Gluten Free Flour Guide Part 2: All the Flours
Alright, so last week we talked about which flours I use most often, aka my faves. But as any walk down the gluten free aisle of a grocery store will tell you, there are tons of other options! 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. (This is where my love affair with quinoa flour began.) 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!
Low FODMAP Flours
Almond flour / meal
Taste: Slightly sweet, nutty (obviously)
Weight: 1c = 120g
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 like cookies or sweet breads.
Other notes: Almond meal is low FODMAP at ¼ c servings but high FODMAP at servings ½ c and greater.
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 lends itself very well to graham crackers. Otherwise I don’t have much use for this 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. Anything you don’t mind being brownish/greyish.
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 foods like pancakes or cinnamon rolls. I like to use a little in my blend to add flavor.
Other notes: Coconut flour has not officially been tested for FODMAP content, so take note when you use it if you have any symptoms. I’ve never had any issues, but I tend to use it in small quantities.
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 fine grind cornmeal can have a grittiness to it so it’s best to blend with lighter & finer flours like quinoa and sticky rice.
Good for: The obvious: cornbread. Also savory dishes. I make these cornmeal pancakes (which I’ll post someday!), that are great either savory (with rosemary + cheddar) or sweet (some maple syrup)
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: See above. Filler & neutralizer in almost any blend (just don’t use it all by itself). I use it cookies, pierogies, pizza, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls.
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.
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 use oat in my general blend to add flavor and to balance out the quinoa flour. Because of its sweetness, I’ll up the amount of oat flour in sweeter foods like cookies, cinnamon rolls, and graham crackers.
Taste: Like quinoa. Nutty and almost a little salty. Has a very strong flavor and needs to be blended with other neutral flours like millet, oat, and sticky rice.
Weight: Light, 1c = 120g.
Behavior: Blends very well. Quinoa flour has a slight grittiness or almost flakiness to it, but when blended with sticky rice and other flours, it’s unnoticeable.
Good for: Everything! Says me. Better for savory foods like pizza, cornbread, and pierogies because of its saltiness.
Taste: Honestly, I have some sorghum flour but I haven’t used it that much. It’s got a pretty neutral flavor, with a little more nuttiness than millet.
Weight: Heavier, 1c = 136g
Behavior: Blends well with other flours but a little dense.
Good for: I would use sorghum as a filler flour like millet or amaranth. I like millet better because it’s a little lighter, both in flavor and weight.
Sticky rice flour
Taste: Basically neutral, can be slightly starchy / gummy if used alone.
Weight: Light, 1c = 120g
Behavior: Sometimes called “glutinous rice flour,” but 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, the quinoa flour in everything was a joke (kinda), but this is serious. If you only buy one of the flours on this list, BUY THIS ONE. Also don’t confuse sticky rice flour with regular white rice flour, or you’ll be very disappointed.
Taste: Very brown, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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 (see explanation here).
High FODMAP Flours
I don’t bake with any of these, but I wanted to include them so you can avoid them when choosing commercial gluten free goods to eat. As with anything, a small amount can probably be tolerated (for instance, if one of these is pretty low down on the ingredients list), but experiment and see what your own tolerance is!
- Amaranth flour
- Fava bean flour
- Garbanzo / chickpea flour
- Lentil flour
- Pea flour
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