Which Gluten-Free Flour Should You Use?

Gone are the days when going gluten-free meant just giving up bread and pastries (and dodging the sad-eyed stares of your friends and family). Now there are enough gluten-free flour choices that it's actually a little confusing.

102261811 gluten free flours
Photo by Meredith Publishing.

Let's clear that right up, with a quick guide to gluten-free whole grains, white starches, and even a basic recipe for your own gluten-free baking mix. Here's your cheat sheet:


Gluten-Free Flours

Look for these gluten-free flours in the organic sections of regular grocery stores, in health food stores, specialty markets, and on the Internet.

Whole Grain Flours:

  • Brown Rice Flour: Best mixed with tapioca flour and xanthan gum.
  • Buckwheat Flour: An all-purpose flour with a distinct flavor.
  • Amaranth Flour: Try as a thickener for sauce and fruit pie filling.
  • Corn Massa (Masa Harina): For making tortillas and tamales.
  • Millet Flour: Use to bread meats for a crispy coating.
  • Sorghum Flour: Gives bread a smoother, softer texture than other gluten-free flours.
  • Chickpea Flour (Besan, Garbanzo Bean Flour): Helps bind together veggie burgers and meatballs.
  • Teff Flour: A traditional Ethiopian flour that's high in protein and calcium.
  • Nut Flours (Almond, Hazelnut: Add a small percentage to your baking mix to boost moisture and texture. Toasted nut flours add a richer flavor.

White Flours and Starches

  • Arrowroot Flour: A thickener for roux, sauce, and fruit pie filling.
  • Potato Starch (Not Potato Flour): Use in place of cornstarch if you can't eat corn.
  • White Rice Flour: An all-purpose flour for breading and thickening.
  • Sweet Rice Flour (Mochiko): Thickens gravy and sauces, and is used to make noodles.
  • Tapioca Flour (Tapioca Starch): Use it to thicken sauces, as you would starch.
  • Xanthan Gum: Include in gluten-free flour mix to help your baked goods stick together.

How to Make Your Own Gluten-Free Baking Mix

Use 40 percent whole grain flours to 60 percent white flours/starches, plus xanthan gum, which helps hold baked goods together. Use .5-to-1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour.

5 New Gluten-Free Bread Recipes Worth Trying

Tips For Going Gluten-Free

  • Look for foods that are already gluten-free. Really, it's easier to just make some quinoa than trying to create gluten-free couscous.
  • Experiment. There may be one particular gluten-free substitute you like for cookies, and another for bread. The only way to find out is by baking some up. So have fun and eat!
  • Make your own mix. You can buy a gluten-free baking mix, but then that's the only one you've got. Make little batches according to the simple ratio above and make sure you're using the one you like the most.
  • Add to your diet. Dropping wheat often means dropping fiber. So make sure you add extra fruits, veggies, and beans to your diet, including some leafy greens (or fish) for extra iron.

Check out our complete collection of Gluten-Free Recipes.

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