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This complete guide to grain-free flours covers what you need to know about using, subbing, and buying these flours!

First, why use grain-free flours?

Though there can indeed be health benefits to consuming properly prepared grains for those who tolerate them, many with digestive issues find grains (especially in excess) to be an issue for them. Grain-free flours are a great alternative for those who follow grain-free diets like a paleo diet! Many grain-free flours (like coconut flour and almond flour) are also great lower-carb alternatives for low-carb and keto diets.

Though grain-free flours still don’t necessarily swap 1:1 or fully replace the same properties that something like a pastry flour would, they’re an amazing option to have, especially when used correctly!

I know first hand that all of the options can be confusing, which is why I’m sharing this blog post to help break down the different flours and their most common uses.

Where is the best spot to buy grain-free flours?

You can often find these flours at the following retailers…

  • Whole Foods
  • Natural Grocers
  • Sprouts
  • Amazon
  • iHerb
  • Thrive Market

Can you swap these flours 1:1 in recipes?

Probably the most common question that I get is “can I swap this flour for that one”, and 99% of the time, the answer is unfortunately “no”. The reason is that these flours have very different textures, characteristics, and serve a specific purpose in each recipe. This blog post helps to explain the purpose of each flour a bit more.

Complete Guide to Grain-Free Flours

Cassava Flour

Cassava flour is derived from the cassava or yucca root plant which is often used in Latin American cooking. Cassava is very starchy, and it makes great fries, it’s delicious when boiled and mashed, and it’s the perfect starchy grain-free flour.

This is the flour that comes closest to swapping 1:1 for all-purpose flour, though I would still be aware of the recipe as a whole and whether or not you’re swapping too many ingredients.

Characteristics:

  • Starchy
  • Slightly sweet in flavor
  • Similar texture to all-purpose flour

What it’s perfect for…

  • Making tortillas, pizza crusts and other baked goods where you would use all-purpose flour

Reccomended brand: Ottos Cassava Flour 

 

Tapioca Starch

Tapioca starch is also known as tapioca flour and is derived from cassava. It’s a very starchy flour that is slightly sweet in taste. It’s very similar to corn starch and is used in a lot of the same ways.

Characteristics

What it’s perfect for…

  • Making things “stretchy”. It’s great for making things like this stromboli from Grazed and Enthused which has almost a cheesy pull.
  • Thickening sauces or soups
  • Acting as a binding flour in baked goods

Recommended Brand: Anthony’s Tapioca Starch

Arrowroot Starch

Like tapioca starch, arrowroot starch and flour are also interchangeable. Arrowroot is another starch flour that is extracted from the roots of the arrowroot plant.

Tapioca starch and arrowroot starch are really the only flours on this list that I would ever recommend swapping 1:1, and even then, it can depend on the recipe. It’s very similar to tapioca starch, though I would say the biggest difference is that I prefer it in savory recipes like sauce or soups. I find it to be less gummy than tapioca starch, though the overall uses are very similar.

Characteristics…

  • Starchy
  • Very powdery when raw
  • “Stretchy” in baked goods

What it’s perfect for.

  • Making things “stretchy”. It’s great for making things like this stromboli from Grazed and Enthused which has almost a cheesy pull.
  • Thickening sauces or soups.
  • Acting as a binding flour in baked goods

Recommended brand: Anthony’s Arrowroot Starch or Thrive Market Brand

 

Almond Flour

Almond flour is one of my personal favorites and is the only flour on this list that is actually nut-based. There are several varieties of almond flour, but

Characteristics…

  • Low carb
  • Buttery flavor
  • Slightly nutty by neutral texture

What it’s perfect for…

  • Low carb recipes
  • Breading (like these chicken tenders)
  • Grain-free baked goods with excess moisture like zucchini muffins, etc.

Recommended brand: Bobs Red Mill Almond Flour

 

Tigernut Flour

Despite it’s name, tigernut flour is actually nut-free. Tigernuts actually aren’t a nut, but a tuber! This flour is slowly becoming more popular and is one of my personal favorites to cook with. It’s similar to almond flour, only starchier.

Characteristics…

  • Sweet
  • Gritty/nutty texture

What it’s perfect for…

  • Sweet recipes like cookies, muffins, etc.

Recommended brand: Organic Gemini Tigernut Flour

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is made from dehydrating coconut meat and grinding it down into a flour. Although the word “nut” is present, it’s actually a nut free flour! Botanically, coconut is fruit, and not a nut, which can potentially make it a great flour for those who are nut free.

This is probably the trickiest flour to sub out in recipes, but it has a lot of purpose! Coconut flour is super absorbant, so it’s perfect for absorbing excess moisture like recipes with vegetables or lots of liquids.

Characteristics…

  • Sweet
  • Dry
  • Absorbant
  • Low starch
  • High fiber

What it’s perfect for…

  • Low carb recipes
  • Breading (like these chicken nuggets)
  • Grain-free baked goods with excess moisture like zucchini muffins, etc.

Recommended brand: Anthony’s Coconut Flour