Pre-gel Starch | American Society of Baking
Commercial Baking Ingredients:

Pre-gel Starch

Also known as cold-water swelling starch or pre-genitalized starch

What is pre-gel starch?

Pre-gel starch is starch that’s precooked and dried to enhance its thickening and water absorption capacity at lower temperatures. The process partially destroys the starch granule and reduces its degree of crystallinity.

It is used in ready-to-make cake mixes, and one or two stage mixing baking methods.1 

Native starches used to make it include:

Related Links:


Throughout the 18th century, wheat was the most common source of starch. The demand for starch increased in the 1940s with the development of drying food processes.2 With advances in powder mixes applications, pre-gelling starch’s cold water solubility and thickening properties became essential.

Today, pre-gel starch is used in ready-to-eat mixes such as dessert mixes, dried pie fillings, cake mixes and dairy mixtures.2


Pre-gel starch has several functions in baked goods:3

  • Provides structure: starch acts as a structure builder in many baked goods
  • Thickening or gelling agent at low temperatures
  • Stabilizing
  • Softening or tenderizing: interferes with gluten and egg structure formation when there is not enough water for gelatinization.
  • Water absorption
  • Staling retardation
  • Color: may provide reducing sugar for Maillard reaction


Similar to native starch, pre-gel starch is an energy dense product.2

Commercial production

Pre-gel starch can be made through several production processes, such as extrusion, spray drying and drum drying.

Drum drying

  • Starch extraction: starch is extracted from maize, rice or wheat.
  • Cooking: starch is cooked above its gelatinization point to produce a starch slurry.
  • Drying: hot slurry is poured onto a hot drum, and the sheets formed are scraped off from the drum by knives.
  • Packaging and storage.

Several operational conditions affect the final product such as: drying temperature, pre-gelatinization time and temperature, and source of starch.


Pre-gel starch is used in a variety of ready-to-use confections such as: high solid fillings, bakery filling, cake mixes and other dried mixes.4

Considerations when using pre -gel starch:4

  • Best functionality obtained in cold water.
  • Pre-gel starch should be mixed with dry ingredients before adding to the aqueous phase to avoid lumping and slow hydration.
  • For better dispersibility, pre-gel starch is often agglomerated.

The sources of starch, and the amylose content affect the water absorption and solubility of the starch during processing. 4


Pre-gel starch is considered GRAS by the FDA. The use of modified starch is limited by the amount required for its intended use, and does not exceed any limitation prescribed. The label of “food starch modified” should be included when used.5

In the EU, modified starch is considered safe by the EU Commission Regulation No 231/2012. After a safety revaluation in 2017, modified starch was confirmed to not have any safety concern for its use in the appropriate usage levels.6


  1. Majzoobi, M., Radi, M., Farahnaky, A. and Jammalian, J. Physicochemical properties of pre-gelatinized wheat starch produced by a twin drum drier. J. of Agr. Sci.and Technol, 2011, 13, 2, pp. 193-202.
  2. BeMiller, J N., and Lester,R. Whistler. Starch: Chemistry and Technology. London: Academic, 2009.
  3. Figoni, P. I. How Baking Works: Exploring The Fundamentals Of Baking Science. 3rd ed., John Wiley & Sons,2011.
  4. Kong, X and  Sui, Z. Physical Modifications of Starch. Germany: Springer Singapore, 2018.
  5. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). US Department of Health and Human Services. CFR Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Part 172 Food Additives Permitted For Direct Addition To Food For Human Consumption Products,  , Accessed 05 July 2021.
  6. European Commission (Ec). Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 of 9 March 2012 laying down specifications for food additives listed in Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Official Journal Of European Communities, 09 March 2012.