A Guide to Gluten-free Flours and Starches

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This post is part of our restricted diet series from Beth of Tasty Yummies.

This list is meant to act as a guide to some of the many amazing and nutritious, naturally gluten-free flours and starches that exist. This isn’t necessarily a complete list as there are so many of them always popping up on the market, but these are the ones I know of, most of which I have experimented with myself.

It is best to remember that baking gluten-free almost always requires a mix of flours and starches, as opposed to just one. That is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make when they try baking gluten-free for the first time. A recipe calls for 1 cup gluten-free flour and they grab 1 cup of whatever flour they have or can find easily, for example just rice flour or just soy flour. The results are usually disastrous and many people are left defeated. There are plenty of great all-purpose gluten-free flour blends on the market that you may like just fine and if you are new to gluten-free baking, this is probably the perfect place to start. But, once you have experimented a bit and get a little more comfortable, I highly recommend trying out making your own gluten-free flour blends. As you get to experimenting with recipes and baking you will be able to make your own combinations of flours and starches outside of this ratio, but this is a really great place to start.

guide to fluten-free flours and starches

I find when you get the proper ratio and combination of flours and starches, there is no real need for xanthan or guar gum, which I prefer to not use if I don’t need to. Many people have issues digesting the gums, and I try to avoid them when I can now that I know they aren’t necessary. I have also learned that some of the best baked goods, especially breads, are made by adding in psyllium husk, ground chia and/or ground flax seeds.  These replace some of the binding and elasticity properties of regular gluten flour, to keep it from crumbling, which is the reason many bakers use the gums in gluten-free baking.

NOTE: If you are looking to convert a regular gluten-containing recipe to gluten-free by using your custom made gluten-free all-purpose flour mix in a regular recipe, a good rule of thumb is to sub 140 grams of your gluten-free mix for every 1 cup of regular gluten all-purpose flour.

guide to fluten-free flours and starches

When you look at this long list of flours and starches available to us, it hardly feels like we are like we are missing out at all, right?

WHOLE GRAINS

Amaranth Flour
Brown Rice Flour
Buckwheat Flour
Corn Flour
Millet Flour
Oat Flour (make certain it is certified gluten-free)
Quinoa Flour*
Rice Flour
Sorghum Flour
Sweet Potato Flour
Sweet Brown Rice
Teff Flour
White Rice Flour

*This technically belongs under seeds, but it works really well as a grain flour, in small quantities in AP blends

STARCHES

Arrowroot Flour
Cornstarch
Potato Flour
Potato Starch
Tapioca Flour
White Rice Flour

NUTS AND SEEDS

Almond Flour
Chestnut Flour
Coconut Flour*
Hazelnut Flour
Flaxseed Meal
Salba/Chia Seeds
Hemp Flour
Mesquite Flour

*Coconut Flour will suck a lot of the moisture out of most recipes, so use it sparingly or add additional eggs or other liquid to counteract.

BEANS AND LEGUMES

Fava Bean Flour
Garbanzo (chickpea) Bean Flour
Garfava Flour
Kinako (roasted soy bean) Flour
Soy Flour
Pea Flour and Green Pea Flour

guide to fluten-free flours and starches

You can usually classify nut, seed and bean flours as a whole grain, for ratio sake, even though they are technically not in the grain category. However, they can sometimes react a bit differently depending on the recipe, so it may take some experimenting with those. I should also note that you won’t want to use just a bean flour alone or in large quantities in most recipes, as they tend to have a bit of an aftertaste that could overpower the final dish.

The beauty of this list is that you can select your favorite flours and starches, based on what is available to you and what you prefer, that could be used in a variety of recipes. When making my own whole-grain all-purpose flour for baking, I personally use a ratio of 70% grain flours to 30% starches (based on Shauna Ahern’s recommendation from all of her many years of experimenting and baking). For a regular all-purpose blend, you’ll want 40% whole grain flours to 60% starches. Everyone has different ratios they prefer, but these have both proven to always be effective for me and many other gluten-free bakers. Here is a great example of a whole-grain blend I have made in the past: 200 grams sorghum flour, 200 grams teff flour, 200 grams millet flour, 100 grams buckwheat flour, plus 150 grams each of tapioca and arrowroot starches. This particular mix results in a beautiful brown whole grain blend that I love for pizza crusts and rustic pie crusts. If you are looking for something more traditional and white, use the 40/60 ratio, and for your grains try a blend of sorghum, millet, rice or soy. I usually make my all-purpose flour blends in batches of 1000 grams, since that makes weighing and ratios the easiest.

Have you played with making your own gluten-free flour blends and with gluten-free baking? What are your favorite gluten-free flours?

For more of Beth’s recipes visit her blog Tasty Yummies.

More healthy recipes from the BLDG 25 Blog.

