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.

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. I’ve heard arrowroot powder is great for a sleep aid. I’m very keen to take this as all else fails.
    But, how much would I add to milk for a sleep enhancer before going to bed.
    I look forward to your answer.

  2. I just found your site. I make a big mess when I am opening the Arrowroot inner bag that contains the starch. Can you give me some advice on how open the bag and not to have starch all over the counter and on myself☺?

  3. Hi,
    Good article, thank you!
    I read elsewhere that if you use arrowroot in dairy that it will turn into a slimy texture. Have you had any experience with this?

    1. This was great! Any plans to to a feature on Konjac? I’ve only used it as a thickener. I’ve tried the “noodles”, which are terrible, but there has to be other uses.

  4. Hi I live in Perth and I have used arrowroot very very often. I particular a recipe for grain free crackers which r really great with cheese ie dips or just on their own. I always have arrow root in my. Pantry I appreciate ur I formation. Thanks suzette

  5. hi can I use arrowroot flour instead of all purpose flour, my recipe calls for 34 grams of all purpose flour, it is a cheesecake, can i use the same amount of arrowroot flour?

  6. I just read upon Arrowroot Powder very interesting to me.I like to try it on some sweet potatoes fries ,and to thicken my sweet potatoes, digestion is real benefit for my health
    Problems.Not to mention immune system best thing I heard today!,,,
    Thank You!!!

  7. Hi I have an organic chocolate factory in Lima Perú. I am Canadian born. You opened my eyes today I live in Atalaya Peru arrowroot grows like crazy all over this area I am going to try baking with it it grows everywhere here like a weed out of control

  8. Yes use arrowroot all the time to thicken as it’s so quick easy and not grainy or powdery at the end and clear too. Great with stir fries and desserts.
    Also use it for breading with coconut and other flours like you say for crispness. 
    Great that it’s good for the immune system and has potassium and iron and B Vits.

  9. want to replace flour with arrow root for crispy baked chicken

    a recipe shares 1 cup of flour

    then 1 cup of italian bread crumbs

    coat chicken with flour then egg then bread crumbs. will the arrow root work for that instead?
    and if so how much? sSunds like 1/3 or 1/2 of a cup of arrow root instead?

  10. Do you know how much arrowroot and arrowroot flour differ in their nutritional contents, like dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin B’s?

  11. No I’ve never cooked with arrowroot before. I look up a lot of recipes and I came across a recipe , that calls for arrowroot and I didn’t know what that was. So I looked it up as I do for anything I don’t know about. Thank you for your info.

  12. The Arrowroot Starch is what is required in a Rustic Pumpkin Pie recipe; but it only called for two TBS. so rather than run out to grocery store, I thought of the Arrowroot powder in my cupboard. So I thank you for all the information.  

  13. Hi, I just bought the same arrowroot starch you use and upon opening the bag there was a distinct sour smell. Is that normal for arrowroot?

  14. I WISH I had seen this website yesterday!!! I substituted arrowroot for cornstarch in the cherry pie filling I was making last night, and all the websites I had seen said it was a 1:1 ratio. BIG mistake!!! I now have cherry jelly or some such concoction. Lol Obviously I figured out it was too much after that, so today I went in search of more/better info and I found your website. Thank you for your insight!!!! Hopefully things will go more smoothly next time. 😁

    1. Oh no!! I totally know what happened with the cherry jelly, as I’ve done the same thing before. Lol! But I’m glad you found my website and hopefully your recipes go more smoothly in the future. :)

  15. I want to make a cake using gluten free flour but the recipe calls for 2 tsp of xanthan gum.. i can’t get xanthan gum, what can i use to replace xanthan gum… i was told to use cornstarch or arrowroot flour, 1: 1 ratio.

  16. Hi
    Thanks for the article,I am on AIP diet and have been using Arrowroot powder but I have noticed I still react to arrowroot powder after ingesting. Can I be allergic to arrowroot powder as well ?

  17. Hi Lisa,

    I’m willing to replace cornstarch for arrowroot in a bread GF recipe (not fully paleo as it has white rice flour, but I can tolerate this flour really good). Can I replace 1:1 ratio? The recipe calls for 175gr cornstarch + 50 gr tapioca + 25gr white rice flour + 5 gr psyllium + yeast + oil + and water

    Or how do you recommend to replace it?

    Thank you so much for the feedback

    1. Hi Nathaly – it’s hard to say without having made the recipe, as all recipes respond a bit different to substitutions. But I’d give it a try!

