Gluten-Free Flour: A Guide

Western baking relies heavily on wheat flour, but it’s hardly the only game in town. Listed below are as many of the gluten free flours, meals, and starches as we could find; most of them need to be used in combination with others on the list. If you have trouble finding some of these ingredients online or at the store, several of these ingredients can be easily made at home by grinding the seeds, grains, or nuts in your food processor.

  • Acorn flour. A dietary staple in Native American and Korean cultures, acorns can keep for years. The bitter tannins of acorns are removed by soaking chopped acorns in water until the water no longer turns brown. White oak acorns have less tannins and are used most often in cooking. Acorn flour is heavy and works best as less than half of your flour mixture.
  • Almond flour/ Almond meal/ Frangipane. Almond flour is usually made from blanched almonds and is softer and more flour-like, while almond meal is either that or made from raw ground-up almonds and has a bit more texture. Either one is good in quick bread and pastry recipes, marzipan, and almond paste, but not rising dough recipes. Almond meal can be nice for “breading” meats and fish. “Frangipane” is French for almond meal.
  • Amaranth flour. Amaranth, an ancient seed high in fiber, lysine, calcium, and iron, is used indigenously in Mexico, Peru, Nepal and India. Since 1975 it has been grown in the U.S. as well. Because of its density, amaranth flour does best as less than one-third of the flour mixture in a recipe. Use as little water as possible and cook longer when using amaranth flour.
  • Arrowroot flour. Native Americans used arrowroot to heal arrow wounds, hence the name. A light, powdery flour with a pleasant flavor, arrowroot flour is used as a vegetarian thickening agent similar to cornstarch. While cornstarch leaves a cloudy residue, arrowroot does not. Before using, combine arrowroot with a cool liquid and use it as a one-to-one replacement for cornstarch in recipes.
  • Artichoke flour. Faintly sweet, artichoke flour does not thicken. It is used in pasta and tortillas and other products which do not rise.
  • Besan flour/ Chickpea flour/ Channa flour/ Ceci flour/ Gram flour/ Garbanzo bean flour. Ubiquitous in Indian cooking, chickpea flour also makes a good substitute for soy flour and thickens soups and sauces. This high-protein flour helps to firm up bread. When the bean flavor is too pronouced, many cooks mix it with flour from other beans, such as fava beans.
  • Brown rice flour. A favorite in GF baking with a nutty flavor and of higher nutritional value than white rice flour, brown rice flour is a common ingredient in commercial GF flour mixes.
  • Buckwheat flour. Used enthusiastically in gourmet Japanese cooking, buckwheat flour contains all eight essential amino acids and works well, combined with xantham gum, in a host of pastry and savory dishes, especially soba noodles.
  • Cashew flour. Made from raw ground cashews. See almond flour.
  • Chia seeds/ chia seed flour. Made from brown rice flour and chia seeds (salvia hispanica L), the same kind that grow Chia Pets. Eaten by pre-Columbian Aztec, Native American, and Mayan cultures, chia seeds contain more Omega-3s than flaxseed, more calcium than broccoli, more fiber than beans, and are chock-full of protein. 1/4 Cup of chia gel is equivalent to 1 egg in a recipe: simply mix 1 T. chia seeds with 3 T. water and let sit 15 minutes. Use chia seed flour (which currently is a mixture of brown rice flour and ground chia seeds) as a 1 to 1 replacement for wheat flour.
  • Chestnut flour. You can buy it extra fine or stone ground. Chestnut flour, used in traditional Italian and Corsican baking, has a strong chestnut flavor and a dark color. Sift before use. This flour keeps 12 months in the freezer and 3 months in a cool dark place.
  • Coconut flour. High in fiber, protein, and saturated fat, this mildly sweet flour can be used entirely by itself in quickbreads and some dessert dishes. In other baked goods, it works well as 10 to 30% of the flour content. 1/4 cup of coconut flour is approximately equal to 1 cup all-purpose wheat flour.
  • Corn flour/ Masa harina/ Maize flour (UK). Corn flour is a powdery yellow, blue, or white flour made by finely grinding whole dried corn kernels. Popular in Southern and Southwestern U.S. cuisine, corn flour is very similar to cornmeal but ground much more finely. Masa harina is corn flour ground from dried hominy. Masa harina is an essential ingredient of corn tortillas and tamales.
  • Cornmeal. This is the same as corn flour but much more coarsely ground. Steel ground cornmeal has the hull and germ removed, while stone ground cornmeal retains part of them, lending more flavor and nutrition. White cornmeal is popular in the Southern U.S. for making cornbread.
