It is easy to mix up cornmeal with corn flour and cornstarch as they are all made of corn. Cornmeal is used to thicken dishes. It may also work as a binder.
They are popular gluten-free ingredients that come with various vitamins and minerals and helps regulate fat in the blood. Because of this, it can help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
However, some cornmeal is made from refined starch. So, it may have lost a lot of fiber, proteins, and more during the processing which can be a key reason for you to find alternative substitutes for it. Here are some you can consider.
- Corn flour
- Corn grits
- Corn chips
- Tortilla chips
- Masa Harina
- Coconut powder
- Almond flour
If you have flipped over your kitchen and still cannot find the alternatives mentioned above, read on to find out the full comprehensive list of Cornmeal Substitute you can consider.
But first, let us understand a bit more about this common thickening ingredient.
16 Best Substitute For Cornmeal
Cornmeal is a type of coarse flour made by grinding whole corn kernels. There are different types of cornmeal in the market which depends on the kind of corn used for grinding. For example, white cornmeal is made from white corn and yellow cornmeal is made from yellow corn.[Source]
Cornmeal is the main ingredient in porridge dishes, such as Italian polenta or Southern-style grits. For baking, you can use this gluten-free ingredient to make cornbread, muffins, tortillas, and flatbreads.
What happens if you have run out of cornmeal for baking bread? Here are some substitutes:
While it is possible to use corn flour in place of cornmeal, not all recipes allow you to get the results you want.
For grits and polenta, which are made from different kinds of ground cornmeal, you would not be able to replace corn flour and achieve the same texture, simply because corn flour is finely ground.[Source]
If you are using cornmeal to thicken a recipe, then most probably you can also use corn flour as an adequate substitute.
White or yellow corn grits are suitable to be used as a substitute for cornmeal as they are made using the same process and ingredient. The main difference is in their texture as corn grits have larger grains.
Choosing the most refined corn grits allows you to be as similar as cornmeal if you are using it as a substitute.
Polenta originated in Italy and is made from cornmeal. It may not be as smooth, but it provides a delicious flavor. When preparing it, you can add cheese, herbs, and spices to it to substitute for cornmeal in bread.
It has other perks, like being inexpensive and easy to process. It is also a flexible ingredient that can be used for various dishes.
You can use this replacement when you want a grainy carbohydrate to take the place of cornmeal. It should not give you any problems when using it for bread.
Corn chips can be turned around into something else – bread. So, your snack food can be grounded and used to replace cornmeal. After all, it is made from fried or baked cornmeal.
It has a similar taste to cornmeal, but preparations can be time-consuming. You may also consider that it has a hard texture and may have been salted.
Unfortunately, corn chips may be more likely to be an emergency substitute. Why? Well, it may have a lot of salt, which you may not like in a healthy meal. However, if you need a substitute right away, you may just find this one in your pantry.
Tortilla chips are thought to be suitable for making a cake. So, it can work well as a substitute for cornmeal in bread. They are made from 100% ground corn.
When baking tortilla chips, do take note they also have a stronger alkaline-cooked flavor and a crispier texture as compared to using corn chips which you have to factor into your recipe.
Masa harina is often used in Latin American dishes. It can be used to substitute for cornmeal and vice versa.
The ingredient is made of organic corn cooked, flavored with lime juice, and ultimately pounded into a fine powder. The resulting texture is similar to that of cornmeal.
The ingredient can help you bake corn cake. So, why not try it for baking bread, as well?
This replacement is flour made from durum wheat and has a coarse texture. It has an amber colour and is suitable for pasta and baking goods, such as bread.
It is made from raw grains that have been dried and screened. It has the highest protein content among various types of flour.
There is both coarse and fine semolina in the market. The coarse version has a much grittier feel while fine semolina is much softer and silkier
Expect a thick and compact texture, though.
Keto dieters may want to use coconut powder for their bread recipes. It is dense like cornmeal, but softer. It is supposedly good for providing the body with optimum health.
Moreover, it is meant to reduce cancer and support the heart. The coconut flour will add some natural sweetness to your recipes, which makes it the perfect healthy option for your treats and baked goods
Almond flour is suitable for baking loaves of bread that are not that compact.
It has a finer texture and adds a nutty taste to your bread. It would also be an excellent replacement for those who love the taste of almonds.
