Can I use cornflour instead of plain flour for schnitzel?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can use cornflour instead of plain flour when making schnitzel. Cornflour will provide a light, crispy coating for the schnitzel similar to using plain flour. However, there are a few differences to keep in mind when substituting cornflour for plain flour for schnitzel:

  • Cornflour has a finer texture than plain flour. This can result in a thinner, crispier crust on the schnitzel.
  • The flavor will be slightly different. Plain flour has a more neutral taste while cornflour has a hint of sweetness.
  • You may need to adjust the coating technique when using cornflour. Dip and press the schnitzel into the cornflour rather than dredging to avoid a gummy texture.
  • Let the coated schnitzel sit for 5-10 minutes before frying to help the cornflour adhere better.

Overall, cornflour makes a good substitute for plain flour when frying schnitzel. Just keep in mind the texture and flavor will be a little different than using regular flour. Adjust the amount of cornflour and coating technique as needed.

What is Schnitzel?

Schnitzel is a popular German and Austrian dish consisting of thin, breaded and fried cutlets of meat. While veal and pork are traditionally used, chicken and turkey schnitzel have become popular options as well.

To make schnitzel, thin cuts of meat are pounded flat, seasoned, coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs then fried until crisp and golden. This creates a crispy, savory crust encasing the tender, juicy meat.

The thin, cracker-like coating is a hallmark of properly made schnitzel. So the flour and breadcrumbs used need to provide a light, crunchy texture without becoming greasy or soggy.

Purpose of Plain Flour in Schnitzel

When making traditional schnitzel, plain (all-purpose) flour is used as the first layer in the coating process. The flour serves a few important purposes:

  • Creates a dry, sticky surface for the egg wash to adhere to.
  • Absorbs any excess moisture on the meat before breading.
  • Adds a delicate coating that fries up crisp, not greasy.
  • Provides structure and adhesion for the breadcrumb layer.

So the plain flour is an essential component in getting the signature crispy crust on schnitzel. It sets the foundation for building up the rest of the coating.

Benefits of Using Cornflour

Cornflour, sometimes labeled cornstarch, is a refined starch made from corn. It has some key differences from plain flour that can be beneficial when frying foods like schnitzel:

  • Very fine texture – Cornflour particles are much finer than plain flour. This can help create an extra thin, delicate crust.
  • Crispiness – The natural crispiness of cornflour produces a cracker-like crunch on fried foods.
  • Neutral flavor – Cornflour has a mild flavor compared to wheat flour, letting the other ingredients shine.
  • Prevents sogginess – The dry, powdery nature of cornflour helps fried coatings stay crispy.

These properties make cornflour a good choice as a substitute for plain flour when frying schnitzel or other breaded dishes.

Difference in Texture

The most noticeable difference when using cornflour is the texture it provides.

Plain flour has a grainy, sandy texture with particles that are relatively large. Cornflour on the other hand is extremely fine and smooth. Almost like a silky powder.

This finer grain gives cornflour some advantages:

  • Results in a thinner, almost transparent crust vs. the thicker layer from plain flour.
  • Provides a delicate crunch without being bready or doughy.
  • Adheres tightly to the meat for a seamless crust.
  • Lets more of the breadcrumb texture come through.

The thinness and discreetness of the cornflour layer helps enhance the overall crunchy breaded texture of the schnitzel.

Coating Technique

Because of the fine texture of cornflour, slightly modify the traditional schnitzel breading technique when using it instead of flour:

  • Use a sieve to dust the schnitzel pieces with cornflour, or dip and press into the cornflour to adhere.
  • Tap off any excess cornflour after coating to prevent gummy spots.
  • Let the coated meat sit for about 5-10 minutes before continuing to allow cornflour to hydrate and stick.
  • Follow the rest of the recipe as normal, dipping into egg wash and breadcrumbs.

This helps prevent clumping and creates an even, thin layer of cornflour for a delicate crunch.

Flavor Differences

In addition to texture, switching from plain flour to cornflour will impart some subtle flavor differences as well.

