Thinking about baking gluten-free bread, muffins, cookies, and more? Get the lowdown on what grain-free flours are available and how best to use them
If you’re interested in making gluten-free bread or other baked goods because you’re cooking for someone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, or you’re just looking to cut back on the carbs, you’ve probably faced the baking aisle with confusion. There are so many grain-free flours to choose from—what’s a baker to do? Don’t fret: Here’s our guide to some of the most common grain-free flours and how to use them.
The first rule of thumb is that it's best to use a recipe that calls for these specific types of flour, rather than swapping for wheat-based flour in your recipe. (The notable exception is cassava flour, which can be used in a 1:1 swap. Read on for more details.)
Almond Flour ($18; amazon.com)
Among the most common grain-free flours, it is sometimes called “almond meal.” Both almond flour and almond meal are simply the nuts, ground up. Almond meal is sometimes not ground as finely as almond flour, but the names are not regulated, so your best bet is to look inside the package and examine the texture. The finer the grind, the smoother, lighter and less crumbly the texture will be. If the label says, “blanched,” that means the almonds’ skins were removed before grinding. Using blanched almond flour will give you a softer, lighter end product, most similar to regular flour. But unblanched is perfectly fine if you don’t mind a heartier muffin, quick bread, or pancake. Almond flour is a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Use it for: Hearty cakes (such as carrot), muffins, pancakes, quick breads, cookies, brownies/bars, breading, binder for meatballs/meatloaf
Try these almond-flour crepes:
#grainfree crepes, made with love while troubleshooting a recipe for a client. Love these easy #paleo wraps, perfect with a smear of nut butter, #pasturedeggs and #grassfed bacon, some #grassfedbutter and a light drizzle of maple syrup, or anything else you like. Recipe in the comments! Also good for the #scddiet #eathealthy #eatclean #cleaneating #paleobreakfast #eatlikeachamp #truecooks #delicious #eatwhatyoulove #healthylifestyle #healthyfoodporn #specificcarbohydratediet
Related: 15 Gluten-Free Recipes
Coconut Flour ($11; amazon.com)
The light texture of this powdery flour is great for grain-free baking because it yields results similar to regular flour. One word of caution: Coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid, far more than regular flour or almond flour, so it’s best to use a recipe that calls for it rather than trying to swap it in for another flour. Coconut flour is high in fiber and has some protein and healthy fats.
Use it for: Cakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies, brownies/bars, pancakes, binder for meatballs/meatloaf
Try these banana-sesame muffins:
Ok, so I have a nut butter problem. There are so many good ones, and so many new ones to try! I want them all. As a result, at any given moment, there can be up to an entire shelf in my pantry loaded with jars and jars of nut butters. I say, "I need to try them for work!" But @russelling just gives me that knowing look. He's got my number. So I set out to reduce the sheer volume of jars in the pantry, and found that I had a lot of jars with just a spoonful or two leftover. Time to get creative using them up! Hence these muffins, which have not one but two different flavors of luscious @soomfoods tahini in them. Recipe in the comments. Enjoy! #muffins #grainfree #paleo #paleotreats #delicious #norefinedsugar #banana #eatclean #eatwhatyoulove #cleaneating #healthyfood #healthybreakfast #fitfood #eatlikeachamp #healthyfats #dontfearfat #tahiti #chocolate #healthyliving #feedfeed #feedfeedglutenfree #glutenfree
Paleo Baking Flour ($17; amazon.com)
Many recipes call for a combination of almond and coconut flours, to neutralize the flavor and to balance the texture of grain-free baked goods. Bob’s Red Mill does the combining for you with this convenient, easy-to-use product, which also contains arrowroot and tapioca starch to lighten it.
