Gluten Free Flour Guide Part 2: All the Flours

Mar 25, 2016 | Articles, FODMAP basics

Gluten Free Flour Guide Part 2: All the Flours | Go Messy or Go Hungry

Alright, so last week we talked about the five essential gluten free flours, you should have on hand. But as any walk down the gluten free aisle of a grocery store will tell you, there are tons of other options! In this post, I’ll be sharing more details about some of the more popular GF flours — including taste, weight, and what types of recipes they’re good for!

When I first started my foray into the world of gluten free, I was pretty overwhelmed. My starting point, as I mentioned, was reading the ingredient labels of commercial gluten free goods and then trying to copy that. There were lots of issues with that method though (weird ingredients I didn’t have access to – both chemical and just different flours, I couldn’t get the flours to behave the way I wanted, and also they were extremely bland), and ultimately I quit trying to copy everyone else and just did my own thing, which worked much better for me.

I remember the first “made up” gluten free thing I made (it was pizza, unsurprisingly), and how utterly shocked at how flavorful the crust was! (Side note, on this occasion I went completely overboard and actually ground my own flours in my coffee grinder. This is what happens when you live in rural Arkansas and only have access to Walmart’s Betty Crocker gluten free blend! Ok and also when you’re a little crazy to begin with.) But seriously, I had never in my wheat-eating life tasted anything like it. And that’s the exciting thing about using gluten free flours: you have so many more options when it comes to flavor than you ever had with wheat flour.

So if you haven’t, definitely check out my favorite gf flours as a place to start, but I do encourage you to read through the flours below and experiment with some new things – you may find a flavor you’ve never encountered before!

Gluten Free Flours

Almond flour / meal

  • Taste: Slightly sweet, nutty (obviously)
  • Weight: Light. 1c = 120 g
  • Behavior: Clumpy as a flour, almond meal can turn baked goods into a crumbly mess if you’re not careful. Pair with a sticky rice flour and starches.
  • Good for: Sweeter baked goods that are intended to be a bit crumbly, like biscotti and strawberry shortcake.
  • FODMAP notes: Almond meal is low FODMAP at Âź c servings but high FODMAP at servings ½ c and greater.

Amaranth flour

  • Notes: Very similar to millet flour (see below), except it’s higher in FODMAPs. I used to use it until I realized this and then switched to millet.

Bean flours

  • Notes: Beans and legumes are high in FODMAPs and I am pretty sensitive to them, so I avoid bean flours in baked goods and have never purchased or used them personally. Common ones to look out foor are chickpea / garbanzo, fava, lentil, and pea. Because beans tend to soak up lots of water, I’d expect the flours to do the same. Would also expect most of these to be pretty flavorful.

Brown rice flour

  • Taste: Very comparable to whole wheat flour.
  • Weight: Heavy. 1c = 140g
  • Behavior: Because of it’s weight, rice flour can weigh down foods that need to rise, like bread. The commercially available stuff is also pretty coarsely ground, so it can leave a gritty texture if not diluted with other flours.
  • Good for: The grittiness and “whole grain” flavor lends itself very well to graham crackers. Otherwise I don’t have much use for this flour.
  • FODMAP notes: Brown rice flour has not specificall been tested, but as brown rice is low FODMAP you can safely assume the flour is low as well.

Buckwheat flour

  • Taste: Also very similar to whole wheat flour; “brown,” nutty. If you’ve ever worked with whole wheat pastry flour, buckwheat is very similar to that.
  • Weight: Light, 1c = 120g
  • Behavior: Blends well, lends a nice texture to baked goods. Bad news: it turns all foods a greyish color.
  • Good for: Foods more on the savory side, buckwheat pancakes.
  • FODMAP notes: Buckwheat flour is low FODMAP in servings at least ⅔ c (100 g).

