ever since I started cooking the food from this blog. Love your blog!

  19. Interesting info on arrowroot. But the nutritional content panel on the label of any and all the packages of arrowroot starch or flour that I have seen doesn’t mention any potassium, iron, or B vitamins, and specifically says ”0” milligrams of fiber.

  20. I’m interested in introducing arrowroot powder to my cooking and am inspired by your article on its uses. I was wondering if it could also be used to make a white sauce.

    1. I’m sure it can! I haven’t tried it yet in a white sauce yet, but if you do, please let me know how it turns out!

      1. I use arrowroot to make white sauce – it works perfectly! I’ve always used the same ratio as I did with normal flour, which makes quite a thick sauce (but that’s the way I like it)

  21. the traditional arrowroot starch as named above Maranta arundinacea comes from india and is extensively used for the sick and elderly.
    many times cassava is also called and sold as arrowroot starch, this product is used in the tropical islands but if not processed correctly can cause the stomach upsets..

    1. Wonderful information will include this in my kitchen now …was wondering how to use it for it s medicinal benefits …like for diarrhoea

  22. We used arrowroot powder in the hospital to thicken babies milk if the babies had reflux. It helped them to keep their milk down. It was a very valuable ingredient to have on hand.

  23. I surely tried cooking and baking with it. i started one spoonful at a time but I notice my hubby and my little girl were having belly issues. My little one was in such a terrible pain. I knew that the only thing different I had added was arrowroot so I decided to totally remove it and interesting enough, we were all fine.

    1. That’s strange though, because in the Caribbean people made a porridge from arrowroot starch for babies as it was known to be very gentle on the stomach. 
      Just a thought!

    2. That doesn’t make any sense as it is used to thicken babies milk mixture for those who suffered reflux. Its great for deserts for babies and the elderly. It has no flavour either.

    3. This happened to me the other night and I can think I ate arrowroot starch, worst pain ever :( I didn’t want to think it was that because of the benefits I need from using arrowroot but now I see I’m not the only one it has happened too :(.

    4. Wow!! I am so glad I read this because I too had stomach pain and I couldn’t figure out if it was cassava flour or arrowroot and now I’ve narrowed it down to arrow root flour it causes me to have horrible pain in my stomach..

    5. I’m very late to this “party”.  And I’ve been searching for this information!  THANK you all for sharing, as I had a horrid stomach ache after creating a new gluten-free flour blend.  Only thing new was ARROWROOT.  Most places say “very seldom” when taking stomach pain / etc. I’m a Celiac that has been gluten-free for nearly 20 years.  This was not the debilitating diarrhea and gluten-fog, but a terrible stomach ache for hours … You gave me courage to know I was not alone; not crazy. THANKS