Buying flour for cooking and baking can be a no-brainer when you can use all-purpose flour, but if you’re gluten-free, then choosing the right flour gets a bit more complicated. There are so many types of gluten-free flour available and when it comes to cooking and baking, all the usual rules change. That’s why we prepared 10 Tips for Gluten-Free Cooking and The Ultimate Gluten-Free Vegan Baking Guide to help with lots of tips and advice. Of course, you can buy a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and take out all the guesswork and calculations; there are some really great blends available in stores.
If, however, you’ve been thinking about experimenting with different gluten-free flours, or you’re just curious about what the differences are between them all, then this guide is for you. Some flours contain more protein than others and some are grain-free or nut-free. Many of them are best used in certain kinds of recipes. It can get expensive to stock every kind of gluten-free flour, so it’s handy to know which ones you really need, depending on what you’re making. Here are 15 types of gluten-free flours that are easy to find, what they are best used for, and of course, delicious recipes for you to try them with.
1. Almond Flour
Almond flour (also called almond meal) is made from finely ground blanched almonds. Since it’s made from nuts, it is grain-free. Almond flour is low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and high in protein. It also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin E. Almond flour is useful in all types of recipes, both sweet and savory. I use it when I make my Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits for my pup.
2. Amaranth Flour
Amaranth flour is made from the seeds of the amaranth plant. Though it is made from seeds and is therefore grain-free, amaranth is called an ancient grain. This flour is high in protein as well as iron, B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Amaranth flour has a nutty flavor, so it’s a great choice for muffins, cookies, breads, and pizza crust. I find that it makes for tender baked goods.
3. Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is milled from brown rice, so it is denser than white rice flour and contains protein and fiber. Brown rice flour has a nutty taste and since it is heavy, it works best when used in combination with other flours. It can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. This was one of the first gluten-free flours I ever cooked with.
4. Buckwheat Flour
Buckwheat may have wheat in its name but there is no wheat in the seed or flour made from grinding those seeds. Buckwheat is highly nutritious – it’s a good source of protein, omega fatty acids, B vitamins, manganese, fiber, copper, magnesium, and other minerals. Buckwheat flour has a strong nutty taste and it results in dark baked goods. It’s used for breads, baked goods, pancakes, waffles, and soba noodles. Growing up, the only pancakes my mother ever made were buckwheat ones so they’re still my first choice.
5. Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour, also called garbanzo bean flour, is like gold dust to me. It’s the gluten-free flour I use most; for me, it’s an all-purpose flour. Made from ground chickpeas, the flour is high in protein, fiber, and iron. It has a dull yellow color that it lends to foods. Chickpea flour is also grain-free and nut-free so it’s a great choice for many needs. Chickpea flour is common in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s so amazing, I could write a whole article just about chickpea flour…oh wait, I did. Check out 7 Ways to Use Chickpea Flour from Breakfast to Dessert.
6. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour has become really popular in both cooking and baking and it’s no surprise. This flour, made from grinding dried coconut solids, has the highest fiber content of any flour as well as high amounts of protein. Coconut flour has a sweet flavor which is perfect for baking and desserts. It does act a bit differently than other flours so your recipes might need extra liquid. See Everything to Know About Coconut Flour for tips. It can also be used to “bread” tofu, added to breakfast cereals, or used to thicken up smoothies.
7. Cornmeal/Corn Flour
Corn flour, also known as corn starch, is a fine white powder made from corn that we use to thicken sauces and gravies. Cornmeal is ground corn that is thicker than corn starch and is used to make baked goods or crunchy coatings for fried foods. It is also used to make polenta, grits, hominy, and masa. When buying cornmeal, check the label for organic corn and for gluten-free certification. Corn flour and corn starch are not interchangeable, read more in Cornmeal is the New Black: How to Use This Gluten-Free Flour.
8. Millet Flour
Millet flour comes from millet seeds which are from the grass family. It is more popular in other parts of the world than North America and is considered an ancient grain. Millet flour is gluten-free and packed with protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins. It has a light, nutty flavor and is extremely versatile, working well with other flours in all recipes from breakfast to dessert. The flour can also be used as a thickener for soups and stews.
9. Navy Bean Flour
Newest to the market is navy bean flour which is made from dry navy beans. I first tasted this when I tried Mrs. Glee’s gluten-free flours and pastas. It works well with other flours for cooking and baking. Navy bean flour is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. It gives foods a light texture and has a neutral flavor.
10. Peanut Flour
Peanut flour is made from roasted peanuts. It’s gluten-free and high in protein. Peanut flour adds a
nutty aroma and taste to recipes and it’s perfect for baked goods and recipes that also include peanut butter. It can also be used for crispy coatings on fried foods. Add it to your hot cereals and smoothies for a yummy protein boost.
11. Quinoa Flour
We all know quinoa is a superfood and a complete protein so of course, quinoa flour is highly nutritious. Made from ground quinoa seeds, it’s gluten-free and packed with all the essential amino acids. Quinoa flour has a strong flavor and works well in recipes like pizza crust, pancakes, and waffles.
12. Sorghum Flour
Sorghum flour is another gluten-free flour I use when I make my dog homemade biscuits. The flour is made from ground sorghum grains, another ancient grain. It is a good source of protein and fiber. Sorghum flour has a slightly sweet taste and smooth texture which makes it a good choice for baked goods and desserts.
13. Soy Flour
Soy flour is made from soybeans. It is gluten-free and high in protein. It has a neutral flavor and smooth texture. You can use it in baked goods, to coat foods for frying or baking, and to make your own soy milk. Be sure to buy soy flour that is organic and free of GMOs.
14. Teff Flour
Teff is known as the tiniest grain in the world. It is part of the grass family and when ground, you get teff flour which is becoming more popular these days. Native to northern Africa, teff is used in for thickening and baking purposes. It is most well-known for making injera, the Ethiopian flat bread. Teff flour is high in protein, iron, calcium, and fiber. It has a bold, nutty flavor so it’s best used with other strong flavors. Use teff flour for waffles, cookies, breads and other baked goods.
15. White Rice Flour
White rice flour is milled from polished white rice. It is a refined flour so it isn’t the most nutritious choice. It can be used with other flours, including brown rice flour, to add nutrient value. It is neutral in flavor and the flour is fine so it provides a light and crisp coating on foods. It gives baked goods a light texture as well. White rice flour is common in Asian and Indian cooking.
With all these gluten-free flours available, gluten-free cooking and baking is easier than you might think. Have fun experimenting with the different flours to find the ones that work best for your recipes.
Lead image source: Crusty Whole Grain Bread