15 Best Cornmeal Substitutes That Will Make You Surprised

Nowadays, cornmeal is an indispensable ingredient in every family’s kitchen. It is used in soups, sauces, cakes, and ice creams.

There are many different substitutes for different food ingredients. Cornmeal substitute is no exception. The best way is to use other corn-based substitutes because they can maintain the characteristic taste of corn.

What can I substitute for cornmeal? It’s a question many people ask. You may even have some ingredients lying around your kitchen for you to use. But if you do not have anything in mind, read the article below to answer this question.

What Is Cornmeal?

What Is Cornmeal

It is produced from the cob of the corn kernel. This is a fine corn powder (coarse flour) commonly used to create adhesion and thickening in some dishes. It is also used to make cakes similar to flour, and it is the same ingredient that makes the popular cornbread.

The most common is using them as a thickening agent to create the smooth, luscious texture for soups. When baking, it is mixed with a portion of flour, and sometimes it is also an alternative to deep-fried flour for those who like to cook quickly.

As it is taken from the core of the kernel, corn coarse flour has a lot of nutrients and several other substances. It contains ingredients such as Calories (kcal), Lipid, Fat, Sodium, Potassium, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Sugar, Protein, Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B6, Magnesium.

However, when processing the meal, pay attention to stirring it at the last stage of the dish. Or else, there will be lumps – which are quite annoying.

Finding The Greatest Cornmeal Substitute

Coarse Cornmeal

Coarse Cornmeal
Coarse Cornmeal

Coarse meal is often used to raise catfish and make Southern-style cornbread. If the cornmeal can do the job, so can it. However, this is an option that doesn’t always work. Because if you make a cake, the coarse one will make your cake gritty.

Coarse meal is best for creating a crispy topping for cakes or for making thick polenta. Otherwise, it should be cooked for a long time to lose the grain.

Often when it is incorporated in a relatively fast-paced dish in the oven (like a cake, for example), it will be as hard as a rock. So be careful when choosing this alternative.

1. Polenta


Can you substitute polenta for cornmeal? Entirely possible. Polenta is usually made from grinding golden kernels. So it has a brighter yellow color, and the hardness or softness of polenta is also determined by whether the powder is fine or coarse.

Polenta is high in fiber and protein, which helps you feel fuller for longer. It is commonly used in Western cuisine and is often prepared as an accompaniment to meals. But it can be used in place of meal to make pizza or toppings for frying foods.

Related article: How To Reheat Polenta? 4 Best Ways To Try At Home

2. Corn Grits

Corn Grits
Corn Grits

Corn grits are similar to corn meal, which is made from dried, ground maize. Besides, hominy is normally used in making grits. It is used to make grits which are very famous in both South and North American cuisines.

Therefore, substitute grits for cornmeal is a great way, for it will also have a more repeatable taste similar to corn meal. However, there will be a difference in inconsistency, as grits will make the dish thicker, so be careful and use it for the right dish.

Dosage is also important. You should start with corn grits equal to 3/4 of the corn meal in the recipe, then can add more if you want. This will make it easier to adjust to the closest to the original formula.

3. Blue Cornmeal

Blue Cornmeal
Blue Cornmeal

It is usually an heirloom variety with indigenous roots across the American South. Its color gives it a sweet, unique flavor.

Blue corn meal is light green or purple. It is milled from whole-grain corn and has a sweet taste. Meanwhile, corn meal consists of dried corn kernels that have been ground to a fine or medium texture.

4. Ground Flaxseed

Ground Flaxseed
Ground Flaxseed

Flaxseed is a nutrient- and fiber-rich crop that has many uses. This is a perfect choice for weight loss people. Some people believe that flaxseeds can be used in the diet to start or speed up weight loss.

The seeds can be ground into ground flaxseed meal, pressed into oil, or spun into flax fibers.

5. Semolina


Is semolina cornmeal a substitution for cornmeal? This is also flour made from young durum wheat and contains gluten. So it can be used to make tortillas, to thicken sauces, but it can also be used for frying.

Semolina can be found at most Italian organic or specialty stores. If you choose this as a cornmeal replacement, start with a little less than needed.

6. Corn Chips

Corn chips are a type of snack food made from a meal fried in oil or baked. You can grind it out and use it as a substitute for cornmeal. As it has a similar taste to dried corn due to being made from corn, but it will be quite time-consuming.

It has a hard texture and is very crispy. Corn chips are also often salted, fragrant, and bring a rich flavor to your dish.

7. Wheat Flour

Wheat Flour
Wheat Flour

Although wheat flour is high in gluten, regular flour is a great cornmeal alternative. Because it’s very popular, you can find flour at any grocery store and even convenience stores.

Flour is a very easy-to-use ingredient; just make sure you use a reasonable amount. If you use too much, the product will be too thick.

Also, keep in mind that the flavor of the corn can be lost because wheat flour has no flavor.

8. Rice Flour

Rice Flour
Rice Flour

If you are gluten intolerant or allergic, this flour is a perfect choice. This flour is a good alternative in muffins, baking bread, and cookies.

You can find rice flour at any grocery or organic store. We recommend using the same amount as the recipe calls for.

Conversely, you can also use cornmeal instead of flour. This can give your dishes a unique flavor.

9. Coconut Powder And Almond Powder

Coconut Powder
Coconut Powder

This is very popular with the Keto community. Coconut flour is a healthy choice. This flour absorbs a lot of water and has a similar composition to cornstarch, so it is softer.

