Tapioca Flour: For stress-free gluten-free baking

Tapioca flour, a crucial ingredient for gluten-free baking will give your wheat-free bread the structure it needs to maintain it's shape and chewy texture.
Cooked bread with ingredients Eggs and tapioca flour in a cup.
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Gluten-free bread normally lacks the texture and chew of traditional bread.

Naturally, gluten-free tapioca flour can help with this. Sure it’s higher in carbs and a lot of keto enthusiasts will likely have a problem with that but let’s face it, homemade gluten-free baking is a nightmare and tapioca flour is here to help.

What is Tapioca flour?

Cassava roots

Made from the cassava plant, tapioca flour is a gluten-free flour alternative to wheat flour. In fact, tapioca flour is one of the most versatile gluten-free flours out there.

Tapioca Flour is derived from the starchy vegetable called cassava root. Because it is actually pretty starchy, it sometimes is referred to as tapioca starch. However, the names are basically interchangeable. The root is finely shredded, washed, and dehydrated. The dried pulp is then ground into flour.

In its white, starchy form, tapioca flour has a mildly sweet taste and is also known as tapioca starch. It has a slippery but dry feel that you will only understand if you are going from egg wash to batter, or if you spill a whole bag on the floor and need to clean it up. 🙂

Where Does Tapioca Flour Originate From?

Brazil flag

Tapioca comes from the northern and northeastern parts of Brazil, but it is now used all over South America. It is a shrub that grows back every year and can handle the heat of tropical lowlands. Cassava can grow in poor soils better than many other food plants.

Is Tapioca Flour Gluten-free?

Gluten Free Bread

Tapioca flour is a naturally gluten-free substance made from the extracted starch of the cassava plant. It is slightly sweet and extremely starchy, so it is used sparingly in baked goods. It should be combined with other gluten-free flours, such as brown rice flour or quinoa flour.

Inside Kellys Kitchen Favorite Tapioca Flour Recipes

Here are some favorite recipes of ours including a couple that we whipped up ourselves.

1. Tapioca Flour Dinner Rolls (Biscuits)

Tapioca Flour Dinner Rolls (Biscuits)

These gluten-free tapioca flour biscuits are so fluffy and delicious. Better yet they are healthier than biscuits that you make with regular flour. Give them a try and let us know how you like them.

2. Tapioca Flour Air Fryer Crispy Shrimp

Tapioca Flour Air Fryer Crispy Shrimp

With tapioca flour as the batter, these breaded shrimp in the air fryer taste great without the gluten. The fine powder really works well in this recipe. You can also substitute bob’s red mill arrowroot starch for this recipe.

3. Tapioca Pearls

How to Make Tapioca Pearls -Boba Balls- with Perfect Texture For Milk Tea

We searched high and low for an amazing tapioca pearls recipe. We think we finally found one.

“Learn how to make tapioca pearls (boba balls) for bubble tea from scratch. Whether you like your boba pearls chewy, soft, ‘Q’, or firm, we’ll show you how to achieve that perfect texture.” Check out their Recipe here

4. Authentic Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

Authentic Brazilian Cheese Bread - Olivia-s Cuisine

Brazilian cheese bread is tasty as it gets, since they are so flavorful due to the cheese and the tapioca flour. This recipe from Olivia’s cuisine doesn’t disappoint. Check it out –

5. Grain Free Soft Tapioca Wraps

Soft Tapioca Wraps - your new favorite grain free flatbread

These easy, cheesy grain-free soft tapioca wraps are made with simple gluten-free pantry ingredients—plus they stay flexible even when they’re cold and freeze beautifully.

One of our new favorite blogs is Gluten Free on A Shoestring:

Best Ways to Use Tapioca Flour in Your Home Cooking?

Cooked bread with ingredients Eggs and tapioca flour in a cup.

This all-purpose flour is most often used in baking, but it can also be used as a thickener or combined with other flours to make a batter or breading.

Baking With Tapioca Flour

Eggs, tapioca flour and an egg beater, ingredients used in bakery

Baked goods, especially homemade baked goods can be very challenging if they must be gluten-free. In place of wheat flour, tapioca flour can be used in many baked goods. I have some listed below. But first, why do we use tapioca flour in the first place?

Tapioca flour is used to bind gluten-free recipes and enhance the texture of gluten-free baked goods. Without something like tapioca flour, bread wouldn’t hold together well. To get that desired consistency that you can easily get when baking with traditional flour, you need tapioca flour.

Tapioca contributes to the crispness and chewiness of crusts and baked goods. Tapioca flour is a very smooth flour that works well as a thickener in sauces, pies, and soups because it never discolors and has no discernible taste or smell.

Better results can be achieved when used in conjunction with other gluten-free flours.

The Perfect Thickener

Dark Homemade Turkey Gravy

Similar to corn starch, it can be used as a thickening agent. Tapioca flour and corn starch are actually very similar. The main difference between tapioca flour and cornstarch is how they are sourced. As you might have guessed, cornstarch is sourced from corn, whereas tapioca flour comes from the root of the cassava plant.

