New to gluten-free eating, or keen to expand your diet? We've written up a list of gluten free grains and flours, including their flavours and our tips for using them. We also share a recipe for our gluten-free flour mix - scroll on to find out more!
Please note: the information in the guide is compiled from ingredient listed on packaging. If you have coeliac disease or are extremely sensitive to gluten, please always check the product yourself and contact manufacturers if necessary. While we take care in producing this guide, Commonsense accepts no liability for any error or omission in the information provided here.
Flavour: Has a nutty flavour, works especially well in sweet baking but is fine in savoury dishes too.
Uses: Ground almonds can be added to many for nutrition as well as baked goods. Add protein and fibre to cereal, smoothies, juices and yoghurts to boost your nutrient intake.
Baking: Delicious as a partial replacement for wheat flour in chocolate cakes, and there are many recipes available for all-almond flour orange syrup cakes. Try a 1:1 ratio, but not it may require a little more binding agent (often egg), and can burn at higher temperatures so keep the oven at 180c or below.
Flavour: Amaranth has a nutty, sometimes spicy or peppery flavour.
Uses: Amaranth can be popped like corn and this can be used in bread. Cooked amaranth can be used as a cereal, in soups, pancakes and pilafs or as a coating for chicken or fish. Puffed amaranth makes a great breakfast cereal.
Baking: Amaranth flour can be used to replace up to a quarter of the flour in bread recipes.
Flavour: Breadfruit flour is very taste-neutral, making it a good wheat substitute in many recipes.
Uses: Can be used to thicken soup and batters, and in baking.
Baking: Use as a 1:1 replacement for wheat flour in recipes apart from yeast breads. May require a little more binder (generally egg). Makes rich, moist cakes and muffins.
Flavour: Buckwheat has a strong nutty, toasted bread flavour. Highly nutritious.
Uses: Buckwheat groats can be used in soups, as a porridge or in place of rice or pasta. They can also be sprouted and used in salads or for juicing. For a unique hearty flavour, dry roast the groats to make kasha – delicious cooked and mixed with sautéed onions and topped with tahini and tamari. Buckwheat semolina is made from the starch of the grain with the bran and germ removed. It is then ground to a texture coarser than flour and finer than kibbles. Because it has little roughage, it is easily digested, and is low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates. It's good for porridge and can also be used as bread crumbs.
Baking: Replace up to 1/4 of wheat with buckwheat flour in cakes and muffins.
Flavour: Sweet, nutty, earthy flavour - pleasant but noticeable.
Uses: Very fine so good for batters (1:1) as well as baking.
Baking: Best in recipes that would benefit from its sweet nutty flavour eg banana cakes or date loaves (basically if you'd add walnuts to it chestnut flour will be great). Has higher starch than other nut flours so makes relatively light muffins and cakes, and doesn't require extra binders.
Flavour: Chickpea flour gives a golden colour and sweet, rich flavour to savoury main dishes where it is used as a binder.
Uses: A great binder for savoury loaves, casseroles, croquettes, stuffings etc. It can also be used instead of chickpeas as a shortcut in hummus and falafel. Try it 1:4 with other flours in batters or on its own as a batter for dosa.
Baking: Not typically used in baked goods, but you can bake a 'vegan quiche' using chickpea flour.
Flavour: Has a sweet coconut flavour so best for sweeter baking than savoury.
Uses: Great for raw treats (eg bliss balls, macaroons), and baking in pancakes, sweet cakes and muffins.
Baking: Soaks up a lot of liquid so compensate with extra in recipes. Also requires extra binders, so compensate with more eggs or vegan egg replacer.
Flavour: Slightly sweet corn flavour which can lend it self to sweet or savoury cooking depending on if you add sweeteners or salt.
Uses: Coarsely ground corn (known as polenta, or the finer cornmeal) are cooked as a savoury porridge and can be eaten like that or then be baked or grilled. Corn flour is great in gluten free baking and also a useful thickener for custards, soups and sauces – make a paste with cold water first. Puffed corn is a great breakfast cereal.
