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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 has recovered from severe eczema, food allergies (gluten included), and asthma. Jennifer is the founder of YoRo Naturals and The Eczema Company, which offers specialty clothing and natural skin care for children with eczema. She is also the co-founder of The Kind Pet.
Thanks, great list! oh you forgot coconut flour…nom nom!
Great compilation of information! Thanks a ton!
Great info. We are gluten free and right now grain free, so we are using lots of soaked and dehydrated nuts. Great Bog! I am your news follower. I would love a visit if you get a chance. My blog is Naturally Mom. http://naturallymom.blogspot.com/ I write about and take lots of pictures of my journey in parenting, homeschooling, natural living, and preparing gluten free- nourishing foods with my children. Hope to see you there!
and thanks for a useful and informative list; some of these flours I've never even heard of! I use nut flour and coconut flour frequently but none of them is good enough to make homemade bread, so I use them for desserts mostly – the breads made with them end up too dense n crumbly for my liking.
However I am after a flour wh/ can make as good a bread (or nearly as good as) as wholemeal flour does, coz one thing I cant give up on is just some crispy buttered toast with my fried eggs! I may not have it often but when I do have bread, wholemeal wheat flour is the only one that lives up to my expectations. So out of all of these flours you have listed, which one would you recommend as coming closest to that?
Hope to hear from you soon, and thanks for your help.
Hello. Sorry I didn't get back to you right away. I actually did not write this post and so I contacted the author about what her recommendation would be. (as I am not overly familiar with gluten free flours) Here's her response:
The closest to white all purpose flour would be white rice flour. But any gluten free flours can be used to create a good bread and I’d recommend using something with some more protein and fiber – chickpea flour, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, etc. The key to a less crumbly bread is to use the right amount of starch (tapioca, arrowroot, potato) and gums (guar or xanthan).
This post may help: