How to substitute for potato flour: what to do when you run short

Your favorite sandwich bread recipe calls for potato flour. You open the cupboard, and GRRRRR: you used it up on those yeast rolls and forgot to restock. What now? Don’t give up on that bread! We’ve got several other ingredients you can substitute for potato flour while you work on restocking your supply.

Potato flour vs. potato starch

First, let’s clear up any confusion about potato flour and potato starch. Potato flour is made from whole peeled potatoes, cooked, dried, and ground into a fine, beige-colored powder. Potato starch is “washed” out of crushed potatoes, then dried to a fine, bright-white powder.

What’s the difference? Potato flour includes fiber, protein, and flavor, while potato starch is pure flavorless starch.

Starch helps keep bread and rolls soft, moist, and fresh by absorbing and holding liquid. When bread goes stale it’s because its liquid is evaporating; starch slows this process.

So while you wouldn’t want to use starch in a crusty baguette, it’s perfect for soft dinner rolls and sandwich loaves. Many King Arthur Flour yeast bread recipes call for potato flour, which adds not just starch, but a bit of creamy color and a faint hint of earthy, “potato-y” flavor.

Substitute for potato flour via @kingarthurflour

But back to the problem at hand: you’re out of potato flour, and you really, really want to make your favorite sandwich bread. Oh, and you also don’t have any instant potato flakes, which function very similarly to potato flour in yeast bread, and can be used interchangeably (measured by weight).

Let’s do some tests using commonly available substitutes. I’ll make four loaves of White Sandwich Bread: one with potato flour as written; one that substitutes cornstarch for the potato flour; one that substitutes cooked, mashed potatoes, and one that substitutes all-purpose flour.

Looking for the best substitute for potato flour? We've done the tests, and have some advice. Click To Tweet
Substitute for potato flour via @kingarthurflour

At left, bread made with potato flour; at right, bread made with cornstarch.


Cornstarch is a worthy substitute for potato flour if you’re in a pinch. However, while it keeps bread and rolls moist, that’s the end of it. Cornstarch lacks the subtle flavor and color present in potato flour, and thus bread made with cornstarch tastes a bit flat and is slightly paler in color than bread made with potato flour.

Can I substitute cornstarch for potato flour? Yes, with reservations; your bread will be paler and less flavorful.

How to do it: Substitute cornstarch 1:1, by volume, for potato flour in yeast recipes.

Substitute for potato flour via @kingarthurflour

At left, bread made with cornstarch; at right, bread made with mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes add wonderful flavor and over-the-top moistness to yeast bread and rolls; witness one of my favorite soft roll recipes, Amish Dinner Rolls.

But the proper balance of liquid and flour is key to bread’s structure, and mashed potatoes are a wild card. If you bake the potatoes, how dry did they become? If you boil them, how much water did they absorb?

Substitute for potato flour via @kingarthurflour

At left, dough made with potato flour; at right, dough made with mashed potatoes.

Substituting mashed potatoes for potato flour is possible, but dicey. See how rough the mashed potato dough is compared to the dough made with potato flour?

The mashed potato dough is sticky to work with. And though the resulting loaf’s internal temperature is the requisite 190°F when I remove it from the oven, it collapses as it cools. Better luck next time, I guess.

Can I substitute mashed potatoes for potato flour? Yes, with caution; your bread may collapse.

How to do it: Substitute 3/4 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes for every 1/4 cup potato flour called for in your recipe. Reduce any added liquid in the recipe by 50%, subsequently adding more flour or liquid if necessary to make a soft but not overly sticky dough. Bake the loaf thoroughly, to an internal temperature of at least 200°F.

Even after all this, a loaf made with mashed potatoes may collapse. I suggest using this substitution in rolls, rather than bread; a small roll’s structure is inherently more stable than that of a high-rising loaf.

Substitute for potato flour via @kingarthurflour

At left, dough made with all-purpose flour; at right, dough made with potato flour.

All-purpose flour

If you choose to forego the benefits of starch entirely, you can simply substitute all-purpose flour for the potato flour in your recipe.

You’ll need to make some adjustments; potato flour absorbs more liquid than all-purpose flour. If your recipe calls for a range of water, start at the lower end. If the dough is still too sticky to handle easily, sprinkle in a bit more all-purpose flour.