Baking: Corn flour produces a light, moist bread with a golden yellow colour. It is especially good for light cakes and sponges. Use alone or combine with other flours to make crackers, biscuits, pie crusts, custard and pasta. Small amounts of cornmeal can be added to baking to add texture.
Flavour: Mild flavour - slight sweetness and nuttiness.
Uses: Hulled millet can be cooked as a rice replacement in hot dishes or salad. Ground millet is used as a hot cereal (like a smooth porridge). Puffed millet is a great breakfast cereal.
Baking: Millet flour can be used to make puddings, breads, cakes and biscuits. It can be used up to 50% with wheat flour when baking leavened bread and used alone for flat breads.
Flavour: Slight potato flavour, but as it's only used in small amounts this doesn't come through.
Uses: Potato Flour (aka Potato Starch) is made of the entire cooked, dried and ground potato. It can be used as a binder for meat and vegetable patties, and is an ideal thickener for soups, sauces and gravies as it cooks quickly and smoothly and leaves no raw taste. To use as a thickener, substitute 1 tbsp all purpose flour with ½ tbsp potato flour.
Baking: Often included in gluten free flour mixes (see below).
Flavour: Pleasant nutty taste. Note: rinse the seeds before cooking to remove any bitter saponin residues.
Uses: Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen wa’) is gluten free, easy to digest and a high energy food. It is high in protein, a good source of iron and has more calcium than milk. Use as an alternative to rice or couscous, hot or in salads.
Baking: Quinoa flour can be used for pancakes, muffins, dumplings, crackers and biscuits. As it is gluten-free use about 25% in breads and 50% in cakes with other flours.
Flavour: No noticeable flavour.
Uses: Can be used to crust meats and vegetables for pan-frying, and in baking.
Baking: Rice flour is usually the main ingredient in gluten free breads (see our gluten free flour mix recipe). It can also be added (up to 50%) with wheat flours to yield a sweeter, smoother, higher-rising and lighter bread. If a larger proportion is used the bread will tend to crumble. Rice flour pie crusts and biscuits are excellent. Prevent dryness with cakes and breads using rice flour by replacing 25% of the flour requirement with ground nuts, fresh or soaked dried fruit or grated carrots.
Flavour: Reminiscent of the bean, quite savoury. The flavour doesn't come through so long as you use it as a minor ingredient as suggested below.
Uses: Can be stirred into savoury sauces and gravies to add bulk and nutrients, but because it is low in starch it cannot be used as a thickener. Soymilk powder has a finer texture and a more pleasant flavour than soy flour and can be used to boost the protein content of bread, other baked goods, pancakes, porridge and casseroles – mix it with other dry ingredients first. It can be stirred into soup and hot beverages to make it creamy – it is best to add a small amount of liquid first to make a paste. To make plain soy milk use 1 part soymilk powder to 3-4 parts water; make a paste first then add remaining water and stir well.
Baking: Soy flour can be added to other flour for breads and pastries both to increase nutrition and to give a smoother, moister texture to the dough – try 8 parts wheat flour to 1 part soy flour.
Flavour: Sweet and starchy. Tapioca is a root starch derived from the cassava, or yucca plant.
Uses: Whole tapioca balls can be cooked as a pudding. Tapioca flour can thicken soups and sweeten the flavour of baked goods.
Baking: Tapioca flour has a light, velvety texture and is a primary ingredient in most gluten free flour mixes.
Gluten Free Flour Mix
Gluten free flour mix is made with a combination of several different gluten free flours and is intended to provide a complete alternative to wheat flours. There are many recipes for gluten free flour mixes (and pre-made mixes too). This is one we find works well:
- 6 cups rice flour
- 2 cups potato flour
- 1 cup tapioca flour
Use this mixture 1:1 as a substitute for wheat flours. Because of its low protein content you may need to experiment by adding additional protein such as egg whites, milk powder or a dairy/egg substitute to your baking.
This mixture is from Bette Hagman’s cookbook The Gluten Free Gourmet. This book contains several other mixtures including those using bean flours.
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