Best Substitutes for Masa Harina

Masa harina is a kind of maize dough that is used in various Mexican cuisines, including corn tortillas and tamales. Although it is a beautiful ingredient that can add a lot of flavor to recipes, if you need a masa harina replacement, there are options.

Everything you need to know about using masa harina in your next recipe is right here.

What Is Masa Harina Made Of?

Masa harina, translated as dough flour, is just that: dough flour. This flour is formed from dried maize kernels that have been boiled and steeped in a solution. This solution is composed of calcium hydroxide, which is subsequently converted into hominy. Hominy gives tortillas their mild tart taste.

After soaking, the corn is washed, dried, and processed into a fine powder. Masa harina is rich in protein, fiber, and calcium, according to My Food Data.

What Does Masa Harina Taste Like?

When you cook masa harina on a griddle, fry it, or steam it, it releases a nutty maize flavor. To improve the taste, most people add additional ingredients and spices. Both chile peppers and paprika are good seasonings for enhancing the taste of masa harina.

If you can’t locate paprika, try these paprika replacements.

Masa Dough

Masa dough is made by combining masa harina and water. This thick maize dough is used to produce tortillas and tamales.

Using Masa Harina

Masa harina is most often used to make dough, dough balls, or as a thickening in other cuisines.

  • Dough: If you’re preparing dough, combine the cornflour with water to produce a dough. Add extra water as needed to get the desired dough consistency. Form the dough into the desired shape by patting it down. If you’re going to fill it with anything else, make it thin.
  • Masa balls are made by combining masa, water, and salt and shaping them into little balls. Combine the masa balls with your favorite soup.
  • Thickener: To thicken the soup, add masa harina in the final few minutes of cooking. Stir often to prevent lumps from forming.

If you need a masa harina replacement, here are the top five options:

  • Cornflour
  • Cornmeal
  • Cornstarch
  • Ground tortillas
  • Flour

Why Would Someone Want to Use a Masa Harina Substitute?

Because maize is the primary component in masa harina, those who are allergic or sensitive to corn may need to find an alternative. When someone with a corn or maize allergy consumes corn-containing foods, they may experience swelling or hives.

You may also need a masa harina alternative if you run out at home and need to make do with what you have on hand, or if you can’t find it at your local shop.

Whatever your reason, here are several alternatives to masa harina that you may use instead.

1. Corn flour

Masa harina’s closest alternative is corn flour. The flour is made from maize grain and is used as a thickening. The taste variation is due to soaking the masa harina in the solution to get the tart flavor. In chili, corn flour works well as a replacement for masa harina. This ingredient thickens the chili without removing the corn taste.

Iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and zinc are also included in masa harina. Because it is derived from maize, this flavorful ingredient is gluten-free.

While maize flour and masa harina may seem similar, they are not the same thing. Both are made from dried and ground maize, however the degree of grind varies. Masa harina has a coarser grind, while maize flour has a fine, nearly smooth grain.

Corn flour is a versatile component. It may be used to make waffles, bread, and even custard. Cornflour may be used to thicken your sauce. Cornflour may be found in tortillas, tamales, cakes, and pastries.

Can’t seem to locate corn flour? See suggested corn flour replacements.

2. Cornmeal

Cornmeal, another component obtained by crushing dry maize, is available in fine, medium, and coarse consistency. It is rich in starch, as is all maize, and may be used to thicken foods. Cornmeal, which has a coarser texture than masa harina, adds heartiness to recipes while removing the sour taste.

Both masa harina and cornmeal are manufactured from maize, but the consistency is what distinguishes them. In compared to masa harina, cornmeal is significantly coarser. The most common dish prepared from boiling cornmeal is polenta. Bread, muffins, biscuits, and cakes are all popular uses for cornmeal.

Do you know the difference between cornmeal and cornstarch? See our amazing comparison of cornmeal and corn flour.

3. Cornstarch

Cornstarch is another viable masa harina replacement. While maize flour and cornmeal are often the primary ingredients in many cuisines, cornstarch is only used as a thickening.

Because of its significant thickening characteristics, this chemical is also employed as an adhesive. Cornstarch has more carbs than masa harina but less protein, fiber, and minerals.

Sauces, soups, and gravies are some of the most popular recipes that include cornstarch.

4. Ground Tortillas

Use stale tortillas in your blender or food processor to make a fast and simple masa harina replacement. They may then be ground into a fine powder. Because masa harina is already in your tortillas, this is an ideal replacement. If you’re out of masa harina but have some old tortillas, this is a fantastic time to get creative.

A tortilla has 30 to 60 calories and very little fat. Even better, tortillas have more fiber than masa harina. Ground tortillas may be used in any recipe that calls for masa harina, cornmeal, or cornflour. Why not recycle stale tortillas and use them to produce fresh tortillas? This item may also be used in empanadas, tamales, and gorditas.

