Hello Potluck readers, my name is Meg and I write a little gluten-free, vegetarian blog called Beard and Bonnet. I have been cooking and eating vegetarian dishes for over 7 years, but it wasn’t until my son was born with a gluten intolerance 2 1/2 years ago that I delved into the world of gluten free cooking in our home.
As the proud daughter of a pastry chef, I always felt like I had a handle on all things baking related. I could whip up a mean batch of cupcakes or a fancy tart no problem, but when we transitioned to a completely gluten-free diet I had to relearn everything. To say I was intimidated by all of the flour choices is an understatement and when I learned that I had to create custom blends and use ingredients like xanthan gum and arrowroot powder I thought that I would never bake again.
Fast forward 2 years and I can honestly say that I still consider myself to be on the “learning curve”. In no way am I a gluten-free flour aficionado, but I have learned quite a bit through trial and error. I was very fortunate to find a group of gluten-free blogs that I really enjoyed pretty early on in our journey. These ladies sent out daily gluten-free baking inspiration to my inbox and really gave me the push I needed to start experimenting for myself again.
Consider this post a beginner’s guide to gluten-free flours; we will briefly cover whole grain flours, white flours and starches, bean flours, and nut flours. I am only covering types of flours that are readily available and that I have actually tested myself. Most all of these flours can be found at your local health food store, well-stocked grocery, or through reputable sites like Bob’s Red Mill, Nuts.com, or King Arthur Flour. You will also notice as you read through some of the inspirational recipes listed here that a lot of them use 2 or 3 of the ingredients listed in this guide and blend them together to achieve a superior gluten-free baked good. Although blending flours isn’t always necessary it is a skill that every gluten-free baker should learn. I have included a small section at the end of this guide with recipes that blend two of my favorite gluten-free flours, almond and coconut, together.
So be brave, pick a flour, an inspirational recipe, and let’s get to baking gluten-free!
Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is heavier and more nutritious than white rice flour. It has a very delicate, slightly nutty flavor and is best when blended with other gluten-free flours. Brown rice flour is a terrific source of fiber, as well as protein. I suggest using brown rice flour that has been ground on very fine setting to prevent your baked goods from having a gritty texture. This is a common complaint about many brown rice flours, but I have found that this one is particularly good.
Almond and Carob Chip Biscotti | Beard & Bonnet
Maple Frosted Donuts | Fork and Beans
Homemade Gluten-Free Poptarts | Fork and Beans
Yeast Free Cinnamon Rolls | Fork and Beans
Made from ground quinoa seeds, this flour has a mild nutty flavor that can sometimes be slightly bitter. Quinoa flour lends a nice rise to your baked goods and is great when used in recipes that call for bold flavors like cocoa that can mask the subtle bitterness. This flour is the most nutritious flour you could possibly use in baking! It has more protein than any other flour and is high in calcium, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, just to name a few.
Samoa Cupcakes | Fork and Beans
Pumpkin Muffins | Fork and Beans
Officially the world’s smallest grain, Teff is primarily grown in Ethiopia where it is cultivated as a cereal crop. The tiny grains are so small that when they are milled into flour the hull is left intact rather than removed. This makes Teff flour high in protein, iron, calcium, and it contains all essential amino acids. Teff lends a subtle nuttiness and mild molasses-like sweetness to any baked good that it is used in, but is probably best known for its use in Injera bread.
Pumpkin Loaf | Beard & Bonnet
Fig Chai Tea Bread | Beard & Bonnet
Long ago, before Columbus, arrowroot powder was supposedly used by natives in the West Indies to draw poison out of arrow wounds. Today, this powder is used to thicken soups, roux, and pie fillings, as well as in gluten-free baked goods. To make this powder the root stalk of the arrowroot plant is dried and ground into a talcum-like powder. Arrowroot powder should not substitute directly for wheat flour in a recipe, but should be used in conjunction with other flours.
Pot Pie Cupcakes | Fork and Beans
The Perfect Waffle | Fork and Beans
Cinnamon Roll Them Nuts | Fork and Beans
Potato Starch (not flour)
Potato starch is exactly what it sounds like… starch that has been extracted from potatoes. Potato starch adds a light texture to yeast breads, muffins, and quick breads. Gluten-free cookies benefit from the addition of potato starch as well because it adds structure without the grittiness. Potato starch will help to keep all your gluten free baked goods moist and fresh. It has a mild flavor and should not substitute directly for wheat flour in a recipe, but should be used used in conjunction with other flours.
