When I first started out with gluten-free flours, I was overwhelmed by the variety out there, and depending on where I turned, everyone had their favorites. I figured the best way to experience all the flours was to try them all…and I have (MOST of them that is!). Below are some notes about the flours I have used, in alphabetical order.
A Note on Subbing Your Own Flours: If you find a recipe that you would like to tweak to be gluten free OR would like to use ingredients you have on hand in place of gluten free flours found in a recipe, here are a couple of general outlines:
- In general, you want to use a ratio of 2/3 heavy/medium flours and 1/3 starch/light flours for the best texture. If you prefer a ‘white’ flour replacement, switch that ratio!
- A very rough estimate is about 1 1/4 cup gluten free flours to 1 cup all-purpose wheat flour. The addition of about 1/2 teaspoon gum of choice is usually called for for ideal texture. However, many recipes with additional binding ingredients (chia meal, flax meal, banana, applesauce) does not need the addition
- If you want to sub gluten free flours for other ones you prefer, sub a light for light, medium for a medium, a heavy for a heavy (refer to list below for flour ‘weights’).
If I was just getting started and only wanted to buy a couple of flours, I would get: brown rice flour, gluten free oat flour, and tapioca starch. They have familiar tastes that most people like. Teff would follow next!
How about grain free? I do a lot of grain free baking now (2017), and this is a general mix I like to use as a base (If you want something already mixed, check our Bob’s Red Mill’s new Paleo All Purpose Flour.):
- For every one cup flour called for: 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup cassava flour, and 1/4 cup tapioca flour.
|Serving Size = 1/4 cup||Calories||Carbs||Fiber||Protein||Fat|
|Sweet Rice Flour||180||40||1||3||0.5|
|White Rice Flour||150||32||1||2||0.5|
Almond Flour: In a word: EXPENSIVE!! I love cooking with it, but the $10+/pound price tag makes me cringe…and trust me, I have looked all over for more affordable options for purchasing this flour. I have successfully used almond meal (either purchased from Trader Joe’s or homemade) in all my recipes that call for it, as long as it is just one of a mix of flours. In recipes like those found on paleo -friendly sites that call for exclusively almond flour in a baked good? Almond meal is much too coarse to work as a flour. I have had great luck purchasing blanched almonds and grinding my own almond flour in either a coffee grinder or my high powered blender. Honeyville is best, most finely ground almond flour out there. It IS delicious, so if you only bake a little bit, or it’s worth it to you to spend the extra…have fun!
Chestnut Flour: Another grain-free beauty that functions like other nut and seed flours..it needs eggs the majority of the time. it has a lovely nutty flavor that makes a great addition to many baked goods and pancakes.
Coconut Flour: A grain free flour loaded with fiber and a lovely sweet taste. Used by itself requires a lot of eggs, but up to 30% can be subbed in recipe for additional flavor and sweetness. It absorbs crazy amounts of liquid, use roughly 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup other gf flour.
Garbanzo Bean Flour : I am NOT a fan of bean flours in sweet baked goods. I was initially excited to use them as they have lots of fiber and protein…but they all leave a very detectable beany flavor to everything (in my opinion). It is even more potent when it is raw, so having kids who like to taste the dough…this does not fly! I have thrown away more recipes made with bean flours than any other, they always taste off to me (thus the reason I do not like Bob’s All-Purpose which has garbanzo bean flour in it). You may like it, so give it a whirl if you like, the protein provides great structure to breads and such. In savory dishes, they can be absolutely delish!! Soccas, pizza crusts, flour tortillas all taste great with the addition of bean flours.
Peanut Flour : Quite delicious, low in fat, and high in protein! This is a very fun flour to play with and works well in many recipes!
Amaranth: I am currently experimenting with this one..will let you know! So far, it leaves a very distinct, bitter/grassy taste that I do not love (no matter how little I use). But I want to love this flour, it is super nutritious.!! Probably best in strong flavored chocolate things to disguise it’s bitterness.
Brown Rice Flour : A great basic flour, affordable, and easily found. Very familiar taste.
Buckwheat : Great nutrition, distinct flavor. I really like it, some people do not. I think it is worth trying considering it’s nutritional value! Lately I have taken to grinding my own raw buckwheat groats, a much milder and better taste! The groats have not been toasted like the flour you buy.
Millet Flour: I love this flour. It has a nice, mild nutty taste and is loaded with nutrition. It is also nice and affordable, and can be found in Indian Food groceries as well. Some people can detect it, so I usually don’t like to use more than 30% in a recipe.
