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What Is Tapioca Starch and Tapioca Flour? {Gluten Free Food Facts}

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between tapioca flour and tapioca starch?

I am guessing that many of you have because it is one of the most asked questioned that I have received when it comes to gluten free baking. It is confusing and one I had a lot of questions on when I first went gluten free.

In the United States tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the same thing. I have found that Asian type markets and products tend to label it as tapioca starch and companies like Bob’s Red Mill tend to label it as tapioca flour, but there is no difference in the actual products. They are the same.

(Updated 2018) Bob’s Red Mill has updated their packaging and now has both names on the label.

Tapioca Flour

When it comes to recipes it really varies by the author or cookbook on what it is called, but if a recipe calls for tapioca starch, you can easily use tapioca flour, since they are the same thing.

So what is tapioca flour?

Tapioca flour comes from the root of the cassava plant. It basically the same thing as tapioca pearls, like you would use for pudding, but tapioca flour has been ground into a a flour.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll

Tapioca flour/starch adds structure to gluten free baking. It also helps give things a chewy and/or crisp texture, especially in things like cookies and cakes.

When over used in a recipe though tapioca flour can make food slimy and can also add a strong taste to the final product. Most recipes need some tapioca starch, but not too much, and finding that balance can sometimes be hard.

Tapioca flour can also be used as a thickener in sauces and gravy, but it is not my favorite thickener to use because I have found that it tends to make the sauce a bit slimy.

Tapioca flour is also in many premade and homemade gluten free flour blends.

gluten free dairy free banana bread

I know a few gluten free people that do not like the flavor of tapioca flour in their gluten free cooking and they often substitute cornstarch.

I know many have been happy with the results of doing this, for me though, I have found that it works sometimes better than others. And since my family does not mind the taste of tapioca starch in baked goods, I am fine with using it.

gluten free biscuits and gravy

A few of my favorite gluten free recipes that contain tapioca flour/tapioca starch

Interested in learning more gluten free food facts? So far we have covered:


Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. Thanks Lynn! I’ve always wanted to know. I’ve seen cassava root at the grocery store before as a root vegetable. Since I now know that tapioca starch is actually a ground up vegetable, I feel so much better using it over any starch due to health concerns when using too much starch.

    • Donna soma says

      Donna soma

      Hi friend

      Tapioca flour n tap starch is two different products made out of tapioca roots (cassava) In Africa how they make tap flour is freshly slieced Tapioca has to be sun dried n ground until cause or fine . Colour of the flour is not as white like starch flour. Starch is highly process product n starch flr comes smaller packet than tap flr. Starch flour use always as small quantity for texturing the food or other similar things. Real tapioca flr comes from 1kg- 5 kg.

      • Thank you Donna. What do you use the flour for? I ground up some cassava this year and have no clue what to do with it. I use both tapioca starch and arrowroot starch in GF (gluten free) baking as well as dim sum recipes. Lynn’s has the best GF cake recipes that uses the starch. The best dim sum recipe book I’ve ever found is called, “Asian Dumplings” by Andrea Nguyen.

  2. Hello, just to clear something up, tapioca starch and flour are not the same thing. This is a strange misconception in the US. Tapioca flour is ground dried cassava root. To get the starch, boil the flour and strain. The white flaky substance that filters through is the starch. They are used differently and affect taste in a different way. Go into any asian supermarket and you will find tapioca starch and flour sold separately. It is like corn flour and corn starch.

    • Donna soma says


      I agreed with Dan

      Thinking same as tapioca flr I mixed boiling water with tap flour …it came in to colourless gluey, slimy ball n it’s vary chewy,yaack . Still I have half a bag of tap starch…..I have to find out what to do with the rest.

      • Alice J says

        when you figure it out let me know. it absolutely ruined my berry pie. boing boing boing, gah!

  3. lisa aeschliman says

    What is the carbs in this flour? Or Brazlian cheese bread. I am diabetic. I love these

    • just learning howto use tapioca starch to
      thicken sauces. can you give me info on how to do this.?

      • This is the gluten free gravy I make. It uses potato starch, but you can use tapicoa starch about the same. I usually prefer potato starch, but you use the same basic technique. I hope that helps.

  4. If a recipe calls for tapioca starch, can I use Minute tapioca?

    • No tapioca starch is a flour like substance similar to cornstarch, so it is not the same as tapioca like you would use in a pudding.

  5. Is tapioca starch the same as modified tapioca starch or expandex tapioca starch? Very confused here. 🙁

  6. Bernice Dueck says

    Can Minute Tapioca be used in place of tapioca starch? What about pearl tapioca…can it be put in a blender and used as tapioca starch?

  7. Thanks for the helpful info!

  8. Dear Lynn,
    Complementing what Dan said, here in Brazil we actually have two kinds of tapioca starch: sweet (called ‘polvilho doce’) and sour (called ‘polvilho azedo’). Shortly, the sour kind passes through a fermentation process before the drying one. Clearly, they produce very distinct tastes in recipes.

  9. Kitty Chang says

    Thank you Lynn, I needed Tapioca Flour for a recipe; went to the store and picked up Tapioca Starch because it came in a smaller package. I almost died thinking its Tapioca flour I needed not Starch. And your explanation relieved me of my fears. Thank you 🙂

  10. Can Arrowroot be used for tapioca flour .I was sold that instead of tapioca for hot cross buns

  11. Why have you ignored all the comments stating that there is actually a difference between the two and that you information is NOT correct.

