15 Unusual Masa Harina Substitutes For Baking Or Cooking

Masa harina is a versatile ingredient that gives a unique taste and texture to a wide range of meals. Masa harina, a traditional ingredient in Mexican cuisine, is often used in tamales, tortillas, and other Mexican recipes.

However, manufacturing dough from masa harina might be difficult since its flour must be obtained from dried masa, which is also dough created from properly treated maize.

If you’re seeking for a simpler form of masa harina or simply want to experiment with other ingredients, here’s a list of the finest masa harina replacements for baking.

  1. Regular Flour
  2. Arrowroot Powder
  3. Corn Grits
  4. Corn Tortillas
  5. Fresh Masa
  6. Corn Tostadas Or Taco Shells
  7. Corn Meal
  8. Corn Starch
  9. Masa Preparada

If you are still unable to locate the above-mentioned alternatives, continue reading for a thorough list of masa harina substitutes.

14 Best Substitute For Masa Harina 

Masa harina is a Spanish term that means dough flour. Masa harina is essentially dough flour derived from maize flour that is alkalinized in lime water before being transformed into masa flour.

This technique would break down the kernel, which is responsible for the texture of masa harina. The limewater also contributes to the creation of a distinct and genuine taste in a number of Mexican and Latin American meals such as corn tortillas, taco shells, and tamales.

Cornstarch or wheat flour are some of the finest Masa Harina replacements if you’re looking for a thickening ingredient for soups and sauces.

If you can’t locate both, you may attempt the options listed below.

Regular Flour


Regular flour is not the same as masa harina since it lacks the same flavor and texture. It is also useful as a thickening ingredient in sauces and soups.

However, if you are confident and skilled enough, some experimentation is not a terrible thing! Remember that each variety of flour has a distinct consistency and absorption rate.

You should choose flour that you are comfortable with, as well as what works best with your selected recipe. If all works fine, keep using the flour!

If it doesn’t work out, you may try alternative substitutions from the list or adjust the recipe.

Arrowroot Powder


Arrowroot is a difficult ingredient to come by, but it is a decent alternative for masa harina. Arrowroot powder is derived from the same-named tropical plant, and its starch-like texture is used as a thickening ingredient in soups, sauces, and the like.

Despite having the same texture as masa harina, arrowroot powder has a completely distinct taste.

If you are brave enough to attempt a new taste, it is advisable to start with tiny quantities and a 1:1 ratio.

Furthermore, since arrowroot powder has a very fine texture, it is best used in little amounts, such as soups, as it cannot hold itself as dough in big quantities.

Corn Grits


Grits, which are produced from hominy or milled maize, are a decent replacement for masa harina. The key distinction is that hominy grits taste like masa harina, while milled corn grits taste like cornmeal.

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Furthermore, since most grits are manufactured from American maize, they do not have the same Mexican taste as masa harina and Mexican corn.

Despite this, the two have the same flavor and features as masa harina. As a result, if you wish to substitute grits for masa harina, use a 1:1 ratio and have a food processor on available, particularly for dry ones, to obtain a finer texture.

Corn Tortillas


Using corn tortillas instead of masa harina will give you the most genuine flavor and texture of a Mexican cuisine. Why? Because grinding corn tortillas to a fine flour in a food processor produces a product that looks and tastes virtually identical to masa harina. Because of this, ground corn tortillas are termed recycled masa harina.

Just be careful not to use flavored tortillas, since this might result in an overpowering flavor in your meal. Furthermore, bear in mind that the recipe for ground corn tortillas will differ from masa harina.

As a result, it is ideal to utilize ground corn tortillas as a thickening agent in a 1:1 ratio.

Fresh Masa


Fresh masa is said to be the finest and most similar alternative for masa harina. This is because fresh masa is masa harina before it was dried and ground to a corn flour-like texture in a food processor.

Having the same properties as masa harina and other components such as corn tortillas, tostadas, and taco shells, utilizing fresh masa will also provide a genuine Mexican flavor and experience, depending on the recipe.

This is particularly appropriate for preparing tamales and other similar dishes, making fresh masa a superior ingredient as an alternative for masa harina.

Corn Tostadas Or Taco Shells


Corn tostadas and corn taco shells, like corn tortillas, may be crushed in a food processor to have the same texture as masa harina.

Similarly, masa harina is used to make maize tostadas and corn taco shells. However, be cautious of the ingredients when purchasing them at your local grocery store, since you will need to buy corn tostadas and corn taco shells that are already formed from masa harina or preparada.

It is also vital to note that maize tostadas and taco shells work better as a thickening agent than flour. As a result, you must determine if this substitution is acceptable for the dish at hand.



Cornmeal is a good replacement since it is created from milled maize, which is also used to make masa harina dough.

In terms of texture, cornmeal and masa harina are quite similar. Cornmeal, on the other hand, has a grainier texture than masa harina, although being noticeably finer than cornflour.

Furthermore, cornmeal did not go through the limewater kernel alkalinization procedure. As a result, utilizing cornmeal will not provide an identical taste equivalent.

Nonetheless, the gritty texture of cornmeal provides an easy-to-measure 1:1 ratio if you wish to use it in lieu of masa harina to produce dough.

Corn Starch


maize starch is a finer-textured product derived from maize kernels than masa harina. It is also used to thicken soups and other foods and as a replacement for other ingredients.

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Furthermore, corn starch, like corn flour, is derived from milled corn. Although corn starch did not go through the limewater kernel alkalinization procedure.

In terms of taste, corn starch may not be an identical equivalent for masa harina. However, if you’re making Mexican soup, maize starch will come in handy since it tastes similar to masa harina.

So, if you’re using cornstarch to thicken soups, be sure to combine it in equal parts with water first, then watch how it thickens to a slurry.

Cornstarch also has a softer flavor than masa harina and should not overpower your soup.

Masa Preparada

Masa preparada, on the other hand, is a more sophisticated variant of masa harina. Why? Because masa preparada is already made when purchased in the refrigerator department of your local Latin-American grocery shop, it is simpler to make than masa harina.

However, since it is more costly than the others on the list, masa preparada may not be the most cost-effective replacement.

If you have the cash and want to save time in the kitchen, you may buy masa preparada to bypass the dough-making step in dishes like tamales and tortillas. Simply combine the contents, bake, and enjoy!



Polenta is an Italian meal with qualities comparable to grits and dry and canned hominy. Furthermore, polenta may be produced using cornmeal, chestnuts, and a number of other ingredients.

With this, polenta, which is fully cooked and normally found in the refrigerated area combined with water, may be simply purchased at your local grocery store.

Using polenta is similar to using masa harina since they have almost the same texture, with the exception that polenta may come in finer variants.

As a result, if you are confident enough, you may utilize the 1:1 ratio to prepare tamale dough. Remember that polenta already contains water, so you’ll need less.

However, if you want to experiment with recipes, you may still use a lot of water.

Dried Hominy


Before it is processed into a finer texture, hominy is masa harina. Hominy is also hulled corn, which indicates that the kernel was alkalinized with limewater to remove the husk from the kernel.

And, since they are both made from entire kernels, dried hominy may be used in place of masa harina in many Latin American meals.

To make masa harina, mill the dried entire hominy kernels into a finer texture in a food processor. A 1:1 ratio is also utilized to use dry hominy in any recipe that calls for masa harina.

Canned Hominy


The fundamental difference between canned and dry hominy is that canned hominy has its kernels preserved in water and has the consistency of canned beans. It is, however, hominy.

To create masa harina, grind canned hominy into finer bits in a food processor. Keep in mind that the finished result will resemble dough rather than the flour-like texture of dry hominy.

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Using the same ratio as dry hominy, you may replace canned hominy for masa harina in recipes that call for it. Take notice that for tamales or tortillas, use less water than is required to get the desired consistency.



Flaxseeds, which are often found in multigrain bread, may also be used as a replacement for masa harina. Keep in mind that the taste might be fairly harsh since it lacks the zesty flavor of alkalinized masa harina.

However, since flaxseed has various nutritional properties, it may be used in lieu of masa harina in many recipes. It contains antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to combat cancer cells.

Flaxseed also improves digestion owing to its high fiber content.

Simply combine a spoonful of ground flaxseeds with 2 tablespoons of water to make a masa harina replacement.

