Corn Flour Vs Flour: Uses, Types, Similarities, & Differences

Corn flour and plain flour appear similar and can be mistaken for each other. Moreover, one can be used as an alternative for the other but not in a gram-for-gram substitution.

Corn flour is derived from dried corn kernels. On the other hand, plain flour used for baking is made from wheat. Cake flour, bread flour, all-purpose flour, durum flour, and self-rising flour are processed from wheat.

Find out more about their differences in terms of uses, texture, and more in the article.

What is corn flour?

Corn flour is dried corn kernel processed into fine powder. This pale-yellow flour is gotten by processing whole corn kernels which include the germ, hull, and endosperm.

As a result, it contains the same minerals present in whole corn. It is rich in fiber, protein, iron, vitamin, potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients.

Additionally, corn flour is gluten-free which makes it good for individuals who are gluten intolerant. Corn flour can be used in pancake and pie recipes but its lack of gluten doesn’t allow it to rise like wheat flour.

It adds an earthy, sweet, and mild corn-like taste to food.

Uses for corn flour

Below are some of the commonest ways to use corn flour:

1. Baking

Corn flour serves as an excellent alternative to wheat flour especially when baking foods like pancakes and waffles that do not require its dough to rise.

Moreso, as gluten-free flour, it can replace wheat flour when baking cakes and bread for those who are gluten intolerant. Only that the result would be dry and dense. 

2. Breading

Corn flour is popular in use as a coating for food before frying. It adds tasty corn flavor and a crispy finish to fish, meat, shrimp, etc., when used as a coating for them.

What is flour?

Plain/baking flour is made by grinding raw, dry wheat. The presence of wheat in this flour means it contains gluten. Although gluten is unhealthy for some people, it is what makes dough elastic, chewy, and airy.

Wheat is classified as soft or hard. Soft wheat has low gluten content and results in the dough with a finer and crumbly texture which is needed for cake and pastries.

Conversely, hard flour has a high gluten content of 12 to 14 percent which makes it perfect for making bread.

Types of baking flour

Some of the varieties of wheat flour include:

1. Cake flour

This is a fine white flour processed from soft wheat. It is the flour with the lowest amount of gluten (8 to 10%) which makes it the best for baking cakes and cookies.

Cakes need to be airy and fluffy. Using flour with high protein and gluten content will result in a tough, chewy finish.

2. Bread flour

Bread flour is flour with high gluten content made from hard wheat. It has a gluten content of about 10 to 13 percent and is perfect for making bread.

The dough of bread flour has an elastic toughness and holds up well into shape when mixed with water. And the color can be white, whole wheat, or in between.

3. All-purpose flour

All-purpose flour is gotten from a combination of hard and soft flour, as such, it contains less gluten than bread flour and a little more than bread flour. Its gluten content ranges from 9 to 12 percent.

As the name implies, this flour can be used to make anything from baking to thickening liquids.

4. Self-rising flour

Self-rising flour is white flour that is premixed with leavening agents (baking powder and salt) before it is sold. Therefore, you do not need to add baking powder or soda to this flour before baking.

In addition, it is premixed with salt, so you have to watch the extra salt you add to your recipe.

5. Pastry flour

Pastry flour also made from soft wheat contains more gluten than cake flour but less than all-purpose flour.

The gluten present ranges from 9 to 10 percent and is excellent for making cookies, muffins, pies, tarts, biscuits, and the like.

It is available as white flour, whole-wheat flour, or white flour with the germ retained but not the bran. The process of making pastry flour involves sieving the flour to reduce the amount of lump present.

6. Durum flour

Durum flour is the popular flour used in making pasta, traditional pizza, and flatbread. It is sourced from durum wheat a very hard variety of wheat. Semolina is also a product of durum wheat.

Differences between corn flour and flour

1. Corn flour vs flour source

Corn flour is made from ground dried corn while flour is gotten from wheat. This flour adds a rich corn taste to food, whereas flour gotten from wheat is what everyone uses for baking.

2. Corn flour vs flour for breading

When it comes to frying, corn flour works particularly well because they fry up crispier than plain flour. They also absorb less moisture and fat during the frying process, making the products less greasy.

3. Corn flour vs flour calories

Wheat offers you more calories, with 339 calories per 100 grams, whereas corn only offers 86 calories for the same amount. Additionally, corn flour is free of gluten while wheat flour has gluten present in them.

4. Corn flour vs flour as a thickener

Plain flour can act as a thickener when making a roux. By mixing it with fat, you can use it to thicken soups, sauces, gravies, and stew. It adds a nutty flavor to food.

Corn flour is also good for thickening. However, cornstarch is the major corn product used for thickening food. It has twice the thickening power of flour and can be difficult to reheat, so be careful not to overuse it.

Can you use corn flour as a substitute for flour?

Yes, you can. Corn flour can be used to make about every recipe that requires plain flour. It is gluten-free and healthy for people with gluten sensitivities.

But, in any substitution of corn flour for plain flour, you need much less corn flour. Replace one cup of plain flour with 1/3 or 1/2 cup of corn flour.

Similarly, plain flour is an excellent corn flour substitute. Use a 2:1 substitution when replacing corn flour with plain flour.


Is corn flour healthier than flour?

Since wheat flour is richer in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and calories, it is, therefore, healthier than corn flour.

What are corn flour substitutes?

Some alternatives for corn flour include rice flour, cornmeal, cake flour, all-purpose flour, and masa harina, among others.

What is the best flour for thickening food?

All-purpose flour is best for thickening food because it contains a balanced amount of gluten.


Corn flour is different from traditional flour. Traditional baking flour is a product of hard or soft wheat grains. Soft wheat is low in gluten and is used for making cake flour and pastry flour. Hard wheat is used for making bread flour.

Corn flour is made from dried corn kernels. It adds a sweet, earthy corn-like taste to your food. Plain wheat flour is the traditional thickening flour for soups, gravies, and sauces.

Both types of flour can be used as substitutes for each other. Replace 1 cup of plain flour with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of corn flour. Use twice as much plain flour as a substitute for corn flour.

I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.

Read more comparison articles on flour on Millenora.