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5 Things You Need to Know About Cassava Flour

Posted by on July 7, 2017 / 82 Comments

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 (
  • Kofi

    Great read. We use cassava extensively in West Africa. It grows in abundance :) … Look up ‘atieke’ (fermented cassava popular in Ivory Coast) it’s delicious :)

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  • sewpretty13

    Have you tried making your own Cassava flour? Does the raw cassava need to be soaked as part of the process in making the flour or is baking it enough to eliminate the toxins? I found some already peeled and grated cassava at the store today and I want to dehydrate it and then grind it in my blender to make flour. Just wondering though if it needs to be soaked before drying. Thanks

    • I have not tried making my own (due to the processes necessary to make it safe). Ottos Cassava Flour produces a consistently great flour (and consistency is important in baking), so I use that brand exclusively. I’ve linked it above. :)

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  • Lauren

    Thank you for this! Just came across your blog today and I’m absolutely loving it. You’re speaking my language with the gut and health relationship. All your recipes and photos look absolutely divine and I can’t wait to see more!! Thanks for all your effort- I can tell you’re passionate about us reaching optimal wellness for what works for us individually and I REALLY appreciate that.

  • Lisa

    Is cassava flour the same as pindcua flour???

    • I’m not sure as I’ve never used pinduca flour, but a quick Google search shows that it might be the same. :)

  • Eileen Urro-Cena

    Great info many thanks for sharing. I use frozen grated cassava for cassava cake. I am looking for other recipes using tapioca flour.

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  • Shoshana

    is there something I can use instead of Cassava Flour? Cannot find it in Canada.

  • Faith Walker-Palmer

    I would like to dry and grind my own cassava from the yuca roots that are available at my supermarket. Do I need to cook the yuca first or do I just remove the core and dry and grind?

    • Hi Faith – I have not ground my own cassava flour, but understand there are special preparation methods necessary to remove the toxic compounds. I wish you luck!

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  • Dani

    Is there a relationship between the cassava and water. I.E does a recipe require more water when cassava is used? Also have you used manioc? which is supposed to be cassava but seems to soak up a lot of liquids? Hoping you can help. Ove here in Australia cassava flour and tigernut flour are pretty much a rare bird, and importing from overseas is a troublesome thing. But I can get manioc flour.

    • The water to cassava flour ratio would be recipe specific. But I have not found it to be similar to coconut flour, which is hugely absorbant. Also, Otto’s Cassava Flour (the brand I use), now ships to Australia so I’d recommend reaching out to them. :)

    • Hi Dani I live in Sydney where I buy grated cassava frozen from my local chinese supermarket. I then spread it over a baking tray and bake at 170 ° F for about 8 hours or until all the water has evaporated. Then simply blend or grind to make the flour.

  • Ralph Boas

    you say
    “cassava flour is the whole root, simply peeled, dried and ground. ”

    but then next you have the paragraph below which is contradictory because if the cassava flour is just the root peeled dried and ground how does it become not toxic if it is still raw and has not gone through the ” centuries old processes
    of soaking, cooking and fermenting…that “remove the toxic
    compounds and prevent one from getting sick.” ??

    “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.”

    • The first quote was comparing it to tapioca flour, which goes through a bleaching and starch extraction process. It becomes non-toxic (at least the brand I use, Otto’s Cassava Flour) through removing the peel and a proprietary process that involves drying/heating. It’s more modern than soaking, cooking and fermenting, but both work well to remove toxic compounds. Hope that helps!

  • Donna V

    Hi Lisa! LOVE your blog & recipes–simple, easy, fast & healthy! My kind of food. So here is my question: is Cassava Flour considered low FODMAP? This is the healing stage I am currently visiting. :)

    • Hi Donna – so glad you love the website! I’m not an expert on low FODMAP, but it seems most websites classify cassava and/or cassava flour as high FODMAP. Tapioca starch seems to be lower (likely due to the fact that it’s more processed)…so it’s probably best to stay away from cassava flour until you’re further along in your wellness journey. Hope that helps! :) x

      • Donna V

        Lisa — Thanks for the info. I am not an expert either but my gut professes to be! Not worth the risk right now…Guess those fish tacos are gonna be looking a little different for awhile… :( maybe lettuce boats with zoodle, carrot with cucumber, avocado, maybe keep the oranges…I too am a fan of three dots or dashes! LOL I miss the snap of crunchy carbs….. :(

        • Always trust the gut! ;) I do have a recipe for chicken lettuce wraps that delish, so hopefully that can tide you over! :) x

    • Zee Olsens

      From the available research it looks like raw cassava is high fodmap (but that shouldn’t be eaten until cooked anyways so is misleading). Once cooked and processed into tapioca or flour it seems to become low fodmap though.

