Gluten Free

What You Really Need to Know About Baking With Gluten-Free Flour

Make gluten-free recipes that actually taste good.

By: Lexy Parsons

Maybe you follow a gluten-free, paleo, or keto diet, or maybe you’re looking to limit your use of refined products like white and wheat flour. Either way, it’s hard to get away from the topic of gluten-free flours — especially if you’re looking to make baked goods or homemade recipes! And, with all of the new options popping up between cassava flour, chickpea flour, and arrowroot powder, you may have some questions as to how to use them.

We are going to break down what you need to know to get started with gluten-free flours and which flours pair best with what. Because let’s face it, gluten-free flours can be tricky and can make your recipes taste kinda funky if you are unsure of how to use them.

But, fear not, with a few tips and tricks, you will be a pro at using gluten-free flour in no time.

RELATED: The Top 10 Gluten-Free Breads That Actually Taste Delicious 

What You Need to Know About The Most Popular Gluten-Free Flours

#1 Almond Flour

One of the most commonly used gluten-free flour options is almond flour. It’s made from blanched ground almonds and comes with a mild flavor that is generally pretty easy to bake with. With just over 5 grams of carbs per ounce, it’s a nutritious lower-carb alternative to processed white flours. Plus, it’s full of heart-healthy fats, prebiotic fiber, and nutrients like magnesium and vitamin E. Try making almond flour for any of your gluten-free baking needs, from cookies to cakes and muffins.

How to sub almond flour for regular flour: 1:1 substitute for white flour. If baking with almond flour, you may want to add 1 extra egg for additional moistness 

#2 Coconut Flour

Another popular gluten-free flour option is coconut flour. It’s made from dried coconut and yields a mild flavor. With a mere 3 grams of sugar and less than 10 grams of carbs per serving, this one-ingredient flour alternative is a popular option for paleo and keto dieters. The tricky thing about coconut flour is that it is super (like really) absorbent. So, you really don’t need much, or you run the risk of a really dry and crumbly recipe. 

How to sub coconut flour for regular flour: As a general rule of thumb, use about a 1:4 ratio of coconut flour to regular wheat flour. And if you are adding eggs to your recipe, every ¼ cup of coconut flour typically requires one egg! Because coconut flour is so absorbent, you’ll need a 1:1 ratio of coconut flour to liquid. So, if you’re using ¼ cup coconut flour, you’ll need ¼ cup liquid.

#3 Cassava Flour

Cassava flour came on the health and wellness scene a few years ago when the paleo diet surged in popularity. Never heard of cassava? You’re about to be pleasantly surprised! Unlike most flours, cassava flour comes from a root vegetable — it’s made from ground cassava root, a starchy fiber-rich veggie also known as yuca. Cassava flour is a great gluten and grain-free alternative to wheat-based flour and can make super delicious cakes, muffins, and even cassava flour donuts (yes, please!)

How to sub cassava flour for regular flour: Since cassava flour is more absorbent than white flour, it may not always be a 1:1 flour substitute. You will likely use a little less cassava flour than you would white flour. 

#4 All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour

It’s always a good idea to have a good all-purpose gluten-free baking flour handy as it can serve as a go-to flour choice when you don’t want to have to mess around with figuring out the gluten-free flour to regular flour ratio. The best part? You can use these flours interchangeably, and they work really well for things like gluten-free pancakes, muffins, and bread. We like Bob’s Red Mills Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour for all of your gluten-free baking needs.

How to sub gluten-free all-purpose flour for regular flour: Use it as a 1:1 replacement for traditional all-purpose flour!

#5 Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot powder is commonly used to help thicken up gluten-free recipes and is a must-have in the gluten-free baker’s pantry. It’s not typically used on its own, but it can be a game-changer for traditionally dry gluten-free recipes and makes a great cornstarch alternative. So, keep this gluten-free staple handy to add to your recipes that need a little extra thickness or a smoother texture.

How to sub arrowroot powder for regular flour: Arrowroot is best used in combination with other gluten-free flours as a thickener in place of cornstarch, potato starch, and tapioca starch

#6 Gluten-Free Oat Flour

Between oat milk and oat flour, oats are a fan favorite — let’s face it, they seem to make just about any gluten-free or vegan recipe taste better. But, the trick with oats and gluten-free baking is to make sure you are getting a certified gluten-free brand! While gluten-containing oats won’t change the texture or flavor, not all oats are guaranteed to be gluten-free due to cross-contamination. This is especially crucial for anyone with Celiac disease or a serious gluten sensitivity. But, gluten-free oat flour can be an excellent gluten-free flour choice for cookies and muffins or just about any recipe where you’d use regular white or wheat flour! It has a mild taste and a pretty fine consistency keeping it pretty close to tasting like the real thing.

