Categories: Food Tips

The Difference Between Masa Harina and Cornmeal and Corn Flour Revealed!

In most cases, homeowners and even bakers are baffled over the difference between Masa Harina and corn flour or Masa Harina and cornmeal and wondered whether they could be swapped when it comes to recipes. Though they are interchangeable, there are also some exceptions.

What is Masa Harina?

A Mexican corn flour, Masa Harina is an incredibly soft flour that is either made from dried corn kernels that have been soaked and cooked in lime water or finely ground hominy. When translated from Spanish, the term Masa Harina means dough flour. It is popularly known a traditional flour initially used in historic Mexican dishes such as corn chips, tamales, tortillas, and taco shells.

Masa Harina comes in various types depending on what you will make. White Masa Harina is the most common, which is made from dried white corn. There is also yellow Masa Harina which is plainly dried yellow corn.

When to Use Masa Harina?

Don't you know that a bag of Masa can go a bit far in your kitchen, aside from pupusas, tamales, and tortillas? Not totally convinced? Check these out!

For Savoring Meals

Arepas, tamale pie, gorditas, and tlacoyos are just some of the recipes you can make with Masa Harina. Arepas are cooked similar to that of tortilla and are sliced and filled with meat, cheese, veggies, or beans. Tamale pie can be served when you are in the mood for tamales.

For Bread, Drinks, Dessert and Breakfast

If you want last minute bread with an intense and delicious flavor, try the cornbread. Atole is also a good serving especially for people who love the combined sweetness of corn with cinnamon and milk. Make your day or free time more relaxing with a comforting and warming beverage.

Corn cakes are famous as well. Just beat two eggs in a bowl and add a pinch of salt, two teaspoons of baking powder, 2 cups of milk, and enough amount of Masa Harina to make a batter. Then, you're on the go!

These are some of the options wherein you can fully utilize Masa Harina.

The Benefits of Masa Harina

Of course, this ingredient will definitely offer you with some benefits you might want to reap, and these are the following:


Particularly those who have celiac disease, Masa Harina is such an excellent addition to your kitchen counter due to its gluten-free content. This will keep you comfortable and happy all throughout.

Rich in iron

Iron deficiencies mostly target women than men because of their menstrual cycle and blood loss every month. Masa will help you increase your iron intake since it is a good source of iron - about 2.8mg of iron for every cup.

Strengthen the bones

As you age, you determine the importance of calcium in your body to avoid bone breakage and osteoporosis. Fight weakness and bone loss by adding Masa Harina into your diet.

Reduces constipation

Masa is a whole grain flour. Hence, it is packed with fiber. This could eventually help in alleviating constipation.

What is Cornmeal?

Most of the cornmeal you will find these days is made from either white or yellow dent corn and is ground through steel rollers to give an even texture. It doesn't usually involve the split up of endosperm, bran, and germ so that you can preserve more of the nutrients contained in the corn.

Apart from adding to particular recipes like pancakes and bread, cornmeal can be cooked as well for making grits or polenta. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitive, you will find this ingredient beneficial. Not to mention, it is also rich in specific nutrients.

When to Use Cornmeal?

Cornmeal has been used as the foundation for creamy, soft cornbread. However, there are other things you can do with this fantastic ingredient. From breakfast to dessert to dinner, here are a few things to know when the best time to use the cornmeal is.

As a Coating on Some of Your Favorite Foods

Whether you are baking or frying, there are lots of reasons why you should love the very crunchy, crispy cornmeal coating wrapped around the food. You can be able to use it in coating almost any food you want, including pork, chicken, fish, and veggies.

Baking Sweets

Whether you are baking or frying, there are lots of reasons why you should love the very crunchy, crispy cornmeal coating wrapped around the food. You can be able to use it in coating almost any food you want, including pork, chicken, fish, and veggies.

Making Crackers and Pancakes

Are biscuits among your favorite snack food? Or, want to jazz up your pancake to impress your friends or visitors? Not to worry as cornmeal is here to save your day!

Cornmeal pancakes are sure to impress your palate since they have delightful marginal crisp edges, a trace of savory-sweet taste, and a bit of texture. Also when you add cornmeal into the crackers, they will create more crunch and texture.

Preparing Polenta

With just minutes, you can transform simple cornmeal into a meal that is something to make your guests awe! For instance, buttery polenta is an ideal pad for a fried egg with a hearty meat ragu, sautéed greens, or roasted vegetables.

The Benefits of Cornmeal

And for the perks of using cornmeal, consider the following:

A great source of fiber

Cornmeal consists of 9.4g of fiber per 3.5oz serving. That is 25% of the 38g of fiber men need every day, and 38% of the 25g women should include in their day-to-day diets. By having enough amount of fiber in your body, you can minimize the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.