Coconut flour

  • Taste: Sweet and nutty. In my opinion, doesn’t really taste like coconut at all.
  • Weight: Heavy, 1c = 140g
  • Behavior: Coconut flour is very absorptive, so you have to be careful when using it or it will soak up all the water in your recipe!
  • Good for: Sweeter baked goods you don’t mind being crumbly, like pancakes. I also use some for flavor in my chicken nuggets.
  • FODMAP notes: Coconut flour is high FODMAP in servings of ⅔ c (100 g). I usually just use a little of this flour for flavor purposes and have never noticed issues, but pay attention to your reaction if you are extra sensitive.

Cornmeal

  • Taste: Well, like corn. Hopefully we’re all familiar with what cornbread tastes like.
  • Weight: Heavy, 1c = 140g
  • Behavior: This depends on how coarsely ground your cornmeal is, but even finely ground cornmeal can have a grittiness to it so it’s best to blend with plenty of lighter & finer flours like sticky rice.
  • Good for: The obvious: cornbread. Also cornbread pancakes (which I like to use as quick burger “buns”).
  • FODMAP notes: Low FODMAP in servings at least to 1 cup.

Millet flour

  • Taste: Pretty mild in small amounts, but in larger amounts can develop a chalky taste.
  • Weight: Light, 1c = 120g
  • Behavior: Blends very nicely with other flours because of it’s fineness & lightness. I use millet in my standard blend as a filler & neutralizer.
  • Good for: Filler & neutralizer in almost any blend (just don’t use it all by itself). I use it cookies, pie crust, pasta, thick crust pizza, and more!
  • FODMAP notes: Low FODMAP in servings to at least ⅔ c (100 g).

Nut flours

  • Notes: Besides almond, which is the most common and the only one I own, you can find many other types of nut flours/meals, such as hazelnut, pecan, or walnut. I don’t have much experience with any of these, but you can assume they function similarly to almond meal (slightly crumbly and good for sweet foods), and taste similar to the nut they come from.
  • FODMAP notes: Depends on the nut. Most nuts are low FODMAP in servings you’d use for flour (highest nuts are cashew and pistachio which I’ve never seen in flour form)!

Oat flour

  • Taste: Slightly sweet & nutty, but pretty mild.
  • Weight: Light, 1c = 120g.
  • Behavior: Can be crumbly, and – like actual oats – soaks up a lot of water. But rises well because of its lightness.
  • Good for: I like to add a little oat flour to most things to add a bit of flavor and to balance out the slight bitterness of millet. Found in larger amounts in my strawberry shortcake, pumpkin cupcakes, cornbread, and biscotti. Used for flavor in pie crust, cookies, chicken nugs.
  • FODMAP notes: Oat flour hasn’t specifically been tested for FODMAPs, but rolled oats are low FODMAP to servings at least ½ c (100 g) so you should be safe.

Quinoa flour

  • Taste: Like really concentrated quinoa. Nutty and almost a little salty. Has a very strong flavor that can be nice. I used to use this a ton, but in recent years have opted for millet or sorghum for their more mild flavors.
  • Weight: Light, 1c = 120g.
  • Behavior: Blends very well. Quinoa flour has a slight grittiness or almost flakiness to it, but when blended with more mild flours is less noticeable.
  • Good for: Best for more savory foods. As mentioned before we used to use this in most savory blends (pizza, pasta, cornbread, etc) but have moved away from using it in favor or milled and/or sorghum.
  • FODMAP notes: low FODMAP in servings at least to ⅔ c (100 g)

Sorghum flour

  • Taste: Pretty neutral. Very similar to millet (and I often use them interchangeably) but a little more on the nutty and sweet side.
  • Weight: Heavier, 1c = 136g
  • Behavior: Blends well with other flours but a little dense so needs plenty of starch and sticky rice flour to help.
  • Good for: Same as millet, I use this as a filler and neutralizer in most blends. The difference is while millet helps keeps things light, sorghum helps give things some heft. Featured in thick crust pizza and cookies (and also subbed for millet whenever I run out).
  • FODMAP notes: low FODMAP in servings at least ⅔ c (100 g).