The best thing about it is that you can change the flavor profile even if you don’t have to change the rest of the recipe.
When baking cakes, bread, and pastries, wheat flour is a popular type of ingredient. It is an essential part of making bread. It has a high protein content that makes bread tougher than usual.
It is made by grinding grains of wheat. The remains of the wheat grain are grounded finely. So, it ends up with a texture similar to that of cornmeal.
Rice grains must be grounded finely and processed into powder for rice flour to be made. It is soft and smooth, and is usually used in Asian dishes. It can also be used as a replacement for cornmeal.
Rice flour is a suitable substitute in baking cakes, muffins and other sweet products, but it’s most commonly substituted in sweet breads since it has no gluten, a necessary ingredient for firm wheat bread.[Source]
Oats may not seem like a good idea. After all, the whole grain does not taste like cornmeal at all. However, it has a similar texture, which can help you get the right feel of bread.
They will add a delicious and almost nutty flavor to your particular recipe. Because they’re whole grain, they are commonly added to baked goods for people that are health conscious.
One popular bread made using oats is oatmeal bread
You can also use breadcrumbs to replace cornmeal because of their similar textures. They are just about as coarse as each other. So, you can go with breadcrumbs if you like the texture but do not like corn products in your bread.
You may have to especially search for an unseasoned bread crumb mixture because most of the ones in stores have added herbs and spices.
Another disadvantage of using breadcrumbs as alternatives is that they are often more expensive than cornmeal.
Flaxseed is yet another cornmeal substitute that has a similar texture and consistency. You need to ground it to a cornmeal consistency, but it is possible. You may want to go for this replacement if you are on a diet.
Flaxseed is commonly used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation. Flaxseed may also help lower total blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.[Source]
Grind some nuts, and get a healthy alternative to cornmeal. However, this replacement will not give you the sweetness of the original ingredient.
So, you need to add some sugar. These nuts will also provide you with a different texture and flavor to your bread
Some common popular bread recipes you can find using nuts as an ingredient are Crusty Cranberry Nut No Knead Bread, nut and seed bread and walnut bread.
Cereal is yet another replacement ingredient that you can use instead of cornmeal. When you grind it to the appropriate consistency, you can provide it with a similar texture to cornmeal.
Go for cereals with high flour content to make the substitution work well. These cereals are more likely to have less sugar than other options. They are also pretty good for last-minute substitutions.
You are bound to get something from your kitchen, and you don’t have to take a long time to prepare the mixture.
Reasons For Using A Substitution
So, why do you need to find a substitution for cornmeal? Here are some of the most popular reasons:
You have run out of cornmeal
The most obvious reason you are searching for a replacement is that you have run out of cornmeal. The ingredient is very common, but you may need a substitute right now. Perhaps you have already prepared the rest of the ingredients or have guests coming over. So, there is no time for you to go to the supermarket.
But hey, your kitchen presents many possibilities, some of which are easier to blend than others.
You need something healthier
Perhaps you love the taste and texture of cornmeal. However, you may sometimes need a break from the carbs. So, you can pick a healthier option, such as flaxseed.
This way, you can enjoy a similar taste and texture without guilt.
You are allergic to corn
If you’re allergic to corn but still want tasty bread with a compact consistency like that of cornmeal, you can pick some of the non-corn-based replacements listed above.
Being allergic to an ingredient does not mean you can entirely skip a nice bread made of something like cornmeal. Substitutes can help you get your fix safely.
You want a different flavor profile
It happens. So, you’re happy with how the bread always turns out with cornmeal. However, you are starting to get fed up with the same taste all the time. So, you may want to experiment with similar ingredients with slightly different tastes.
You want a different texture
You pick cornmeal for its sweet taste, thick consistency, and somehow rough texture. So if you want to make some changes to the taste, you may also want to go with a different texture sometimes, too.
Do remember that cornmeal itself can be sold in various textures. Some varieties are smoother, while others have more tangible, rougher textures. However, what is consistent is that they have a particular consistency that helps with the thickening.
You can only handle gluten-free foods
So, maybe your tummy doesn’t work well with gluten-free bread. Corn grits and corn flour may provide you with that healthier, gluten-free advantage.
Having substitutes saves you not only during that particular kitchen emergency, but it also provides you with a broader range of options in terms of flavor, health, color, and more