Plus, can you use it like regular flour? Here's what you need to know about the gluten-free ingredient.

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High Angle View Of Coconut Flour In Bowl On Table
Credit: Michelle Arnold / EyeEm / Getty Images

Is there an edible plant more versatile than the coconut? You can drink its water, eat its "flesh," use its oil for cooking or cosmetics, and use its hairy husk to make fiber and charcoal. And yes, you can even grind coconut into flour. Gluten-free and paleo-minded bakers are all over it. And in spite of its name, a coconut is not actually a nut, so it can be consumed by people with nut allergies. But before you dive into that bag of coconut flour, it helps to know a few things about what you're getting into and how best to use it.

What Is Coconut Flour?

Coconut
Image by Meredith

Coconut flour, a gluten-free alternative to all-purpose flour, is made by grinding dried coconut meat into a fine powder. It's generally made from the coconut meat that is left over from the production of coconut milk.

The soft, fine, white powder has a distinctly coconut-like flavor and aroma that lends itself beautifully to certain recipes.

You can use it for a variety of baking purposes, but you you'll almost always need to incorporate another type of flour. Most baked goods can't be made with 100 percent coconut flour. Here's why: Unlike wheat flours, coconut flour is not derived from a grain. Therefore, it doesn't react with water in the same way that wheat, sorghum, or rice flours do. Coconut flour comes from the fiber-rich part of the fruit, so it absorbs more liquid than its starchy counterparts.

Coconut Flour Substitute

Flour
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You have to do a little playing around with a recipe if you want to substitute coconut flour for regular all-purpose wheat flour.

  • The rule of thumb is to substitute only 20 percent of coconut for wheat flour.
  • Flour made from coconut becomes dense and soaks up a lot of moisture when it bakes. To compensate for the moisture imbalance, try adding 2 tablespoons extra liquid for every 2 tablespoons coconut flour you substitute for regular flour.
  • Coconut flour can tend to clump up, so be sure to fluff it with a fork before measuring and mixing.

If you can't find coconut flour in the grocery store, other gluten-free substitutes are almond flour, cassava flour, and sorghum flour.

What Does Coconut Flour Taste Like?

A: It has a subtle taste and smell of coconut, but it's mild enough to blend with other flavors without overpowering them.

Coconut Flour Nutrition

Coconut flour is high in fiber, low in calories, and contains the kind of fat that's good for your heart.

One ounce (¼ cup) of coconut flour contains:

  • Calories: 124
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 17 grams
  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Sugar: 2 grams

How to Buy Coconut Flour

Read the label and make sure the package you're purchasing lists only coconut as its sole ingredient. No sugar, flavorings, or fillers. If gluten is a concern, make sure the label states the flour was produced in a gluten-free facility.

How to Cook With Coconut Flour

Start with baking recipes that are written specifically for this kind of flour. Once you become familiar with how it behaves, you can go on and experiment. Also, coconut flour is not only good for baking: You can also use it to thicken soups and coat foods for frying.

Coconut Flour Baking Ideas

Coconut Flour Chocolate Brownies
Credit: Buckwheat Queen

Now that you're a coconut flour expert, you're ready to start baking. You're in luck! We've rounded up Our Most Delicious Ways to Bake With Coconut Flour. Also, you can explore our entire collection of Coconut Flour Recipes, from pancakes, muffins, and breads to cookies and cakes.

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