  • demmabean

    Hi Lisa, do you know how they remove the peel? Is it done by hand only or other methods that may add other ingredients to this product? Do they sun-dry or oven-dry? Basically, is this a pure product with no chemicals added during the processing because I’d hate to find out later that it was damaging to my health to eat cassava flour every day? I’m really missing bread so I would love to consume this at least at one meal every day; is that safe?

    • Unfortunately, I don’t know how the peel is removed. I would email Otto’s Cassava Flour with specific questions on the product. As for eating cassava flour every day, no, I would personally not recommend that. I’m a firm believer in eating seasonal, nutrient-dense foods…and prioritizing food variety. Cassava flour, while a fabulous ingredient, is not one I would consider nutrient-dense. So I’d use it for the occasional taco, tortilla, bread, dessert, etc…but not as an every day item. :)

      • demmabean

        I will email them about the peeling, thanks! I thought so that it wouldn’t be a good idea to eat cassava flour every day! Too bad. So far I’ve been eating it every day for lunch with a salad and I’m going to stop because I seem to be getting addicted to it since I haven’t had bread in so long. Well, at least the bag will last me a lot longer. ;)

      • Jessica Ricketts

        Okay well for one why would you have to eat any flour on a daily basis the whole point of flour is really for baking or if you’re going to fry something but if a person wants to use cassava flour for when they’re baking there’s no problem with that why would you use any floor everyday is what I’m there asking

  • Annemiek
  • amir Parray

    Cassava can be dangerous because of the Cyanide formation.

  • matutina

    Hi Lisa,
    Nice site. The cassava peel is removed using a knife. Remove the whole cover which is about half an inch. Then grate the first layer of the root. Soak for over night or for about six hours and then pour the water. If you don’t want to go through the long process, soak the roots before peeling the night before and then just grate the first layer. Wash and cook root till it softens. To get flour, wash the already peeled root, cut to pieces and sun dry or air dry. Grate to get your homemade flour. No chemicals and all organic.

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  • Growing up in Brazil, I used to eat cassava (or yucca or manioc) flour almost everyday. It’s sold everywhere and it has a course/granny consistence (like corn flour for polenta) and you can eat “raw” – it’s not really raw, it’s just not toasted – with meats, sausages, rice and beans. When you toast it (usually with butter and seasonings on a fried pan) it’s called “farofa”.

    • Would love to have a friend in Brazil send me some. Then again, if I had a friend in Brazil I’d probably be on a plane to eat more there! ;)

  • Kerry

    Hi. My 4 year old is eating cassava flour (otto brand) tacos most days for lunch. We eat a paleo nutrient dense diet. I struggle to find foods that are quickly made that she will eat but I can get her to eat anything wrapped in a cassava flour taco/wrap. Do you think the benefit of getting her to eat the healthy filling I put into the taco/wrap outweighs the fact she is eating cassava flour daily. Is there any risk of cyanide from eating otto cassava flour daily? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Kerry – I’d have to refer you to Otto’s in terms of product specific questions. That’s great that your daughter loves the tacos/wraps, but I would recommend switching things up every once in while. I’m a big proponent of food variety. :)

  • Wendy DeGroot Conger

    I’m following the AIP diet and cassava flour has been a GODSEND. However, I have SIBO and will soon have to avoid high FODMAP foods and I just learned that cassava is high FODMAP. Gonna ask my holistic doc about this very soon cuz I don’t know what I’d do without my precious cassava flour!!

