15 Best Gluten-Free Flours and How to Use Them

I’ve been baking gluten-free since 2011 and have compiled this list of the 15 best gluten-free flours and how to use them. In this guide, discover the celiac-safe flours and starches I prefer and learn how you can also use them in your gluten-free cooking and baking.

With every recipe I share on Sage & Solar, I always specify the gluten-free flour I use. So here’s a list of them all in one place! This resource covers essential flours and starches you’ll need to improve your gluten-free baking. Whether you’re making brunch, dinner, desserts, or a sauce, these flours are essential in your kitchen for gluten-free cooking.

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White Rice Flour

Choose white rice flour, finely ground from rice grains, for a versatile gluten-free option. It pairs well with other gluten-free flours and binders like xanthan gum or guar gum to achieve light textures in coatings, tender baking, pastries, and dumplings. You can also use it to thicken sauces by making a roux. And, if you don’t have white rice flour on hand, you can use gluten-free all-purpose flour as a substitute.

Brown Rice Flour

Brown rice flour, made from whole-grain brown rice, is a nutritious and dark alternative to white rice flour. It has a slightly coarse texture, attributed to bran particles, which makes it great for gluten-free bread. I use brown rice flour in my sourdough starter. It can also be used to enhance bread, pancakes, coatings, and cookies with a wholesome taste and subtle nutty flavor. Use white rice flour, sorghum flour, or oat flour as a substitute when needed.

Almond Flour

Opt for nutrient-rich almond flour for creating moist and dense textures in gluten-free baked goods like crackers, cakes, cookies, and pie crusts. It’s a nut-based choice with a subtly sweet, nutty flavor loved by low-carb and Keto dieters. You can replace it with hazelnut, pecan, walnut, cashew, macadamia nut, pistachio, or Brazil nut flour in most recipes. Note that it’s not safe for those with nut allergies.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour, crafted from dried coconut, is a fiber-rich choice favored in paleo diets. It has a mild taste and fragrance, blending well with other flavors without overpowering them. Thanks to its exceptional liquid-absorbing ability, coconut flour is a go-to for gluten-free recipes requiring extra moisture. It works best when combined with other gluten-free flours, especially when making pancakes, muffins, cookies, and wraps.

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, is a fine, starchy powder extracted from the cassava root. It enhances gluten-free baked goods with a chewy texture when combined with other flours. I use tapioca flour for my gluten-free bread and buns. It’s part of the four-bean flour blend from ‘The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods’ cookbook. Tapioca flour can also be used to thicken sauces and soups. If you don’t have any on hand, cornstarch is a good substitute.

Potato Flour

While both are derived from potatoes, potato flour, and potato starch serve very different purposes.

Potato flour, resembling whole-wheat flour in color, retains moisture and binds ingredients together. It adds tenderness and an earthy taste to dishes like gluten-free bread, stews, and sauces. Instant potato flakes are a good substitute for potato flour.

Potato starch, a more refined starchy product, improves the texture of gluten-free baked goods, ensuring they are lighter and less crumbly. It serves as a binder and dough softener and is typically used with other gluten-free flour and starches. It’s important to follow specific measurements when using potato starch to achieve the desired thickening or texture-enhancing effects. Using incorrect ratios may cause your baking to come out overly gummy or sticky. Common substitutes for gluten-sensitive individuals include cornstarch, tapioca starch, and arrowroot powder.

Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour, also called jowar flour, is mild flavored nutrient-rich grain ground from whole-grain sorghum. This versatile, gluten-free flour suits both sweet and savory recipes, especially pancakes, muffins, and bread. It imparts a delicate taste and soft crumb. Consider oat flour as a perfect 1:1 substitute for sorghum flour, as they share similar flavor profiles.

Buckwheat Flour

Ground from buckwheat seeds, buckwheat flour is naturally gluten-free despite its name. It boasts a rich, slightly bitter, nutty flavor like rye or whole wheat flour. Buckwheat flour is best used with other gluten-free flour. It works well in soba noodles, pancakes, crepes, biscuits, scones, and rustic breads. Consider chickpea flour as a good wheat-free substitute for buckwheat flour, especially when combined with a binding agent.