Homemade Masa Harina

If you are comfortable making your own ingredients from scratch, you can surely make your own masa harina. But first, you’ll need clean, whole grain dried corn, which is considerably easier if it’s already peeled. Then, look for any bad kernels and discard them.

  1. Put all of the kernels in a non-reactive saucepan with 7-8 cups of water for the alkalinization procedure.
  2. 1 tablespoon calcium hydroxide (or powdered lime)
  3. For 30 minutes, boil the pot and let it simmer.
  4. After that, let the kernels at room temperature for at least 6-8 hours.

After many hours, it is time to use tap water to remove the husks from the kernels. Finally, using a food processor or a basic grinder, crush the kernels into a doughy masa harina.

Masa Harina Substitute Related FAQs

What does masa harina taste like?

Masa harina tastes like maize since it is composed mostly of corn flour. Masa harina adds a somewhat nutty, buttery, and tangy taste to spicy and savory dishes regardless of how they are served (griddle-heated, fried, or baked).

Mexican and Latin American cuisines, and is even seen to be the ideal basis for such meals due to how its delicate taste can bring out the flavors of other components.

Nonetheless, the ideal way to make masa harina is to cook it with corn tortillas on a hot griddle. Masa harina is best used as a dough in dishes that call for elastic dough, such as tamales and empanadas, and as a thickening factor in Mexican soups.

If you like masa cakes, you may have them freshly prepared here as well.

Where can you find masa harina?

Masa harina is widely accessible in supermarket shops and is generally found in the refrigerator area.

However, if you want to have a real experience, head to a Latin American grocery shop to obtain this mild yet versatile spice.

Don’t live near a Latin American grocery store? Don’t worry since masa harina is growing more popular by the day.

Local grocery shops are always seeking to expand and include numerous foreign items, so yours may have one these days. If you need masa harina right now, you may still get it from Masienda or freshly ground masa harina.


What can I substitute for masa harina in a recipe?

There are 13 fantastic masa harina replacements!
Preparation is key.
Hominy that has been dried.
Hominy in a can.
Grits from corn.
Meal made from corn.
Polenta, dry.
Polenta has been prepared.

What is the equivalent of masa harina?

Masa harina’s closest alternative is corn flour. The flour is made from maize grain and is used as a thickening. The taste variation is due to soaking the masa harina in the solution to get the tart flavor. In chili, corn flour works well as a replacement for masa harina.

Can I substitute masa flour for regular flour?

Masa is a key component in both handmade corn tortillas and tamales. Masa may also be used to thicken dishes like chili and soups, and it can be used in lieu of wheat flour in many recipes (including cornbread).

Can I substitute masa harina for cornmeal in cornbread?

That cornbread had a terrific taste. Not everyone, however, has access to a grain mill. Another technique to boost taste is to substitute masa harina for normal cornmeal.

Is masa harina the same as cornstarch?

2. Cornstarch: Cornstarch is a thickening agent derived from the starches extracted from the endosperm of the maize kernel. This fine, flavorless white powder has a distinct texture than corn flour and masa harina.

Is masa harina just cornmeal?

Ground corn is used to make cornmeal and corn flour, while nixtamalized ground corn is used to make masa harina. The nixtamalization technique imparts a delicious taste to masa harina that cornmeal does not have.

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of masa harina?

If the masa harina is used as a thickening (like in chili), normal flour or cornmeal will provide the same texture but not the same taste.

What is the difference between masa flour and regular flour?

Masa harina may be used as a basis for a variety of foods, from tamales to tortillas, since it is basically a cooked, nixtamalized, dehydrated, powdered corn dough rather than a plain flour derived from dried corn kernels (i.e. corn flour).

Is there a difference between masa and masa harina?

The Distinction Between Masa and Masa Harina

Masa and masa harina are essential ingredients in traditional Mexican and Latin American cuisine. Masa is a ready-to-eat dough produced from masa harina, a nixtamalized maize flour. In Spanish, “masa” means “dough,” while “harina” means “flour.”

What flours can be substituted for all-purpose flour?

Four All-Purpose Flour Substitutes
Flour made from chickpeas. Chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour or besan in Indian kitchens) is one of my favorite foods that is relatively new to American homes.
Flour made from rice.
Flour made from almonds.
Flour made from buckwheat.

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