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5 Things You Need to Know About Cassava Flour

Is cassava flour the holy grail of gluten-free, grain-free cooking? It very well may be. But first, there are 5 things you need to know about it. 

Is cassava flour the holy grail of gluten-free, grain-free cooking? It very well may be. But first, there are 5 things you need to know about it. 

Cassava flour is gaining momentum as a “go-to” gluten-free, grain-free flour. And it’s not surprising when you consider that those who follow restricted diets typically have to blend several flours to achieve the same consistency as wheat flour. Which is never ideal.

But with cassava flour, that’s not the case. After traveling Bali and Southeast Asia for several months (eating delicious, locally made cassava breads, cakes and side dishes), I realized the huge potential of cassava flour. In fact, it seemed to be a pretty darn close replacement for wheat flour.

Oh, could it be? Could it really be?!

Yes, it could be! Which might just make it the holy grail of gluten-free, grain-free flours. But before you go off the deep-end by gobbling up cassava-everything (it’s easy to do), here’s five things you need to know:

1. Cassava flour is gluten, grain and nut-free

The cassava plant is a staple crop to millions of inhabitants in South America and parts of Asia and Africa. The plant produces the cassava root (also known as yuca or manioc), a starchy, high-carbohydrate tuber – similar to yam, taro, plantains and potato.

As a tuberous root vegetable, cassava is gluten, grain and nut-free, as well as vegan, vegetarian and paleo. 

2. Cassava flour is not the same as tapioca flour

While sometimes the terms cassava flour and tapioca flour are used interchangeably, there are in fact distinct differences. Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root through a process of washing and pulping. The wet pulp is then squeezed to extract a starchy liquid. Once all the water evaporates from the starchy liquid, the tapioca flour remains.

Alternatively, cassava flour is the whole root, simply peeled, dried and ground. This means it has more dietary fiber than tapioca flour – and allows me to make cassava flour tortillas, which would not be possible with tapioca flour. 

3. Cassava flour is not poisonous

It’s true that the cassava root contains naturally occurring cyanide compounds (also found in almonds and spinach!) and that yes, they can be extremely toxic. But only if eaten raw. That’s why the traditional cultures who rely on cassava for sustenance have centuries old processes of soaking, cooking and fermenting. These processes remove the toxic compounds and prevent one from getting sick.

Rest assured that all commercially available cassava and tapioca flours do not contain any harmful levels of cyanide.

4. Cassava flour is high in carbohydrates

Given that cassava is a starchy tuber, you would expect it to have a high carbohydrate profile. But it’s higher than you most likely imagined. For instance, per 100 grams, cassava has double the calories and carbohydrates as sweet potato. This makes it a valuable and relied upon food source for millions of native people.

But it could mean an insulin spike for you! For the vast majority of people who don’t rely on cassava for subsistence, it would be prudent to monitor your cassava intake. Particularly if you’re following a low carbohydrate, low-sugar or Paleo-based diet.

Translation: don’t eat cassava flour recipes at every meal! As always, moderation is key. 

5. Cassava flour is the most similar to wheat flour (of gluten-free flours)

This is the holy grail characteristic of cassava flour. Unlike other gluten-free flours such as almond or coconut flour, cassava flour is very mild and neutral in flavor. It’s also not grainy or gritty in texture – rather, it’s soft and powdery.

These qualities, along with the fact that it can be replaced on a 1:1 basis with wheat flour in many recipes, make cassava flour a preferred flour for gluten-free, grain-free baking and cooking. It’s also a great nut-free flour. 

As always, quality matters when it comes to cassava flour and Otto’s Cassava Flour is the brand that I use and recommend. Unfortunately, I’ve recently heard from readers who’ve used other brands that their results were less than stellar. As cassava flour has grown in popularity and manufacturers are popping up left, right and center, it seems quality and how the flour is processed now varies greatly. 

Therefore, if you have any problems with the cassava flour recipes listed below, know that it’s likely the brand of cassava flour you’re using.

