One of the most versatile gluten-free flours is tapioca flour, which is made by extracting the starchy liquid from the roots of the cassava plant (unlike cassava flour, which is made from the plant’s entire root). When you hear the word “tapioca,” chances are you think of the tapioca pearls that are commonly added to bubble tea, but cassava flour is an entirely different beast — although its high starch content does mean that tapioca flour becomes gummy like the pearls when combined with a liquid. As WebMD explains, tapioca flour has zero fat or cholesterol and is very high in carbs (26 grams per ¼ cup serving), but its other nutritional benefits are negligible — it contains almost no fiber, protein, vitamins, or other minerals.
Still, because of its mild and neutral taste, and the fact that it contains no gluten, tapioca flour is a popular choice of flour for both savory cooking and sweet baking recipes. Dr. Axe recommends substituting it for wheat flour at a 1-to-1 ratio and asserts that if using tapioca flour to thicken liquids like soups or sauces, less is more. In addition to its effectiveness as a thickening agent, tapioca flour is great for creating gluten-free flatbreads, cookies, pizza crusts, sandwich bread, and other baked goods.