Going gluten-free is not just a Hollywood trend. Today, more people than ever are buying, cooking, and eating gluten-free foods. In fact, nearly one-third of Americans say they’re trying to ditch the sticky protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. You may be wondering, “Why?”
For some people, ditching gluten is necessary. Anyone who suffers from Celiac Disease or has a gluten sensitivity must avoid it like the plague for health reasons. Other people choose this lifestyle, hoping it will improve their digestion or help them drop a few pounds. No matter the reason, most people going gluten-free seem to have one big concern — “What the heck am I going to eat?”
I have some good news for you. Going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to give up on delicious bread, muffins, brownies, or cakes. All you have to do is change up some of the ingredients. Below, I have outlined the nine best gluten-free flour alternatives and how to bake with them!
1) Coconut Flour
What Is It: This is one of the most popular gluten-free flour alternatives (and rightfully so). Since coconut flour comes from the meat of a dried coconut, this flour alternative contains the same benefits as any other coconut product on the market.
The Health Benefits: Coconut flour is high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein. That’s not to mention, it’s low in sugar and carbs. It’s very uncommon for coconut flour to cause digestive issues, like grain flours often do. Additionally, since coconut flour is a low glycemic food, it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. In fact, eating foods that contain coconut flour have been known to stabilize blood sugar levels (just make sure you check out the other ingredients in your treat too).
Cooking Tips: Coconut flour is extremely prone to clumps. So before you add other ingredients to your mixing bowl, make sure to de-clump it.
Also, coconut flour tends to be dense, dry, and extremely absorbent. For this reason, you cannot simply replace all-purpose flour with coconut flour at a 1:1 ratio. If you do, your baked goods will more than likely come out dry and crumbly. Instead, when cooking with coconut flour, you will need to use more eggs than you normally do. A good rule of thumb is that for every 1/4 cup of coconut flour you use in a recipe, you will need to use two eggs. If you’re mixing in other dry ingredients (like cocoa powder) your egg ratio will need to go up even higher.
- Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
- Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- Coconut Flour Muffins
- Coconut Flour Bread
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
2) Almond Flour
What Is It: This type of flour is great for making baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and pastries. It comes in two types – “fine ground” and “coarse ground” – and is made from ground up almonds. No wonder it has all of the same health benefits as a handful of whole almonds!
The Health Benefits: Almond flour is high in protein, has heart-healthy fats, and contains essential vitamins and minerals. Just like coconut flour, almond flour is also easier on the digestive system.
Cooking Tips: Almond flour absorbs liquid differently than grain flour does. If a recipe calls for a small amount of liquid, you may be able to do a 1:1 substitute. However, many wheat flour recipes call for more liquid than what can be reasonably absorbed by almond flour. For this reason, many times a direct substitute will leave you with a soggy product. To avoid frustration, look for a recipe that already uses almond flour (like the ones below)!
3) Hazelnut Flour
What Is It: To create organic hazelnut flour, manufacturers simply peel and grind up whole hazelnuts. This creates a crumbly flour that will add a nutty flavor and nice texture to pastries and bread.
The Health Benefits: Hazelnut is high in protein and vitamins that are known to improve brain development, reduce the risk of blood clots, and benefit cell health.
Cooking Tips: Typically, hazelnut flour isn’t used alone. Rather, it’s used in combination with other gluten-free flours to create delicious bread and pastries. Bob’s Red Mill manufacturer recommends replacing 30% of your flour with hazelnut flour. You can replace the remaining 70% with another gluten-free flour to create a flour blend. Check out some of the recipes below for ideas!
- Flourless Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies with Sea Salt
- Hazelnut Crepes
- Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Scones
- Hazelnut Plum Muffins
4) Oat Flour
What Is It: You can easily make oat flour on your own. Just take oatmeal flakes and grind them up in a blender. It will take about 1 and 1/4 cups of rolled oats to make one cup of oat flour.
A lot of people wonder if oats are truly gluten-free. Even though they are, the answer is somewhat complicated. Many times oats are grown in fields where gluten products are also grown. This means there could be cross-contamination. Fortunately, many growers today isolate their fields and manufacturing facilities. To be on the safe side, though, look for oats that are labeled “gluten-free.”
The Health Benefits: Just like oatmeal, oat flour is great for lowering cholesterol levels and improving heart health! It also contains essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to function properly.
Cooking Tips: Oat flour used alone in a recipe will typically leave your baked goods with a dense or gummy texture. For this reason, it’s generally better to replace about 1/3 of a recipe’s wheat flour with oat flour. The remaining wheat flour can be replaced with a combination of other gluten-free flours (like the ones mentioned on this list). Check out some of the following recipes for ideas on how to bake with oat flour.
- Banana Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins
- Oat Flour Pizza Crust
- Oat Waffles
- Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Flour Brownies
5) Quinoa Flour
What Is It: Quinoa flour is another great option for cooking gluten-free pastries. It’s made from toasted and ground up quinoa. You can easily make your own quinoa flour at home. Check out the following video for a quick tutorial.
You may also like: