Flour Substitutes


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From baking cakes, cookies and bread, to thickening up sauces and even as batter for frying, flour is an essential ingredient for many dishes. Some of the most popular forms are all-purpose white flour made from finely ground wheat, semolina made from hard wheat or durum, and whole wheat flour, derived from the entire wheat kernel.

Over the years, many varieties have popped up on supermarket shelves as demand for different flours to meet dietary needs has grown. Globally, there was an 8% increase during 2018 to 2020 of supermarket flour products on the market.

From grinding nuts, seeds, roots, and alternative grains, flours spanning almond, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, arrowroot, corn, rice, buckwheat, and millet have become a favored choice for many. Depending on your diet, the options for flours higher in protein, fats, fiber, nutrients, as well as gluten-free alternatives are accessible and widely available.

Flour Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information for 30 grams (1/4 cup) of all-purpose flour is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 3g

Refined white flour also contains trace amounts of calcium (5 milligrams), iron (1.5 milligrams), and potassium (30 milligrams) per serving, yet not sufficient quantities to meet your daily recommended intake of each. White flour also contains no sugar. Most refined white flour has had nutrients added back to it including B vitamins.

Why Use a Substitute

Aside from running out of traditional flour and needing an alternative, there are a number of other reasons why someone might need a flour substitute. For instance, those with a wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease will want to avoid traditional versions of all-purpose flour.

As one of the top eight allergenic foods that cause 90% of food allergies, the protein found in wheat can cause some people to have an allergic reaction. Reactions to wheat can affect the skin, mouth, throat, respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, and, in severe cases, can even result in anaphylactic shock.

Likewise, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity also must avoid any flour containing gluten. In addition to all-purpose flour, people who need to avoid gluten will want to avoid barley, rye, farina, graham flour, semolina, and any other kind of flour not labeled gluten-free.

Even flours made with oats, corn, and rice flour can sometimes contain gluten. Make sure you always read labels and look for the gluten-free symbol if you have been advised to avoid gluten-containing products.

Alternatives to Flour

The flour market offers a number of suitable alternatives, whether you want to avoid wheat, skip the gluten, or change the flavor of a dish. Here are three alternatives to traditional, all-purpose flour.

Coconut Flour

Perfect for those following a keto eating plan, coconut flour, which is made from Cocos nucifera (the fruit of the palm tree) contains many of the nutritional benefits of the coconut itself. Compared to refined white flour, the same serving of the coconut variety contains fewer carbs (9 grams) and more fiber (5 grams per serving).

Some research suggests that coconut may help improve good cholesterol and decrease infection among other benefits. However, coconut is one of the only plant-based foods to contain saturated fat which should be limited in excess for heart health. Therefore, the research surrounding coconuts is mixed.

Often used as a low-carb option, coconut flour has a denser consistency than white flour. For this reason, you will not be able to substitute it one-to-one as it retains more liquid.

If you do try to substitute it one-to-one, the recipe will require more water, eggs, or oil to add moisture.

You may need to experiment with your recipe to get the desired consistency, but you will generally need 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of traditional flour. Nonetheless, coconut flour is a suitable substitute for baking cakes, pancakes, cookies, and bread to enhance the flavor with a dash of sweetness.

Keep in mind, coconut flour is full of soluble fiber, which may help you feel full, longer. But too much in one serving may cause stomach upset in some individuals. If this is a new addition to your eating plan, start off using small amounts.

Oat Flour

This whole-grain alternative has all the benefits of oats rolled into a ready-to-use powder. Although the same ratio of oat flour and white flour is required, the nutritional content varies. A 30 gram serving of oat flour has 120 calories, almost the same amount of carbs, and more fiber at 3 grams a serving. Its potassium content is around three and a half times that of traditional white flour.

Oats are an excellent source of fiber and have many potential benefits according to some studies, including the ability to help control insulin levels and aid in weight management. They also may be useful in helping to lower cholesterol and manage diabetes, in addition to other positives.

Available in most supermarkets or made simply by grinding whole rolled oats in a food processor, the flour enhances baked goods with a hint of nutty flavor and understated sweetness, as well as providing a more crumbly texture.

Typically, you will use 1 1/2 cups of oat flour for every 1 cup of regular flour. But you may need to experiment a time or two to perfect the consistency of your baked goods.

While oats are naturally gluten-free, keep in mind that not all brands are, due to potential cross-contamination with other gluten-containing grains if they are processed in the same facility. So it is best to check the label or use an alternative if you suffer from an intolerance.

Chickpea Flour

Made by grinding dried chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), this flour is packed with plant protein if you are looking to boost your daily intake. At 5 grams of protein (per 30-gram serving), alongside 5 grams of fiber and 366 milligrams of potassium, chickpea flour is a more nutritionally-dense option than refined flour.

Chickpea flour has a number of beneficial properties. For instance, chickpeas may help control blood sugar levels, and, as a resistant starch, may support a healthy environment for good bacteria.

Although it is not an ideal substitute for yeast bread, chickpea flour works in baked goods such as cakes and muffins, giving each dish a nutty, almost bean-like enhancement, and with a similar consistency to flour.

Other Varieties and Availability

Many other varieties are available in supermarkets, health stores, and online. With an almost exhaustive list of flours on tap, keep a lookout for these options to add new tastes and textures to your cooking.

  • Almond flour
  • Amaranth flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Cashew flour
  • Hazelnut flour
  • Millet flour
  • Paleo baking flour
  • Peanut flour
  • Potato flour
  • Quinoa flour
  • Rice flour (white and brown)
  • Sorghum flour
  • Soy flour
  • Teff flour

A Word From Verywell

Whether you are looking for a flour substitute to change up the taste and texture of your baked goods, or you have a health reason that prohibits you from consuming traditional flour, there are a number of substitutes for flour.

Keep in mind that not all flours can be substituted in a one-to-one ratio, so it may take some trial and error to find just the right consistency and taste for your favorite baked goods. But, you can rest assured, that when it comes to replacing the flour in your recipe, you have a plethora of alternatives from which to choose.

14 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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