Sticky rice flour

  • Taste: Basically neutral, can be slightly starchy / gummy if used alone.
  • Weight: Light, 1c = 120g
  • Behavior: Sometimes called sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour, (don’t worry – it’s gluten free). This flour behaves in ways like gluten (or glue), holding all your other flours together. Almost a starch but not quite, sticky rice flour is powdery and light.
  • Good for: Everything. Seriously. This is the holy grail of GF flours and the one I NEVER run out of. (I literally by 10 lbs at a time from my local Asian supermarket.) Also don’t confuse sticky rice flour with regular white rice flour, or you’ll be very disappointed. Featured in pie crust, pasta, strawberry shortcake, biscotti, and basically every recipe that uses flour on this blog 😄
  • FODMAP notes: Hasn’t been specifically tested, but sticky rice is low FODMAP in servings to at least 1 c cooked (190 g), so this should be super safe.

Teff flour

  • Taste: Nutty and almost chocolatey
  • Weight: Heavy, 1c = 160g.
  • Behavior: Although teff is heavy, it is fine (as opposed to the coarseness / grittiness of rice flour) and mixes well with other flours.
  • Good for: Chocolate things, like brownies. I’ve also used in a pinch in other sweet things like cookies and while it’s not ideal, it’s not bad either.
  • FODMAP notes: Low FODMAP in servings of at least ⅔ c (100 g)

White rice flour

  • Taste: Fairly neutral, slightly chalky / starchy
  • Weight: Heavy, 1c = 140g.
  • Behavior: Because of its density, can weigh down baked goods.
  • Good for: Nothing, really. A lot of commercial products use white rice flour, but I’ve had much more success with sticky rice flour (see above).
  • FODMAP notes: Like all the other rice variations on this list, it’s low FODMAP.

Starches & Gums

When making gluten free foods, it’s important to add some starches to hold your flours together, and to add lightness. Used correctly, starches can also neutralize the sometimes strong flavors of gluten free flours, as they’re fairly tasteless. Be careful though – if you overdo it, starches will make your foods chalky and gummy.

Arrowroot powder / starch

  • I’ve never used arrowroot personally, but word on the street is that it’s interchangeable for any other starch.
  • FODMAP notes: Low FODMAP in servings to at least ⅔ c (100 g).

Cornstarch

  • If you’re new to gluten free baking, this may be one of the only things you already have in your cabinet. I prefer to use potato or tapioca starch instead of cornstarch, but in a pinch you can use it in your recipes.
  • FODMAP notes: Low FODMAP in servings of at least ⅔ c (100 g)

Potato starch

  • Some people like potato starch, but I find it incredibly heavy. I’ll use it in a pinch but it’s very easy to use too much and accidentally end up with gummy foods.
  • FODMAP notes: Low FODMAP in servings of at least ⅔ c (100 g)

Psyllium Husk (ground)

  • While not technically a starch or gum (it’s a soluable fiber), it can be used like a gum to hold everything together. Psyllium husk is also has been shown to help IBS symptoms (although in much larger serving sizes than what you’d use baking), which is why I’d 100% recommend using this over another gum such as xanthan. I use it in pasta and pie crust.
  • FODMAP notes: Psyllium husk hasn’t specifically been tested, but as mentioned above it has been shown to relieve IBS symptoms. Plus you’ll be using such a small amound that it shouldn’t really cause any affects so you should be safe.

Tapioca starch

  • Obviously my favorite, as it’s the only one on this list that I’m not badmouthing. Tapioca starch is nice, flavorless, light, and you should use it in everything from brownies to pie crust to pasta to cookies and more. (I also buy this in 10 lb quantities at my local Asian market for less than $1/pound!)
  • FODMAP notes: Low FODMAP in servings of at least ⅔ c (100 g)

Xanthan gum

  • So I’ve never baked with xanthan gum, but you’ll see it everywhere so I figured I should include it. Xanthan gum is used in gluten free baking to replicate some of the “gluten” properties – holding your ingredients together while they rise.
  • FODMAP notes: While xanthan gum doesn’t have FODMAPs, it has been known to cause digestive problems in some people, so my recommendation would be to avoid it. Plus, if you don’t have celiac, you can add gluten back into your baked goods (read more on gluten and FODMAPs).
Low FODMAP Pumpkin Lasagna | Go Messy or Go Hungry

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