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The best cornmeal substitute options

Cornmeal has a sweet, corn-filled flavor that’s often used in cakes, cornbread, and cookies. It’s typically made from ground yellow corn and can both have coarse and very fine grains. 

Cornmeal is also even used in dishes such as crispy fish, chicken, or mozzarella sticks because of its texture and its flavor.

When you’re looking for a cornmeal substitute, it’s essential to know why you needed the cornmeal in the first place.

Depending on whether you needed it to enhance your food’s texture or its flavor, the cornmeal replacement you use can vary. 

Here are some substitutes that you can use when you’re fresh out of cornmeal.

1. Corn grits

Whether you need corn grits to use instead of cornmeal for the texture or the taste, they work great because of their many similarities to cornmeal.

They also come from the same part of the same corn plant, which means their flavor closely resembles cornmeal. 

The grains for corn grits are larger than cornmeal but prove to be a close texture replacement.

If you need it for a liquid-based dish, it might become a little thicker with corn grits. 

However, one helpful trick is to refine the grain sizes with a food processor or blender, and you’ll almost have the same ingredient as cornmeal.
 
When using corn grits, start with ¾ the amount of cornmeal called for in your recipe.

If you feel the need to add more, feel free to do so.

2. Corn flour

Corn flour has some of the most refined grains out of all the cornmeal substitutes you’ll encounter.

When it comes to using cornmeal for the sake of flavor, corn flour is your best bet in bringing the same taste to your dish. 

Corn flour also has a slightly whiter shade than cornmeal and can leave behind an aftertaste, but it should do the trick if you use it in the right quantity. 

If you’re replacing cornmeal with corn flour, you can use the same amount.

But as the grains are more refined, their flavor can be slightly intense. 

Ideally, you should start with a smaller amount and work your way up.

3. Polenta

This is another substitute that works well, especially when replacing the cornmeal’s flavor. 

Polenta is made from kernels of corn, hence the similar taste.

You can grind it further to get a texture that more closely resembles cornmeal for better results. 

Once you’ve ground it down, you can use almost the same quantity of polenta as cornmeal.

4. Semolina

Semolina works great for getting the same texture as cornmeal. It’s made from grinding durum wheat kernels and has a coarse texture. 

Although it has a darker shade and a more earthy flavor, it can work well when you need it for dishes that require the consistency that cornmeal brings. 

You can use a slightly larger quantity of semolina than the cornmeal called for in your recipe to replicate the texture.

5. Corn chips

Choosing corn chips as a cornmeal substitute is easy peasy.

All you have to do is grind corn chips into a food processor until you arrive at a grain size similar to cornmeal.

They also have a higher salt quantity than cornmeal, which means you will want to adjust the amount of additional salt called for in your recipe to avoid ruining the result.

You can use the same amount of ground corn chips as the cornmeal required in your recipe as long as you keep checking the taste and adding a small amount at a time.

Masa harina

Masa harina works best if you need cornmeal to make tortillas.

Touted as another type of corn flour and has a similar taste, it does have a slightly lime-like underlying flavor. 

However, you can use masa harina to replace the texture of cornmeal in recipes for cornbread without noticing too much of a difference. 

You can start with the same amount of masa harina as the cornmeal that is called for in your recipe and make the necessary accommodations for the lime flavor, and you’ll be good to go.

The bottom line

Cornmeal is essentially a common kitchen ingredient and has numerous replacements that are just as readily available.

As I’ve mentioned, as long as you’re aware of what you’re looking for, that is the texture or the flavor, you’ll be able to find an appropriate substitute!

Cornmeal substitute

Cornmeal substitute

Here are a few readily available substitutes for cornmeal that you can use if you ever run out of it

Ingredients

  • Corn chips
  • Food processor

Instructions

  1. Grind the corn chips into a food processor until you arrive at a grain size similar to cornmeal.
  2. You can use the same amount of ground corn chips as the cornmeal required in your recipe as long as you keep checking the taste and adding a small amount at a time.

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