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Comments

Amanda -June 20, 2013, 10:55AM

Tapioca flour is my favorite! I use it to make pão de queijo, an awesome Brazilian cheesy bread :)

Anonymous -June 20, 2013, 11:48AM

I made paleo ginger brownies the other day. They were delicious.

Meg @ Beard and Bonnet -June 20, 2013, 11:53AM

I am really loving millet flour right now and just posted a recipe today for savory waffles using black bean flour. Thanks for this awesome guide!

Lucille -June 20, 2013, 12:40PM

Sorghum & Buckwheat combined- I use Bob’s Red Mills Gluten Free creamy buckwheat cereal. I find that an even amount of each of these (3/4 cup + 3/4 cup & 2/3 cup tapioca starch) makes great textured, almost oaty tasting apple muffins- I cannot keep the house full of them, they disappear! DIfferent ratios, but great cookies too- oddly enough, the only cookies I have ever had that are so-so straight out of the oven, but *awesome* the next day… weird, right? Almond flour is also super tasty, but I have to watch my use of that because my fellow cannot digest large amounts of fat. I played around with a bunch of the other flours, but I found often they had too strong a flavor for me, overwhelmed the baked good….

Lucille -June 20, 2013, 12:41PM

Has anyone used mesquite flour? I haven’t been able to find it & am terribly curious….

Rae -June 20, 2013, 7:42PM

I use brown rice flour and white rice flour combined and my cakes always turn out beautifully. I never feel defeated!

Ricki -June 21, 2013, 5:30PM

A great primer on using GF flours! It can be so overwhelming for the beginner gluten-free baker, something like this is SO useful. I’ve been using psyllium instead of xanthan for about a year now and just love it! I also find that too many starches make my baked goods a bit gummy. . .I know that they do make it look more like a traditional, wheat-based result, though. :)

And in answer to Lucille up there, yes, I’ve used mesquite! You can’t use it in large quantities in a recipe, partly because it’s got a distinctive flavor (which I happen to like); partly because it operates more like carob or cocoa; and partly because, well, it’s ridiculously expensive. ;-) But does add a wonderful, caramelly flavor.

Lily -June 22, 2013, 12:13PM

As a paleo girl, nuts and seeds are my best friend. I adore almond flour/coconut flour combination foods. They are the best.

Jan -June 22, 2013, 8:03PM

I have used Mesquite flour (ordered online) and I love it. Has a smokey nutty flavor. It made great Chocolate Chip cookies. I think that was where I heard about it. Also used it blended in gingerbread recipe.

Joyce -June 27, 2013, 11:51AM

Thanks for this post! I would love Lucille’s muffin recipe! Never tried mesquite… but would like to.
I am fairly new to gluten-free baking, and frankly, I get overwhelmed. I have a lot of learning, and a long way to go.

Rosemarie -October 27, 2013, 1:06PM

Finally!! Thank you so for this comprehensive list! I kept searching for how to make my own GF all purpose, and they kept having things I didn’t have and didn’t have what I did have!! This helps sooooo much! And I’m with you on the ground chia instead of xanthum gum, much better, easier on my tummy and pocketbook, and healthier too! Thanks again!

Heather -January 23, 2014, 7:30AM

We are on a specific carb diet for arthritis. We use almond flour, but need help on a conversion from regular wheat flours to almond. We typically find that our recipes are wetter and thinner with almond flour. We can use xantham gum and baking soda, but we can’t use other starches. Suggestions?

marie -February 8, 2014, 9:44PM

Hi i am marie and i have alot of issues i have R A chrones celiac high blood presser and now diabetic but when i first started eating gluten free it was hard but now you just think of the pain it will give you.The thing i did was to quit all at once it is hard because i am a chef so i always am around the beauty of food.I guess you just got to think what do you want that cookie which will be painful or a gluten free cookie.My family can’t tell alot of the time that i used gluten free flours.Good luck everyone.

Anonymous -February 27, 2014, 11:53AM

We have been going to teff flour recently for bread and pancakes. I added a little mesquite flour to the flours used in the cornbread and it has a nice flavor.

Carolyn -March 5, 2014, 1:41PM

I have left gums and starches out of my breads, and have made the most appealing bread, that is also nutritious with ancient grains all made into flour. I have found the perfect balance and the bread does not fall, 2 eggs are used in the recipe but no dairy. This was done because I was diagnosed with Lupus in 1990 and have had arthritis since I was a teenager. My intestines have been inflamed seriously and this change has been a turning point in my life. My husband and I eat no gluten, and do not buy packaged gluten products because of all the starches. Have you read the ingredients in the Robinhood Gluten free flour. Well I am not impressed! If anyone would like a healthy gluten free bread recipe that is not gritty or gummy but slices for sandwiches and has no white flours or starches visit jacolynsattic.com and leave your E mail and I will send a recipe free

FAY -April 1, 2014, 7:15PM

How do I substitute 1 cup of potato starch for almond flour? also 1 cup of white flour for almond flour?

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