Citrus Loaf | Beard & Bonnet
Rainbow Sprinkled Chocolate-Covered Mini Donuts | Fork and Beans
Tapioca Flour (or starch)
Originally from the plant known as Cassava, tapioca starch is made when the root of the plant is boiled, dried, and then ground into a very fine powder. Tapioca flour is typically used as a thickening agent and closely resembles talcum powder in color and texture. Tapioca flour should not be substituted directly for wheat flour, but should be used in conjunction with other flours. The flavor is typically very mild and it adds a delicious, golden crust with a lighter texture to baked goods like breads and muffins.
Carrot and Coconut Muffins | Beard and Bonnet
“Faux” Buttermilk Biscuits | Beard & Bonnet
Black Bean Flour
This flour is made when black turtle beans are milled into a powder. It has a high nutritional value and should be used primarily in savory recipes unless pairing with strong flavors like cocoa in brownies. This flour can also be used as a base for black bean soup, mixed with water and spices for a quick black bean dip or filling for enchiladas. I like to add about 1/4 cup of this flour into my veggie burger base as well before forming into patties.
Savory Black Bean Flour Waffles | Beard & Bonnet
Black Bean Flour Tortillas | Beard & Bonnet
Garbanzo Bean Flour
Garbanzo beans are probably one of the world’s oldest cultivated vegetables and can be traced back at least seventy-five hundred years. Garbanzo bean flour, (AKA Besan flour, Gram flour, or Chickpea flour), is made when garbanzo beans are milled into a fine powder. This flour is high in protein and has a very distinct earthy aroma that is best utilized in savory baked goods because the flavor can sometimes be hard to mask in sweet ones. Although, when paired with pureed fruits and pungent spices this flour takes a back seat in the flavor department and lends moisture, nice texture, and rise to baked goods like muffins and breads.
Spring Onion Farinata | With Food + Love
Gluten-Free Apple Spice Cake | Tasty Yummies
Mini Kale and Onion Pizza’s | 80 Twenty
Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins | Healthful Pursuit
Spicy Chickpea Crackers with Chives | Tasty Yummies
Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Healthful Pursuit
Kalamata Olive and Herb Socca with Roasted Vegetables | Tasty Yummies
Gingerbread Protein Pancakes | Healthful Pursuit
Almond Flour or Almond Meal
Let me start this description by noting that almond meal and almond flour are the same thing and can be used interchangeably in recipes. Almond flour is the result of grinding either raw unblanched or blanched almonds to the point that a fine powder is achieved, but not so far that it turns into almond butter. Almond flour adds a high protein content, moist crumb, and lends an amazing flavor to gluten free and grain free baked goods.
Maraschino Marzipan Kisses | Beard & Bonnet
Paleo Almond Zucchini Bread | Running to the Kitchen
Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars | Tasty Yummies
Peach Cherry Quinoa Crumble | Running to the Kitchen
Chocolate Almond Pound Cake | Healthy Green Kitchen
Grain Free Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts | Tasty Yummies
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough | Texanerin
Coconut Apricot Scones | Running to the Kitchen
Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cakes | 80 Twenty
This gluten- and grain-free flour is a natural byproduct to the coconut milk making process. Much like when you make nut milks at home, a pulp consisting of bits of coconut meat are left over after pressing the milk from the coconut meat. This coconut meat is then dried at a very low temperature and ground into a soft, fine powder conducive to baking. Coconut flour is extremely absorbent and when using it in baked goods you only need about 1/4 cup of coconut flour to substitute for 1 cup of grain based flour. It is also important to note that baked goods made with coconut flour can be dense and dry, so it is important to use the appropriate amount of eggs and liquid to achieve a nice final product. Rule of thumb is 6 beaten eggs and 1 cup of liquid for every 1 cup of coconut flour used in a recipe.
Paleo Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins | A Girl Worth Saving
Grain-Free Pancakes | Nourished Kitchen
Paleo Yellow Cupcake | A Girl Worth Saving
Coconut and Almond Flour
If you have the desire to start blending flours, I suggest starting here. Coconut and almond flour work really well together and I personally love the texture and taste of baked goods that use this particular combination.
Pumpkin Date Scones | Healthy Green Kitchen
Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes | Running to the Kitchen
Grain-Free Thumbprint Cookies | Healthy Green Kitchen
Apple Muffins | Texanerin
Grain-Free Coconut Pineapple Upside Down Cake | The Nourished Kitchen
Grain Free Banana Coconut Mini Loaves | Tasty Yummies
Blueberry Almond Crumb Muffins | Nourished KitchenSave Recipe