Flour alternatives made from ancient grains, nuts, and even fruits continue to take up shelf space alongside all-purpose white and whole-wheat flours. And in many cases, these flour substitutes offer more nutrition than the usual options.
But each of these different types of flour works best in certain types of recipes. Use these tips from Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, owner of Rachael Hartley Nutritionto perfect your cooking and baking with flour substitutes.
1. Coconut flour
“Because coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid, it needs lots of eggs, milk, butter, or oil to keep baked goods from drying out,” Hartley says. “A general rule is to use equal amounts of liquid for the coconut flour.” Try the lightly sweetened and coconut flour to make muffins, pancakes, bread or breaded coconut shrimp.
2. Almond Flour
“I love it in cookies, where it adds crumbly texture and complex flavor,” she says. “For many wheat-based recipes that aren’t so reliant on gluten, like quick breads and muffins, you can swap out up to 50 percent almond flour without further adjustments.” Also use this flour substitute to make keto bagels or to bread fish fillets.
3. Quinoa flour
Surprisingly, quinoa flour is not much higher in protein than white flour: half a cup contains 8 grams of protein compared to 6.5 grams, respectively. However, quinoa flour is gluten-free and a good source of fiber and iron.
Some find the taste to be bitter, earthy or grassy. For this reason, Hartley recommends using it in savory recipes like crackers, flatbreads, or sandwich bread. Others love this flour alternative in pizza crust and pancakes.
4. Tapioca flour
Tapioca flour, or tapioca starch, contains a good amount of fiber (2 grams per quarter cup) but generally plays a supporting role in recipes.
Due to its mild flavor and binding abilities, it is perfect for thickening sauces, soups and pies. And in baking, “it’s typically used with other gluten-free flours to help bind and add structure,” says Hartley.
5. Banana flour
Yes, this flour substitute is really a thing! Take green bananas, dry them, then grind them, and you have banana flour. This gluten-free, paleo-friendly ingredient is high in resistant starch, a type of fiber that is good for gut health.
The taste is actually quite neutral; add a tablespoon or two to thicken smoothies, or you can bake it into sweet breads, cookies, and pancakes.
6. Chickpea flour
It seems like you just can’t escape chickpeas these days (also known as garbanzo beans). This alternative to flour is rich in protein and fiber – a quarter cup provides 5 grams of each – and tastes like beans.
Besides being a good binder for gluten-free baking or plant-based burgers, chickpea flour is good for making pancakes, socca (a flatbread that Hartley says makes a delicious crust of pizza) and an eggless frittata or quiche.
No need to scour the grocery store for oatmeal – just throw some oats (ideally rolled oats) into the food processor, and you can create your own flour alternative! Since it (unsurprisingly) has a slight oat flavor, it makes a great addition to sweet recipes such as pancakes, muffins, waffles, sweet breads, and cookies.
Hartley recommends replacing up to a third of the wheat flour in a recipe with oatmeal to add flavor and crumbliness.