Oat Flour: An excellent flour with a familiar taste. This one tastes most like regular flour to me. Just be sure you buy the gluten-free variety. I like to grind my own to save some money. I buy 2 pounds of GF oats from Trader Joes and blend them in my high powered blender. You can also easily make your own by grinding in small batches in a coffee grinder.
Quinoa Flour : Quinoa is a very nutritious little psuedo-grain! I was eager to use it, but always found it to be disappointing…there was always a very detectable aftertaste, and NOT a tasty one (I finally figured it out it was from the tanins in the quinoa’s coating.). Then I started toasting the flour, and my issues were solved (this breaks those tanins down). It is now one of my favorite flours to add in for it’s super nutrition! I fill a cookie sheet with my flour, and toast it in a 300 degree oven for about 30 minutes….stirring occasionally. When it is starting to turn golden and smell toasted, it is done!
Sorghum Flour: This is also called jowar flour and is sold in Indian groceries under that name. Another good basic flour, very close to millet for me. Slightly sweet, mild flavor.
Teff Flour: A nutrition powerhouse, I love getting it in wherever I can. A nice nutty flavor enjoyed by most!
Arrowroot Starch : No detectable taste, interchangeable with potato and tapioca in most instances. If using to thicken a sauce, remove from heat promptly as continued heat will cause the starch to break down and thin again. No real nutritive value.
Potato Starch: Interchangeable with other starches, no nutritive value. This is not potato flour, the starch is white white white!
Sweet Rice Flour (light): No nutritive value, but is an excellent replacement for all purpose flour in breadings, and for thickening sauces. They use a shorter grain rice that has more starch for this. I prefer the Mochiko Blue Star Brand, as it is very finely ground! I have gotten this in natural food stores and Asian markets in a small powdered-sugar -like box, white!
White Rice Flour (medium/light): Although I like some rice flour for Asian cooking, in baking, I steer away from this nutrient-poor flour. It is interchangeable with brown rice in recipes and can float between light and medium flours. It is slightly gritty. It CAN add some gumminess into recipes, which sometimes you want!
All-Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mixes: The ingredients in these vary widely. Although convenient, you pay an arm and a leg for them (in what is already an expensive endeavor!). Another caveat, many of them are loaded with all white starches…no muy bueno for health. In general, I like to use a mixture of flours to get as much nutrient bang for my buck in every recipe. If you would like to make your own mix (SO much cheaper!) I like to use 2/3 any mix of heavy/medium flour and 1/3 starch! This is more of whole-wheat pastry flour kind of mix…if you want a white flour version, do 2/3 starches, 1/3 medium/heavy flour! One last note, some popular mixes have milk powders and corn starch in them, so read labels carefully.
Guar Gum: This helps thicken and bind gluten free baked goods. With no gluten, this helps improve the texture and can help minimize the crumbly baked goods! I tolerate this better than xanthum gum (which threw my digestion for a loop), and it is MUCH cheaper too!
Mesquite Flour: Ground from the pods of a mesquite tree..this is the new darling of gluten-free bloggers. It is VERY expensive, but supposed to be a little goes a long way type of deal. I just got my first bag…will let you know!
Xanthum Gum: Derived from corn in the lab, this is a thickener and binder like guar gum. Lots of people can have trouble digesting it and find it disrupts their bowels and tummy. It is also quite pricey at $10+ for a small 8 ounce package.
- Margarine: 1 for 1, the BEST for flavor is Earth Balance and it has no trans fats. It IS processed though, like all margarine.
- Ghee: Simple to make, this is butter with all the milk solids (and therefore the casein) removed. It tolerates high heats too since there is no milk solids to burn!
- Coconut Oil: 1 for 1 lends a great texture and a slight coconut flavor which can be delicious in baked goods. The refined version has less of the coconut flavor. This oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats, my go to fat in most recipes of late. It is solid at room temp and melts when warmed. Not ideal for all recipes because of this. If using in cookies, let them cool completely to solidify!
- Shortening: Several trans fats free versions out there, my favorite is Spectrum Palm Shortening. Sub 1 for 1.
- Vegetable Oils (canola, safflower, grapeseed, etc): These are lightly flavored fats perfect for baking. Most are highly refined and canola has a high risk of GMO content. Liquids would need to be reduced to compensate for their liquid state.
Buttermilk: You can sour any milk by adding a teaspoon or 2 of either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes to allow the milk to curdle.
You could also purchase kefir in any variety of flavors for the same tangy flavor associated with buttermilk.
For creamy warm sauces and soups, I most often thicken unsweetened milk with rice flour or arrowroot starch. Depending on how thick you want it, 1 tablespoon to 1-2 cups liquid is a good starting point. You can always add more if you want it thicker. Whisk the flour or starch in a bit of water first before mixing in.
In some recipes, pureeing with raw soaked cashews can lend an unbelievable creamy texture to the food. Other soaked nuts can function too, but cashews are the creamiest.
- Flax Meal: Adds lots of yummy nutty flavor and health to your baked goods. 1 tablespoons whisked with 3 tablespoons liquid will mimic 1 large egg. The meal should gel within a minute or two.
- Chia Meal: Adds great health to baked goods, is used just like flax meal. 1 tablespoons whisked with 3 tablespoons liquid mimics 1 large egg. Gels within a few seconds. If you want to read about WHY should be eating just about as as many of these amazing seeds as possible, Nourishing Treasures has a great bulleted list on the benefits of this superfood!
- Ener-G Egg Replacer (or similar products): I have had good luck with this, and there is no weird taste. It s a mixture of starches. Follow instructions on the box.
- Moisture rich fruits and vegetables can also work: banana, applesauce, sweet potato, and pumpkin are my favorites. There is no exact ratio here, but if a recipe includes one of these, usually there is no need for an egg too.
Sugar Free Options
Here is a cliff notes version if you would like to be using healthier sweeteners (with sweetener specifics in greater detail below):
To replace granulated sugar, try: palm sugar, xylitol, stevia
To replace agave: honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar, stevia
Fruits as sweeteners: Pureed reed soaked dates, banana, applesauce, puréed soaked raisins or plums are some of the more commonly used.
I have been learning an awful a lot about sweeteners and sugar in recent history. Here is what I have learned about the sweeteners I have used!
Agave: With an obscenely high amounts of fructose (more than regular ole sugar), and the extensive refining process it goes through to become what is, I have made the choice to stop using this. Bummer, it was more affordable!
Cane Sugar: Derived from either beets or sugar cane, this is the sweetener of choice for most. After learning about addictive properties and how toxic so much sugar can be on our systems
Maple Syrup(the real stuff, not Mrs. Butterworth!):
Sugar Alcohols (i.e. xylitol):
Stevia: A leafy herb that is thirty times sweeter than sugar. Some varieties have a bitter aftertaste, but I love NuNaturals
Oh WOW! This is a magnificent posting, fantastic information and I so appreciate this! Thank you so much!
Wow this is seriously an amazing list! I was looking for egg substitutes and I got more! Thanks for sharing such precious information. Cheers, Elna
This is amazing! I’ll be using this guide for my gluten-free baking!
I would like to find a recipe or (packaged product) that is a grain free 1 for 1 substitute for all purpose white flour. All of the 1 for 1 packaged products that I am aware of have rice and corn…..but perhaps there is a recipe???
Tessa Simpson says
Hi Julia! I have some ideas for you! Bob’s Red Mill has a new grain free “Paleo All Purpose Flour” out. I have linked to it above.
I primarily bake grain free now, so I added a grain free recipe above for you as a spring board!! Let me know if you have additional questions.
Shirley Conachey says
How are heavy and medium based flours determined? I have looked at 3-4 gluten free four charts, including your chart and there doesn’t appear to be a clear consensus. The garbanzo bean and amaranth flours are the two that fall into either the medium or heavy. Can you please help me with this?
I have recently discovered Tiger Nuts (a very small tuber) and Tiger Nut flour. Do you have have an opinion of whether Tiger Nut flour would be a medium or heavy flour?
Tessa Simpson says
I based it on protein content. Tigernut flour is awesome, but it is a unique beast if used by itself, like all grain free flours (except cassava, which tends to work really well all by itself!) I would say garbanzo and amaranth are heavier flours…and would use them as such (although, I do not really like them, so I do not experiment with them anymore.)
Hi, i was wondering have you tried using vegetable flours like beetroot powder or squash flour, i want to use them but i don’t know if they are like light, medium or heavy flours.
Tessa Simpson says
Unfortunately Stanza…I haven’t experimented with those yet!
Really enjoyed the informative article. I was wondering if mesquite flour could substitute for almond flour as a cheaper and perhaps leaner substitute? Or maybe having a mix of both of them with a larger percentage of mesquite?
Thanks in advance,
Tessa Simpson says
no Richard, totally unique so I do not think it would work. Mesquite is usually a flavor add-in, not a stand along flour that I have seen.
Could you subsitut 1 cup cassava flour with 1 cup arrowroot flour? I cannot have cassava flour but several tortilla recipes that I’ve been looking at call for it. I’m wondering what I could use instead.