The best part? You can make it at home in minutes. All you need to do is add gluten-free rolled oats to a high-speed blender or food processor and blend it up into a finely ground flour. 

How to sub oat flour for regular flour: Enjoy it as a 1:1 substitute for white or wheat flour.

#7 Chickpea Flour 

Just as it sounds, this gluten-free flour is made from protein-packed chickpeas! It’s gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, and a great option for plant-based eaters looking to boost their protein intake. Because it has a grainy taste, this flour is best combined with another gluten-free flour alternative like almond flour when baking. But, it makes a delicious stand-alone alternative in savory Mediterranean-style recipes like falafels and flatbread!

How to sub chickpea flour for regular flour: While it can be used as a 1:1 replacement for traditional white flour, we recommend subbing ½ the amount of traditional flour with chickpea flour and ½ with another gluten-free alternative like almond flour.

#8 Buckwheat Flour

Don’t let the word “wheat” fool you — this flour alternative is free from both wheat and gluten! Buckwheat flour is rich in vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and folate. While it offers a nutrient-dense boost to many recipes, it’s best enjoyed in combination with other gluten-free flours like almond flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour as it can be dry on its own and doesn’t rise. Enjoy it in pancakes, cookies, or other baked goods that do not need to rise! 

How to sub buckwheat flour for regular flour: Sub buckwheat flour for 15% of the wheat flour required in recipes while subbing the remaining amount with other gluten-free flours like gluten-free all-purpose flour or oat flour.

#9 All-Purpose Paleo Flour

Whether you’re following a paleo diet or just limiting the carbs and refined foods, this gluten-free baking flour is the perfect alternative to suit your needs. Made with a blend of paleo-approved gluten-free flours like cassava, almond, and coconut flour, it’s an easy-to-use blend that works as a 1:1 substitute for traditional white or wheat flour. 

While there are many options on the market, we love Bob’s Red Mill Paleo mix! 

How to sub all-purpose Paleo flour for regular flour: Enjoy it as a 1:1 substitute for traditional white or wheat flour.

Gluten-Free Flour Baking Tips 

Let’s face it, gluten-free baking recipes have a history of tasting super dry and even chalky. But, with a little know-how, it’s easy to make gluten-free recipes taste equally delicious and nutritious! In fact, we’re willing to bet your gluten-loving eaters won’t even taste the difference. So, we put together a list of some tips to keep in mind when making gluten-free recipes with any of the flours listed above. Follow these simple steps for yummy recipes that will satisfy all your gluten needs!

Watch Your Wet to Dry Ratio: Some gluten-free flours (coconut flour in particular) are going to require additional liquid to prevent the recipe from becoming dry. This will really vary based on your recipe, but just remember that you will want to make some alterations to the regular recipe if you are swapping out wheat-based flour for a gluten-free option. If the batter seems too dry, chances are it is. You’ll probably want to add more milk or an extra egg but try following our aforementioned tips!

Your best bet when trialing gluten-free flours is to follow a specific gluten-free recipe until you get the hang of the correct ratios.

Let Your Recipe Cool: If you check your gluten-free cookies after they have been baking for a while, and they just don’t seem quite done yet, then you may just have to let them cool off for a bit. There’s a fine balance between overcooking and undercooking when it comes to gluten-free baking, and you don’t want your recipes to turn out completely dry and crumbly. This is especially true with vegan recipes! Because they’re egg-free, there’s no health risks associated with underbaking. Sometimes your recipe comes together during the cooling process! 

The Bottom Line

From almond flour and oat flour to chickpea flour and cassava flour, the gluten-free options are endless. If you’re new to gluten-free baking, or just aren’t sure how to use gluten-free flours without making your recipes super dry, give these tips a try, and experiment with which flour options you like the best! You would be surprised at how delicious a cassava flour pancake or almond flour muffin tastes. Plus, these gluten-free flours make baking just a little bit healthier, so you can feel good about the recipes you whip up!