Taste, Difference, and Nutrition of Starch vs. Flour

Flour and starch are powdered, flavorless must-haves. Both have a similar look and texture, but they vary chemically and nutritionally, which influences how they are employed in the culinary world.

This gets us to our primary topic for the day: what differentiates starch from flour? Let us go through their distinct characteristics, nutritional composition, and cooking applications.

Difference Between Starch and Flour

The fundamental distinction between starch and flour is their chemical makeup. Starch is composed of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbohydrates that include carbon. Flour, on the other hand, is made by pulverizing raw grains into a fine powder. Starch is greatly concentrated in flour, however starch does not include flour!

Wheat starch, rice starch, cornstarch, and potato starch are the most common starch products. Wheat flour, on the other hand, is the most well-known and widely used kind of flour. Other options include rye flour, maize flour, and rice flour.

Given this short explanation, it’s understandable why someone might mix up starch and flour. Their comparable white tone and powdery texture may be seen simply by gazing at them. Furthermore, they are both derived from maize, wheat, potatoes, and rice!

To properly address this problem, let us first discuss additional variations resulting from their unique makeup, starting with how these two are processed.

Processing of Starch and Flour

Milling, wet processing, and evaporation are used to extract starch. Flour, on the other hand, can only be removed by grinding and milling. So, before becoming a white powder, starch is subjected to a more rigorous manufacturing process than flour.

As an example, consider wheat. To make wheat starch, the protein and fiber in corn kernels must be removed, leaving just the carbohydrates in the endosperm. After that, the endosperm is combined with water and drained using an evaporation apparatus, leaving just pure starch carbohydrate powder.

All of the proteins contained in wheat are eliminated as a result of the extensive processing. Wheat starch is now gluten-free! However, since starch-based dough is gluten-free, it is less elastic than flour-based dough. As a consequence, starches are generally used as thickening agents, which we will discuss in more detail later.

All wheat grain components, including the endosperm, germ, and bran, are processed to form wheat flour. Stones, hammers, or rollers may be used to mill the flour. The flour is next sifted to remove the endosperm’s germ and bran.

The endosperm and bran are occasionally reintroduced into the flour after sifting. Whole-wheat flour is created by combining endosperm, germ, and bran from wheat flour. However, when just the endosperm is used in the flour (the bran and germ are removed), the resulting product is refined wheat flour.

Overall, these varied extraction procedures leave starch with very little protein and make it gluten-free, while flour is heavy in protein and has varying degrees of gluten, ranging from low to high. Let us see how this plays out in the culinary world!

Flour Makes a Better Baking Ingredient Than Starch

The lack of protein is the reason why starch isn’t a more popular baking component. The protein offers bread and baked items flexibility and strength.

You may still use starch in baking, but your baked items will be dry and crumbly! Flour, on the other hand, has a high protein level and is thus suitable for producing bread, pancakes, cookies, muffins, waffles, and pastries.

We have previously stated that starch does not include flour, yet flour does contain starch. So, the next time you choose flour for baking, keep the starch and protein percentages in mind since they produce varied effects in baked items.

Wheat bread flour, for example, has the greatest protein level and the lowest carbohydrate amount. Wheat cake flour has the least protein and the most carbohydrates. As a consequence, cake flour yields a more delicate crumb, while bread flour yields a chewier, longer-lasting bite.

The starch content of non-wheat flour varies greatly. Almond flour has the lowest starch content, whereas rice flour has the greatest.

Starch Makes a Better Thickening Agent Than Flour

Protein and starch both provide thickness in different ways. When you use flour to thicken anything, the proteins cluster together and become sticky. As a result, flour must be dissolved in cold water or butter before being added to a hot teriyaki or alfredo sauce, for example.

Starch, on the other hand, gelatinizes. When starchy molecules are put to a heated liquid, such as spaghetti sauce or mashed potatoes, they may break down and expand, resulting in a creamy, thick, smooth, and lump-free texture.

Because starch is 100% pure starch, it is the preferred thickening for liquids, but flour may not produce such creamy, thick, and smooth results because it contains additional ingredients such as protein in addition to starch.

The parent plant of the starch product, in general, influences how it behaves throughout the gelatinization process.

For example, potato starch and cornstarch entirely dissolve when gelatinized, which may be crucial in clear sauces, soups, and stews.

When the liquid is medium-hot, tapioca starch has a greater thickening capacity because it begins to expand and absorb the liquid long before it boils. As a consequence, it is less useful in recipes requiring higher cooking temperatures.

At a lower temperature, arrowroot starch also thickens. It is most effective when combined with a cold liquid before being added to a hot chili sauce, stew, or soup.

Starch vs Flour Comparison Table

Category Starch Flour
Composition White powdery substance made of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbohydrate with carbon White powdery substance produced by crushing raw grains into a fine powder
Processing Extracted through milling, wet processing, and evaporation Extracted by only grinding and milling
Protein content Virtually zero Abundant in it
Gluten content Gluten-free Low to high presence of gluten
Culinary use Best for thickening sauces, soups, and stews Best for baking bread, pancakes, muffins, pastries, cakes, or other baked goods

Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?

We chose to contrast cornstarch with maize flour for this study since they are both widely used products. As the table below shows, maize flour has far more nutrients than cornstarch.