Tessa Simpson says
Most likely not Karie. I would have to see the recipe….then I could be more specific! What are looking for and what can’t you have? I have a tortilla recipe on my blog too that we love….let me know, I can help!
I would sure love an update on cassava flour. I see you have one recipe using it, and you used Moon Rabbit, which is the brand I tried. I’m afraid to use it again because the texture of my brownies was so gritty (and turned out awful overall) that I threw the whole batch away. It was inedible. I went back to just using rice flour, which works well.
I hope to use up this bag somehow. Are you having any such problems with the grittiness of your cassava flour? And are there recipes where the sand-like texture is less apparent? Perhaps I should just substitute a small part of the total flour with cassava.
Thank you for your recipes and info! I am encouraged by the egg-free aspect, because I tested positive for egg whites, as well as casein and wheat. Thanks for your work.
Also, I use erythritol in place of sugar or a portion of the sugar in a recipe, and that works well.
Tessa Simpson says
Hi Lexi!! I am still a rookie with cassava..but so far I have had excellent results with it’s mild flavor. I still have only ever used Moon Rabbit brand. I have never had anything turn gritty on me….send me the recipe you used and maybe I can make some guesses as to what could have happened? One of my favorite recipes so far are the paleo soft pretzels of Cook It Up Paleo, http://cookituppaleo.com/paleo-soft-pretzels-cassava-flour/. We have made these multiple times. You could just use yolks.
I find that I have to let bean flour baked goods sit for 12-24 hours before they taste better. Quinoa baked goods too.
Pam B says
I have read a lot saying Agave is not good for us and mentioning the refining process as being the problem?
What about Raw Blue Agave?
Tessa Simpson says
I still avoid it, this explains why!
Pria @ Carpet Cleaning Perth says
Have had multiple repeat experiments, but the results were always dry and heavy. Thanks for sharing these Tessa. I’ll follow your guide.
recommend Yacon syrup to replace honey/maple syrup..I follow a ketogenic diet and avoid even so-called ‘natural’ sweeteners as they are loaded with carbs…
Love! Another awesome, nutritious sweetener is RAW CANE JUICE. It is not the same as sugar which is processed. It is safe for diabetics too. Look at it like Molasses in its RAW state, as far as Vitamins and Minerals. You can do your own research.
Kim Marino says
Great post, it has been very helpful. I am new to gluten free, so my main question is as follows. I get that you need a 40% to 60% ratio, yet I see on many recipes that I find online the ratios do not follow this logic, and they are much heavier on the starch at times. Are there different ratios that I should follow when I am baking muffins vs cookies vs cakes… etc? I would prefer more grains as opposed to the starches for nutrient value but is it not recommended due to flavor? or due to it’s too heavy or won’t bind well? Also, keep in mind I would prefer NOT to use the gums if possible.
Just trying to understand why I can’t use the same flour blend of my choosing for all recipes.
Tessa Domestic Diva says
Hi Kim1 Good questions! You CAN use the same mix for ease for every recipe if you like. I do a higher ratio of whole grains (2/3) to starches (1/3) to mimic a more whole wheat texture, in general. If you are going for a ‘white’ flour consistency, then you you need to reverse this ratio. Some people even use all white and starch, and while it performs wells (or may), i see that as a treat and prefer more nutrition in my baked goods. And these ratios are and ‘in general’ type of thing. Because you are working with different flours…know that every single flour has it’s own flavor and quirks (some more than others). This is part of the beauty AND the frustration to new GF bakers. Recipe writers can play with the ratios to get the textures and flavors they are looking for. I do it, and so do others. Some flours lend a more chewy texture, some are ‘lofty’, some are gritty, some are strongly flavored, while some are mild.
So go ahead and stick with an all purpose blend for now and start playing with the varying flours as you feel comfortable. I only use an all purpose mix (that changes every time I make it based on what I have on hand) when I go on vacations for ease, otherwise, measuring varying flours has become second hand for me…and part of the fun in my twisted experimental baker’s mind! Hope that helps, let me know if you have other questions!
Tessa Domestic Diva says
Hi Theresa! COrn is easy enough, and potato has never been an issue for me..I use so little potato starch and almost NEVER use potato flour. I can’t imagine a recipe calling for a 1/2 cup, lots of bread recipes use a tablespoon or two to add some moisture to the crumb. I would say find another recipe if it is calling for that much…but I am happy to take a look at any recipe and let you know what I would do with it.
