What is Potato Starch?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Potato starch is made through an extensive process of washing, sometimes cooking, and then separating the starch present in potato cell walls so that it can be made into powdered or liquid form. In cooking, this starch is often considered a substitute thickener for cornstarch or white flour. It has a higher heat point than cornstarch, however, so it may be better for certain foods that require high temperatures.

Potato starch can serve as a gluten-free thickener in foods such as gravy.
Potato starch can serve as a gluten-free thickener in foods such as gravy.

Another benefit to potato starch, especially as compared to wheat flour as a thickener, is that it is gluten free. This means that people who want nice thick gravy, soups, or stews, but who haven’t been able to achieve this with flour due to gluten intolerance, can use the starch instead with excellent results. Like cornstarch, the cook generally has to dissolve the starch in a little bit of water before adding it as a thickener so it will blend easily with other ingredients. Many people especially prefer starch made from potatoes or corn when thickening sauces because it can help the sauces remain translucent, while flour creates a more muddied appearing sauce.


Shoppers will find many types of potato starch on the market, some in organic forms. It is occasionally sold as starch flour or potato flour instead, but usually all names refer to the same starch. Again, with the lack of gluten, such flour could be used as a substitute for wheat flour in a variety of recipes, greatly enhancing the number of gluten free products that a cook can make. Potato bread made with the starch or flour is often sweet and excellent, though consumers should check labels on commercial brands because they may contain some wheat flour.

Potato starch.
Potato starch.

There are some interesting new applications for this starch that have nothing to do with cooking. It’s been found to be a creative way to make environmentally friendly products that are durable. “Plastic” cutlery made from potato and cornstarch is completely biodegradable and recyclable.

Some denim manufacturers also make clothing that is eco friendly. These jeans are made with organic cotton and given their indigo finish with a special group of ingredients that include mimosa flower and potato starch. They do sell for considerably more than standard denim jeans, however. Whether in cooking, cutlery or clothing, though, this humble starch is making its mark as being environmentally friendly and easy to use in lots of recipes.

A person with a gluten intolerance may experience abdominal cramping, gas and diarrhea as a result of consuming products containing gluten.
A person with a gluten intolerance may experience abdominal cramping, gas and diarrhea as a result of consuming products containing gluten.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


We have an investigatory project with making a plastic using this and it just worked very well.


Does anyone know if someone who is allergic to potatoes can eat products containing potato starch?


i used potato starch when I ran out of flour for a pumpkin bread recipe and damn! It worked wonderfully -- super light and fluffy muffins! I also went just a tad heavy on the baking soda and baking powder.


My ENT recommended potato starch for my bloody nose. It had been cauterized twice with no success. The potato starch worked. I have not had a bloody nose since. You mix a small amount of the starch with water, mix and apply to you nose with a cotton swab.


I'm doing a science fair project that includes making a plastic from potato starch. Cool stuff.


To Soup dragon. I can find potato starch in many Thai and Chinese supermarkets.


Where does the starch in a potato come from?


Can you use xanthan gum in the place of potato starch? If so, how much do you use? I have a potato allergy and wheat allergy and corn allergy so is there anything else out there that I can substitute that is more reasonable in cost than xanthan gum?


Is potato starch cholesterol free?


When replacing wheat flour for potato starch (not flour) in soup and sauce recipes you use it the same way as cornstarch. Cut the amount in half and dissolve into cold liquid first. My family has had great success with this. Even my in-laws make sauces with potato starch now to save me from having to go gravy-less.


Potato starch is very useful in making soups etc.


Do you use the same amount of potato starch as the recipe calls for flour? (For instance, when substituting cornstarch you only need half as much for the same thickening power).


You can get huge bag from Rice World.


Please tell me the origin of potato flour and potato starch. i mean where and how were they discovered?


Potato starch (different than potato flour) can be found in the Jewish section of any large supermarket.


Potato Ssarch can be found at the T@T store (an all Chinese store)in Vancouver B.C.


I found many years ago potato starch and tapioca starch in the Oriental food stores for dirt cheap-- as in 85 cents for 3 cups! check it out.


Does anybody know where I can buy Potato *strach* please? Mail order or internet would be great! I can buy potato *flour* in most supermarkets and health food shops but potato starch is causing me a huge problem! Thanks in advance!!


Potato Starch and potato Flour aren't the same, and interchangeable. It may be true that potato starch may be mislabeled as potato flour. In fact, they are different - see WiseGEEK "Potato Flour." As described there and other places elsewhere on the web they have different cooking properties and are not necessarily interchangeable, and care should be taken.


I have used a product called K-gel or Kleargel where I used to work. This product was great to work with. Is K-gel the same product as Potato starch or potato flour?

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