Your ultimate guide to gluten free flour substitutes and what to expect from each type of flour.
How often have you scanned a recipe only to find you have everything you need except for a few gluten free flours. Millet flour… Sorghum flour… Sweet rice flour… Yikes…
So you start playing the guessing game of ‘what flours do I have and will they work for this recipe’. After googling for what seems like forever, trying to find out if tapioca starch can be substituted for cornstarch, you almost give up.
Well this guide is the answer to your gluten free flour substitutes dilemma. We’ll look at all the most common flours and starches and offer an easy guide for substituting gluten free flour successfully.
Gluten Free Flour Substitutes Chart
If you’ve ever wondered why some flours can be successfully substituted and others simply have no substitute whatsoever, this chart explains why. (And I have a bonus at the bottom of the post too, with a free printable PDF version of this chart, so you can print it off and keep it handy!)
Here’s a brief explanation of what this means… all flours and starches have a different structure. Think of it like white sugar and honey. They’re both sweeteners, but the makeup of them is so different, you can’t just swap one for the other. The white sugar is granulated and functions as a dry ingredient. Honey on the other hand, is a liquid. Adding more liquid to a recipe will no doubt change the end result.
Well, for gluten free flours, protein and fiber are the major components when it comes to gluten free baking.
That’s why a high protein, high fiber flour like almond flour can’t be cup for cup substituted with something like white rice flour, which is a low protein, very low fiber flour.
So a good rule of thumb with these flours and starches is to substitute one that most closely matches the flour you are trying to replace.
Gluten Free Flours and Their Substitutes
So using almond flour as an example, if it has a protein content of 21.4% and fiber content of 10.7%, what would a good substitute be?
If you picked oat flour, you’d be correct!
What about with potato flour? Arrowroot starch is actually the closest.
In most of the recipes you find on Gluten Free Bread, starches can be substituted cup for cup.
I’ve never run into a recipe where cornstarch doesn’t work but tapioca starch does. It may be different when cooking, but baking is an even swap.
Common Questions about Gluten Free Flour Substitutes
Which gluten free flour can be substituted for all purpose flour?
There’s no denying that all purpose flour is convenient. Just one bag and it bakes up all kinds of breads. Fortunately, you can do the same thing with a good gluten free flour mix. A good mix can make converting all your beloved gluten-recipes super easy. A word of caution though – you may need to add a teaspoon of xanthan gum or a gum substitute to mimic the consistency of gluten in breads.
Which gluten free flour is best for baking?
It really depends on what you’re baking. For yeast breads, brown rice flour, light buckwheat flour, oat flour and sorghum flour work great. Biscuits do well with light buckwheat also. Many recipes, like this Gluten Free French Bread, use a gluten free flour mix that’s already been balanced with rice flours and starches so you can count on a perfectly textured bread every time.
Can I use almond flour instead of ______ gluten free flour?
Almond flour is a great grain free option for gluten free baking. And the question often comes up – can I use it instead of (fill in the blank) flour? But with it’s high protein content, it can’t always be swapped out cup-for-cup. But all is not lost on this beloved gluten free, grain free flour – just start small. Start with ¼ cup almond flour to ¾ cup of the flour called for in the recipe. Little changes are easier to work with than drastic cuts.
How does gluten free flour affect baking?
Quite a bit! Since gluten is missing from gluten-free flours, that crucial protein in baked goods either needs to be replaced or somehow mimicked in gluten free baking. Fortunately, there are alternatives that can do the trick. Gums, like xanthan gum or guar gum, or other binders like psyllium husk powder or flax seed, work to create that much needed structure.
Read more about Xanthan Gum here.
Does gluten free flour taste different?
About as different as white sugar and honey! Gluten free flours each have a distinct flavor that can sometimes add a lot of flavor to baked goods. One whiff of coconut flour and you’ll see what I mean! Other flours like rice flours don’t add anything as far as taste or smell goes.
Looking for the printable version of the chart? Here it is: Gluten free flour substitutes chart
Check out these delicious gluten free recipes next!
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! This is exactly what I've been looking for. With a whole shelf full of Gluten Free flours in my pantry I am hesitant to buy any more when I only need a small amount of something. This will allow me to sub something I have in my cupboard already with adding more flours to my inventory. A wonderful tool to have on hand. Thank you for your work in creating this handy chart.
Hearing this made my day! It was a labor of love for sure 🙂
Thanks so much!
Thank you, I only wish I had this before I started buying them all. I haven't even baked anything yet as I thought I needed them all. It might have saved me a fortune, but every recipe seemed to need something different and never what I had aready. It was all just one big confusion and the pre made mixes cost so much! Bless your cotton socks for doing this, you're a star!!
Thank you Melanie! So glad it helps 🙂
Thank you for this chart. It is a great reference for those of us who want to apply some science to our GF baking. You always provide quality information and great recipes.
Thanks Dottie - really appreciate the kind words 🙂
I have a problem with the flour mixes. My husband can’t tolerate, soy,corn,rice. About the only flour I can use is almond flour & chickpea. Do you have any recipes for breads rolls etc. thank you for any help you can give me.❤️
So it depends on the recipe but for cornstarch, tapioca or arrowroot would be good substitutes. The rice would be a bit trickier. Would something like this work for him? https://zestforbaking.com/gluten-free-buckwheat-bread or maybe these? https://zestforbaking.com/almond-flour-biscuits-light-tasty
Let me know if those are options!
Thank you so much. This was the simplest explanation on substitutes I have ever seen. Thanks for the work I know went into it.???❣️
Thank you for the kind words Bonnie! Really appreciate that!