    Arrowroot can be used in place of tapioca FLOUR as is DOES do the same thing!

    • I am not sure what you mean. In the US they are the same, most brands that produce them call them the same thing. Here is an example from Bob’s Red Mill where they are listing them as the same.

      • Barfaulkner says

        I think maybe another misconception about US foods and foods from other countries. I assume that this flour starch thing is similar to our bacon vs France’s bacon which are not the same. I also assume that recipes in a US cookbook would be as you say starch and flour being the same. If you were to come across a Brazilian recipe perhaps it would not work. Are we importing prepackaged tapioca flour and/or tapioca starch?

  12. Tapioca starch and Tapioca Flour are not the same thing. Tapioca starche is refined Tapioca flour. Tapioca starch (depending on the quality grade and its origen) has a way higher starch content than tapioca flour.
    In other words, tapioca flour is simply grinded and milled cassave roots. Tapioca starch had a extra proces step after that to get out alot more vibers, minirals (wich lowers the ash conent) and other things you dont need to give strength (viscosity) to your products. If you wanna eat a more ”pure” product you should chose Tapioca starch (as it is basicly only starch).
    To be honest I am not a foody or what ever you call it, and i think the gluten thing is more a trend than an actual alergy or intolerance. And this is actualy the first time I comment on what of these things.
    Sorry for my bad english btw, i hope u understand the message

    • Sorry you feel this way about Gluten Free, but clearly you’ve never been with a person who consumes gluten & spends the night on the bathroom floor vomiting and unable to function or think clearly because of nausea & headaches. Regardless, Lynn, your info was very helpful to us in the U.S. & we appreciate your continued posts & guidances.

      • Cynthia Browning says

        Thank you Jaime!! I get that a lot! That gluten intolerance is a myth, a trend!! I know that in an effort to find out what is ailing people Gluten may be taken out of the diet when its not really needed. But Gluten intolerance is quite real and horrible! Ask a mother who hears her child crying all night!!

  13. Can diabetics use this?

    • It is a starch so I believe the glycemic index on it is higher. I don’t know if that helps or not. But it is a starch.

    • Christine Williams says

      That’s what I would like to know! I used a small amount in a recipe in place of regular flour thinking it wouldn’t be as bad. But not sure if that was a good thing??

  14. Thank you for the information!!! I was trying to find tapioca “flour” for a vegan cheese recipe but could only find “starch” so I bought it but was worried. I’m glad to hear that it’s the same thing 😂

  15. Julia Philips says

    From what I’ve researched and experienced Lynn has made complete sense in saying they are the same. Tapioca flour/starch is the same as with Arrowroot. Cassava is the root its derived from.All very high in carbs..if thats what your trying to establish..but a great wheat free substitute

  16. Lyall Prestidge says

    For what it’s worth, I bought what was called tapioca starch here in New Zealand, and the cheese balls came out exactly like the ones served at the Brazilian embassy here in Wellington NZ – delicious!

  17. Tapioca flour is most commonly sold as Arrowroot.
    I use it to thicken my chicken and vegetable curries.
    Use it to thicken all curries and casseroles.
    The easiest way is to mix a teaspoon into a small amount of water and add sparingly until you achieve your desired consistency.
    I never mess with the starch just the flour.
    Use the same as cornflour.
    I like the consistency it gives to sauces.
    Use sparingly in your stir fry just before serving to allow all those spicy juices to cling to and cover all the goodies in the stir fry

  18. Cynthia Browning says

    i hate to say that I am STILL confused as to weather starch and flour are the same! I have a recipe for flat bread that calls for Tapioca starch. I have Tapioca flour at home! I hate to waste very expensive ingredients! Which is it! I know the author of this site says it’s the same but after reading all these comments I am unsure. Help.

  19. ilyse halter says

    I just read your post about tapioca flour. Can you use arrow root in place of this?



  20. Ginny Hanks says

    You can use tapioca starch to make instant pudding, to thicken fruit pillings for pies, making jam and a lot of other things, BUT it must be added to the sugar or what ever sweetener you are using first. Good for diebetic jam. Before I retired as a chef, I used it all the time in our bakery.

  21. Diane M Jensen says

    Is tapioca flour Keto friendly. Ive found pasta recipes that use it but wanted to make sure.

    • I am not sure. I think it is considered low carb, but I am not sure that it is keto friendly. Sorry I don’t know enough about the keto diet to be sure on that.

  22. Nelson Cano says

    Hi everyone,
    In my country, we use cassava starch to make chipá, is a kind of small bread. usually eaten as a breakfast.
    Starch is obtained from the roots. The traditional way is: ground the cassava and wash it several times. Separate the washing from the ground roots using a fine cloth. Collect washing. Let it settle down, removed water and collect white powder(starch) and let it dry under the sun. The remaining ground root can be ground very fine and you will get the cassava flour. Usually, we mix to 50-50 % with normal wheat flour to make bread. Which are cheaper than normal bread.
    This method is used in the countryside, usually farmers of small lots(3-5 Hectares). The encourage them to plant cassava, produce their own cassava starch and flour. Any excess is an added value. They may sell the cassava starch and flour.

  23. Your tapioca flour recipes don’t appear to have tapioca flour (or starch) listed… should we just use it instead of the rice flour?


  1. […] let’s do it the Paleo way and swap out that all-purpose flour with tapioca flour, a healthier alternative. And instead of the butter let’s stick to olive oil for the healthy […]

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