Because of how tapioca flour reacts to hot water, starchy flour can be used to make things thicker. When heated in a liquid, starch granules absorb water, swell, and release long, entangled starch molecules, all of which cause the liquid to thicken.

Thickener For Soups

Healthy Homemade Cauliflower Soup

As mentioned above tapioca flour is a fantastic thickening agent, so if the recipe calls for xanthan gum or guar gum, I would say skip those and reach for the tapioca powder.

Why skip xanthan gum? Xanthan gum has been known to cause bloating and other digestive issues and basically, it’s not a natural ingredient.

Gravies and Stews

Because it’s such a good thickener, you can use tapioca flour to make a starchy liquid to thicken up gravies. Since it has a neutral flavor, it won’t upset your flavor pallete.

Why Use Tapioca Flour?

Eggs, tapioca flour in a cup and egg beater.

Mostly the push for a starch like Tapioca flour is due to the fact that it is gluten-free. It’s a substitute for gluten essentially.

It’s pretty much all carbs though so if you are on keto or a low card diet it’s really not that good. But since it’s a gluten-free product, it can give you that awesome chewy texture you may be missing from your gluten-free bread.

What is Cassava flour?

Yucca, yuca, cassava, manioca, mandioca chips and flour

Cassava flour is dried cassava root. When you grate and dry the fibrous cassava root, you get cassava flour. It works well in place of wheat and other flour. It can be used in all recipes that call for wheat flour, which makes it easy to bake and cook gluten-free meals. Cassava flour has a lot of carbs in it.

Is tapioca flour Keto-compliant?

Keto dieting

Why Tapioca Flour Is Not Allowed on the Keto Diet. While tapioca may be permitted on the Paleo or Whole30 diets, it is not keto-friendly (nor is cassava flour). It has limited nutritional value because it is predominantly composed of carbohydrates and contains almost no protein.

Is Arrowroot Starch a Good Substitute for Tapioca Flour

Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot is a lot like tapioca flour and can be used in most recipes in place of it ( 4 ). When used as a thickener or as part of a baking mix with other flours and starches, arrowroot is a great substitute for tapioca flour.

Rice Flour Substitute

Rice flour is another gluten-free flour that can be used instead of tapioca flour. Rice flour is a bit stickier and thicker than tapioca flour, so use about half as much rice flour as tapioca flour in a recipe. If you’re baking, you’ll need to use another flour to make up the difference.

Why Whole Wheat Flour is Problematic

Wheat flour

Wheat in its refined form is bad for your body because it makes you fat and is the cause of many diseases.

Fried foods made with wheat flour are worse for you. Cause now you are adding fat into the mix alongside the inflammation.

Even though wheat flour foods are bad for your health, they are addicting and hard to stop eating.

Other bad things that happen when you eat wheat flour are that it raises your cholesterol, clogs your arteries, changes your blood sugar level, makes you moody and irritable, and makes you want to eat more. It can also lead to a fat liver, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries.

Is Tapioca Flour Good for Pie Fillings?

Pouring homemade lemon pie filling into graham cracker crust for a lemon meringue pie in the kitchen

Since it has less starch than other thickeners, you’ll need to use more of it. Tapioca that cooks quickly makes the filling bright and clear, but it also makes it bumpy and a little bit sticky. Before baking, a filling made with tapioca needs to sit for 15 to 30 minutes so that the tapioca can soften.

Use half the amount of cornstarch or 2 teaspoons of quick-cooking tapioca to replace 1 tablespoon of flour in a recipe. When using tapioca, mix it with the filling ingredients and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before continuing with the recipe.

Potato Starch vs Tapioca Flour

Starch potato in spoon on black board

Are potato and tapioca starches interchangeable?

They are, indeed. However, potato starch is denser than tapioca starch. If you substitute potato starch for tapioca starch in a gluten-free flour blend containing more than a quarter of tapioca starch, the resulting recipe will be slightly denser.

To remedy this, replace 25% of the tapioca starch with potato starch and increase the amount of another flour in the recipe by 1/4 cup for every 2 cups of the flour blend.

Coconut Flour Vs Tapioca Flour

Coconut flour in a bowl with coconut pieces

Tapioca flour has 375 calories per 100g and coconut flour has 400 calories so the difference is about 7%. In tapioca flour most of the calories come from carbs – there is more carbohydrates than in coconut flour.

There are 60g of carbohydrates per 100g of coconut flour and 87.5g of carbohydrates per 100g of tapioca flour, so let me do the math for you: the difference is approximately 46%.

Bob’s red mill

Bob’s red mill sells a lot of alternative flours. They also sell a fair amount of grain based flours and meals.

They are most famous for their paleo flour and meals like almond flour, tapioca flour, and cassava flour. So if you are looking to find tapioca flour you can get it here.

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