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I made a some pies a couple of days ago. The recipe called for cornstarch and it thicken the filling after it came out of the oven. The only thing is I could taste a bit of the cornstarch when I was eating the pies. I would just use less of it but I am afraid of making my pies to runny without the cornstarch.

Is there an alternative to cornstarch to thicken the pie filling or should I just use less and hope I still use enough?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are several alternatives, but the most common I know of are tapioca flour and arrowroot powder/flour.

That said, most cornstarch substitutes aren't appropriate for pies, because they break down under high heat. The only substitutes for corn starch that I'd use in a pie are potato starch and tapioca. Tapioca powder can be hard to find in some areas though; I usually get it at Asian grocery stores.

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Instant tapioca pearls are the pie thickener of choice for many bakers I respect. –  justkt Aug 11 '10 at 16:26

Any starch will work, so cornstarch, wheat flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, whatever. The results will be slightly different, as different starches require different ratios with liquid. My guess is that you can safely reduce the cornstarch in the pie, as the amount required to actually taste it (on top of your fruit, sugar, etc!) is probably quite a bit. Most pie recipes I've seen have used wheat flour, though. What kind of pie?

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Its a raspberry and pear pie from the projectwedding.com. Specifically projectwedding.com/wedding-ideas/pear-and-raspberry-mini-pies –  Kyra Jul 9 '10 at 19:57

Did you whisk the cornstarch in water separately before combining it? I think that reduces the starchy taste a little bit.

Otherwise, maybe try a roux? I've never heard of using it in baking, but it will thicken things without adding a starchy taste. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roux

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When used as a thickening agent in sauces, cornstarch is dissolved in a small amount of liquid to keep it from clumping when added to the hot liquid. When using cornstarch as a thickening in fruit pies and cobblers you don't mix with liquid. The point is to absorb the liquid exuded by the fruit and thicken it. In this instance the cornstarch (or other starch) is combined with sugar so that the granular nature of the sugar breaks up the clumps of starch and prevents it from clumping as it absorbs liquid. –  Darin Sehnert Jul 23 '10 at 1:46

We have a person with Celiac disease in our family, so generally we make the substitution the other way around, but generally you can substitute 2-3 parts flour for one part cornstarch to get the same thickening properties. Unfortunately flour generally imparts more flavour than cornstarch.

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ClearJel is a product you may want to look at.

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I like to use Xanthan gum. It works really well and a little bit goes a long way. It doesn't add any additional flavoring to the recipe either. I highly recommend it.

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