Gluten Free Flours 101: How to cook + bake with gluten-free flours

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Many gluten-free flours are better for us:  They’re lower in carbs, higher in protein, fiber, and heart-smart fats, and have a lower glycemic index.

But buying gluten-free flours is one thing; knowing how to cook and bake with these flours can be the challenge.  Today we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on a beginners guide to gluten-free baking, including how to use her top picks for gluten-free flour alternatives.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that gives dough its elasticity, and is also part of what makes bread rise, giving texture, structure, and shape to baked goods.  

Baking with gluten-free flours requires other ingredients that make up for the lack of gluten, like xanthan gum, ground psyllium husk, or whey protein powder, to help with structure and allow it to rise.

  • Xanthan gum improves the texture of baked goods. It acts as an emulsifier and a binder, and adds volume to gluten free breads, cookies, and cakes.
  • Ground psyllium husk, often used as fiber supplement, can be substitute for xanthan gum.

For those new to gluten-free baking, it can be helpful to stick with tried and true recipes for a while, to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.


Almond Flour

Low carb, high fat, high moisture, so when substituting for all-purpose flour:


  • Use more almond flour than original recipe calls for – up to 50% more almond flour
  • Use less liquid: Cut back on liquid by as much as 50%
  • If you’re not looking to replace ALL of the wheat flour, almond flour can be used to replace up to ­­25% of the flour called for in a recipe – just remember that you may need to use less liquid.
  • Almond flour can be used for breading meats and vegetables


Coconut flour

Low carb, high fiber, dry, and dense, so when substituting for all-purpose flour:

  • Use less coconut flour – as much as 50% less coconut flour than wheat flour
  • Use more eggs
  • Use more liquids: Bob’s Red Mill suggests an equal ratio of liquid to coconut flour
  • If you’re not looking to replace ALL of the wheat flour in a recipe: Coconut flour can be used to replace up to 20% of the wheat flour called for in a recipe – just remember to add an equal amount of liquid, as well.


Flax Meal (or Finely Ground Flaxseed)

  • Rich in fiber and lignans
  • Flax meal can be used to replace up to 25 percent of the flour in a recipe.


White Bean Flour + Black bean flour (available via Bob’s Red Mill, online)

  • A good source of fiber, bean flour can be used as a base for soups and dips, or added to veggie burgers, enchiladas, burritos, tacos and more.
  • In baked goods, try bean flour in place of about 1/8 of the flour called for in a recipe, to boost fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Note:  Cooked beans can also be used to replace flour + fat:                 

  • Cup-for-cup, beans have half the calories and carbs of white flour, and four times the fiber.
  • One cup cooked, pureed beans can be used to replace one cup of flour + two tablespoons fat.
  • For best results, match the bean color to the finished product (e.g. black beans for brownies, kidney beans for red velvet cake, and white beans for cookies).




Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for  Ochsner Eat Fit Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD

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