Water chestnut flour -it’s light, it’s airy, it’s slightly sweet, and it’s particularly hard to come by! Maybe you’re allergic to water chestnuts, or you’re not particularly fond of the flavor.
Or maybe you have sticker shock (water chestnut flour can be quite pricey)! Whatever your reasons for searching for a swap, there are several excellent substitutes out there that can help serve your culinary needs.
If you are looking for a way to get true water chestnut flour you can make it yourself using vacuum-packed, fresh, or canned water chestnuts. Cornstarch or tapioca starch makes a great substitute in certain recipes, whole wheat flour, and panko work better for others. If you are baking, even almond or hazelnut flour can work well.
In this article, we’ll be going over some easy swaps you can make for water chestnut flour and some of the ways you can use them in your cooking. We’ll have you back in the kitchen and ready to whip up your recipes in no time!
Substitutes For Water Chestnut Flour
1. Vacuum-packed Water Chestnuts
Sometimes your recipe calls for water chestnut flour and you just have to have that exact flavor and consistency.
The good news is you can actually make it in your home fairly easily if you have the right equipment.
Vacuum-packed water chestnuts are a popular Asian snack found in any Asian grocery store and maybe even in the ethnic food aisle at your local market.
They are the most convenient and easy to use because they are already cooked and ready to eat!
To make water chestnut flour from vacuum-packed water chestnuts you might find it helpful to dry them out a bit in the oven.
This step isn’t necessary but will yield a dryer flour that will be closer to the consistency of pre-made flour.
Spread the water chestnuts in an even layer on a baking sheet, then bake at 250 for about 30 minutes, or until the chestnuts are dried out a bit but have not taken on any color.
Once the chestnuts have dried out, pulse them in a food processor until they reach a fine consistency.
Do not go longer than that or the chestnuts will start to turn into a paste. Store your water chestnut flour in the fridge or use immediately at a 1:1 ratio by volume for regular water chestnut flour.
2. Canned Water Chestnuts
Canned water chestnuts work nearly as well as vacuum-packed water chestnuts, and they are even easier to locate in the grocery store!
Because they are canned they will require a little extra time in the oven to dry out, maybe as long as an hour at 250 degrees.
Once the water chestnuts are dried, simply pulse in the food processor until fine, then use as you would regular water chestnut flour.
As A Thickening Agent In Sauces
Water chestnut flour is a popular ingredient in many Asian recipes as a thickening agent. This is due in part because water chestnut flour is technically a starch, not a flour.
Starch binds with water and thickens it, making it a great addition to soups, stews, and sauces to create a lovely consistency to many popular dishes including stir-fries, gravies, and more.
Cornstarch is a fantastic substitute for water chestnut flour in recipes calling for it as a thickening agent.
This is because cornstarch is flavorless and will only impart the consistency, not the flavor.
To use cornstarch as a thickening agent replacement for water chestnut flour, measure out at a 1:1 ratio the amount of cornstarch you will need.
Then add just enough water to dissolve all the cornstarch (typically 1-2 tablespoons of water for every tablespoon of cornstarch).
Stir well and then add to your dish and give it a good stir, allowing the cornstarch to thicken the entire dish.
4. Tapioca Starch
Tapioca starch is another excellent substitute in recipes calling for a thickening agent.
This starch comes from the cassava plant, a root native to central Asia and thought to have medicinal properties.
Tapioca starch is slightly sweet and popular in a variety of Asian recipes.
To use tapioca starch in place of water chestnut flour, use it the same way you would the cornstarch, mixing it with water to create a slurry before adding it to your dish.
5. Wheat Flour
Though it will not produce the same light and airy quality as water chestnut flour, wheat flour still makes for a great substitute when dredging ingredients to fry.
Americans are probably most familiar with wheat flour as a dredging ingredient, and it is easy to find at any grocery store across the country.
Wheat flour when used to dredge meats or vegetable fries up firm and crispy and creates a nice golden brown color. Though the color and texture are different it is sure to taste delicious.
When dredging, it’s not typical to measure ingredients. Instead simply pour enough in a bowl to adequately cover the food you plan to fry, roll the food in the flour, and shake off the excess before frying up immediately.
You can also add salt, pepper, and other spices to your flour to give it extra flavor.
Panko breadcrumbs are designed specifically for dredging and frying. They are Japanese breadcrumb that is light and airy, creating a delicate, crispy coating when frying.
If you are seeking light and airy crunch similar to the water chestnut flour, panko bread crumbs can be a great alternative.
To use the panko bread crumbs in place of water chestnut flour, fill a bowl with enough panko to cover your food that you wish to dredge.
Roll your items in the bowl, shake off the excess, and fry immediately for best results.
7. Almond Flour
Almond flour is often thought of as a trendy gluten-free alternative that has only been around for a few years, but did you know that almond flour has been a popular flour to use for sweets for much longer than that?
In fact, macaron, a traditional French cookie, has always been made with almond flour!
Almond flour is made by grinding almonds to a fine powder and stopping before it becomes a nut butter.
It is a little oilier than water chestnut flour, which may alter the consistency of your final bake, making it a bit denser but also a bit richer.
If you’d like you can cut back the fat content of your recipe by about 5-10% to adjust for the increased oil content in the almonds.
Almond flour can replace water chestnut flour at a 1:1 ratio in baking recipes.
8. Hazelnut Flour
Hazelnut flour is another swap you can use in baking recipes if you can’t get your hands on water chestnut flour.
Be aware that hazelnuts have a much stronger flavor than water chestnuts or almonds though, so your dish will take on a distinct hazelnut flavor if you choose to use it as a substitute.
Hazelnut flour has significantly more oil content than water chestnut flour, again making your bake slightly denser and richer.
If you wish you can cut back the added fat to adjust for the increased oil in the hazelnut flour.
Because it is so dense, hazelnut flour is used at a slightly lower ratio than water chestnut flour.
For every four tablespoons of water chestnut flour you only need three tablespoons of hazelnut flour.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is A Chestnut The Same As A Water Chestnut?
Chestnuts grow on trees, while water chestnuts grow in the water. While regular chestnuts are a type of nut, water chestnuts are not a nut at all, but are a type of tuber.
Regular chestnuts need to be roasted before eating, and they have a sweet, nutty flavor.
Water chestnuts have brown skin on the outside that makes them look like regular chestnuts. Once they are peeled though, the inside is crisp and sweet like an apple.
What Is Water Chestnut Flour?
Water chestnut flour is flour made from ground-up water chestnuts. The water chestnut grows in marshy areas in Asia.
Its outer shell is peeled off and discarded and the inner meat is dried and then ground up into a powder to make water chestnut flour.
Where Can I Find Water Chestnut Flour?
Water chestnut flour can be hard to locate at a normal grocery store. Some specialty markets or Asian markets carry them regularly.
They are also easy to find online with wholesalers including Amazon. Ordering online is the best way to guarantee that you will have water chestnut flour for your recipes if you do not wish to use a substitute.
What Is The Nutritional Content Of Water Chestnut Flour?
Water chestnuts are very nutritious yet low-calorie. A serving of water chestnuts contains 12% of your daily fiber needs, and 17% of your daily potassium and manganese needs.
It is also high in a number of antioxidants, which also helps keep the water chestnut fresh when packed.
Though it can be hard to come by, there are many easy swaps you can find at most markets that make great substitutes for water chestnut flour.
Whether you are feeling ambitious and want to make your own, or just looking for a quick swap that keeps you from having to run to the store again, there are many great substitutes out there that will keep you cooking no matter what ingredients your recipe calls for!
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.