What is super popular on the keto diet is almond flour. This flour contains healthy fats and is good for the heart. Almond flour substitutes for cornstarch to thicken the cake when baking. However, it cannot make the soup thick.

10. Oats


Oats are whole grains that have a similar texture to dried corn. Oats have a mild taste but are fragrant and soft. Vegetarians will be very used to adding it to their daily breakfast.

It is a rich source of fiber for the body, especially beta-glucan and a variety of other essential antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. But as an alternative, you also need to puree them and process them like dried corn.

11. Nuts


Nuts are famous for their ability to convert into other foods, and dried corn is no exception. The good thing about nuts is that they can be grounded to a  dried corn consistency!

Nuts are rich in fiber and protein. If added to dishes, it will not only benefit in terms of nutrition but also help them taste more appealing.

12. Tortilla Chips

Tortilla cake originated from Mexico and is often served with soup or filling, vegetables, eggs, combined with meat, etc. It is round, flat, and made from dried corn.  Tortilla chips are tortillas that are sliced and fried until crispy.

To replace dried corn with tortilla chips, you need to grind them into powder. This is relatively time-consuming, so consider using it when you have no other choice. Basically, you will still be able to use cornmeal in the tortilla, so your dish will not lose too much flavor.

13. Masa Harina

Masa Harina
Masa Harina

Can you substitute masa for cornmeal? Of course, it is a yes. Masa is a staple food in Western cuisine. So if you live in this area, you should be able to get it easily.

It is also sometimes referred to as Maseca. You can use it to make tamales, gorditas, arepas, and tortillas, but you can also bake gluten-free pizza. It is also classified as refined dried corn.

14. Bread Crumbs

Bread Crumbs
Bread Crumbs

It is the small crumbs of dry bread (usually made from flour), rubbed or ground, scraped, milled from bread.

Dry bread crumbs are made from bread that has been toasted or fried very dry to remove any remaining moisture and may have sand or dough-like texture. Bread crumbs can be easily produced by grinding bread slices in a blender or scraping with a thin blade.

It can be used the same as cornstarch or corn-meal, but mostly it is used as fried dough.

15. Cereals


It can function as a sub of cornmeal in the same type of way tortilla chips and breadcrumbs can. The great advantage of cereals is variety. So it is suitable for many recipes.

Cereals may even be better suited to your dish because they come in a variety of flavors. Otherwise, you’ll want to use more basic flavors like tortillas instead of high-sugar cereals or chocolate.

How To Make Cornmeal?

First, soak the corn in water for about 10-15 minutes to remove dirt as well as bugs. After soaking, rinse them thoroughly. Cut off the thick stem at the end but leave the peel.

Then, cook your corn using your favorite method. You can either cook it in the microwave or boil it. Note that it should not be overcooked, or else it will cause the corn to lose nutrients.

Once your corns have reached the desired doneness, let them drain. If there is any dampness, you will end up with a corn paste. Allow them to cool down, then remove the skins and the seeds from the ears.

Make sure that the corn is totally dry; feel free to dry them in the oven. Next, put some seasoning in the corn grinder. Close the lid of the blender and puree.

If you want the dried corn to be coarse, you can leave some of the larger chunks – if you want it to be very fine, grind it finely.

You can use them right away or store them for later when it’s done.


What Are Cornmeal Alternatives In Baking?

It can be used to make bread, pancakes, cookies, waffles, and cakes and can be added or substituted for flour. Substitutes in baking are products that increase the elasticity and firmness of bread and baked goods.

However, for cakes that require a crispy texture, you should use the right ingredient. Do not put the meal in acidic water solutions such as lemon, vinegar, apple juice, orange juice because they will not stick.

What Are Some Great Herbs & Spices Cornmeal Alternatives?


It is pure fiber and contains no calories or carbs, making it a popular substitute for those following a low-carb diet.

Most people use about ¼ teaspoon of glucomannan for every two teaspoons of cornstarch. It thickens at fairly low temperatures, so mix it with some cold water before pouring it into your food to prevent it from clumping together when it encounters hot liquids.

Psyllium husk

It is a plant-based fiber, which can be applied as a thickener.

Like glucomannan, it has low carbs levels yet high soluble fiber.

You’ll also only need a small amount of it to thicken recipes, so start with half a teaspoon and work your way up.

Guar gum

It is also vegetable gum. It is made from guar beans.

The bean’s outer shell is removed, while the starchy endosperm in the middle is dried, collected, and powdered.

It is low in calories and high in soluble fiber, making it a good thickener.

It should be noted that it can cause digestive problems for some people when consumed in large amounts.

What Are Some Great Cornmeal Sub In Cooking?

  • For dishes that require a fluid consistency, corn grits will make a marginally thicker yet fluid porridge. So you should add more corn grits than meal.
  • If you use wheat flour, the surface will be smoother (less abrasive), and the flavor will look all the more a malty flavor.You may need to fiddle with the sugar and salt content to make a flavor you’re happy with.
  • If cornmeal is utilized in a recipe for its surface, you may utilize substitutes, similar to breadcrumbs, semolina, ground oats, and so on.


Above are some options that we think are the best substitution for cornmeal. Just because you’re short on cornmeal doesn’t mean you can’t make the recipe.

There are so many great alternatives when you get creative. Just make sure that you opt for the right ingredient.

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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