Can I substitute all-purpose flour for potato flour? Yes, with regret; your bread will lack moistness, keeping quality, and a bit of added flavor and color.

How to do it: Substitute all-purpose flour 1:1, by volume, for potato flour in yeast recipes. The dough may be a bit stickier and harder to handle at first, but thorough kneading should create a smooth ball of dough. The resulting loaf will rise and bake well, but in comparison to a loaf made with potato flour will lack a bit of flavor and color. Its texture will be drier, and it’ll become stale more quickly.

Substitute for potato flour via @kingarthurflour

Our Soft White Dinner Rolls rely on potato flour for their delightfully moist texture.

So, at the end of the day, here’s my advice: If you don’t have potato flour, purchase some and make it a pantry staple. These tips are handy if you unexpectedly run out, but nothing beats the attributes (and ease of use) of potato flour.

Some final tips:

• Want to add potato flour to a yeast bread recipe that doesn’t call for it? Substitute potato flour 1:1 by volume, for the all-purpose, whole wheat, or bread flour called for in the recipe. We don’t advise substituting more than 1/4 cup potato flour in a typical bread or roll recipe calling for about 3 cups of flour. If you substitute potato flour for bread flour, you may notice your bread rises slightly less high.

• What about using potato water? Potato water — water you’ve boiled potatoes in — is rich in starch. Use it in soft bread or roll recipes in place of your usual tap water.

And finally, what if you’re out of potato flour, but have some potato starch on hand? My fellow blogger Kye answers that question all the time while responding to readers with recipe questions; here’s what she says:

“They’re not interchangeable when baking gluten-free; but they’re roughly interchangeable when being used to retain moisture in yeast breads. To be ultra-precise about it, potato flour is about 83% starch, so you’d perhaps want to substitute a little less potato starch; but realistically this kind of small adjustment is unlikely to make much of a difference.” As with cornstarch, potato starch doesn’t have the flavor or warm color offered by potato flour.

Substitute for potato flour via @kingarthurflour

The complete loaf lineup, left to right: All-purpose flour, potato flour, cornstarch, mashed potatoes.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Bea

    I use instant potato flakes in all my bread. It works great. My friend taught me that because of her husband’s health he could not have yeast so we use instant potato flakes. Have you tried it?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Bea! We have used potato flakes in our bread baking — it makes for a wonderfully soft loaf, doesn’t it? We’ve not used them in place of yeast though if that was what you were curious about. Kindly, Morgan@KAF

  2. Adeoso Ganiyu

    1.Trying to make potato-all purpose flour bread. Measured in the ratiro 1:4. It turns out crumbling, not risen and not smooth. What have I done wrong. And can this combination be made for commercial purpose?

    2. How do I make potato flour in large scale?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Adeoso! It sounds like the hydration ratio was off a bit making your dough too dry. We’d recommend using a recipe that is calling for potato flour and then scaling it up using Baker’s Percentage to ensure that everything stays in the proper ratio. As for making potato flour, we’d recommend trying to find a source where you can purchase potato flour rather than trying to grind your own from potato flakes. Kindly, Morgan@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Magera! Because tangzhong is considered a liquid in the recipe, it would be difficult to calculate just how much tangzhong one would need to use to replace the potato flour. You’re absolutely welcome to experiment with it, we just don’t have the formulas. Annabelle@KAF

  3. Pat Winick

    I have a cousin visiting from Sweden, he baked a cake using a recipe that calls for potato flour; the cake is supposed to be light but ended up falling, he said potato flour in Sweden is very white and what we bought (Bob’s Red Mill) is not. Based on this article I’m guessing what he calls potato flour we call potato starch. I haven’t found potato starch, is there an adequate substitute?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Pat! There isn’t really a good substitute for potato starch, and as you’ve found out potato flour and potato starch aren’t interchangeable. You could try substituting with cornstarch, but you’ll have to do some experimenting. Also, you might try doing a quick Google search to see if you can find any potato starch at a store near you. Best of luck! Morgan@KAF

  4. Kris Gerardo

    Hello. I want to add some potato flakes for my bread, i’ve read before that it helps bread become softer. Just wondering how much should i add for a bread recipe or any proportion should i consider for every cup flour? Thank yoi

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Kris! For a typical bread recipe calling for about 3 cups of flour, you can remove 1/4 cup of the flour and replace it with 1/2 cup of potato flakes. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

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