Arrowroot powder is a white, flavorless powder used to thicken sauces, soups, and other foods. Arrowroot powder is comprised of starches extracted from various tropical tubers, such as the arrowroot plant and cassava. Some lower quality arrowroot powder blends may also contain potato starch, so be sure to read ingredient lists carefully.
Use in Cooking
Arrowroot powder has twice the thickening power of wheat flour and because it contains no protein, arrowroot is gluten-free.
Unlike cornstarch, arrowroot powder creates a perfectly clear gel and does not break down when combined with acidic ingredients like fruit juice. Arrowroot also stands up to freezing whereas mixtures thickened with cornstarch tend to break down after freezing and thawing.
How It's Used
Because arrowroot can stand up to acidic mixtures, it is excellent for thickening fruit gels and fruit sauces like cranberry sauce or acidic sauces like sweet and sour sauce. Arrowroot powder is excellent for making smooth homemade ice cream as it interferes with the formation of large ice crystals and is not affected by freezing. Although it is good for ice cream, arrowroot powder is not suggested for use with other non-frozen dairy products as it can produce a slimy or undesirable texture.
Similarly to cornstarch, arrowroot is also excellent for thickening soups, sauces, and gravies, and it can be substituted for cornstarch.
Just as with cornstarch, arrowroot powder should be mixed with room temperature water to create a slurry before adding it to a hot liquid. Adding arrowroot powder to a hot liquid will cause the starch molecules to swell immediately and form clumps before it is able to be evenly mixed into the liquid.
Overheating arrowroot powder can cause it to break down, resulting in a thin sauce. Heat mixtures with arrowroot powder just until it is thickened, and then remove from the heat.
How to Substitute Arrowroot for Cornstarch or Flour
- Arrowroot powder can be substituted for cornstarch in most recipes at a ratio of two teaspoons arrowroot powder for every one tablespoon of cornstarch.
- Arrowroot powder can be substituted for flour thickeners at a ratio of one teaspoon of arrowroot powder for every one tablespoon of flour.
Where to Buy
Arrowroot powder is not commonly sold in most major grocery stores, although this may change as gluten-free cooking becomes more widespread. Larger chains that have a sizable stock of natural or health food items may carry arrowroot powder. It can usually be found near flour, grains, or baking supplies. If there is a gluten-free specialty section in the market, look there.
Natural food stores or health food stores often carry arrowroot powder because it is a commonly used ingredient in gluten-free cooking. It may be found in a gluten-free specialty market. Arrowroot powder can also be conveniently purchased through several online vendors.