Use it for: Any recipe that calls for an almond flour/coconut flour combo
Try this pumpkin-banana bread:
Well, so, it's kind of a #paleo pumpkin bread... (And I may have spread some @fourthandheart vanilla ghee on top, and sprinkled on some sea salt...) Here's how: In a bowl, combine 2 cups @bobsredmill paleo baking flour (or 1 1/2 cups almond flour and 1/2 cup coconut flour). Stir in 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt. In a high-speed blender (or by hand), mix 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (or in my case, 3/4 cup pumpkin and 1/2 cup butternut squash purée, because that's what was in the fridge...), 1 banana, 4 large eggs, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 5 Tbsp coconut oil and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased 9-inch loaf pan and bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Add chopped nuts, coconut, raisins or chocolate chips to the batter, if you like. This bread is not very sweet, which is how I like it--but you could take out 1/4 cup pumpkin and use another banana to make it sweeter, or blend in some pitted dates. Enjoy! 💜 #nograins #glutenfree #paleobaking #treat #pumpkin #dontfearfat #healthyeating #healthyfood #healthyrecipes #eatrealfood #eatclean #cleaneating #eatlikeachamp #norefinedsugar #delicious #primal #primalfood #fitfood
Arrowroot ($10; amazon.com)
This light powder is a starch made from a tropical root. It’s rich in potassium and iron, and it works well as a thickener as well as a baking ingredient. Arrowroot works as a binder in baking recipes, providing some structure to baked goods. It’s usually used in conjunction with another flour, though it can work well in recipes that call for little flour, such as crepes.
Use it for: As an ingredient in gluten-free or grain-free baking to provide structure, as a flour substitute in crepes, as a thickener for sauces in place of cornstarch. Arrowroot is also a common ingredient in natural and DIY beauty products such as blushes, deodorants, and dry shampoo.
Cassava Flour ($19; amazon.com)
Experienced grain-free bakers love cassava, because it’s most similar to white flour and is easy to swap into recipes that call for all-purpose. Made from the cassava root, it has a neutral flavor, and it’s easy to digest, so it’s good for people who are avoiding grains because of a particular diet. It’s also nut free, and lower in calories than almond or coconut flour (though it’s also lower in protein and healthy fats).
Use it for: Easy substitution for any baking recipe. Also makes great homemade tortillas and crepes
Try these blueberry muffins:
Blueberry muffins! #grainfree/#glutenfree thanks to my latest obsession, @ottos_cassava_flour. Created with love for one of my wonderful cooking students who has #autoimmunity. What's up with cassava? It behaves like wheat flour, but it's made from yuca, a root vegetable. Tapioca is also made from yuca, but it's just the starch--cassava is the whole root (minus the peel). (Not knocking tapioca--it's very useful for some applications.) Anyway, cassava is #Paleo and even #AIP friendly! Plus you can swap it in for flour at a 1:1 ratio (though I'm finding some recipes need slightly less cassava than flour). Yay! Look for more recipes coming up with cassava. For these: Mix 2 cups cassava flour, 2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. sea salt in a bowl. (Add 1-2 tsp. cinnamon if you like.) In another bowl, beat 8 Tbsp. unsalted #grassfed butter with 3/4 cup date sugar until light (I like @thedatelady. Coconut sugar would also work here.) Beat in 2 large #pasturedeggs one at a time. Scrape down bowl and mix again. Beat in 2 tsp. vanilla extract. In a cup, mix 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk with 1/4 cup maple syrup. Mix 1/2 of cassava mixture into butter mixture, then all of milk mixture, then remaining cassava, until almost mixed. Fold in 1 generous cup frozen wild organic blueberries. Be careful not to overmix. Divide batter among 12 lined muffin cups; bake at 375F for 22-27 minutes. Enjoy! #muffins #delicious #treatyourself #treat #baking #paleobreakfast #paleotreats #grainfreebaking #nograins #norefinedsugar #healthy #healthyfood #healthcoach #healthybaking #cassava #blueberrymuffin #primal #primalfood #eatclean #eatlikeachamp #eatrealfood #eatwhatyoulove
Related: Gluten-Free Lunches for Kids
Tiger Nut Flour ($15; amazon.com)
In spite of the name, this flour does not contain nuts. Tiger nuts are small root vegetables that are very nutrient dense, high in fiber, healthy fats, and iron. Since they’re nut free, they’re great for people with allergies. Tiger nut flour is fairly easy to swap into regular baking recipes, but it is coarser than flour, so your baked goods will come out with more texture.
Use it for: Quick breads, muffins, cookies, pancakes