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Can I use flour instead of cornstarch to thicken egg drop soup?

Using flour instead of cornstarch to thicken egg drop soup is possible, but there are some important differences to consider. In this article, we’ll compare flour and cornstarch for thickening soup, look at the pros and cons of each, and provide tips for getting the best results.

Quick Answer

Flour can be used instead of cornstarch to thicken egg drop soup, but cornstarch is preferable. Cornstarch thickens at a lower temperature than flour, results in a more translucent sauce, and has a neutral flavor. Flour needs to be cooked longer to thicken, can turn sauces cloudy, and imparts a wheaty taste.

Flour vs. Cornstarch for Thickening

Both flour and cornstarch are effective thickeners for soups, stews, gravies and sauces. However, there are some key differences:

  • Thickening temperature: Cornstarch thickens at a lower temperature (around 160-180°F) compared to flour (around 180-210°F). This makes cornstarch a better choice for egg drop soup which is added at the end of cooking.
  • Texture: Cornstarch produces a glossy, translucent sauce while flour turns it cloudy.
  • Flavor: Cornstarch has a neutral flavor that doesn’t change the taste of a dish. Flour adds a distinct wheaty flavor.
  • Ratio: Less cornstarch is required compared to flour when thickening. For egg drop soup, only 1-2 tsp cornstarch is needed for every 1 cup of liquid.

Pros of Using Cornstarch

  • Thickens at a lower temperature
  • Creates a glossy, translucent sauce
  • Has a neutral flavor
  • A small amount is needed to thicken
  • Mixes smoothly into liquids without clumping

Pros of Using Flour

  • Most kitchens are likely to have flour on hand already
  • Less expensive than cornstarch
  • Can create thicker sauces at higher percentages
  • Adds flavor and texture from the wheat

Using Flour to Thicken Egg Drop Soup

If you want to use flour instead of cornstarch for egg drop soup, here are some tips:

  • Use 1-2 tbsp flour per 1 cup of broth. The exact amount will depend on how thick you want the soup.
  • Whisk the flour into a slurry before adding. Mix the flour with a bit of cold water or broth until smooth. This prevents clumping.
  • Gradually whisk the slurry into the simmering soup. Keep stirring until it thickens to avoid lumps.
  • Simmer for 5-10 minutes after adding. This allows the flour to cook through and thicken properly.
  • Season and adjust consistency. The flour may thin out the flavors, so taste and add more salt, pepper, etc. if needed.

Example Ratio for Thickening 1 Quart Egg Drop Soup

Ingredient Amount
Broth 4 cups
Flour 3-4 tbsp
Cold water 3-4 tbsp

To use: Whisk flour and cold water together. Heat broth to simmering. Gradually whisk in flour slurry and cook 5 minutes until thickened.

Using Cornstarch Instead

For a smoother, glossier texture, it’s best to use cornstarch to thicken egg drop soup. Follow this process:

  • Use a ratio of 1-2 tsp cornstarch per 1 cup liquid.
  • Mix the cornstarch with a bit of cold broth until dissolved.
  • Add the slurry at the end once soup is finished cooking.
  • Gently simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently until thickened.
  • Add egg ribbons and remaining ingredients like greens, scallions, etc.

Troubleshooting Thickened Soup

Here are some common issues and fixes when using flour or cornstarch as a thickener:

Lumpy Sauce

Whisk flour or cornstarch into a smooth slurry before adding to soup. Add slurry gradually while stirring soup constantly.

Thin, Watery Sauce

Didn’t use enough thickener. Make another slurry and whisk in slowly until desired consistency is reached.

Cloudy Appearance

Flour produces cloudy sauces. Switch to cornstarch or blend sauce until smooth.

Raw Starch Taste

Didn’t cook long enough to remove raw flavor. Simmer for a few more minutes until taste goes away.

Safety Tips

When using flour or cornstarch as thickeners:

  • Ensure sauces reach 140°F for food safety.
  • Bring to a boil to eliminate raw taste and achieve full thickness.
  • Don’t add more thickener than ratio recommends.
  • Store soups with thickener up to 3 days in refrigerator.


While it’s possible to use flour instead of cornstarch to thicken egg drop soup, cornstarch is the better choice. It thickens at a lower temperature, makes a smoother sauce, and doesn’t change the flavor. Flour requires longer cooking, makes soup cloudy, and adds a wheaty taste. For best results, use cornstarch and follow proper slurry techniques when thickening egg drop soup.