substitute for flour in sauce

Flour is a common thickening agent used in sauces to achieve the desired consistency and texture. However, for those seeking gluten-free or low-carb options, finding substitutes for flour in sauces is essential. This article explores the purpose of flour in sauces, reasons for seeking alternatives, and various substitutes that can maintain the desired thickness and flavor profile in your favorite sauces.

Purpose of Flour in Sauce:

  • Thickening: Flour is used to thicken sauces and create a smooth, consistent texture.
  • Binding: It helps bind ingredients together and prevents separation in sauces.
  • Enhanced Flavor: Flour can contribute a mild nutty flavor to the sauce.
  • Consistency Control: It allows you to adjust the thickness of the sauce according to preference.
  • Culinary Tradition: Flour has been a traditional thickening agent in many classic sauces.

Why Replace Flour in Sauce:

  • Gluten-Free Diets: Individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease require gluten-free alternatives.
  • Low-Carb Lifestyle: Those following low-carb diets seek alternatives to reduce carbohydrate intake.
  • Health Considerations: Some people prefer to avoid refined flours for health reasons.
  • Dietary Preferences: Plant-based diets may call for alternatives that align with their choices.
  • Variety and Exploration: Trying new ingredients can lead to innovative and flavorful sauces.

Substitute: Cornstarch

Details: Cornstarch is a popular gluten-free and low-carb thickening agent.

It creates a glossy and smooth texture in sauces without altering the flavor significantly.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tbsp.
Calories 30
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 7g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Mix cornstarch with a small amount of cold liquid before adding it to the sauce to avoid clumps.

Substitute: Arrowroot Powder

Details: Arrowroot powder is another gluten-free and paleo-friendly thickener.

It creates a clear and shiny sauce texture and works well with acidic ingredients.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tbsp.
Calories 30
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 7g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Mix arrowroot powder with a small amount of cold liquid and stir into the sauce while cooking.

Substitute: Potato Starch

Details: Potato starch is a gluten-free and versatile thickener.

It works well with high-temperature cooking and creates a smooth sauce texture.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tbsp.
Calories 30
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 7g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Mix potato starch with cold water before adding it to the sauce and cook until desired thickness is reached.

Substitute: Tapioca Starch

Details: Tapioca starch is a gluten-free option that creates a glossy and translucent sauce texture.

It works well with fruit-based and sweet sauces.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tbsp.
Calories 30
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 7g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Mix tapioca starch with cold liquid and stir into the sauce while cooking until it thickens.

Substitute: Xanthan Gum

Details: Xanthan gum is a gluten-free and low-carb thickener.

It requires only a small amount and creates a smooth and consistent sauce texture.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tsp.
Calories 10
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 3g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Sprinkle a small amount of xanthan gum evenly over the sauce and whisk until smooth.

Nutritional Facts Summary Table:

Substitute Calories Total Fats Carbohydrates Proteins Source Works Best In
Cornstarch 30 0g 7g 0g Corn Various sauces
Arrowroot Powder 30 0g 7g 0g Arrowroot plant Clear sauces
Potato Starch 30 0g 7g 0g Potatoes High-temperature cooking
Tapioca Starch 30 0g 7g 0g Cassava root Fruit-based sauces
Xanthan Gum 10 0g 3g 0g Fermentation of sugars Thickening in small quantities


Q: Will cornstarch alter the flavor of my sauces?
A: Cornstarch is relatively neutral in flavor and won’t significantly change the taste of your sauces.

Q: Can I use arrowroot powder for acidic sauces?
A: Yes, arrowroot powder is an excellent choice for acidic sauces as it maintains its thickening properties.

Q: Is tapioca starch suitable for savory sauces?
A: Tapioca starch is versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory sauces.

Q: Can I use xanthan gum in cold sauces?
A: Xanthan gum requires heat to activate its thickening properties, so it’s best used in heated sauces.


Substituting flour in sauces with alternatives like cornstarch, arrowroot powder, potato starch, tapioca starch, or xanthan gum offers versatile options for achieving desired thickness and consistency. Whether you’re following a gluten-free or low-carb diet or simply exploring new culinary horizons, these substitutes can help you create delicious and satisfying sauces without compromising on texture or taste.

Yuki Tanaka

Written by Yuki Tanaka

I'm from Utashinai and I love tasty food and nice words. I also write blogs, take pictures of food, and create recipes. Cooking and baking are my favorite things to do!

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