Tapioca is a good choice for thickening pie fillings, since it thickens at a lower temperature than cornstarch, remains stable when frozen, and imparts a glossy sheen. Many pie recipes call for instant tapioca instead of tapioca starch, but instant tapioca doesn’t dissolve completely and leaves small gelatinous blobs suspended in the liquid. This isn’t a problem in a two-crust pies, but the blobs are more noticeable in single-crust pies.

Tapioca starch is finely ground so that it dissolves completely, eliminating the gelatinous blob problem. The starch is also sometimes used to thicken soups, stews, and sauces, but the glossy finish looks a bit unnatural in these kinds of dishes. It works quickly, though, so it’s a good choice if you want to correct a sauce just before serving it. Some recipes for baked goods also call for tapioca flour because it imparts a chewier texture.

Where does Tapioca Flour Come From?

The cassava root. It is washed, cut up, then finely shredded. The resulting pulp is washed, spun, and washed until the mixture is primarily pure starch and water. Then, that starch is dried.

The Best Places to Use Tapioca Flour:

Tapioca flour is a wonderful thickener that is superior to arrowroot starch and potato starch. It provides a crispy crust and chewy texture in gluten free baked goods. It also serves as an effective thickening agent for other recipes such as homemade pudding, cookie dough, sauces and gravies. Some people choose tapioca because they cannot eat corn or potatoes for health reasons and tapioca flour is a wonderful alternative.

Tips for Using Tapioca Flour to Replace Other Ingredients: 

  • Tapioca Flour for Cornstarch in Baking: Replace 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons tapioca flour.
  • Tapioca Flour for All Purpose Flour in Thickening: Replace 1 for 1.
  • Tapioca Flour for Instant Tapioca Pearls: For every 1 tablespoon of quick-cooking tapioca pearls use 1 1/2 tablespoons of tapioca flour. Mix the tapioca flour with any dry sugar in an uncooked pie filling or make a slurry with a small amount of the liquid before heating in a pre-cooked pie filling, then slowly add the slurry back into the pie filling and continue to cook the filling at a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the cloudiness from the tapioca flour has turned transparent.