  18. Hi Lisa,
    I don’t know if you can help me or not. I am trying to thicken my granddaughters cup of milk. She aspirates while drinking. I am trying to substitute arowroot for cornstarch. I can’t get it to thicken the milk. Do you have any tricks i can try? I sure hope so because the cornstarch makes her belly hard.
    Thank you either way. God bless you!
    P.s. tbank you i did learn from you sight and plan to try your recipes.

    1. I read that arrowroot doesn’t work well with dairy, but that tapioca does, which comes from the cassava plant.  
      You can buy tapioca starch/flour.   It has the added benefits of being useful for weight gain.  

      1. Of course, my advice is just from one grandmother to another grandmother, not the advice of a doctor.  

    2. You may want to try Chia seeds.  They will thicken milk.  Also it is a great source of protein and fiber.
      Also, make your own healthy yogurt with 1 can coconut milk, 1 tsp. vanilla and 3 tsp. Chia seeds.  Leave in fridge overnight. Serve with honey.  It is fantastic!

    3. If it’s the nutrients in milk that you want her to have, what about substituting a bowl of yogourt for the cup of milk?

  19. Hi Lisa, 
    I’ve been thinking of learning to make orange marmalade and jams and I was wondering, can I use arrowroot starch as a replacement for pectin to thicken jams? Thanks for all you recipes, I use them often! 

    1. Melody,

      Too find the most current up to date standards for jams and jellies, plus way more please consult the site National Center For Home Food Preservation… NCHFP.org. These recipes have been tested for safety as well as taste.

      There is a tested and safe replacement for pectin which cuts the sugar by 1/2 it’s called “Pomona” but I do not believe arrowroot is the same type of ingredient.


  20. You didn’t mention the ration of substitution when baking with arrowroot as part of the recipe. Is it 1:1 ratio? You said that with cornstarch you use much less and somewhere I saw a post that said when using arrowroot you should add it to the liquid of the recipe and let set for 30 minutes before incorporating into the recipe and that in order to get a lighter product you should always use the electric mixer to blend the batter. Please explain how I substitute…I have just begun eating paleo and want to do things right. I just made my first muffins and they were delicious…I used half coconut flour and half pecan flour. Some of the most moist muffins I have ever eaten.

  21. Most informative article,clears all the doubts and wrong impressions about Cassava and Arrowroot.

  22. I add it to cookies made with Cassava flour to make them nice and crunchy
    I to have added too much when making gravy and you end up with something that looks like it’s been squeezed out of an alien

    1. James,

      Perfect description of the slimy mess I had in my soup “something Coming out of an alien” I wasn’t sure if it was from using too much arrowroot or because I didn’t make a slurry first.

      I have tried both ways and so far not reached the desired thickening result. Hopefully the third time is a win.!

  23. I have been using arrowroot powder for many years, being from the Caribbean mainly used for thickening soups/ sauces. Now I’ve learned it can be used in bakeing which I would try.

  24. I cannot find any place that says how much arrow root to use for 6 cups of pudding that didn’t thicken. The recipe called for 5 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch but this did nothing. 

  25. Hi,
    I’m making pies. Would arrowroot be a good replacement for flours in fruit pies?

  26. Hi there thank you for this blog. Is it possible to make french macarons with arrowroot flour? If so what would the ratio be? I am using it for the first time

    1. Thank you so much for your information on Arrowroot Powder. However I’m about to make my own deodorant which requires Arrowroot Powder as well as cornstarch. Just wanted to make sure that I can use Arrowroot Flour for that purpose. I did not purchase the flour because I didn’t think that they were one and the same. 

  27. I am a doctor from India.
    I would like to add a health benefit of Arrowroot…the powder of Arroroot is applied on oral apthous ulcers.
    It is soothing & serves to coat the ulcer & allows it to heal faster. It’s an age-old household remedy for mouth ulcers ( Apthous ulcers).
    In Gulabjamuns…a favourite sweet in India….a dash of Arrowroot powder is used instead of refined flour along with Khoa …so that it can be eaten by people on fast (with specific diet) traditionally.
    I liked your Information & the tips while using Arrowroot powder.

    1. Good morning. I have been searching for an answer but have not been able to find it yet. Can arrowroot be consumed raw? For example in a smoothie ?
      Thank you 

    2. Good day,

      As a Doc, I wanted to ask a question. Since Arrowroot is a starch, do you think it breaks down to sugars in the mouth and feeds the bad bacteria that create an acidic environment, thus causing tooth decay/cavities?

      I make a home made toothpaste and want to add it as a thickener, but am wondering if it basically acts as adding sugar to the mouth, which would be bad?

      Most toothpastes add Xantham gum but am also not sure how it effects the oral bacteria & the production of it seems like not something I want.