Chickpea flour

Made from ground chickpeas, chickpea flour, also known as garbanzo bean flour, is a staple in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. It offers a slightly nutty taste and is rich in protein and fiber. Chickpea flour enhances savory dishes like pancakes and flatbreads, and it acts as a thickening agent in soups and stews. It’s a key ingredient in gluten-free flour blends like the one I use for bread and buns from ‘The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods’ cookbook. I’ve also used it as an eggless base for vegan casseroles. Consider quinoa flour and millet flour as suitable substitutes for chickpea flour.

Quinoa flour

Quinoa flour is made from the nutritious ancient grain. It’s high in protein and used in gluten-free baking for structure and rise. Quinoa flour’s subtle, earthy flavor complements muffins, cakes, and cookies. It also serves as a good soup thickener and a protein boost in smoothies. Brown rice flour or amaranth flour are suitable substitutes and are also free from gluten.

Amaranth flour

Amaranth flour, ground from amaranth seeds, adds a slightly sweet, nutty, and peppery flavor to dishes. It’s nutrient-rich and serves as a thickener in soups, gravies, and a flavor enhancer in baked goods, pancakes, and waffles. In unleavened flatbreads, like tortillas, its flavor shines! Amaranth flour absorbs a lot of liquid so it’s best used in blends with other flours to prevent excessive density. Quinoa flour is a suitable 1:1 substitute for amaranth flour.

Teff Flour

Teff flour, made from an ancient Ethiopian grain, is protein-packed and provides structure in gluten-free baking. Its mild, nutty flavor pairs well with chocolate, fruit, and nuts in deserts. Teff flour is celiac-friendly and adds texture to flatbreads, pancakes, and waffles. Buckwheat flour has a similar taste and can be substituted 1:1 for teff flour in celiac-friendly recipes.

Oat Flour

Oat flour, made from ground oats can be gluten-free when certified as such (check the label). It brings a sweet flavor and moisture to baked goods, creating a crumbly and chewy texture. I like using oat flour in gluten-free cookie, muffin, and bread recipes as it adds a pleasant taste and light tender crumb. Sorghum flour and brown rice flour are suitable substitutes for oat flour.

Corn Flour

Corn flour, not to be confused with cornstarch, is finely ground from cornmeal. It has a slightly sweet, corn flavor that enhances many foods. Corn flour adds a distinctive taste and texture to baked goods, fried food coatings, cornbread, tortillas, and traditional dishes. It can also be used in pancake, waffle, bread, muffin, or cake recipes. Corn flour absorbs moisture, so you may need to adjust your recipe to use extra liquid. White rice flour is a versatile substitute for corn flour in many recipes but it lacks the same flavor profile.

Cassava Flour

Cassava flour, derived from the cassava root, is a gluten-free flour option with a neutral taste, popular in South American cuisine. It provides fine texture and natural binding, creating soft and chewy results in baking. It adds structure to cakes, cookies, pastries, bread, tortillas, pancakes, and pasta, and is an effective thickener for sauces and a binder for burgers and meatballs. Even though you can substitute brown rice or sorghum flour for cassava flour, you’ll have to adjust the liquid content or blend them with other flours for the best results.

Chestnut Flour

Chestnut flour, made from dried chestnuts, has a sweet, nutty flavor. It is commonly used in Italian and French cuisine for making pasta, cakes, and desserts. Chestnut flour adds a rich, earthy taste to gluten-free baked goods, making them especially flavorful. Almond flour is a good substitute for chestnut flour.

There you have it! These 15 gluten-free flours and starches can be used in various gluten-free recipes, and each has its unique properties and flavors. When baking or cooking with gluten-free flour, it’s important to follow specific recipes as they may require different ratios and combinations to achieve the desired results. You may have to adjust moisture levels and use binders as well to get the desired texture. As always, for individuals with celiac disease, it’s crucial to ensure that the flours used are labeled as gluten-free.

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