Cornstarch is a popular thickening ingredient for many Asian savory cuisines as well as in baked goods. The curiosity behind the question ‘is cornstarch gluten-free’ is understandable especially for people who are under a strict gluten-free and low carb diet.
So, is cornstarch gluten-free? The direct answer is yes, because it is a by-product of corn which is naturally gluten-free but in some cases, it might be not due to contamination of non-gluten free products.
If you want to know more about gluten-free cornstarch, we have all the answers in this post so read on.
What is cornstarch?
When corn kernels are ground and powdered, we get the cornstarch. It should not be mistaken with corn flour or cornmeal though. Cornstarch is made from processed corn kernels while corn flour and cornmeal are derived from dried corn. C
ornstarch is mainly used for sauce thickening and as a substitute for baking ingredients but not as a substitute for flour. We have corn flour and cornmeal to work on that.
What is cornstarch made of?
The thing that makes cornstarch what it is would be what is called as the corn’s endosperm. It is the nutritious, white tissue inside the corn kernel. The process in making it is not a simple process though. Making cornstarch involves a delicate process of separating the starch from the corn in terms of its protein, fiber, and oil components.
There are a few tips to get the best out of cornstarch. When not diluted properly, it forms messy clumps. Another is that it should be whisked heavily before it is used as a thickening agent to food.
What is cornstarch used for?
You would be surprised with how versatile cornstarch is, making it a staple in households. Here are some of the most common and most surprising uses for cornstarch that you should know of.
- Works as thickening agent for:
- Sauces such as gravy
- Soups and casseroles
- Fruit glazing
- Egg substitute (for baked goods as well as in waffle and pancake batter)
- Can be mixed with all-purpose flour to make cake flour
- Gluten-free coating for fried goods
- It helps in untying complicated knots
- Potent grease remover (and in dusting off fondant from the kitchen counter)
- Good in polishing china and silver
- Used in making slime for kids
- Cheap remedy for skin itches and sunburn (especially bug bites and itchy blisters)
- Used as cost-effective remedy for body odor (low-cost deodorant)
- Chafing and athlete’s foot solution
- Stain remover
There are more to these listed benefits and functions of cornstarch but since they are still considered questionable, we only listed these ‘tested and proven’ uses of cornstarch.
Why are there non-gluten free cornstarch?
As have been mentioned, having non-gluten free cornstarch is a result of wheat contamination and other mixing with non-gluten ingredients especially if they are all processed in a shared facility.
As such, it is very important to look for gluten-free labeling in the cornstarch’s packaging. This is particularly vital for people who have allergic reactions to gluten or those with celiac disease.
Related: Is Popcorn Gluten-Free?
Is cornstarch vegan?
Yes, cornstarch is totally vegan. It is made of 100% corn kernels. However, there is a lot of clamor about it being subject to genetic modification so only go for your trusted brands or perhaps, switch to surer vegan alternatives.
Cornstarch is not always the best substitute for people who are on a low carb diet or those who want to regulate their blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The reason behind this is that cornstarch can be high in calories. There is 381kcal per 100g of cornstarch, so think about that whenever you go high on cornstarch.
Gluten-free cornstarch brands
The good thing about the cornstarch industry is that there are certified gluten-free cornstarch brands that you should be on the loop of. If you want to know where to start, you should check the following brands:
Argo and Kingsford’s cornstarch
It only produces two products which are both gluten-free: cornstarch and baking powder. They also have an aluminum-free and GMO-free labelling.
Bob’s Red Mill cornstarch
This one is compliant to the ‘lower than 20M parts per million’ of gluten content. It is also a producer of gluten-free oats and the facility is certified with gluten-free equipment.
Clabber Girl cornstarch
It is not just gluten-free but also Kosher certified. It is also a global producer of gluten-free baked goods mixes like brownies and cookies.
Hearth Club cornstarch
It is labeled as gluten-free and the products of Hearth Club other than cornstarch are considered by the Celiac Disease Org as gluten-free.
Hodgson Mill cornstarch
This one is certified gluten-free by the Celiac Support Association. It is also labeled as a non-GMO product. Aside from this, it also produces other gluten-free products such as baking mixes and other baking ingredients.
It gets the same gluten-free certification as that of Clabber Girl and Hearth Club. This makes this brand gluten-free.
How to check your cornstarch is gluten-free
There is no definite measure in checking if your cornstarch is gluten-free. As a matter of fact, we can only rely on the integrity of the gluten-free label in the cornstarch pack. But then again, if you still have inhibitions about how gluten-free cornstarch is, you should just switch to arrowroot, flaxseed or other 100% gluten-free cornstarch substitutes.
