What CAN’T cornstarch do?  

By Corey Williams
March 11, 2019
oksix/Getty Images

You probably already have cornstarch in your pantry—but are you reaching for it as often as you should be? Your trusty yellow container of Argo is 16 ounces of straight unrealized potential. If you’re not already, you really should be using cornstarch to:

1.Make roasted vegetables (or anything, really) extra crispy.

Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

You’ll wonder how you ever roasted vegetables without it. Really, cornstarch will add a nice crunch to just about anything—but it definitely adds a special something to roasted veggies, or even chickpeas. Read more about the magical crunch-ifying properties of cornstarch here.

2. Thicken sauces.

Photo by cislander via Getty Images

If you’re not already thickening your sauces with cornstarch, you need to start. Sure, you can use all-purpose flour for the same job—it’ll just take a lot longer. Simply mix equal amounts cornstarch and cold water until smooth and the consistency of heavy cream. Slowly pour the slurry into your dish (such as a sauce, stew, or curry) as it cooks, and say goodbye to runny sauces forever.  

WATCH: How to Thicken Gravy

3. Solidify too-juicy desserts.

Photo: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

This powerful ingredient works just as well with desserts. Next time you’re making something that runs a risk of turning out overly runny—like a custard or fruit pie filling—add a little cornstarch to the mix. Here’s how it works: Heat causes the starch to work as a binding agent. As it cools down, it’ll help your mixture set. You'll want to incorporate the cornstarch into your dessert before things heat up in most dessert applications. You toss your fruit for a cobbler with cornstarch before it goes into the pan to take advantage of its thickening powers; by the same token, dumping straight cornstarch into a hot custard mixture will likely yield clumps. 

Next up: 7 Brilliant Uses for Cornstarch (That Don't Involve Cooking)