Some of us are really sensitive to xanthan gum (which is a laboratory-grown mold and can be highly allergenic)-or other gums due to GI issues. Could you address substitutions or workarounds? What about other specialty flours like cassava or tiger nut flours? These are comparable in cost to almond flour and have been advertised to use as a 1:1 ratio for regular flour. Love to hear some updated options.
Thanks for asking. So I've done a bunch of gum substitute articles... here is a popular one: https://zestforbaking.com/5-alternatives-to-xanthan-gum-and-guar-gum-in-gluten-free-baking
And then yes, I've got some different recipes using these flours coming up. Thanks for the request!
Hope the gum articles help!
Thanks for such detailed explanations, Christine, it's opened my eyes to the possibilities of baking gluten-free. I love bread, and I don't think I am gluten-intolerant but a serious illness diagnosis has made me want to try a few changes to my otherwise healthy diet, and I thought cutting out gluten would be worth trying to see if it will help. Your articles are an enormous help. Big thanks!
Thank you Vela! So glad they've helped you out - that's my goal 🙂
Hi Christine. I'm the person you were describing above: scouring the internet for hours trying to find a recipe that fits the ingredients in my pantry. I also saw you've been featured on Dr. Axe and that alone convinced me you know your stuff! I grew up like most folks, using AP flour for everything but I'm wanting to start incorporating a couple alternatives into my rotation. I'm wondering if I fully understand your chart. So if a cake recipe calls for 3 cups AP flour, I would "mix" my own GF flours that had the combined protein/fiber count as AP flour? Ex: (X) cup Almond + (X) cup Coconut = 3 cups AP? My reason for asking that specifically is because I've accumulated a good amount of go-to recipes that I'd like to keep but use alternative flours.
Thanks for asking - great question. So that's close, but here's basically what you're looking at with GF flours and existing recipes... You can either 1. use your existing recipe and experiment with flours until you 'get it right' (and wasting lots of ingredients in the meantime!) or 2. use a GF recipe.
Now there are certain recipes that you can swap out AP flour for a GF flour mix and it turns out great. This is my flour mix https://zestforbaking.com/how-to-make-gluten-free-bread-flour-mix and I swapped it out in these biscuits https://zestforbaking.com/flaky-buttery-gluten-free-biscuits-recipe which were originally made with AP flour, and they turned out delicious.
But that's not always the case. I would suggest starting with a GF flour mix and then trying that in your recipes as an AP flour replacement. (A single gluten free flour is never a cup for cup replacement for AP flour!)
Hope that helps!
I still can’t seem to find the basic GF recipe that is a substitute for all purpose flour?
I’m looking to make my banana bread and other baked goods that require all purpose, moreso than actual bread. Thank you!
Think you found it from the other comment, but here it is https://zestforbaking.com/how-to-make-gluten-free-bread-flour-mix
I am looking for information on substituting for the corn flour called for in a gluten free sourdough bread recipe. I can't eat corn and am having trouble finding information on what I can use instead. I think corn flour would be considered a heavier flour like a buckwheat or millet but I don't really know. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for asking! So something like sorghum flour would be the best substitute for corn flour. Hope that helps!
This is WONDERFUL and SO helpful! Thank you! I have been allergen free (No dairy, soy or gluten) for more than 40 years and I peer counsel those new to it for a local foo allergen group (FASGMN=Food Allergy Support Group of MN). I will be sure to pass this newsletter on.
PS Your comments mode makes everything written look about 1/8" tall, way to light to read, Much less edit, and impossible to read
Thank you so much for the kind words! Let me know how else I can help!
And I appreciate you letting me know about the size of the font! I had no idea - getting it fixed though!
I was wondering when a recipe calls for cake flour what GF flour would you recommend. Potatoe or brown rice? Or am I way off. The recipe in particular calls for all purpose and cake flour. Any suggestions?
Hm, so that's a little different - Is it a cake? It would really depend on the recipe and your experimentation tolerance (I say tolerance because it might be quite a few experiments). I would suggest just using a GF flour mix for all of the flour. The cake flour lightens the texture but if you use a flour mix that mine here on the site, https://zestforbaking.com/how-to-make-gluten-free-bread-flour-mix it's pretty light already so it should work out nicely.
Let me know how it works!
Hi Christine, after carefully studying your chart of values I made a loaf that had enough structure to lift the oven rack above. It hasn't cooled yet but i think your advice has helped me nail it, Thank you
That is wonderful to hear! So happy - now enjoy it!
I looked at your flour blend and don't see sorghum in it. I don't see any flours that have the same protein and fiber values as it does either.
When substituting flours is it equally important to have the fiber and protein values close, or one or the other?
Would it work to substitute 1/2 cup sorghum for 1 cup white rice since the values would match per volume? or 3/4 sorghum for 1 cup brown rice flour? Is that how it works?
Still new at this.
Any pizza dough recipes that could contain sorghum or doesn't it work for that? Thanks so much!
Thank you. I'm exploring gluten free breads as part of an alkaline diet. The chart will be useful swapping alkaline flour (like Almond, buckwheat, quinoa, for really acid flours like sorgum.
Oh wonderful - let me know if you have any questions!
This chart is great! But I have food allergies to wheat, almond and rice. I love sorghum and oat flours and have found quite a few recipes using them that are great!
But I'm struggling with some recipes to swap rice flours. Looking at your chart, would you recommend potato or arrowroot to try? Or do you know of another?
Hi Judy, Sorry for the delay in responding to you.
So I would recommend sticking with the sorghum actually. Now it won't preform the same as in a recipe specifically calling for rice flour, like this rice flour bread https://zestforbaking.com/gluten-free-rice-flour-white-bread-bread-machine so I'd suggest avoiding that, but sorghum would really be the closest substitute.
Hope that helps!