Starchy, powdery and a little bit messy, cornflour is one of those kitchen staples with a myriad of uses, the most common being used as a thickening agent. It is virtually tasteless and creates a smooth cream when blended with liquid. What exactly is it, though, and what are the best ways to make it last?

What is cornflour?

Cornflour is a type of flour that’s milled from dried corn kernels. Cornflour is naturally gluten-free, and can be used as a substitute in some gluten-free recipes. It is referred to as “cornstarch” in North America.

How should I store it?

Store cornflour as you would any flour — in a sealed container in a cool, dark cupboard.

How do I use it?
  • Cornflour’s number one use is as a superstar thickener for sauces, gravies, pie fillings, soups or stews. Mix equal amounts of cornflour and either water, stock or wine to form a paste, known as a slurry. Stir this into the liquid you’d like thickened, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Try it in this curried chicken pie recipe!
  • Cornflour can also be used as a simple coating for fried meat, fish and seafood. This is great for stir-fries; dredging pieces of meat in cornflour before cooking adds great texture to the meat as well as thickening the stir-fry sauce — this is referred to as “velveting” and is very common in Asian cooking. Try it here in this Mongolian beef recipe.
  • Make omelettes extra fluffy by adding ¼ teaspoon of cornflour per egg. Beat well, then cook your omelette as usual.
Test Kitchen Tip

When cornflour is added to a liquid, it takes on a cloudy appearance, so it’s best not to use it for thickening clear sauces or soups.