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What Is Maize Flour?

By J. Beam
Updated May 16, 2024
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Maize flour is synonymous with masa and corn flour and is essentially dried corn that has been grounded into soft, fine particles. It is often soaked with lime during the softening process to make corn tortillas and shells, but this flavoring may be absent in flour used for baking. Once used primarily in the preparation of Mexican and other Latin American dishes, this flour is now widely used as a substitute to wheat flour in many food products and baking mixes that cater to people with wheat or gluten intolerance.

Maize flour is made from corn, which is one of the world’s largest crops. North America produces more corn than any other part of the world, but because of its vast usability in a wide variety of products and processes from food to fuel, it is used practically everywhere. Flour made with maize is low in saturated in fat and has virtually no cholesterol, though it has less protein than flour made from other grains. Still, it is preferable in certain recipes and is a viable alternative to wheat flour.

When baking with wheat flour alternatives, maize flour tends to be lighter than rice and tapioca flours, but a blend of flours usually produces the best result. Using alternative flours when baking typically requires the addition of a binding agent, such as eggs, gelatin or xanthan gum.

It is important to note that when baking or cooking with maize flour, the properties of the flour are very different from wheat flour. This is because of the absence of gluten, which for baking purposes is what binds and allows for air to circulate and cause rising. Though it is possible to substitute corn and other flour for regular all-purpose flour in certain recipes, some modifications may be necessary to yield desired results. There are plenty of recipes that call for maize flour as the main ingredient, so substituting in other recipes should be done for experimental purposes before preparing a recipe for presentation.

Maize flour can be found in most grocery stores where baking supplies are sold. If for some reason it is difficult to locate it at a common grocery retailer, it can more easily be found at health food stores and specialty grocery stores. Also look for flour blends that contain flour from more than one grain source, as the mixture of grains provides a different flavor and texture.

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Discussion Comments

By julies — On Sep 02, 2011

I know that white flour is not very good for you, so have tried to use whole wheat flour in place of white flour for quite a while.

This can take some getting used to as some whole wheat flours make thinks a little more coarse and grainy.

I was experiencing some abdominal discomfort and took an online quiz to see if I might be allergic to wheat products. My results showed that I might have some intolerance to wheat, so thought I would try a gluten free diet for awhile.

I found out that maize flour would be a good substitute. I have tried it, but I must say, I really miss the taste of the whole wheat flour. I have used other grains that don't have gluten in them that I prefer over maize.

By SarahSon — On Sep 01, 2011

I don't use maize flour very often, but it makes the best cornbread I have ever had. When I buy a bag of maize flour I store whatever I have left in the freezer.

Since I don't use it on a regular basis, I know this will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out of it.

Maize flour and cornmeal are similar, but I have had the best results using the flour when I make cornbread. I don't know if it is the maize flour or not, but this cornbread is really moist and has a good flavor.

It is best served warm with some honey drizzled over the top.

By myharley — On Sep 01, 2011

When my husband was having some intestinal and digestive problems, his doctor recommended he try a gluten free diet to see if that would help his symptoms.

I spent a lot of time researching foods he could replace and use as a substitute for whole wheat flour.

My local grocery store has a health food market located in the store that had some maize flour. I figured this would work since it doesn't have any gluten in it.

It takes a while to get used to the taste and texture of using maize flour, but if it can help with his symptoms it will be worth it.

After three weeks of eliminating gluten from his diet, he did feel much better and even lost 10 pounds.

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