Instant Tapioca VS Tapioca Flour | No, They’re Not The Same

Instant tapioca vs tapioca flour

Whether you’re planning to test out a new recipe or create a classic, you’ll want to know what the differences are between instant tapioca vs tapioca flour. While less commonly used in American kitchens than flour or cornstarch, this article will discuss the various uses, how each is made, and some basic nutrition facts about each.


Cassava root

Tapioca is a starch made from the crushed pulp of the cassava root and is a staple in many tropical countries across the world as it is native to these areas. It is opaque in color before cooking but turns translucent when heating or rehydrated.

It is also superior to cornstarch for those that cook and bake because it allows sauces of pie fillings to maintain their texture when frozen and thawed. Cornstarch does not have the same ability and loses moisture, causing consistencies not to withstand.

Tapioca is available in the form of starch or instant flakes and pearls, which come in an off-white color but can be dyed to match any coloring or flavor palette of your choosing.

Now let’s dive into specifics; let’s compare instant tapioca vs tapioca flour.

Instant Tapioca

Tapioca pearls

Instant tapioca, also called quick tapioca or minute tapioca, are quick-cooking tapioca pearls processed into tiny white granulated beads. These granules are par-cooked, meaning partially cooked to be finished or reheated later.

They do not dissolve thoroughly when cooking, so ideally, you’ll either grind or pulverize them in a blender or coffee grinder before use. You can also let them sit in liquid for 5 minutes to allow for rehydration.

What is instant tapioca used for?

It is used as a thickening agent for soups, gravies, pies, doughs, etc. Instant tapioca is often cooked in sweetened milk to make tapioca pudding.

An excellent substitute for a variety of ingredients, below are a couple of some standard comparison ratios:

  • Tapioca Flour for All-Purpose Flour: Replace with a little more, 1:1.25 ratio
  • Tapioca Flour for Corn Starch (in baking): use twice as much Tapioca Pearls or half as much corn starch

You can even use tapioca pearls to make bubble tea!

Nutrition facts for Instant Tapioca

  • Carbs: 5g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Proteins: 0g
  • Calories: 20g
  • Fibers: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g

What is tapioca flour?

Tapioca flour is the pure starch form. Even though both come from the same plant, it should be noted that cassava flour and tapioca flour are pretty different.

Like grain flour, tapioca flour is a fine white powder. You’ll find most tapioca flour products at the store labeled “tapioca starch,” While this term is used interchangeably with “tapioca flour,” flour implies that the whole root is milled, which is not the case.

Like its cousin wheat flour, tapioca flour has a neutral taste so that it can be used in various dishes. According to, it thickens at a lower temperature than most starches, at as little as 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is it used for?

As with instant tapioca, tapioca flour is an excellent gluten-free substitute for baking or as an alternative for cornstarch as a thickening agent in pies, soups, gravies, doughs, and sauces.

Tapioca flour has also become popular within paleo diet recipes.

According to, Tapioca Flour is an excellent replacement for alternative ingredients; below, we’ve listed out the ratios for you:

  • Tapioca Flour for All-Purpose Flour: Replace 1 for 1
  • Tapioca Flour for Corn Starch (in baking): replace one tablespoon cornstarch with two tablespoons of tapioca flour

Nutrition facts for Tapioca Flour

Tapioca starch contains no fats or cholesterol, making it a pretty healthy choice for those who are dieting or have dietary restrictions. It is also very low in sodium.

  • Carbs: 26g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Proteins: 0g
  • Calories: 100
  • Fibers: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g

Instant Tapioca VS Tapioca Flour

When comparing instant tapioca vs tapioca flour, it’s important to know that they are both generally the same type of ingredient, but as the names imply, one cooks/bakes/prepares faster than the other.

Don’t forget that each needs to be ground down to prevent the tiny granules from appearing in your dish. (Of course, this only matters if you want the texture of your food to be smooth – if you don’t mind having the gently chewy spheres, like in a classic tapioca pudding recipe, then you’re all set to get started!)

Tapioca is an excellent gluten-free substitute or an additive to the paleo or celiac diets as it has low sodium, low cholesterol, and few carbs.

This post was contributed by a member of the PBF writing staff. is an online publication for learning about plant-based food and nutrition.

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