The most noticeable nutritional difference between both is the amount of protein in flour, with corn flour having 8.5g and cornstarch having as low as 0.3g. Corn flour also contains less calories, carbohydrates, and salt than cornstarch, but significantly more fiber.

Starch lacks all necessary vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B6, E, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Corn flour has more potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and choline than cornstarch.

Despite this, data show that carbohydrates deliver comparatively little nutrients.

Starch vs Flour: Nutritional Profile

Category (100g) Cornstarch Corn Flour
Calories 381 363
Carbs 91.3g 76.6g
Fat 0.1g 3.7g
Sodium 9mg 5mg
Potassium 3mg 262mg
Protein 0.3g 8.5g
Fiber 0.9g 6.4g
Sugar 0g 1.6g
Vitamins & Minerals
Calcium 2mg 138mg
Iron 0.5mg 8.5mg
Vitamin A 0IU 5IU
Vitamin C 0mg 0mg
Vitamin B6 0mg 0.5mg
Vitamin E 0mg 0.1mg
Magnesium 3mg 93mg
Phosphorus 13mg 321mg
Zinc 0.1mg 1.8mg
Copper 0.1mg 0.2mg
Manganese 0.1mg 0.4mg
Selenium 2.8μg 10.5μg
Thiamine 0mg 1.5mg
Riboflavin 0mg 0.8mg
Niacin 0mg 9.9mg
Folate 0μg 209μg
Choline 0.4mg 8.6mg

Can I Substitute Starch for Flour and Vice Versa?

Yes, starch may be substituted for flour and vice versa. There are, however, a few things to consider before making the switch.

Let’s start with when you want to thicken something using flour rather than starch. It is possible to replace starch with flour, but you will need twice as much flour to attain the same results.

As a result, the correct proportion is two tablespoons of flour to one tablespoon of starch (and vice versa). To avoid clumping, combine some cold water with the flour before adding it to a hot liquid.

During baking, complete replacement will not function. For example, replacing starch with flour in a 1:1 ratio will result in crumbly failure. This is due to the absence of protein in starch, and as previously stated, the proteins in wheat are primarily responsible for the hardness and uniformity of baked items.

While there are several wonderful gluten-free baking recipes available, they do not rely exclusively on starch. Starch is commonly used with other kinds of flour, such as all-purpose flour, to soften baked items and generate attractive crumbs without totally collapsing.

4 cups of all-purpose flour and two tablespoons of cornstarch.Blueberry muffin recipes, for example, often call for 13

Pancakes are another example of how starch and flour are mixed to produce a dough.


So there you have it, a thorough explanation of the distinctions between starch and flour.

Flour and starch are connected when it comes to thickening and baking, but they also have some subtle differences and tricks of their own. While flour is often used in baking, starch works better for thickening and gives a translucent and smooth finish!

You may quickly switch them when required; all you have to do is follow the specified directions and ratios. Best wishes, and don’t be afraid to try new things!


How can you tell the difference between flour and starch?

The primary distinction between starch and flour is that starch is a tasteless, odorless, white solid substance at room temperature that contains carbohydrate with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, whereas flour is a powder made by grinding raw grains that is used to make a variety of foods including bread, cakes, and pastry.

What is the taste difference between flour and cornstarch?

Flavors: Cornstarch is a flavorless powder that is mainly used to give texture to a dish rather than to provide flavor. Flour tastes different depending on the grain, but it usually has a strong, earthy flavor with sweet or mild overtones.

Is starch better than flour?

Pin it to Pinterest Wheat flour is healthier than cornstarch. Wheat flour is a more nutritional option than cornstarch because it contains more protein, less carbs, and more dietary fiber. It is also higher in vitamins and minerals.

Do different flours have different starch content?

Whole-wheat flour is more nutritious and lower in starch than refined flour. In contrast, this makes it a superior choice. 1 cup (120 grams) whole-wheat flour, for example, has 69 grams of starch, or 57.8% by weight (31).

What can you say about the difference between starch and sugar based on taste?

Sugar has a sweeter flavor than starch. Sugar has no or just one glycosidic link, but starch has several.

What is the difference between wheat starch and flour?

Remember that wheat starch is generated from the same grain as wheat flour; it just undergoes additional processing. This implies that persons who are intolerant or allergic to wheat may have a negative response even if they are not gluten sensitive.

Does cornstarch change the taste?

Cornstarch is mainly flavorless and is employed to do a task (thin a mixture) rather than to provide flavor. Cornmeal and corn flour have an earthy and sweet flavor that may be detected in dishes.

Can you taste difference between flour?

The simple answer is yes: although all varieties of flour serve the same function, they vary somewhat in terms of taste, texture, and even nutritional content.

Why do people use cornstarch instead of flour?

Cornstarch usually produces a crisper finish than flour. Cornstarch absorbs moisture from the meal and expands, resulting in a crispy coating on deep-fried items. The moisture in the cornstarch cooks out as the meal is fried, creating a crackly, puffy coating on the exterior.

Why does starch taste so good?

The enigmatic starchy flavor

Starch was previously thought to be tasteless, but recent research suggests that starch is broken down into glucose oligomers by an enzyme in our saliva called alpha-amylase, and these so-called glucose oligomers may be tasted, according to Lim.

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