Here are some of my favorite cassava flour (and yuca) recipes :

Cassava Flour Tortillas

Baked Yuca Fries (Cassava Fries)

Steak Fajitas with Cassava Flour Tortillas

Molten Chocolate Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream and Pistachios

Herbed Cassava Tortilla Chips

Pulled Pork Street Tacos

Coconut Amaretto Crepe Cake

If you’re still interested in more, here are 11 Tasty Recipes Made with Cassava Flour.


If you liked this post, make sure to read my post 5 Things You Need to Know About Arrowroot Powder. 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.


Have you cooked with cassava flour yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

This post was originally published May 2015, but updated July 2017. 

photo credit: By Thamizhpparithi Maari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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153 comments on “5 Things You Need to Know About Cassava Flour”

  1. can you swap cassava flour for almond flour in recipes?

    • Hi Deborah – I have not tried adding cassava flour yet, but I’m sure it could work! If you’d like a nut free recipe, you can also check out my Nut-Free Paleo Pancakes that doesn’t include the almond flour 😊

  2. Hi lisa! I love your recipes and I’ve tried some of them, thanks for sharing it.

    About the Cassava, this is one of the most important ingredient in the Brazilian diet, and from north to south we eat it in numerous ways. It’s originally from south America although it was introduced in other continents by the Portuguese.

    About the toxicity of it, there are two main types of cassava, the “calm cassava” ( in Portuguese mandioca mansa, aipim or macaxera) which contains less than 50 mg/kg of HCN in the raw root, and the “angry cassava” (mandioca brava) which contains more than 100 mg of HCN (the poisoning ingredient). And the between of them is the moderate cassava.

    And you’re right! When cooked it loses the poisoning and also when it is grind/crushed and dried in sun.

    Only the calm cassava is the most Commercially produced. Few parts of Brazil eat the angry cassava, although there are delicious dishes made with it specially in the top north of Brazil.

  3. Very Helpful, thank you

  4. Have u ever started with the raw root to make tortillas (or any other finished product)? I bought, peeled, cut and boiled the root for what seemed like forever and some of it is still quite firm.
    I know you use Otto’s but was curious if u ever started from scratch.

  5. I recently ‘discovered’ cassava chips which I LOVE. I also discovered SIETE brand cassava wraps and one day took my kitchen scissors and cut the wraps into strips which I used as noodles. Voila! Perfectly textured, no strange taste, can’t distinguish it from flour pasta. (My downside is that I also discovered I’m not supposed to have cassava on my low-carb diet, boo-hiss) But I wanted to share my ‘discovery’ with all of you.

  6. We are Gluten-Free and Lectin Free. So we have been trying many different recipes. We really like the taste of Cassava flour. BUT for some reason Have been having problems. What every I bake, bread or biscuits they not only turn out flat but gummy inside. Follow the recipes but can’t understand why I am having these issues. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Oh and we live in Northern Arizona at 3600 feet if that makes any difference

  7. Cassava is Very high in carbohydrates? Isn’t that what a lot of people are trying to avoid? I don’t understand…

    • Hi Ann – Yes, cassava flour is very high in carbohydrates. But not everyone is participating in a low-carb diet or they are seeking gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.

  8. Which countries in Africa make Cassava flour? I would like to get it from such countries.

  9. I have not found an answer to the question of: IS CASSAVA FLOUR EXACTLY THE SAME AS MANIOC FLOUR? ARE THEY PROCESSED TO FLOUR FROM THE SAME PLANT? IS THE MAKING METHOD OF MAKING THE FLOUR THE SAME?

  10. Tried baking cookies with cassava flour yesterday. I had such severe stomach stress that for a time, I thought i was going to pass out. It was a very scary experience. Im strictly bone broth today, but still uncomfortable..

    • I’m sorry to hear that! Certain folks don’t respond well to cassava flour (just as some don’t respond well to gluten). It seems you fall into that category. Hope you feel better today!