    • I did AIP several years ago (and had SIBO as well), though it was before I discovered cassava flour. I’d agree that you should probably steer clear of it for a while (I know it’ll be tough!) or at least greatly reduce the amount you’re consuming to give your gut time to heal. Additionally, the starches and FODMAPS will be counteracting your efforts to reduce the bacteria. I’ve introduced it no problem now (so there’s hope!) but find that my gut just does better with smaller quantities (ie – no triple taco fest). ;) x

      • Zee Olsens

        From what I can tell raw Cassava (which shouldn’t be consumed by humans anyways) is high FODMAP but once processed into tapioca or casssava flour it becomes low FODMAP.

  • aictopus

    Do you know of any certified organic cassava flours? I can only find “natural”.

    • USshrugged

      ottos cassava. flour is organic, I think. Amazon has it. Very pricey.

  • celine vanaerde

    is it normal its smells ?

    • Hi Celine. I’m not sure what you’re smelling? Cassava flour smells a bit like cassava root, just as coconut flour smells a bit like coconuts. If you’ve never eaten cassava before, this may just be new to you. :)

  • BB

    Hi! I would like to know if manioc, cassava is gluten free ?
    New member in the family with gluten free diet.

  • massie

    Just made chocolate chip cookies with it today! I used my normal recipe and just subbed 3/4 + 1/8 C of cassava flour for 1 C of whole wheat flour. They came out great!

  • Sarah Hawkins

    Hi! I baked with cassava flour for the first time yesterday. My finished product was gritty, like I dropped it on a beach. Is this normal?

    • Hi Sarah! No, that’s not normal. What did you bake?

      • Sarah Hawkins

        Brownies. I called the manufacturer and they said cassava flour is gritty. Perhaps I should try a different brand?

  • Terry Steik

    Just read in Time magazine blog, that when prepared incorrectly, Cassava can produce cyanide??!! How is it prepared incorrectly?! Really?!

  • Kelly Rock

    Hi Just fixed pancakes for the first time using cassava and we loved it! Going to try using broccoli and cheese in the batter next time. Should be good!

  • Molly Knight

    Hi Lisa, is cassava flour bread, mixed with wheat flour o.k.for people who are gluten intolerant?

    • Hi Molly – no, as the wheat flour would still have gluten in it. People who are gluten intolerant need to stay away from all forms of gluten (products that contain wheat, barley and rye).

  • Tracy Koy

    Thanks for all your info on Cassava flour. Is cassava flour a 1:1 substitution for coconut flour?

    • Hi Tracy – unfortunately no. Coconut flour is highly absorbent…so you’d probably have to play around with different ratios, depending on the recipe.

      • Tracy Koy

        Thanks Lisa.

  • Desire

    Hi Lisa! I really love your article on cassava flour. Can one make bread from cassava flour?

    • Yes, absolutely! I enjoyed lots of cassava bread while I lived in Bali. I don’t yet have any cassava bread recipes posted, they are in the queue. :)

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  • Jirka Stibor

    Hi, thanks for the article. I am still confused about the starch content. On authority nutrition I have read it has a lot of resistant starches and actually helps control blood suggar levels. I am still really confused about what part should starches play in my diet…

  • Sharmila Krishnamurty

    Hello, Thank you for the great article! I am trying to make my own products so as to reduce packaging material that I would have to throw away (We are trying to be a waste free household). I saw multiple videos on making tapioca starch and all of them have this residual vegetable matter. Would this residual matter be considered cassava flour?

    • Without seeing the videos, it sounds like you’d be left with the pulp. Which yes, would be a variation of tapioca or cassava flour.

  • Sandy Marble

    I am hypothyroid and was told to avoid cassava. I didn’t even know what it was. I also must avoid foods with gluten. Maybe people who are hypothyroid should be told this. It’s a bummer I’m supposed to avoid all these things which are normally good!

    • I’m hypothyroid and avoid gluten (as a celiac) but do eat small amounts of cassava flour in moderation. Everyone is unique and different. But you can still eat some amazing food, just check out my recipes section. ;)

  • Cyndie

    I just made my first carrot cake with the Cassava flour it came out great. The frosting is made with cashew butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and a dash of salt. The whole cake and frosting is vegan, My whole family likes it.

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