  • Corn starch/ Cornflour (U.K.). This fine, tasteless white powder is processed from the endosperm of corn kernels. Mix it with water before using so as to avoid lumps. It is a popular thickener in Chinese stir-fries.
  • Fava bean/ Broad bean flour. WARNING: Certain people have life-threatening reactions to fava beans. Fava beans are sometimes mixed with chickpeas to produce garfava flour, which is supposed to have a better texture and less beany flavor than pure chickpea flour. The tough outer spines must be removed before processing.
  • Flaxseed meal. Increasing in popularity as a substitute for eggs in baking recipes, ground flaxseeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. They have a nutty flavor and aid in digestion. Flaxseed meal can be found in several quickbread, cake, and cookie recipes.
  • Gari. A Nigerian flour made from cassavas that have been fermented, roasted, and ground. It has a sour flavor.
  • Guar gum. A very popular gluten-free baking ingredient, guar gum also aids in treating constipation. Guar gum is the ground endosperm of guar beans, which are grown primarily in India and Pakistan. It is much more effective a liquid thickener than cornstarch. In baked goods guar gum increases dough yield and chewiness.
  • Hazelnut meal. Refer to almond meal.
  • Jerusalem artichoke flour. Made from ground, dehydrated Jerusalem artichoke, this heavy, nutritious flour is combined with lighter flours to make pasta and bread.
  • Kudzu starch/ Kuzu. High-quality kudzu starch is prized in Japan and China but it is considered a terrible weed in the Southern United States, where the woody vine is called “the vine that ate the South.” Kudzu is a clear thickening agent useful in sauces and jelled foods. It has a mild flavor and produces a smooth, creamy consistency. Kudzu comes in small chunks, so to measure it you need to crush it into a powder. The powder adds a nice crispiness when dusted over foods before deep-frying. To thicken a hot liquid, mix crushed kuzu powder with an equal amount of cold water and stir in. Simmer until thickened.
  • Lotus flour. A cream-colored flour with a pronounced lotus root flavor used in baking and in making batter for deep-frying chicken and fish. Mostly used in Chinese cuisine.
  • Macadamia meal/ Macadamia flour. See almond meal. Smooth with a buttery flavor.
  • Malanga flour. Made from the South American malanga tuber, this beige flour is used as a thickener, as a substitute for wheat flour in quick breads, and as a coating for dried foods. It tastes similar to potato flour and is easy on the digestive system and on people with several food allergies. Some varieties of malanga are very similar to taro.
  • Mesquite flour. For 2000 years mesquite was a staple of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States, Mexico, and in South America. Mesquite flour is made by washing the seeds of the mesquite tree with water and then milling and sieving the pods. Mesquite’s flavor is deep and rich, comparable to chocolate, mocha coffee, and cinnamon, and it gives off a pleasant aroma. In baking it should constitute ten to twenty percent of the weight.
  • Millet flour. Sweet, buttery, and easy to digest, millet flour can be used alone in tortillas and pancakes but must be mixed with binding agents for breads.
  • Mung dal flour. Indian cooks use this ground legume flour in breads and dumplings.
  • Oat bran, certified gluten-free. Somewhat like wheat bran, but moister and more flavorful.
  • Oat flour, certified gluten-free. If used alone, baked goods will not rise. This flour has a high nutritional and oil content.
  • Pea flour. Made from green or yellow split peas and used in Indian cuisine.
  • Pistachio meal/ pistachio flour. See almond meal. With a shelf life of six months, pistachio flour should be kept frozen in storage and sifted before use. This is a particularly good nut flour for desserts.
  • Plantain flour/ Fufu flour. Nigerians make the popular fufu dish from this. You can substitute gari. Use in breads, cakes, cookies, and rolls.
  • Potato flour/ Katakuriko. Potatoes are cooked with their skins on, then dried and finely ground. It does not thicken as well as potato starch and is heavier as well, with a distinct potato flavor. The French invented this flour as a substitute for expensive wheat flour in the 1700s.
  • Potato starch flour. This light powdery starch has no flavor and thickens liquids effectively. It is not a substitute for potato flour. Do not let it boil. It can substitute for Arrowroot, tapioca starch, and cornstarch. You can store it at room temperature.
