What Is Instant Flour?
It's a useful pantry staple (especially for making homemade gravy).
Next time you're in the grocery store, don't overlook the bright blue canister labeled "Wondra Flour." The quick-mixing, instant flour is prized by our food editors for its ability to thicken gravy and other pan sauces sans lumps, as well as its ability to produce super-crispy fish when pan-seared. Ahead, we explain exactly what instant flour is and how to cook with it, including some of our favorite recipes that put it to good use.
What Is Instant Flour?
Instant flour—which is generally sold as Gold Medal's Wondra Flour ($2.46, walmart.com)—is a quick-mixing, low-protein flour made from a blend of wheat flour, malted barley flour, and added vitamins and minerals. It has a lower protein count than regular all-purpose flour, which means that it's much finer and is not a suitable substitute for all-purpose or bread flour. Unlike other types of wheat flour, Wondra flour has been pre-steamed and dried, going through a process called pregelatinization, which creates a super fine powder and prevents lumps from forming when mixed with liquids or used in batters for certain baked goods. Instead, it instantly dissolves like magic. Professional chefs (and even Julia Child!) like using instant flour to make paper-thin crepes and flaky pie crust.
Instant Flour Versus Cornstarch
Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent for many recipes (think pudding, queso dip, and pie filling), often like flour. As a rule of thumb, you can use instant flour in place of cornstarch, but you'll only need half the amount. The perk of using cornstarch in some recipes is that it offers a glossy, somewhat translucent quality that can't be achieved by using regular flour. However, unlike Instant Flour, cornstarch will clump when mixed into a gravy, which is why many cooks prefer using a product like Wondra.
Chanterelle Gravy with Tarragon
Want to see just how wonderful Wondra Flour really is? Try cooking with instant flour in these recipes, or try mixing it with club soda to form an instant tempura batter. We mentioned that instant flour works wonders in gravy because it can thicken turkey stock and herbs without creating lumps. Here, it's added to a mixture of melted butter, minced shallot, chanterelle mushrooms, Marsala wine, and turkey stock for a flavorful upgrade to everyone's favorite poultry fixing.
Sautéed Black Sea Bass with Capers and Herb-Butter Sauce
Wondering how to get a super crispy skin on fish? The secret is instant flour, which can be sprinkled over the flesh of the fish before searing. Finish this seared black sea bass recipe with a rich, flavorful sauce made from vermouth, butter, and capers.
Herb-Roasted Heritage Turkey
Let instant flour work its magic in our Easy Gravy recipe, which accompanies a flavorful turkey for Thanksgiving. While instant flour should prevent any lumps from forming, our food editors always recommend running the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve before serving to remove any herbs, brown bits, or other unsavory parts.