  28. I purchased arrowroot powder instead of tapioca starch. I always mix 2 parts brown rice flour to 1 part tapioca starch. Would the ratio of arrowroot powder and brown rice flour be the same?

  29. help, i have a bag of flour that is missing it’s label, how can i tell which it is, it’s either arrowroot or tapioca starch, thanks

  30. We made a great almond flour gravy and tried to substitute with arrowroot powder and just like yours it turned into a jelly mess! Now we mix it with the almond flour. Thanks so much for the tips and info!!!

  31. Thank you so much for those tips.
    I mixed it with almond & walnut flour and my paleo cookies turned out soft and crunchy.

  32. I like to cook chopped onion, bell pepper and mushrooms and put in deer meat for hamburgers. It was a bit mushy so I added some arrowroot flour and it was perfect. It
    Kept the burger together. With salt, pepper and garlic 
    powder it was just like beef. That was my second use. 
    My first use was to thicken soup and I used it at the end as instructed and it, too was perfect. I’m new to arrowroot
    because of eliminating flour and eggs. I’m on to bigger
    and better recipes with arrowroot flour. Thank you!

  33. I love arrowroot powder! I use it as a thickener for my stir-fry recipes. My husband and I stopped eating cornstarch, so I was very happy to see all the great nutrition arrowroot powder/flour has! Thank you for your information about arrowroot powder.

    1. Hi Patty – It’s the best! I’m glad you learned a few new things about it through this post :)

  34. I have been trying to duplicate a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe my mother made that we called Chicken Pot Pie. I was hoping to find a replacement for the 3 cups of flour in the recipe. I see that using only arrowroot is not recommended. Do you have any thoughts on a combination of gluten free substitutes? It would be lovely to recreate this recipe.

  35. This was very interesting and helpful, thank you. I found this looking for information about how Arrowroot works in bread recipes if you have anymore information in that area I would love to know. I recently made a low carb bread recipe in my bread maker using arrowroot as one of the flours. I am tweaking the recipe in increments because i don’t understand all the nuances of how the various ingredients interact. For instance I am trying to understand the role of Arrowroot in conjunction with Yeast and Vital Wheat gluten. I have used Arrowroot in cooies Tigernut flour and find that my final results are best texture when combined with the Arrowroot I got a less cakey result with the arrowroot. And that is what I am trying to understand what the result is from the arrowroot in the bread. Does it help the final result to be able to rise higher? Does it add to they to cheweyness in the body or just the crispieness when toasted ? I think the gluten adds to chewieness so I want to reduce the gluten (I think) The recipe is delicious and near perfect but I want it to be perfect which would be easier if I understood the nuances of all the ingredients. Any light you can shed on this would be helpful.

  36. Hi Lisa
    I always use arrowroot powder . Here, in my country , people love to use arrowroot powder rather than corn starch because it’s available, convenient and cheap . In your blog post I am able to know about it more. It’s suvvy.
    Love from Bangladesh

  37. I love baking with almond flour, but I have trouble with coconut, which I’m seeing many recipes call for in addition to almond flour. Would arrowroot be a good substitute for the coconut flour in the recipes (using arrowroot along with almond flour) and should I lessen the amount or substitute 1:1? Thanks! :) Becky

    1. Hi Becky – no, arrowroot is not a good substitute for coconut flour. They behave very differently in baking, and unfortunately every recipe is different.

  38. I just read a chicken soup recipe and it called for arrow root. Then I saw arrow root four and arrowroot powder. I’m trying to do Keto, so some of these items are new to me
    If all arrowroot I’d the same, why are they labeled as 3 different items? Thank you for all the information. It took most of my amprehension away.

  39. I would like to know if it need to be refrigerated. Where should I keep it once it’s open ?
    I just got my first bag of it.

    1. Hi Lyne – I normally just keep my powders stored away in a tightly sealed container or jar in my pantry. You can also put it in the fridge if you would like too!

    2. I just want to add caution in storage the arrowroot will absorb other spice flavors that are stored nearby it.. I had to throw out some that I bought in the bulk section that was near lots of other spices in plastic containers because it tasted disgusting after I got it home, It ruined the recipe flavor. So now I am putting my arrowroot in a glass jar. and not buying it from the bulk section. every again.

  40. I have always used arrowroot for cooking, never cornstarch. I learned to cook at my mother’s knee, and that’s what she used. I’m not sure why, since people weren’t really concerned about cornstarch back in the 1970s. Anyway, I’ve been using arrowroot for 40+ years but I still learned something new from your article, so thank you!