The Difference between Potato Flour and Potato Starch

by | July 26, 2012 | Food | 8 comments

The difference between potato flour and potato starch is critical in gluten-free baking. For example, substituting potato flour for potato starch in a recipe makes light, fluffy homemade treats turn into tought hockey pucks. Nobody wants to eat a hockey puck!

With such similar names, these products can confuse us. After all, both products are made from potatoes. The key difference is this: Potato flour is from whole potatoes and potato starch is only from the starch of the potato. Let’s get a few more details about the two so we understand their different properties in baking and cooking.

The Difference between Potato Flour and Potato Starch

Potato Flour

Potato flour is made from whole potatoes (most of the time the peel is included). The potatoes can be raw or cooked. They are first dried then ground into flour. The result is a heavy, cream colored flour with a distinct potato flavor. Potato flour readily absorbs liquid (similar to coconut flour in this regard), so works best when incorporated into gluten-free flour blends in small amounts. Too much potato flour in a recipe results in dense, gummy baked goods. For example, a muffin with too much potato flour would never fully cook through.

Used in smaller quantities, the same properties of potato flour that lead to an overly dense and doughy finished product can mimic gums and help hold a recipe together. It also lends a hearty texture to baked goods. This, along with the potato flavor it imparts, can make potato flour a good choice in recipes for savory gluten-free breads or rolls.

What you will see more often used in gluten-free recipes is potato starch.

 

The Difference between Potato Flour and Potato Starch

 

Potato Starch

Potato starch is a very fine white powder starch, with a texture much like cornstarch. If you’re not very careful when working with and measuring potato starch, you can create quite a cloud in the kitchen!

Potato starch is made from the dried starch component of peeled potatoes. It has no potato flavor so works well in most recipes. As part of the starch component of a gluten-free flour blend, potato starch lends a light, fluffy texture to baked goods.

It is also a great thickener in gravies, sauces, and even in custards and puddings, which typically use cornstarch. This is good news for individuals with a corn allergy or those on a grain-free diet. Potato starch is also permitted for Passover (for this reason, some stores stock it in the Kosher section; if you are having trouble locating it in your supermarket, be sure to check there).

BUT, if you use potato starch as a thickener in a gravy or sauce, here’s a useful tip: Unlike cornstarch, a liquid thickened with potato starch should never be boiled. The potato starch loses its ability to thicken once boiled.

Both potato starch and potato flour are available in most mainstream markets or specialty stores.

My Everyday Gluten-Free Flour Blend calls for potato starch, as do many recipes here on the site. I do not use potato flour, so always assume my recipes use the starch.

8 Comments

  1. Yehudit Kantor

    Thanks . You’v really helped.

    Reply


  2. Margret

    ‘The potato starch loses its ability to thicken once boiled.’ Huh? I boil soup thickened with potato starch all the time and have never found this to be the case. Yes it gets a bit ‘thinner’ but the starch still does the job. Great info BTW, thanks heaps!

    Reply


    • Gluten Free Gigi

      From a chemical standpoint, it does lose its thickening ability over time, Margret. But if you’re having luck in your soup recipe, carry on and enjoy! :) If you boiled it longer (past the “it gets thinner” point), it would eventually lose binding power.

      Reply


    • hanaizu

      That’s my point. I had no problem with boiled potato starch

      Reply


  3. Lynn Eatherton

    When coating Chicken wings to deep fry what would you recommend to use?
    Potato Flour?
    Potato Starch?
    to make them crispy?
    We want to cook Fish bites we used Starch mixture it went rock hard?
    Advise please.
    Thank you in advance
    Lynn Eatherton

    Reply


    • Gigi Stewart

      Hi, Lynn. I wouldn’t use potato flour or starch to coat anything to fry. Straight cornstarch shouldn’t cause a hard coating, and if you’re worried over corn and GMOs, just buy an organic cornstarch. Anything USDA certified organic is automatically non-GMO. If you’re getting a copy of my book (on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2J0qcVN) there’s a delicious crispy oven fried chicken tenders recipe, and the coating works for anything. I don’t really deep fry, so haven’t tested it in that cooking method, but it should work beautifully. xo

      Reply


  4. Wendie Roberts

    Questions: Would arrowroot starch be a good substitution for potato starch? And what do you think of sweet potato flour as a substitution for potato flour??

    Thank you.

    Reply


    • Gigi Stewart

      Wendie, that depends. It all depends on the recipe, the purpose of the starch and the quantity. As a thickener in a small amount in a sauce you aren’t going to boil, yes, the arrowroot will work. But subbing a larger amount, in a flour blend, for example, I do not recommend it. You won’t get the same results in your baking. As for sweet potato flour subbing for potato flour – no. They aren’t the same. And, honestly, using potato flour, well, it’s uncommon and unless you have a very specific recipe calling for it, you probably won’t need to use it, ever. Sweet potato flour was a novel flour a few years back. I used it, but honestly, it’s not the best for baked goods outside a very limited scope/flavor profile. Stick with what works, tried and true. And if you have allergy limitations that prevent you from using those flours and starches, check the guide on the site (just enter “substituting” in the search box) for GF flours and starches. xo

      Reply


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  1. Gluten Free “Watermelon” Cupcakes {also free from: wheat, dairy, casein, soy, nuts, corn; can be made egg-free} — Gluten Free Gigi – […] out my article, “You Say Po-tay-to, I say Po-tah-to“, for the differences and uses for potato flour and potato…

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