July 19, 2024

Grocery stores are stocked with tons of delicious gluten-free options these days. One ingredient you might start seeing in more products is cassava (pronounced like kuh-saa-vuh). But what is cassava flour and what makes it a good gluten-free flour alternative? Cassava, or yuca root (not to be confused with the pretty yucca plants in your yard) is a starchy tuberous root commonly found in South American, African, and Asian cuisines. You can even enjoy the root as a swap for fries. When dried and ground, cassava flour becomes a perfect neutral-tasting flour substitute. Here are some facts to know about cassava flour and how to use it in recipes at home. We’ll also answer the question if cassava is paleo? (Hint: the answer is yes!).

What Is Cassava Flour?

Cassava flour is made from the whole cassava root that has been peeled, dried, and pulverized. Like potatoes, the yuca root is actually very mild in flavor so its flour is a perfect neutral-flavor gluten-free substitute. It also has a similar binding quality to that of wheat flour.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you purchase a cassava root, don’t consume it raw because it contains cyanogenic glycosides, which are toxic to ingest. But as long as you’re cooking the root or using purchased cassava flour, any dangerous traces of toxins are removed.

Brie Passano

How to Use Cassava Flour

When the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen baked with cassava flour, the cooks noticed it tends to absorb liquid more than other flours. So even if you buy a package that says to substitute it using a 1:1 ratio for wheat flour, you might not always get the same results when swapping cassava for all-purpose flour in your chocolate chip cookie recipe.

It is possible to use only cassava flour, just start by using a little less than the amount called for and gradually work in the full amount if your batter seems a little too wet. Keep an eye out for cassava flour recipes (like these brownies or cassava pancakes) or use a gluten-free flour mix that is suitable for a 1:1 cup equivalent to all-purpose flour.

Is Cassava Flour the Same as Tapioca Flour?

Cassava flour should not be confused with tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch), which also comes from the cassava root. Tapioca flour undergoes more processing compared to cassava flour because tapioca flour is extracted specifically from the starchy part of the cassava root.

Cassava Nutrition

While cassava flour is useful for anyone with allergy restrictions, it’s not necessarily a healthy swap for your diet. As for the nutritional benefits, cassava is a good source of fiber if an entire 1/4 cup serving is consumed. It also contains resistant starch, which can promote beneficial gut bacteria.

Cassava Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour

Curious about how the nutrition facts of cassava compare to regular wheat flour? On average, 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour contains approximately 110 calories, 23 g carbs, 0 g fat, 3 g fiber, and 1 g of protein.

Here are the nutritional facts for 1/4 cup of Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour:

  • 440 calories
  • 23 g carbs
  • 0 g fat
  • 1 g fiber
  • 3 g protein

Where to Buy Cassava Flour

Find cassava flour in the health food section of larger supermarkets, at specialty health food stores, or online. Some of our Test Kitchen’s favorite brands include Bob’s Red Mill and Otto’s Naturals.

Overall, cassava flour and cassava-based products (think pasta or chips) are definitely worth keeping in the pantry if you’re sensitive to gluten, grain-free, or on the Paleo diet.


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