When we first started attempting gluten-free recipes, it was a bit overwhelming. Gluten-free flours can quickly add up in cost, and it can be daunting to know where and how to use each flour in recipes.
But now that we’ve been at gluten-free cooking for many years, we figured it was time to share what we’ve learned in the process of experimenting, as well as our go-to recipes for DIY gluten-free flours and flour blends and our favorite gluten-free baking recipes. Let’s get started!
Why make your own?
Making homemade gluten-free flours saves money and allows you to better control the consistency, flavor, and freshness of your ingredients. We like to stock our pantry with the following homemade flours for gluten-free baking:
How to Use Gluten-Free Flours
We’ve found that when baking with gluten-free flours, it’s typically best to use a mix of different flours to achieve the ideal texture and flavor. Our go-to mixture in gluten-free baked goods is (roughly) 2 parts DIY Gluten-Free Flour Blend, 1 part oats or oat flour, and 1 part almond meal or almond flour (example here). This combo helps create a light, fluffy texture and pleasant flavor in baked goods, especially pancakes and quick breads.
Now that we’ve covered some basics, let’s dive deeper into which flours to use and when.
DIY Gluten-Free Flour Blend
We’ve found that our DIY Gluten-Free Flour Blend* is a versatile flour and is the closest substitute for unbleached all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour.
It’s made with a blend of brown rice flour, potato starch, white rice flour, and tapioca flour. Xanthan gum can be added for additional binding, but we find that in most cases, it’s not necessary.
*The best store-bought alternative we’ve found to our custom blend is the Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. Thought not an exact match, it can typically be subbed for our custom blend in most recipes with good results.
Oat flour works well in recipes that require a dense texture and mild, slightly sweet flavor. It puffs up under the right circumstances – TIP: Avoid adding too many heavy, sticky ingredients to oat flour like bananas, and give it some help with a leavening agent, such as baking powder, so it puffs up and yields a lighter texture.
Not only is oat flour easy to make, it’s also rich in fiber! We find it works particularly well when making pancakes. Learn more here and try it in recipes such as our 1-Bowl Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes and 1-Bowl Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes.
Almond flour* is a grain-free, protein-rich flour that lends well to cookies, cakes, and more!
Almond flour is made from blanched almonds without skins (as opposed to almond meal, which is made from raw almonds with skins). This is why it has a fluffy, light texture and pale golden color.
We often reach for almond flour in baking recipes when we’re looking for a light, fluffy, cake-y texture with neutral flavor, because almond flour has a milder flavor than almond meal, and tends to fluff up nicely when baked! It works well in both egg and egg-free baking.
*Find our favorite store-bought Almond Flour here.
Almond meal is made from raw almonds with skins and lends a slightly more wholesome texture in recipes than almond flour – its blanched counterpart.
Almond meal and almond flour can typically be used interchangeably in quick breads and cookies, but almond meal works best in heartier baked goods like muffins, cookies, and crackers.
Note: One of the reasons we like to use almond meal is it can be made from the leftover pulp from making Homemade Almond Milk! When subbing Almond Meal made from Almond Pulp in a recipe that calls for almond meal, you may need to slightly increase the amount of oil or liquid to add back in moisture that gets lost in the process of making almond milk.
Using Other Gluten-Free Flours (not homemade)
Though we most often use the homemade flours listed above, we occasionally use other flours when trying to achieve a specific texture or flavor. Our go-to’s being:
Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour makes a great breading for Crispy Shallots. We don’t use it as a 1:1 substitute in recipes where flour is called for, but it works well when blended with other gluten-free flours.
White Rice Flour
White rice flour is lighter in color and texture than brown rice flour, but we still don’t use it as a 1:1 substitute in recipes where flour is called for. Instead, it works better when blended with other gluten-free flours. We included it as optional thickener in this Egg-Free Frittata!
Coconut flour is a very dense flour made from dried coconut meat. It typically does not substitute well in recipes using a 1:1 ratio, and almost always benefits from having an egg in the mix since it’s so dense. It’s rich in fiber, more absorbent than most other gluten-free blends, and is excellent in no-bake treats like our Carrot Cake Bites. It also works well in recipes that use eggs such as our Banana Egg Pancakes.
Honorable Mention: Starches
Cornstarch and Arrowroot Starch
Though technically starches (not flours), we do also rely often on cornstarch and arrowroot starch in gluten-free recipes. They both make great thickeners in things like puddings, sauces, and compotes, and can even add a crumb-like, light texture to baked goods! See a few of our favorite ways to use arrowroot in our Gluten Free Vegan Pizza Crust, Best Vegan Gluten-Free Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Easy Vegan Caramel Sauce, Vegan Lemon Curd, and Cinnamon Baked Apples. And see our favorite ways to use cornstarch in our Gluten Free Vegan Biscuits, General Tso’s Tofu Stir Fry, Vegan GF Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, and Cashew-Less Vegan Queso.
Tapioca Starch (a.k.a. Tapioca Flour)
We don’t typically use tapioca starch on its own in recipes as it can yield quite a sticky, stretchy texture. Although it is neutral in flavor, making it a great option for gluten-free blends. Our favorite recipe with tapioca starch is definitely our Easy Vegan Mozzarella “Cheese” which utilizes tapioca for that quintessential stringy cheese texture!
Potato Starch (NOT Potato Flour)
Potato starch works well when trying to achieve a light, cake-y texture, such as in our 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake. We don’t typically use it as a 1:1 substitute in recipes where flour is called for, but it works well when blended with other gluten-free flours, including almond flour.
We hope you found this resource helpful. Find all of our Gluten-Free Recipes here!