7 Best File Powder Substitutes for Cooking (Updated 2024)

File Powder Substitute

If you don’t have access to file powder when the recipe you are making requires it, you can use other ingredients as replacements. We have created a list of the best file powder substitutes for various culinary uses.

Some options are excellent for giving a distinct thick texture to a dish, while others can provide a similar or close flavor to file powder.

Read on to learn the details of each file powder substitute.

What Is File Powder?

File Powder Substitute

File powder is a kind of spice produced from dried and ground sassafras tree leaves. It is a flavoring and thickening agent for gumbos, soups, and stews.

Also, it is used in root beer production. Cajun cuisine, particularly in southern Louisiana, usually incorporates this spice.

7 Best File Powder Substitutes

1. Roux

Roux - File Powder Substitute

Roux is a go-to substitute for file powder. It is a thickening ingredient found in Cajun cooking. It even provides a distinct flavor to the meal, similar to file powder, that is hard to imitate with other ingredients.

A medium-brown roux is ideal because it gives a dish its deeper color. A roux is made from wheat flour that has been fried.

It can have various shades, from light to dark, based on its cooking duration.

2. Arrowroot


Try arrowroot powder. It is a decent file powder replacement if you want a very thick texture without the sassafras flavor in your dish. This ingredient can thicken a dish better than wheat flour.

It is highly recommended if you are planning to freeze the food for storage.

Moreover, arrowroot powder has a neutral flavor, so it can bring out the flavors of other ingredients in the dish. It is also free of gluten, nuts, and protein.

3. Cornstarch

Cornstarch - File Powder Substitute

Cornstarch is another thickener that is used in practically every liquid-based recipe, such as soups and sauces. It is a fine white powder produced from corn kernel endosperm. Plus, it is a gluten-free ingredient.

Using cornstarch will not change the flavor of the meal you are cooking because it has a neutral flavor.

In addition, it will bring out the taste of the other spices and ingredients in the recipe.

4. Eggplant


Do you like eggplant? Eggplant is a common ingredient in many recipes. It thickens and improves the flavor of dishes. This ingredient has a flavor that is comparable to file powder.

It is also an excellent option for people who love the flavor of root beer.

Eggplants are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Regardless of outer appearance, the inner flesh of all eggplants is roughly the same. You can easily get eggplants from most supermarkets and vegetable shops.

5. Okra

Okra - File Powder Substitute

Okra is an ideal alternative for file powder if you prioritize the thick texture over the flavor quality.

Using okra in the recipe will result in a thick consistency similar to using file powder. However, it will not offer a similar flavor.

To use okra as a substitute, use 2 cups of sliced okra for every 1 tablespoon of file powder. Cook the proteins and other veggies first before adding the okra.

6. Root Beer

Root Beer

Root beer fits well as a stand-in for file powder in terms of flavor. It is a sweet, carbonated beverage with a distinct sassafras taste.

It has the closest flavor to file powder you will find. Also, it is a versatile ingredient that will work well in both savory and sweet recipes.

However, root beer is not a good texture match because this thin liquid will not thicken. You will need to incorporate another thickening ingredient like okra or corn starch if you want the dish to have a thick consistency.

7. Nopales


You can swap file powder with nopales in your recipe. Nopales are prickly pear cactus leaves that are edible. These leaves are crisp and have a tangy taste. They are popular in Mexican cooking.

Choosing leaves with excellent quality is crucial. They should be firm and thick, as well as free of creases and bruises. Leaves that are medium or dark green are ideal.

Considerable preparation is required in peeling the skin and removing the spines of nopales. If you are short on time, you can use canned or bottled leaves as a faster option.

When using nopales for gumbo, add the leaves at the end of the cooking process. This is because the gumbo only has to simmer for a short period to get a thick texture.

The Bottom Line

Now you have ideas on what ingredients to use as a substitute for file powder. The options in this list offer the same flavor and texture of file power.

Choose the ones that work well for your dish depending on your cooking preferences.


7 Best File Powder Substitutes

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