5. Flour

In general, flour is a great alternative for masa harina, particularly if you or someone you’re preparing for is allergic to corn. Flour is a basic commodity in many dishes and is formed from ground grains, seeds, nuts, beans, or roots.

If you use flour as a replacement, keep in mind that it is extremely fine. It is lighter than maize alternatives and lacks the taste of masa harina.

Rice Flour

Rice flour is finely ground rice that is often used in the preparation of noodles, soups, and desserts. It is naturally gluten-free since it does not include wheat. Replace one tablespoon of masa harina with two tablespoons rice flour. Brown rice flour is less refined and a better alternative if you want a healthy option.

Learn how to substitute rice flour.

Wheat Flour

When substituting normal wheat flour for masa harina, use two teaspoons for every one called for in the recipe. Wheat flour is manufactured from finely crushed wheat and is an excellent thickening alternative.

Potato Flour

Potato flour, which is derived from crushed potatoes, is a suitable replacement. Potato flour is gluten-free and delicious in soups and stews, despite its greater carbohydrate and fat content.

It is significantly thicker, so proceed with caution while adding this component. In place of one tablespoon of masa harina, use one tablespoon of potato flour.

Can’t seem to locate potato flour? See the best 5 potato flour alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do substitutes for masa harina still provide the sour flavor?

Finally, no, alternatives seldom have the same sour taste, but they do have the same consistency. It is dependent on the sort of substitution used to produce comparable benefits. To acquire the taste you want, add spices and other components to your cuisine.

What spices can I use to get the same flavor of masa harina?

Hot madras masala, nalli nihari masala, and chat masala all lend delicious flavors to your masa harina-inspired meals.

What popular dishes use masa harina?

The most popular food made using masa harina is tortillas. Masa harina is also used in tamales, gorditas, pupusas, sopes, and empanadas.

1. Tamale: A classic Mesoamerican food prepared from masa dough and cooked in a banana leaf with meat, cheese, veggies, or fruits.2. Gordita: A traditional Mexican meal loaded with cheese, pork, and other ingredients and formed with masa. Gorditas are deep-fried and accompanied with a sauce.3. Pupusa: A pupusa is a thick, flat griddle or cake filled with cheese, veggies, or beans and served with salsa. This delectable delicacy is consumed by hand.4. Sopes: A flattened fried masa foundation is covered with a variety of toppings such as veggies, meat, and cheese. This is a popular meal in Mexico.5. Empanada: A baked or fried dough filled with a variety of items like as meat, cheese, tomato, and corn. It is popular in Latin America and Southern Europe.


What can you use in place of masa flour?

Masa harina’s closest alternative is corn flour. The flour is made from maize grain and is used as a thickening. The taste variation is due to soaking the masa harina in the solution to get the tart flavor. In chili, corn flour works well as a replacement for masa harina.

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of masa harina?

If the masa harina is used as a thickening (like in chili), normal flour or cornmeal will provide the same texture but not the same taste.

What is the same as masa harina?

Masa Harina Alternatives

You may substitute corn flour or cornmeal for masa harina, but you won’t get the characteristic taste that comes from soaking the maize in lime water.

Can I turn cornmeal into masa harina?

To be clear, it is not corn flour, and cornmeal or corn flour cannot be substituted for masa. Masa harina is nixtamalized, as we’ll see later.

Is masa just corn flour?

What is the difference between maize flour and masa harina?

Although corn flour and masa harina are both corn flours, masa harina is processed from corn kernels that have been steeped in a slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) solution to remove the shell.

Is masa and all-purpose flour the same?

Masa harina is prepared from hominy as well, but it is ground considerably finer (typically to the consistency of all-purpose flour—masa is sometimes known as maize flour). While most masa is white, you may also get yellow masa and even blue masa harina (labeled azul).

Why do Mexicans use masa harina maize flour?

Masa harina is healthful, naturally gluten-free, and inexpensive enough to experiment with at home to perfect your tortillas and tamales. Much masa harina is produced in the United States using GMO maize, but some is produced in Mexico using older kinds of corn.

What’s the difference between masa flour and regular flour?

Masa harina may be used as a basis for a variety of foods, from tamales to tortillas, since it is basically a cooked, nixtamalized, dehydrated, powdered corn dough rather than a plain flour derived from dried corn kernels (i.e. corn flour).

Which masa harina is best for tamales?

SELECTION: Most people think that Maseca has the greatest flavor and texture. Maseca makes a coarser masa harina for tamales as well.

What does masa harina taste like?

It has a nutty, somewhat minerally flavor that tastes, predictably, like maize.

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