Difference between: cornstarch and cornmeal (and corn flour)

As with the Philly cheesesteak, cornstarch and cornmeal can be also be spelled as two words; I’m using one word for both to keep it consistent. 

As simple as these two ingredients are, finding the difference between cornstarch and cornmeal proved more confusing than I anticipated. 

Photo credit: The-Gluten-Free-Chef.com

I am skipping right over the dictionary definitions of the two, because frankly, they were really unhelpful.

Getting right into it then, cornstarch is derived from the endosperm of the corn, which is what primarily makes up the kernels we eat. Usually used as thickener, cornstarch has about twice the thickening power of flour; they’re often used together in recipes, not unlike baking soda and baking powder.

Cornstarch does not contain much of a flavor other than a bit of starchy-ness, which goes away as you cook it down. Cornmeal, on the other hand, can have more of an actual corn taste to it, which is why it is not utilized as a thickening agent for sauces in the way that cornstarch often is; this is is also why cornmeal is used to make corn-like foods, like cornbread.

Cornmeal is basically dried corn. It can also be called corn flour, although there is technically a difference between the two, which is that corn flour is more extensively broken up. In other words, cornmeal is more of a coarse substance, while corn flour is very fine and powdery.

Photo credit: WonderlandKitchen.com

As EHow.com says, that may seem like a small difference, but cornmeal and corn flour are used differently in cooking. Corn flour, like regular flour or like cornstarch, is used to thicken up foods.

Corn flour is not really a “food in and of itself,” whereas cornmeal, having more substance to it, arguably is a food in its own right. Cornmeal can be yellow or white, or sometimes even blue. There is not much of a difference between yellow and white cornmeal, other than yellow might be just a tad sweeter.

In conclusion, both cornstarch and cornmeal are made from corn. However, cornmeal has more of a corn flavor to it, while cornstarch possesses little more than a starchy taste, and is mostly used to thicken up sauces. Corn flour is basically cornmeal, except more finely ground up.

9 thoughts on “Difference between: cornstarch and cornmeal (and corn flour)

  1. Please don’t ever try to explain any thing to any one, You have a very messed up and confusing way of explaining.

    Your first paragraph starts with
    “As with the Philly cheesesteak,”

    Right there you start with confusion… What the heck Philly cheesesteak has any thing to do with either one of them?

    Loll I am just saying. It was so painful to read while trying to make sense of what your were trying to say. It was also very Dialectic.

    1. I agree with AMEN. For those who are confused from the above I have made it easier to understand. To do this I spent 2 minutes researching and found out what cornmeal, cornflour and cornstarch actually are. This is opposed to; copying, pasting and crediting other peoples articles and photos while not fully to grasping the mind boggling concepts of the corn products on supermarket shelves.

      Right chums, lets do this. LEEEEEROY JENKINS!

      Cornmeal: ground corn, technically a flour, tastes corny

      Cornflour: corn ground into a finer flour, also tastes corny

      (unlike what the author has stated, both are technically foods. And colour depends more on the colour of the corn which was ground, if you are not aware of native indian multi coloured corn, search it, you now have some wonderful dinner conversation)

      Cornstarch: Corn is soaked/steeped in water for 2-3 days. The starch water is removed and reduced into starch (i.e. starch has been removed form the corn), aka cornstarch. It is used for thickening soups etc… but is also an anti-caking agent, which means, it keeps powdered sugar powdery and not clumpy.

      I do not now if the cornflour is produced after cornstarch is removed from the corn. I would suggest in cheaper or lower calorie cornflours this is the case. Check with your cornflour manufacturer for full details.

      If you’re as interested in Corn as me, why not check our King Corn (2007) the documentary that shows you how millions of people drink sugary corn all day until their hearts give in 10-20 years pre-maturely and find out which multinational chemical pesticide corp and gm seed manufacturer is responsible for almost all the USA corn crops and how many people they have stepped on to get there.

  2. I actually found it very helpful and not confusing to read. Making my first chili tonight so here I am and thank you.

  3. I actually understand what erin nudi describes more than what mr agreeable says. the writing is packed with relevant information. mr agreeable says something at the end that is not.

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