What are gluten-free substitutes for cornstarch?
If you are not sure if your cornstarch is gluten-free, you might want to know some handy substitutes for it. If you do not know where to start, here are some ideas for you.
- Arrowroot: Aside from being more fibrous than cornstarch, it is also more transparent and gelatinous.
- Tapioca: This one is derived from cassava root. Two tablespoons of tapioca powder is equivalent to one tablespoon of cornstarch.
- Rice flour: It is naturally gluten-free that is perfect for clear liquids. It works at the same ratio as tapioca powder does.
- Potato starch: This one is high-carb and is derived from grinding potatoes and ground into flour.
- Ground flaxseed: This one is high fiber and a good absorbent for liquid. It is a good substitute for cornstarch because it is easily diluted and would not form clumps.
- Guar gum: This one is extracted from guar bean. It is processed the same as cornstarch: out of guar bean’s endosperms.
Is modified cornstarch gluten-free?
Yes, because it is still derived from corn, potatoes, and ‘waxy maize.’ All of these three are naturally gluten-free so while you may have reservations because of the word ‘modified’, you should shrug off the worry because modified cornstarch is gluten-free.
Is Clabber Girl cornstarch gluten-free?
Not only is this one a certified gluten-free brand, it is also Kosher certified. You can also rely on its gluten-free labeling because it is one of the few manufacturing companies that distribute 100% gluten-free baking mixes such as brownie, banana bread, and chocolate chip cookie mixes.
Is Fleischmann’s cornstarch gluten-free?
Yes. This Canada-based cornstarch has established a reputation for being gluten-free. As a matter of fact, it is listed by the international organization for people with celiac disease to be a gluten-free product.
How does baking powder make chicken crispy?
Unlike the leavening agent that is found in baking powder, cornstarch helps in making chicken crispier by preventing gluten development from the meat. Aside from this, cornstarch also has the ability to absorb moisture from the meat, which by principle, makes everything crispier. Adding all-purpose flour to it makes meat the crispiest.
Which is healthier cornstarch or flour?
This is a frequently asked question when it comes to baking and frying. Truth be told, flour is still healthier than cornstarch. Flour has lower carb content, higher protein level and with more dietary fiber compared to cornstarch. It is also more packed with vitamins and minerals, so overall, flour is still the healthier choice compared to cornstarch.
Is cornstarch dangerous?
Cornstarch should never be ingested raw, ever. Constant consumption of foods with cornstarch could yield iron deficiency, anemia as well as bloating and acid reflux. Make sure that when you use cornstarch for cooking that it is completely diluted and comes without clumps or else, you might be at risk for air-borne bacteria contamination.
Can cornstarch be used for diaper rash?
Contrary to what most people think, using cornstarch for diaper rash has long been disproved by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Cornstarch only reduces friction. As a matter of fact, using it may worsen the case of yeast infection in the rash.
With all the things that we have covered here, one thing is proven: there is more to the question ‘is cornstarch gluten-free’ than just yes or no. While it could be used for other functions, it is more significant as a baking and cooking ingredient.
As such, you must know which brands to look for and some 100% gluten-free alternatives to cornstarch to consider. Nonetheless, considering what cornstarch is made of, it can be settled that indeed, cornstarch is gluten-free.
- 6lb of trimmed chicken wings
- 3tbsps cornstarch
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Buffalo sauce (butter, garlic, vinegar, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce)
- Ranch sauce
- Blue cheese (optional)
- First, prepare the baking sheet and spread either parchment paper or foil. Place a wire rack on the baking sheet and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. After that, preheat the oven to 425F.
- Next, prepare the chicken wings. Do this by pat drying the wings with a paper towel.
- Now, mix in the dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, mix salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and the cornstarch.
- Toss in the chicken wings in the bowl and make sure that everything is coated evenly.
- Now, arrange the coated chicken in the baking sheet.
- Bake the chicken wings for 50mins in the oven. If you have a food thermometer, stick it through the fleshy part of the chicken and check if it has an internal temp of 175F.
- While the chicken cooks, prepare the buffalo wing sauce. *You can make a homemade one by mixing the ingredients mentioned. If you do not have time, you can just buy one.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, let it cool in the rack for at least 10mins.
- Toss the cooled crispy chicken wings in the buffalo sauce. Coat the wings evenly.
- Mix the blue cheese with the ranch sauce for the dip.
- Serve warm.
Nutrition InformationServing Size 0.25 pound
Amount Per ServingCalories 491Total Fat 29gCholesterol 141mgSodium 138mgCarbohydrates 2gProtein 33g