20 Substitutes for Gluten-Free Baking

Carmen Roberts, MS, RD, LDN | June 13, 2016

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So you’ve decided to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle. Now here’s the hard part. The process of gluten-free baking is very different and hence time-consuming. That’s because gluten-free dough is not the same consistency as wheat-based dough and often requires multiple flours (usually 2-3) to make a quality product. Here’s a rundown of gluten-free flours or starches that you can try the next time you bake:

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Amaranth

This whole-grain flour is made by extracting the seeds from the amaranth plant and grinding them to yield a protein-rich whole-grain flour that can be used for making pizza dough and crust.

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Arrowroot

This white flour can be combined with equal parts cornstarch to thicken sauces or to make filling for fruit pies.

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Bean Flours

Dried beans such as chickpeas, lentils, fava, and Romano beans that are ground into high protein flours make excellent wheat flour substitutes in bread recipes.

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Buckwheat

The name of this grain is deceptive as it is not made from wheat but from rhubarb. And because it has a strong flavor, it should be combined with other types of flour for use in baking.

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Coconut flour

High in fiber and low in carbohydrates, this flour is typically used in baked goods due to its sweet coconut flavor.

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Corn flour

This flour is made from dried kernels of corn that are ground and used to make cornbread, tortillas and pancakes. Because of its dense texture, corn flour is not typically used in baked goods and desserts.

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Cornmeal

While it is different than corn flour, cornmeal can also be used to make cornbread or corn tortillas.

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Guar gum

This is made from the ground seeds of the guar plant. A small amount can be used in baking to help bind ingredients, similar to gluten.

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Nut flours

Flour made from ground nuts such as almonds, chestnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts can be combined with other gluten-free flours to add protein and flavor to baked goods.

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Millet flour

This flour has a mild flavor and produces a crumbly texture, which makes it a good addition to sweet desserts or quick breads.

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Potato flour

Made from dried potatoes, this ground flour has a strong potato flavor and is most suitable for vegetable dishes and casseroles.

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Potato starch

This starch, made from ground potatoes, is good for baking cakes, pastries and other desserts. However, it cannot stand alone and needs to be combined with other types of flour.

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Quinoa flour

This high-protein flour can have a bitter flavor so look for the “debittered” variety. Try it when baking biscuits, quick breads, pancakes and scones since it has a nutty flavor.

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Rice flour

This flour is a very popular gluten-free ingredient because it has a bland flavor that works well with other varieties of flour. It works well in baked goods, cakes and can help thicken gravies and sauces. Like traditional rice, you can buy rice flour in either the brown or white variety.

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Sorghum flour

This flour is closest to wheat flour in both taste and texture. It contributes some sweetness, so it is a good additive for baked goods and pancakes. It must be combined with other types of flour though.

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Soy flour

Made from ground soybeans, soy flour is high in protein and has a nutty flavor. It can be used as part of a flour substitute or as a thickener for gravy, sauces, or puddings.

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Tapioca flour

This flour is made from the dried and ground root of the cassava plant. It is frequently combined with other gluten-free flours to add texture and chewiness to baked goods. It is also known as tapioca starch.

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Teff

This flour is made from an African grass that is dark brown in color. High in fiber, protein and packed with nutrition, it can be combined with other types of flour and has a nutty flavor. It’s usually good for making waffles and quick breads.

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Xanthan gum

This is not a flour and is added to recipes in very small amounts to help bind the dough in baked goods and cookies. Its role is similar to gluten and can also be used in recipes calling for semolina.

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Gluten-free baking flour

If you don’t have the patience to play around with homemade recipes, try looking into one of the commercially prepared gluten-free flour blends. While they can be quite expensive, they include a variety of the above ingredients and can be a convenient option for gluten-free baking.

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The bottom line

Making recipes from scratch that normally call for wheat flour can be a challenging process and requires patience. Consider working with a registered dietitian for guidance on recipe substitutions and to ensure that your gluten-free diet is nutritionally complete.