If you have any experience with gluten free baking, you probably know that rice flour is a popular choice in many gluten free recipes. There are a few varieties of rice flour, one of which is sweet rice flour. Although it’s less common than white and brown rice flour, sweet rice flour is gaining recognition due to its versatility in gluten free baking and cooking. However, if you find yourself in need of an alternative, there are a number of sweet rice flour substitutes that will work in just about any recipe you come across.
What is sweet rice flour?
Sweet rice flour, also known as glutinous rice flour, is milled from high-starch, short-grain glutinous rice or “sticky rice”. Like other rice flours, it is naturally 100% gluten free. It is referred to as glutinous rice because the consistency becomes moist and sticky when it's cooked. The glutinous texture also allows it to mimic the elasticity of gluten. This makes it an ideal flour for gluten free baked goods such as breads, biscotti, and this vegan bread.
Although it has “sweet” in the name, sweet rice flour has a mild, neutral flavor and fine texture. It can be used to make anything from pastries to rice noodles. Since it’s a starchy flour, it works extremely well as a thickener in soups and sauces. Sweet rice flour is also commonly used to make mochi, a popular Japanese rice cake. Because it’s used more like a starch in baking, it acts as a binder and retains moisture in baked goods. Sweet rice flour is often used in combination with other gluten free flours and/or xanthan gum for best results.
Rice flour vs sweet rice flour
Sweet rice flour is quite different than common white or brown rice flour. Because they play different roles in baking, these flours cannot be used interchangeably. Rice flour is milled from medium-grain or long-grain rice and adds a light texture to baked goods. Sweet rice flour is made from short-grain glutinous rice. It yields a soft, sticky texture due to its high starch content and ability to absorb liquids. Although rice flour and sweet rice flour can’t directly replace one another in baking, they are sometimes used simultaneously.
Best substitutes for sweet rice flour
1. Gluten free flour mix
The best substitute for sweet rice flour is a gluten free flour mix. Composed of a variety of gluten free flours, any standard gluten free flour mix will provide great flavor and texture to most baked goods. It can be used as a 1:1 replacement for sweet rice flour.
2. Tapioca flour
Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is another alternative to sweet rice flour. It is a slightly sweet, starchy flour that is naturally gluten and grain free. Tapioca flour has virtually no flavor or odor. This makes it a great option as a thickener in sauces, jams, and pie fillings. When substituting tapioca flour for sweet rice flour in baking, it should be used alongside another flour. Replace 1 cup of sweet rice flour with ⅔ cup of tapioca flour and ⅓ cup of another gluten free flour, like brown rice flour.
Purchase tapioca flour here for bulk pricing.
3. Arrowroot powder
Sweet rice flour can also be substituted with arrowroot powder (also called arrowroot starch and arrowroot flour). Arrowroot powder is a gluten and grain free starchy flour that is both flavorless and odorless. Like sweet rice flour, arrowroot acts as a thickener or binder in many recipes. It’s also easily digestible for people with various food sensitivities. Arrowroot powder only works well as an alternative for sweet rice flour when used in combination with another flour. For example, 1 cup of sweet rice flour can be replaced with ⅔ cup of arrowroot powder and ⅓ cup of another gluten free flour.
Purchase arrowroot powder here for bulk pricing.
Another sweet rice flour substitute is cornstarch. Since it’s made from corn, cornstarch is a naturally gluten free grain. It is used as a thickener in pies, soups, sauces, puddings, and more. It is also a popular ingredient in baked goods for a more tender texture. Cornstarch can replace sweet rice flour if it is paired with a gluten free flour. Use ⅔ cup of cornstarch and ⅓ cup of gluten free flour to replace 1 cup of sweet rice flour.
The best price on cornstarch is at your local grocery store.
5. Cassava flour
Cassava flour can also be used as a replacement for sweet rice flour. Since it comes from a tropical tuber, starchy cassava flour is gluten and grain free. Its neutral flavor and fine, powdery texture make cassava flour ideal for desserts like breads, muffins, and even tortillas. It can also be used as a thickener in various foods. Replace 1 cup of sweet rice flour with ⅔ cup of cassava flour and ⅓ cup of another gluten free flour.
This brand of cassava works the best.
6. Potato starch
Potato starch is another substitute for sweet rice flour that adds moisture to baked goods. It is a versatile gluten and grain free starch that can also be used to thicken soups and sauces. To use potato starch as an alternative to sweet rice flour, another flour must be used as well. For example, you can replace 1 cup of sweet rice flour with ⅔ cup of potato starch and ⅓ cup of a different type of flour.
Purchase potato starch here for bulk pricing.
7. White rice flour
White rice flour is another acceptable alternative to sweet rice flour. It has a fine, light texture that lends a tender sponginess to baked goods, like this bread machine bread. Even though they are both types of rice flour, the two cannot be used interchangeably. To replace 1 cup of sweet rice flour, use ⅔ cup of white rice flour and ⅓ cup of a starch like arrowroot or tapioca.
Purchase white rice flour here for the best pricing.
8. Brown rice flour
Brown rice flour is another common gluten free flour that can be used to replace sweet rice flour. Its rich, nutty flavor makes it a great choice for gluten free pancakes, muffins, and breads. Brown rice flour can also be used as a thickener. Like white rice flour, brown rice flour cannot be used interchangeably with sweet rice flour. Brown rice flour must be paired with another gluten free flour when using it as a sweet rice flour substitute. Use ⅔ cup of brown rice flour and ⅓ of a starch like tapioca or cornstarch to replace 1 cup of sweet rice flour.
Purchase brown rice flour here for the best quality/pricing.
Sweet rice flour FAQs
Nope, they are different! Sweet rice flour is made from short grain, sticky rice whereas rice flour is from long grain rice. They will yield different results in your baked goods!
The best go-to substitute is a gluten free flour blend. Other flours can work equally well though.
Yes! Sweet rice flour is an excellent thickener. Just follow the instructions on this post about using thickening agents.