What Is Potato Starch?
From cornstarch to tapioca, starches are the ingredients we reach for to add body to soups, give spoon-coating thickness to gravies, and lend silky puddings a spoonable texture. Potato starch is gaining in popularity for its versatility in the kitchen. A finely textured, powder-like product, potato starch is made by extracting the natural starches found inside of a potato. The positive attributes of potato starch are that it's gluten-free, virtually flavorless, and it can thicken at low temperatures. Here, we share everything you need to know about this kitchen staple, including our favorite ways to use it at home.
Is Potato Starch the Same as Potato Flour?
If you're thinking of adding potato starch to your shopping list this week, here's a heads up: Potato flour is not the same as potato starch. Potato flour is made from crushing an entire dehydrated potato into powder. It carries different properties, including a strong potato flavor, and can't be substituted 1:1 with potato starch. Since package labeling can be a little confusing at times, look to the ingredient list for answers: potato flour will list "whole potatoes," whereas the starch will just list "potato extract" or "vegetable starch."
You Can Use Potato Starch for Thickening
As a thickener, soups and sauces that have a little potato starch added to them will end up having a glossier, silkier mouthfeel than those thickened using grain-based starches, such as cornstarch. You can substitute potato starch for cornstarch in just about any recipe that calls for it as a thickener, but start with less of it and add more if needed (for every one tablespoon of cornstarch, substitute two teaspoons of potato starch).
While potato starch can tolerate being cooked at high temperatures without clumping up like cornstarch, it won't be able to withstand the high heat for very long before breaking down. If that happens, your dish will thin back out to its original consistency, so it is best to add potato starch towards the end of cooking. This makes it a wonderful "quick fix" for gravies and other sauces that may need a little extra help thickening up at the last minute—and less ideal for long-simmering soups or sauces.
You Can Use Potato Starch in Baking
Potato starch is a popular ingredient in many gluten-free baking recipes and is often an ingredient in all-purpose gluten-free flours because it provides structure, tenderness, and binding properties to cookies, cakes, and more. Too much of it, however, can cause baked goods to be dry and crumbly, so we recommend following a trusted recipe to the letter.
You Can Use Potato Starch for Frying
Next time you make something like Classic Fried Chicken, try swapping potato starch for the cornstarch in your seasoned flour mixture—and enjoy the gloriously crunchy coating that forms after frying. And when it comes to latkes, why not double down on potatoes in the ingredient list and use potato starch to bind the shredded spuds? Not only will this lead to way crispier latkes than regular flour, it makes the entire dish gluten-free.