Plain flour has an earthy, wheat-like flavor that adds a savory nuance to schnitzel. Cornflour on the other hand has a neutral, starchy sweetness.

When frying in oil, the cornflour develops a light sweetness and umami taste. This can enhance other flavors like spices and herbs in the breading rather than adding its own flavor.

If you want to replicate the wheat notes of plain flour, try adding a small amount of semolina flour along with the cornflour. Semolina has a delicate sweetness and toasted flavor that complements the cornflour nicely.

Making Crispy Schnitzel with Cornflour

Here are some tips for achieving crispy, crunchy schnitzel using cornflour instead of plain flour:

  • Use fresh, dry cornflour – Old or moist cornflour won’t coat as well.
  • Keep the meat very dry before coating. Pat off any moisture with paper towels.
  • Use equal parts cornflour and flour in the coating if you want more adhesion.
  • Press the cornflour into the meat rather than dredging to help it stick.
  • Let the coated schnitzel rest before frying for at least 5 minutes.
  • Use fresh breadcrumbs and fry in oil heated to 350-375°F for crispiest results.

Properly preparing the meat and using well-heated oil prevents soggy spots and ensures the cornflour fries up crisp in the hot oil.

Downsides of Using Cornflour

While cornflour makes a convenient substitute, there are a couple downsides to keep in mind:

  • Less protein – Plain flour provides some protein for structure, while cornflour is all starch.
  • Messy prep – The ultra-fine cornflour can get dusted all over during prep if you’re not careful.
  • Potentially bland – The insulation of the cornflour crust means other flavors need to come through via seasoning.
  • Less absorbent – Cornflour won’t soak up as much excess moisture from the meat.

While not dealbreakers, these factors mean you may need to adjust your technique slightly and use well-seasoned breadcrumbs for the best results with cornflour.

Best Recipes for Cornflour Schnitzel

To take advantage of that thin, crisp cornflour crust, use it with schnitzel recipes that have lots of seasoning and crunch built right into the coating:

  • Panko-crusted schnitzel – The large, flaky Japanese breadcrumbs stay ultra-crisp.
  • Parmesan schnitzel – Mix cornflour with grated parmesan for extra flavor and crunch.
  • Herb schnitzel – Combine cornflour with dried oregano, thyme and parsley.
  • Lemon-pepper schnitzel – Zesty lemon pepper seasoning gives great flavor.

The cornflour base lets these crispy crumbs and bold flavors shine through with every bite, taking the schnitzel to the next level of crunch!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does cornflour make schnitzel crispy?

Yes, the fine texture and drying properties of cornflour can make a schnitzel coating crispy when fried. It creates a thin, crunchy and delicate crust that stays crispy.

Do you have to use cornflour for schnitzel?

No, traditional schnitzel recipes call for using plain flour. But cornflour can be substituted to change up the texture while still producing delicious results.

Is cornflour better than all purpose flour for frying?

Cornflour performs better than all purpose flour for some frying applications because of its ultra-fine texture that gets very crispy. However, all purpose flour has more protein for adhering breading layers, so sometimes a combo works best.

Should I rest schnitzel after coating in cornflour?

Yes, letting coated schnitzel sit for 5-10 minutes before frying allows the cornflour time to properly adhere. This helps ensure an even, crisp crust.

Why is my cornflour schnitzel soggy?

Soggy schnitzel is often caused by not fully drying the meat before coating, overcrowding the pan while frying, or using oil that isn’t hot enough. Use very dry meat, don’t overcrowd, and fry at 350-375°F.


Cornflour can be used in place of regular flour when making schnitzel. It provides a thinner, crispier crust with a delicate sweetness. Adjust the coating technique slightly by pressing the cornflour into the meat and letting it sit before frying. Pair cornflour with bold flavors and seasonings to take advantage of its lightness. While not exactly the same as traditional flour, cornflour can give delicious results with the proper frying method. Crispy, crunchy schnitzel is achievable using cornflour for a tasty variation on the classic dish.

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