Cornstarch Vs Corn Flour: What’s the Difference?

Cornstarch Vs Corn Flour What's the Difference

Every cooking enthusiast or the one stepping into the kitchen for the first time gets confused between corn flour and cornstarch. Since both are derived from corn and look almost similar, the confusion is obvious. However, the problem arises when you think they can be used interchangeably in cooking and baking.

While corn flour is finely ground powder that you get from whole corn kernels, cornstarch is derived only from the starchy part of corn.

If you think that you can use either of them while cooking something specific, you are wrong. In this article, we will discuss the difference between corn flour and cornstarch and understand why they shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

Difference Between Corn Flour and Cornstarch

Difference between corn flour and cornstarch

Right from their nutrient profile to processing methods, corn flour and cornstarch are two food ingredients with their characteristics wide apart. Due to the same reason, they serve different culinary purposes.

Processing Method

Corn Flour

To make corn flour, entire corn kernels are grinded into fine powder (1). As a result, it has a rich nutrient profile and consists of everything that is found in whole corn. It contains protein, fiber, starch, vitamins and minerals.

Since none of the parts of the corn kernel are removed, the typical color of corn flour is yellow.

Corn Starch

As the name indicates, it is the starchy part of the corn. Cornstarch is more refined than corn flour as it is made after removing the fibrous part of the corn kernel. The starchy center, called endosperm, is only utilized to prepare it.

As a result, the color of cornstarch becomes white instead of yellow.

Nutrient Profile

Below is the table indicating the difference in the nutrient profile of 100 grams of corn flour and cornstarch (2,3)-

NutrientCorn flourCornstarch
Proteins10.34 g0 g
Fats5.17 g0 g
Carbohydrates75.86 g87.5 g
Fiber6.9 g0 g

Despite these basic nutrients, both these corn derivatives are rich in different vitamin and minerals. Corn flour contains a good amount of Vitamin B, iron, potassium, magnesium, etc. cornstarch lacks Vitamin B completely. Also, the minerals are present in traces compared to corn flour.


The taste of corn flour is almost the same as that of corn, earthy and sweet. It is mainly because entire corn kernel is grinded to prepare it. You can use it to prepare a variety of foods and even replace it with wheat flour to prepare breads, waffles, pastries, etc. and give them a corn-like taste.

On the other hand, cornstarch is flavorless. Since only the endosperm or the starchy part of the kernel is used in its preparation, it noy just lacks nutrients but flavour too.

It is the reason why cornstarch is used primarily to add texture to the food rather than taste. being a bland powder, it can thick the dishes, curries, etc. without altering their original taste and flavour.

Below is the table differentiating corn flour vs. cornstarch under different aspects-

CharacteristicCorn FlourCornstarch
SourceMade from grinding dried corn kernels into powder.Made from the starchy part of the corn kernel.
TextureTypically, coarser texture.Finer texture compared to corn flour.
ColorYellowish or off-white.Pure white.
Thickening AgentLess effective as a thickening agent due to its lower starch content.Highly effective thickening agent due to its high starch content.
Common UsesUsed in baking, especially for making cornbread, muffins, and pancakes. Also used as a coating for frying.Primarily used as a thickening agent in sauces, soups, and gravies. Also used in recipes for creating a smooth texture.
Gluten-FreeNaturally gluten-free.Naturally gluten-free.

Using Corn Flour and Cornstarch Interchangeably

Using Corn Flour and Cornstarch Interchangeably

Since the texture and nutrient composition of both these products are different, they should not be used interchangeably. Doing so will not give the desired results in recipes.

For instance, cornstarch is fine powder and very starchy that it can only add thickness to the recipes such as sauces, stews, gravies, etc. It is so starchy that you may get lumps when it is not dissolved properly. Therefore, it is advised to mix cornstarch with cold liquid before adding it to hot dishes.

At the same time, it will neither add taste nor nutrition to your recipes, as it lacks in both departments.
On the contrary, corn flour can be used in baking bread, pancakes, biscuits, etc., and as a substitute to wheat flour. Since corn is gluten free, corn flour is a good option for gluten intolerant people.

Here, it is important to mention that it is the gluten in the wheat that adds elasticity and strength to the baked goods. When you use corn flour instead of wheat flour, the recipe would be denser and crumblier and taste like corn.


Now that we have discussed corn flour vs cornstarch in detail, you will make the right choice while preparing your dishes.

Both these products are easily identifiable, too, because corn flour is slightly yellow or off-white in color, whereas cornstarch is pure white. At the same time, their texture also sets them apart. You can use corn flour in preparing a variety of dishes, but cornstarch only as a thickening agent.

Image Source : canva

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