Gluten-free diets are quite the rage these days. But for many, gluten-free eating is a necessity, not a choice.
Cooking and baking with gluten-free flours can be extremely confusing, especially at first. I had a particularly hard time giving up gluten-based flours, as I’m a frequent baker. Gone are the days of just adding a cup of flour to a cake recipe. Nope, now I must carefully measure out varying amounts of different gluten-free flours, add some starch, and a bit of gum to create a mixture somewhat resembling a simple gluten containing flour.
For my own sanity and anyone else’s, I compiled this list of the most common gluten-free flours. How are they made? Which flours contain more nutrients? How do they taste? Find the answers below.
Our family’s favorites are buckwheat, brown rice, millet, and teff. What are your favorite gluten-free flours?
The Most Common Gluten-Free Flours Defined
Almond Flour (aka Almond Meal) – Raw almonds, finely ground provide a boost of protein to baked goods. The texture is slightly coarse like corn meal. This flour is used primarily in sweet baked goods where it adds a moist texture and nutty taste.
*Amaranth Flour – Made from the seeds of the herb amaranth, this flour is high in protein and lysine (an amino acid lacking in many grains). Best for savory dishes or small quantities in baked goods due to it’s earthy flavor.
*Buckwheat Flour – A gluten-free flour in disguise! It’s actually a green, leafy plant related to rhubarb, not wheat as the name would suggest. The seeds are milled to create the flour. The darker the flour the more nutty the flavor becomes and the more nutrients it contains. Contains all eight essential amino acids.
Brown Rice Flour – Derived from unpolished brown rice, this flour contains rice bran giving it more fiber, more nutrients, and a bit more grit than white rice flour. It is a heavier flour, best when combined with other flours in sweet or savory dishes.
Chickpea Flour (aka Garbanzo Bean or Ceci Flour or Gram Flour) – Dried beans are finely ground to form this very heavy flour with a nutty taste best when used in small doses. Packed with protein. Fava Bean Flour is very similar and can be used interchangeably.
*Millet Four – A grain from the grass family, millet is slightly sweet in flavor and is excellent paired with other flours in baked goods or as a thickener in soups. It is similar to corn flour, but with many more nutrients. Millet is a good source of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Oat Flour – Oat flour is only gluten-free if designated as such on the packaging as wheat cross contamination is extremely common. Great for baking, but may require more liquid when making substitutions for other flours. Short shelf life.
Potato Flour (not to be confused with Potato Starch) – Made from cooked, dried potatoes, this is a dense flour with a strong flavor. A great thickener without adding much starch. Short shelf life.
*Quinoa Flour – Derived from the seed of a plant in the spinach and beet family, quinoa flour is packed with protein, but a little bitter in taste. Best when used in smaller quantities and blended with other gluten-free flours.
Sweet Rice Flour (aka Mochiko Flour) – Ground short grain glutinous rice, sometimes referred to as sticky rice, creates a very starchy flour excellent for use as a thickening agent or binder. It’s not at all sweet though, as the name would imply.
*Sorghum Flour – Considered a staple in African and Indian cultures, this gluten-free flour is like a cross between wheat and millet flours. It is a good source of protein and iron. A great all around gluten-free flour that many use as a direct wheat flour substitute.
*Teff Flour – Derived from a seed in the grass family, this very dark flour has a mild nutty, slightly molasses-like taste so it’s excellent in baked goods. It is also super nutritious – high in phosphorous, iron, lysine (amino acids), protein, and fiber.
White Rice Flour – Ground medium or long grain white rice, with the bran removed, makes for a very bland flour lacking almost any nutrients. It’s light texture makes it very versatile and suitable for use on its own. Limit intake of this flour since it offers little to no dietary benefits.
* Denotes the most nutrient packed grains. Sneak these into your gluten-free diet whenever possible.
Jennifer is a work-at-home mother of two. One with eczema, food allergies (gluten included), and asthma. One with mild eczema. She blogs about her family’s battles with allergies, eczema, and asthma, and reviews top 8 allergy-free recipes at It’s an Itchy Little World. Jennifer is the founder of The Eczema Company, which offers specialty clothing and natural skin care for children with eczema.