What Is Expandex?

Buying, Baking, and Recipes

Homemade gluten-free breads

Annabelle Breakey / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Expandex is a gluten-free starch made from modified tapioca starch. It's a white, odorless, flavorless powder used to improve the texture, taste, crumb, elasticity, and shelf life of gluten-free baked goods. The modified starch helps baked goods expand, hence its name, and improves moisture retention, which can be an issue when baking gluten free. Expandex can also be used as a thickener and does not need any heat to perform properly.

Fast Facts

  • Consists Of: Modified tapioca starch
  • Used In: Gluten-free baked goods
  • Found In: Health food stores and online

What Is Expandex?

Expandex is a modified food starch, meaning that it is a naturally occurring starch that is processed to change the molecular structure and characteristics of the original starch. Modified starches are used as thickeners and stabilizers and can improve the shelf life, appearance, texture, and taste of foods. "Modified" doesn't mean GMO unless the product comes from a GMO source.

Derived from tapioca, Expandex is gluten free and enhances many characteristics of baked goods. The gluten-free baked goods including Expandex will last longer than those made without. Expandex does not contain wheat, rye, barley, oats, or corn and is certified gluten free.

Expandex vs. Tapioca Starch

Although Expandex is made from tapioca starch, it is not the same. In general, chefs use tapioca in gluten-free recipes to lighten the texture and to thicken sauces. Expandex does offer these benefits but is used differently than tapioca starch, also referred to as tapioca flour. Tapioca starch is used as a thickener and ingredient in gluten-free recipes and is a substitute for cornstarch; Expandex is a replacement for some of the flours in gluten-free recipes.

Expandex Uses

Expandex is used in gluten-free recipes to improve the texture, appearance, and shelf life, as gluten-free baked goods can be dry, unattractive looking, and go bad in a short amount of time. Expandex creates a moist crumb similar to bread made with gluten and makes cookies and crackers extra crispy. Using Expandex also reduces the amount of xanthan or guar gums needed in recipes calling for those ingredients.

In addition, this modified tapioca starch is used to thicken sauces and fruit fillings. It is beneficial in recipes that will be frozen since Expandex prevents the sauces from becoming watery or breaking down, as they can when flour is used as a thickener.

How to Bake With Expandex

Any gluten-free recipe with flour can include Expandex, such as banana bread, pizza dough, and German chocolate cake. Expandex is not a substitute for flours that contain gluten but instead should replace just a portion of the other gluten-free starches in recipes. A good rule of thumb is to swap up to 15 percent of the gluten-free flour weight with Expandex. It is best to add it to gluten-free flour mixes as it helps to trap the air in, and provides a volume and fluffiness that many gluten-free baked goods lack. It also helps create a better outer layer in bread, providing more crunch. Using this starch reduces the amount of binding gums (like guar and xanthan) in the batter.

To thicken sauces with Expandex, add a few tablespoons in place of other gluten-free thickeners (such as amaranth flour). Keep in mind that Expandex does not need to be heated to work as a thickener.

What Does It Taste Like?

Expandex does not offer any taste when the recommended amount is added. If too much is used in a recipe, the resulting baked good can have a chemical flavor.

Expandex Recipes

This ingredient can become part of almost any gluten-free recipe, from bread to muffins to pizza crust. Swap a portion of the gluten-free flour mixture for Expandex.

Where to Buy Expandex

Expandex can be found in health food stores and online. It is sold in stand-up, resealable pouches in small quantities (approximately 11 to 15 ounces) and larger sizes (2 1/2 to 5 pounds). A popular brand is Judee's Gluten Free.

Storage

Keep Expandex in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark spot away from moisture and heat. It should last for up to a year.

Nutrition and Benefits

This product, like cornstarch, potato starch, and arrowroot starch, is primarily a source of refined carbohydrates and contains 419 calories (but merely 1.2 grams of protein) per 100 grams.