A single cup of cornmeal can give you a 4.2mg of iron. This will help drive your metabolism through activating the enzymes needed for energy production and helps your red blood cells transfer oxygen through your body as well.


Helps make up the DNA, contribute to bone mineral tissue, and form a cell membrane component.

What is Corn Flour?

Corn flour is dried corn that has been finely pounded into flour. It comes in white and pale yellow color varieties. For you to not get puzzled by other ground products, corn flour is widely used for thickening sauce, liquid food, and fry foods as well as for making cornbread, corn tortillas and other baked goods.

Not only white corn is being used as a thickener, binder, and filler in meat industries, pastry, and cookie, but also pairs well with wheat flour to help reduce gluten for crackers, cakes, pastries, and cookies. Similar to Masa Harina and cornmeal, corn flour has many other popular varieties, too. Harinilla is an example, which is made from blue corn.

When to Use Corn Flour?

Don't let the corn flour intimidate you in the kitchen. This miracle ingredient will take your cooking to the next level!

Binding Baked Goods

We know how it feels to cut a slice of pie and suddenly watch it fall apart. Good thing, this is not the case anymore when you add corn flour into the mixture. It is because the ingredient acts as a binding agent - makes the juices from your fruit thicken.

Crisping Vegetables and Meats

Try coating the small pieces of chopped shrimp, fish, meat, or cauliflower that will be stir-fried in corn flour to give you a super crispy coating! Share this wonderful method to your friends as well and share a delicious bowl of fried meat or even veggies!

Frying Chicken

Struggle to fry a chicken correctly? Corn flour is your best solution! With a 50-50 split of corn flour and all-purpose flour in your batter, you can quickly achieve those perfectly fried, lovely browned, and audibly crusty chicken. In fact, Japanese and Korean fried chicken tends to use only corn flour. Now is your turn.

Thickening Sauces

Corn flour can provide you with methods to help you solve the problem of runny sauces. One is by stirring equal quantities of cold water and corn flour in a bowl until consistency and smooth of heavy cream. This is ideal if you need a shortcut.

The second one is by whipping the slurry into the broth. Continue to whip until you reach a peppy cook to activate the starch completely.

The Benefits of Corn Flour

Here are the benefits you might get from using corn flour:


Helps minimize or get rid of the inflammation-causing foods from a diet to prevent disease and improve quality of life.

Good for the digestive system

Corn flour consists of hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin which are popularly known as insoluble fibers. This benefit has a significant impact on the overall health of a person.

Have great antioxidants

Eating foods with corn flour contained will help you fight free radical damage afflicted by processed foods and too much exposure to the sun and toxin.

A great amount of protein and lots of fibers

One cup of corn flour bears out up to a third of daily fiber goals and offers a decent amount of protein you need on a regular basis. When following a vegan or similar diet, you will find the protein a bit challenging. This makes the corn flour a great option.

Masa Harina vs. Cornmeal

Now, let's go to the main point of this article - what makes cornmeal differ from Masa Harina?

Masa Harina is far different from cornmeal because it is much finer with a very distinct taste as a result of the processing methods. It is what makes corn tortilla chips to have a unique taste. Besides, Masa Harina has the consistency of wheat flour, is typically white, and is made from white maize flour preserved with wood-ash lye or lime, whereas cornmeal is like micro couscous and is often yellow.

Masa Harina vs. Corn Flour

How about the Masa Harina vs. corn flour? Can you use them as a similar ingredient?

These two primarily differs on how they are made. Masa is made by soaking corn kernels in wood ash or lime, which results in Hominy. It is now pounded into Masa to use for preparing tamales, tortillas, and others. Conversely, corn flour is made by crushing untreated corn kernels which are used for making cornbread, corn pudding, etc.

Storing the Ingredients at Home

If you want to make the best use of the benefit of your Masa Harina, cornmeal, and corn flour, always make sure to keep them in the refrigerator and are tightly sealed. When stored properly, these incredible recipe ingredients could last for up to 2 years.


So, is it Masa Harina or cornmeal, or Masa Harina or corn flour? Well, that solely depends on what you are going to make or cook, as well as on the availability of ingredients you have in your kitchen counter.

If you're in a hurry to cook something and you have run out of Masa Harina, or it is simply not available in your local store, then you can make use of the cornmeal or corn flour. Their differences are primarily on how they are made, though their uses do not necessarily go far.

Hope you enjoyed reading the article! Like and share. Have questions you want us to address directly, or want to share some ideas based on your own cooking experience? Don't hesitate to drop them through comments below!