5 Things You Need to Know About Cassava Flour


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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 :

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)

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’m not sure about all of this as I’ve recently learned that cassava flour is actually far too high in lead. Perhaps eating a bit may be ok but a cassava based diet apparently can lead to high levels of lead. I’m not an expert at all but I’d like to know if you have researched this?

  2. I saw the note about baking with cassava flour. While not exactly on point, I made my mother’s carrot cake recipe last week substituting 50% tapioca flour (not starch) and 50% rice flour for the wheat flour. Turned out excellent, but the baking time was several minutes longer. Next time I will try mostly cassava flour and some rice flour.

  3. We made nachos from cassava chips and they were better than corn taco chips! They are very thin and crunchy. Yum!

  4. Thank you for providing this great info on Cassava flour.
    I have to be gluten free, but have sensitivities or side effects from multiple flour sources besides gluten containing flours. I had a suspicion that I might have problems with Cassava flour, and you confirmed it by the fact that tapioca is a derivative of the Cassava root. I don’t do well when I eat foods with tapioca flour in it (increased phlegm in my lungs and sinuses–better to breathe with clear lungs and nose). Also the concern you mentioned about the high carbohydrate level in Cassava also is something that I need to watch. Tendency to have diabetes in my family so I use care on that.

  5. Hi there! 
    I recently bought Ottos flour in the 15lb bag. 
    I have Hashimoto’s and it sure helps to eat grain and nut free. 

    I love pancakes and I have successfully made them many times with cassava flour of different brands, but lately EVERY time I make them the pancakes never cook in the middle and they are soggy and gross while they look amazing and are fluffy and look delicious outside! 😔
    PLEASE HELP, 🙏 I don’t wanna give up on cassava pancakes 🥞 

  6. I just bought some cassava flour, when I searched for information, I immediately found your article. Thank you for the information.  I am looking forward to trying it.

  7. I got some Paleolicious bread I like it because I’m trying to avoid wheat but it’s very expensive and hard to find, uses cassava 

  8. Hi Lisa,
    I love your recipes and have used several of them that use almond flour. Unfortunately I have been tested and recently discovered that I am allergic to Almonds!  Do you have any suggestions for a flaky, gluten free pie crust recipe that  does not use Almond flour?

      1. Try Gluten Free Bisquick (Rice based). We use it in a lot of different type of recipes that call for flour and we’ve had a lot of luck with it–in baking and as a thickener for gravies.
        Rice, potato starch, other nut flours, coconut flour and coffee flower flour all work well for me with the nut flours, coconut and coffee flower flour used in careful moderation in the mix, and always having the rice and potato starch as the more main ingredients.
        I just found that I probably won’t do well with cassava flour based on info from the website we’re on, but that could be a possibility for you as a substitute for the almond flour, but usually combined with other flours.

  9. The Amazon link for the palm shortening doesn’t open, so zi do not know which one you recommend. Thank you, they look great. I actually have cassava planted in my back yard.

  10. In Indonesia this is call mokaf – modified cassava flour. And you are right this is the best gf alternative flour. Thank you for writing the article about it. 

    1. I have heard and read about mocaf (modified cassava flour), but I think it’s different from cassava flour. Cassava flour(from my understanding and experience as a cassava consumer back home😁), is produced without modifying / fermenting the cassava, while mocaf, just like the name, is produced from modified (through fermentation process) cassava. ☺️

  11. Sorry if I already post this but I have a lot of problems with using cassava flour. It comes out very gummy on the inside. What am I doing wrong? I am allergic to almond flour and I need a grain free flour to use. Coconut flour uses to much eggs. Don’t do good on the egg substitutes.

  12. The terms cassava flour and tapioca flour are incorrectly used interchangeably, but 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/starch remains.

    Alternatively, cassava flour is the whole root, simply peeled, dried and ground. This means it has more dietary fiber than tapioca flour, and it has a low glycemic of 46.  No insulin spikes.