As for replacing potato starch….either arrowroot, tapioca, sweet rice, or white rice flour could all be possibilities depending on the mix.
theresa zaklan says
Thanks so much for the info. It helps. But my daughters have just been diagnosed as also needing to be potatoe and corn free. Many otherwise great recipes call for either both potato and corn starch or for potato e flour and cornstarch. I already know I can substitute tapioca flour for the cornstarch and arrowroot for the potato starch if the amount is small enough. However when the recipe calls for potato flour and its in the half cup and up amounts what do I use for a substitute? And what besides arrowroot can I substitute for the potato starch as it is too heavy for some recipes? More and more often I am told, people who need to be gf often also need to be potato and corn free, especially if they are O blood type. My youngest doesn’t have celiac disease but when we put her on the same protocols as her sister, she found that her stomach upsets and flatulence disappeared.
tracie meachum says
I am SOOOO ecstatic that I came across this page on your site. I used to love to bake but have been hesitant because I do not want to waste time on guessing and hoping certain substitutes will work out. THANK YOU sooo much for posting this. It is very detailed and informative. I cannot wait to try some of these recipes out. You have given me hope to cook for my dairy/nuts/eggs/wheat/shellfish free child!
Tessa Domestic Diva says
Of course Tracie, let me know if you need anymore help!
Nuts.com is a great source for gluten free flours, $7.99 lb for almond flour- less if order in bulk.
Just found your website whilst browsing the use of alternative flours and am very impressed. I found the substitutions listing really helpful, I’d started working out some of the things such as thinking tapioca and potato flour must be very similar, but this is such as handy source I’ve bookmarked it and even decided to post a comment! (As a Brit I’m much more reserved than that usually!) please keep up the good work – I’d really like to see your take on natural sugar substitutes and how to use them in baking. Thanks again.
Tessa Domestic Diva says
Working on it purple…not enough time in the day!
Tammy Eakes says
This is such great information! I have been playing with recipes (trying to make them healthier). The hardest part for me is knowing what to substitute the bad stuff with. Thank you! http://www.NoSkinnies.com
i just found your site tessa.it’s really terrific and i am looking forward to using your ideas…here is one for you…try ragi flour…you an read about it here.
i buy it at the indian grocery store and it works very well in baked goods and pancakes.
Just wanted to suggest another source for almond flour: http://www.lucyskitchenshop.com – she sells in 5 pound increments and it is $6.75 a pound for the first 5 pounds – if you order 10 pounds it is $6.50 a pound. Excellent quality and they are so helpful! You need to call to order: 888-484-2126. They support the SCD diet. Have ordered from them several times now and always very satisfied – even having to pay shipping, it is still less expensive than other sources I’ve seen.
I just found your blog. Are you familiar with nuts.com? I order my almond flour from them, and it is only $6.99 per pound! I eat a pretty heavily paleo diet, and I also order coconut flour from them. They are definitely the cheapest, although I have no vested interest. 🙂
Tessa Domestic Diva says
I am Lisa! I have checked a few prices a few times but never made a a purchase, I will look into it again! Thx you!
Marcia Jean says
Hello! I have a suggestion to you for a Cream substitute…I found this fabulous product called Mimic Creme. It is made of Almonds and Cashews and you can get it sweetened or unsweetened. I use the sugar-sub variety to make ice cream and pudding and I use the unsweetened variety to make sauces or any savory recipe that calls for heavy cream, like Pumpkin Soup. It’s the best! Check out their website! Have a great day, Marcia Jean
Tessa Domestic Diva says
Thanks Marcia, I have used it many times! I am woefully behind on updating some parts of this page…thanks for reminding me!
This list is AMAZING!! I have already referenced it so many times in just the last few weeks! It makes it so easy to sub in different flours based on what I have on hand versus what is called for in a recipe. Thank you!
Chris Nelson says
Would you recommend a specific online source to purchase gluten free flours? I was thinking Amazon.com but haven’t done a lot of research on others…
Tessa Domestic Diva says
I get my flours from multiple locations. Amazon sometimes has the best deals, their prices change up and down all the time! Teff Co is a good place for bulk teff flour. My local Whole Foods is almost always the cheapest bet, especially if I buy a 4-packand get the 10% case discount and the flour is on sale. I try and take advantage of their sales, they happen pretty frequently, but you never know WHICH ones will be on sale. Almond flour is cheapest in bulk if you can find it there. iherb is a great source with really competitive prices too for all sorts of groceries and supplements, I have a link on website in the side bar for a coupon for first timers. You only need $20 of product for free shipping too, which is a breeze to reach with all their selection! I wish there WAS a one stop shopping place for best prices, but alas, I have not found it!