  11. For those of us who need to eat a low oxalate diet, do to know what the oxalate levels of cassava flour are? Tapioca starch is quite high, but I’m hoping that cassava flour might be less. It’s important and I’ve not been able to find the info anywhere yet. Thank you!

  12. Please send me the full details how to make cassava flour for bother bread and cake. I have over five thousand hectares of cassava farm in Sierra Leone which I want to use as flour for bread.

  13. Ineed to know much about tapiaco processing line.are there small machines for extracting starch? And if there is,how can l get one for the start?

  14. “…and allows me to make cassava flour tortillas, which would not be possible with tapioca flour.”

    That’s not really true.

    It’s not only possible to make “tortillas” with tapioca flour, it’s even easier, and in Brazil we call them “tapiocas” or “beijús”. The nomenclature depends on the region of Brazil and they were already made by the local native americans centuries ago.

    To make tapiocas, you’ll only need 3 ingredients: tapioca flour, water and salt.

    Mix water to the tapioca flour and mix the whole thing until you get a light, homogenous and moist flour-like texture. Just be careful not to add too much water or you’ll turn the whole thing into a blobby mess. After you’re done, add salt to taste.

    To cook the tapiocas, spread the moist tapioca flour on a skillet and let it cook until all the little chunks are bound together and the tapioca won’t crumble if you flip it. Then flip the tapioca to cook the other side. After a few minutes you’re done.

  15. Where did cassava flour originated

  16. Well, many are made with coconut flour or oil for paleo eaters, which can raise the saturated fat content significantly.

  17. having trouble using cassava flour to make muffins. Gummy on the inside. Still trying to figure it out. dont want to use almond flour

  18. Those food items that are foregone in a bid to follow the Paleo diet can be replaced by some proper natural alternative to it, for example, honey can be used instead of sugar and natural oil in place of butter. That does not mean that paleo diet followers should or do eat raw foods. There are thousands of Paleo-friendly recipes which are really delicious and very easy to cook.

  19. I have tried subbing Cassava flour for wheat flour but find that when I bake with it the item never seems to get cooked on the inside. It seems a little bit raw. What am I doing wrong?

  20. Very interesting thank you – I have been privileged to get hold of 10kg of cassava flour, but it has an expiry date end of July2018 – would that still be OK to use, & when making a cake, can I also add baking powder/raising agent to the ingredients, & can I mix the cassava flour with wholegrain wheat/spelt flour for the recipe?

    Thank you so much.

  21. When using cassava flour and yeast together, the final product literally collapses and its taste is slightly bitter. The final product also feels dry and gritty in the mouth.
    For me, it causes heartburn and I have had diarrhea several times.

    • Sorry to hear that. I’ve found the brand of cassava flour definitely makes a difference (I only recommend Otto’s brand – linked above), but still, every person’s body may respond differently to it. Looks like it’s definitely not an ingredient for you. :)

  22. Can you give me a simple recipe for Cassava bread baked in a
    2lb non-stick tin, please?

  23. Thanks for sending this cassava history I only knew that I can eat as much as I can by cooking it with brown sugar and add grated coconut , I was also surprised to know that cassava is a good source of high carbohydrate that kills the radicals caused by cancer patients, let it be it us so good to kill the bad cells in your body

  24. Hi Lisa! Big fan of your blog, recipes and video content! I just got a Paleo dessert cookbook in the mail and every recipe calls for Almond flour…..and I have a nut sensitivity. I was researching cassava flour as a substitute when your article came up. How much cassava flour would I sub for almond flour? Is it 1:1? Are there any other adjustments I’ll need to make (like more eggs, water, etc.)?

    • Hi Kelly – so glad you love my recipes and videos! Unfortunately, cassava flour is not a 1:1 substitute for almond flour. Because one is from a root vegetable and one is from a nut, they definitely behave differently in baking. And I’d say each recipe may be different based on the other ingredients used in the recipe. You’ll have to play around with the specific recipe you’re trying to sub. Sorry I can’t be of more help!