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Baked Goods for All: A Guide to Alternative Flours

October 5th, 2021

A loaf of homemade bread or a stack of Saturday morning pancakes is a pretty powerful draw—so what’s a gluten-free eater to do? From the desire to enjoy these tasty baked goods while avoiding gluten or limiting carbs sprung a whole industry of alternative flours made from all kinds of sources, from nuts and seeds to oats and root veggies.

While these flour substitutes don’t function exactly like AP flour, with a bit of know-how and some careful measuring, you can learn how to use them in the kitchen with ease. To help you choose the right flour for your recipe and your dietary restrictions, we’ve assembled a complete guide to some of the most popular alternative flours. 

What is it? Flour made from ground almonds 

What it tastes like: Has a subtle, nutty flavor that isn’t overpowering 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, keto, and paleo; provides protein 

What it’s best for: high-protein baked goods like pancakes, cookies, and cakes, or to create a breading for proteins like chicken

Substitution ratio: For every 1 cup of AP flour, sub ⅓ cup of almond flour when baking with yeast (e.g. pizza, bread); sub ¼ of the flour in the recipe for almond flour when baking without yeast (e.g. cookies, cakes, muffins)

Try it: Thrive Market Non-GMO Almond Flour, Super Fine

What is it? Flour made from ground seeds of the amaranth plant

What it tastes like: Nutty, grassy, and very earthy; flavor may be a bit more overpowering than other alternative flours  

Why it’s great: Gluten-free and paleo; provides protein and antioxidants

What it’s best for: for thickening things like like sauces or breading, or in combination with another flour for baking 

Substitution ratio: Sub for up to 25% of the AP flour in a recipe

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Amaranth Flour

What is it? A fine powder made from arrowroot plant tubers 

What it tastes like: Virtually flavorless 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free and paleo

What it’s best for: Can be used as a swap for cornstarch in gluten-free baking or cooking 

Substitution ratio: Not a direct substitute for AP flour; instead, can be used as a 1:1 substitute for cornstarch or as a binder for gluten-free flours like almond flour 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Arrowroot Powder

What is it? Flour made from unripe bananas dried at a low temperature in order to preserve their nutrients 

What it tastes like: Mildly sweet flavor with subtle banana taste

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, low-carb, low sugar; provides potassium and magnesium 

What it’s best for: For baking sweets like cakes, breads, and cookies (avoid using this flour in savory dishes, as the sweet flavor may be overpowering)  

Substitution ratio: Sub ¾ cup of banana flour for every 1 cup of AP flour

Try it: Let’s Do… Organic Organic Green Banana Flour

What is it? Flour made from sprouted or unsprouted brown rice 

What it tastes like: Rich, nutty, slightly sweet flavor

Why it’s great: Gluten-free; provides protein, fiber, iron, Vitamin B

What it’s best for: Cakes, breads, and noodles; can be used to bread meats or thicken sauces

Substitution ratio: Best used with a mix of other gluten-free flours, such as sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and arrowroot flour for binding 

Try it:Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Flour

What is it? Flour made from ground cashew nuts 

What it tastes like: Nutty, rich, buttery flavor

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, keto; provides protein 

What it’s best for: For rich baked goods like cookies, cakes, breads, and pie crusts 

Substitution ratio: Can substitute 1:1 for AP flour 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Cashew Flour

What is it? A flour made from ground cassava, which comes from yuca root

What it tastes like: Similar texture to wheat flour; neutral flavor 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free

What it’s best for: Can be used in place of AP flour in most recipes

Substitution ratio: May be able to substitute 1:1 cassava flour for AP flour, though experts recommend using slightly less 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Cassava Flour

What is it? Flour made of dehydrated, finely ground coconut meat

What it tastes like: Slight coconut flavor, which may impact the taste of the finished dish 

Why it’s great: Low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free, keto; provides fiber 

What it’s best for: Baked good recipes that specifically call for coconut flour, as this flour is very absorbent and has a unique texture

Substitution ratio: Sub ¼ to ⅓ cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of AP flour 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Coconut Flour

What is it? Flour made from dried, ground garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) 

What it tastes like: Sweet, rich flavor with a soft, dense texture

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, grain-free, provides protein

What it’s best for: Pastas, flatbreads, hummus, sauces, and other savory recipes

Substitution ratio: Can be substituted 1:1 in heavier dishes like veggie burgers, crackers, or dense muffins, but may not easily be substituted in airy pastries and baked goods 

Try it:Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Garbanzo Bean Flour

What is it? Flour made from the soybean pulp left over from soy milk production

What it tastes like: Similar in taste and texture to AP flour 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, keto; high fiber; upcycled from food waste 

What it’s best for: Baked goods, pastas, breading meats, and anywhere else you would use AP flour 

Substitution ratio: Too dense to use in place of AP flour on its own, so must be blended with other flours 

Try it: Renewal Mill Organic Okara Flour

What is it? Flour or meal made from ground, whole hazelnuts 

What it tastes like: Nutty, yet neutral with a unique texture that’s great for sweet or savory recipes

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo

What it’s best for: Sweet baked goods, breads, savory recipes 

Substitution ratio: Can replace 25% to 30% of the AP flour in a recipe, or can be used in combination with other gluten-free flours 

Try it: Thrive Market Non-GMO Hazelnut Meal/Flour

What is it? Flour made from ground oats 

What it tastes like: Similar to oatmeal, with a very fine consistency 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free

What it’s best for: Cookies, cakes, pancakes/waffles, thickening sauces, breadings

Substitution ratio: Can be used as a 1:1 substitute for AP flour (by weight, not volume) 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Oat Flour

What is it? Flour made from ground spelt grains 

What it tastes like: Sweet, slightly nutty; similar to AP flour  

Why it’s great: Good source of fiber and protein; contains gluten, but may be easier to digest than AP flour

What it’s best for: Breads, pastas, crackers, and other baked goods

Substitution ratio: Start by subbing up to 50% of AP flour with spelt flour in your favorite recipes, or choose recipes that specifically call for spelt flour 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour

What is it? Flour made from sorghum, an ancient whole grain 

What it tastes like: Neutral flavor with a silky texture 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free; high in fiber and protein  

What it’s best for: Biscuits, brownies, pancakes, breading for meats or fish (Tip: add a binding agent like xanthan gum or cornstarch when using sorghum flour in place of AP flour) 

Substitution ratio: Can be used as a 1:1 substitute for AP flour (by weight, not volume) 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Sorghum Flour

What is it? Flour made from tapioca starch (a starch made cassava root, a tuber native to South America)

What it tastes like: Neutral flavor, similar texture to cornstarch 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, Whole30® Compatible

What it’s best for: Using in place of cornstarch to thicken soups, sauces, or pie fillings 

Substitution ratio: Should be blended with other flours (like coconut, cassava, and thickeners like arrowroot powder) for best results 

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Tapioca Flour

What is it? Flour made from ground tigernuts (a type of root vegetable) 

What it tastes like: Sweet, nutty, moist 

Why it’s great: Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo 

What it’s best for: Cakes, cookies, muffins, adding bulk and flavor to smoothies

Substitution ratio: Can often be used as a 1:1 replacement for AP flour in things like muffins, cakes, and cookies  

Try it: Thrive Market Organic Tigernut Flour

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Amy RobertsAmy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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