  13. This was a very helpful article! I have a friend who can’t eat gluten and I’m always trying to find ways to replace wheat in my recipes. Thanks Lisa :)

  14. Hi, I’ve been using cassava flour with almond flour for almost a year making crepes and wraps,I love them so does my family.5 stars

  15. Have you heard of MoCaF?
    Modiefied cassava flour?

    Basically adding an extra step: fermentation, in the process of making cassava flour.
    This makes the flour behaves more like wheat flour, hence sometimes called “All-purpose” cassava flour. With similar nutritional value, if not more nutritious from the fermentation process.

    1. Hi Susie – If you’re referring to my cassava flour tortilla recipe, yes, you can use any oil or fat.

  16. Allergies are a pain to deal with and egg, flax seed & tapioca allergies just add to the difficulties. Now that I know that tapioca flour & cassava flours are from the same plant and produced by different processes, I can make better decisions and I thank you for the information.

    1. 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 😊

  17. 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.5 stars

  18. 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.

    1. Hi Helen – I’ve used the root to make other recipes, but never to make a flour and then the tortillas.

  19. 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.

    1. I love Siete brand cassava wraps as well and that’s a brilliant idea! Thanks so much for sharing Marta!

    2. Hi. Cassava is a RESISTANT STARCH. Meaning it does not get absorbed rapidly by humans and does not create a glucose response from the pancreas. I’m on low carb as well Jeto, Diabetic T1) Life Extensions has a great article in Oct 2019 magazine. Loved reading this and super excited to try some if your ideas.

  20. 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

    1. Hi Carol – I’ve found that the brand of cassava flour really makes a difference. I have a few tips on my Cassava Flour Torilla recipe post. :)

    2. I first used Anthony’s Organic Cassava Flour and it was ok, then something I found at Costco, a big 3 pound bag of Cassava Flour that was exactly what you describe Carol, mucky inside, pancakes made me mad, mad, mad, nothing ever turned out, only good for making gravy.

      I had gotten a bag of Otto’s meanwhile, tried it the other day, success! Pancakes gluten free, nice rise, no mucky insides, no sticking to the pan. I know I can trust this success, Otto’s SHOULD have been my first, I knew that from reading, but got what I did and suffered for it.

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

    1. 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.


  23. 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..

    1. 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!

    2. I had a similar experience! Very scary abdominal bloating and pain, and I also had to switch to purely bone broth the next day. It took me a while to realize it was related to the cassava snacks I had recently purchased from siete and lesser evil. Now it makes sense.

      1. I also had a similar experience!! I ate some food i had made with cassava flour, and the first day was terrible, then the second day i ate something else (thinking the first day was a cross contamination of gluten somehow) but then by the second day i had caught on. Apparently it can cause gastric distress in some people sensitive to high starch foods. Bloating, abdominal pain, and gas are all very common parts of that reaction. Im on day two of still not quite feeling right. 
        Im so bummed because i really really loved the texture and flavor of the pizza dough it made. Im so sad, maybe i can cut way back on the amount i use in the recipe 😔 good luck to everyone else out there! 

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. “…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.

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

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

    1. My wonderful whole wheat muffins were a complete disaster when made with cassava flour. I bought it when the shelves at my grocery store were empty of wheat flour. It’s also way too expensive for my budget. Anyway, my muffins were over-baked on the outside (hard as a rock) and under-baked inside (gooey). Also ruined my muffin pan because they stuck so badly to the pan. When baking gets this complicated I lose my interest real quick. I hope I can find a recipe that I can use up this flour on.

  30. 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.

  31. 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?

  32. 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.

    1. It’s probably fine for another couple of months if it’s been sealed. Yes, you can mix this flour with raising agents and other ingredients. It would all just be dependent on the recipe. :)

  33. 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.

    1. 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. :)

  34. 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

  35. 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.)?

    1. 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!