  • Pumpkin seed flour. A dark flour with a very nutty flavor, pumpkin seed flour can be substituted for almond flour. It is made from ground raw pumpkin seeds and can be easily made in a food processor. Pumpkin seed flour contains a high amount of tryptophan and has a calming affect.
  • Quinoa flakes. This versatile version is good as a hot breakfast cereal, cooked in quick breads, coating fried food, and in pancakes or waffles.
  • Quinoa flour. This has the texture of fine cornmeal and a high protein content. It moistens baked goods.
  • Rice flour, white. Used as a thickening agent for sauces and pudding and instrumental in making several kinds of Asain rice noodles, white rice flour is high in protein but low in nutrition. It cannot be used alone to make bread.
  • Sago flour. Sago flour is made from the pitch of sago palm stems and is a major staple food in Papua New Guinea and the Moluccas. It looks like many other starches but is processed into pearls, like tapioca. It is almost a pure carbohydrate without minerals, vitamins or much protein. In Indonesia and Malaysia sago flour is used to make noodles and white bread.
  • Sorghum flour / Milo flour. This rust-colored flour is mildly sweet with a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Used in gluten-free beer, sorghum is the grain of choice of poor famers in India and Africa. Sorghum is an annual, drough-resistant grass very high in protein, fiber and iron. In the United States sorghum is primarily used as animal feed.
  • Soy flour/ soya flour. Sweet, nutty, and heavy, this flour is another gluten-free baking favorite, good for entrees and desserts.
  • Sweet potato flour. Made from white sweet potatoes, this flour is great in baked goods and faintly sweet in gravies or thickened liquids.
  • Sweet rice flour (from glutinous rice)/ Mochiko. Used to make mochi, the ubiquitous Japanese snack, sweet rice flour has a high starch content and no complex carbohydrates as it is made from white rice. It is used to make various kinds of rice noodles, coat foods before frying, and thickening sauces and food mixes.
  • Tapioca flour/ Tapioca starch/ Cassava flour/ Yuca flour/ Manioc flour. Cassava is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world. Relied on as a staple in Africa, South America, Central America, the Carribean, and Asia, cassava goes by several different names. As cassava can be toxic if not processed properly, please do not attempt to make cassava flour yourself. This bland white ingredient adds chewiness to a flour mixture.
  • Taro flour/ Dasheen flour. Because of toxicity, the taro root is peeled, sliced, and soaked overnight in cold water. The water is drained and the slices immersed in an acid solution for three hours, then blanched in boiling water for five minutes.Slices are dried and milled into flour. Taro flour is used as a thickener in soups and as a flour to be combined with other flours in pancakes and other savory foods. It is somewhat similar to tapioca.
  • Teff flour. Teff is an annual grass, and its seeds were found in a five thousand year old pyramid. Teff flour, slightly sweet and nuttly, is used to make the staple injera bread in Ethiopian cooking. It can be used as a substitute for sesame seeds or flour in baked goods. It’s also a good thickener.
  • Urad dal flour. Indian cooks use this legume flour to make pappadums and breads.
  • Water chestnut flour. This bright white starch is used mostly as a thickener and in Asia as a light coating for fried foods.
  • Xantham gum. This thickener was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Xanthamonas campestris, the bacteria responsible for black rot on broccoli and cauliflower, forms a slimy substance which serves as a natural thickening agent. When the bacteria is combined with corn sugar, the result is a colorless slime, xantham gum. Xantham gum prevents ice crystals from forming in ice cream, and it thickens dairy products and salad dressings. It is frequently used in gluten-free cooking as a substitute for wheat gluten.
  • Yam flour. A cooked flour good in cookies and pie crusts.

Some of these flours may be unfamiliar to you. A good starting point for finding them is the Grocery Guide, which lists sixteen store brands, each selling various types of gluten-free flour.

22 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Flour: A Guide”

  1. Perhaps you can help.

    I have a Gluten-free recipe I like that uses almond flour. Almond flour, however, is very expensive. Is there a less expensive alternative flour I can use with good results?



  2. You can make your own almond meal by grinding almonds in a coffee mill or small food processor, like the Magic Bullet. I only grind 1/2 cup of almonds at a time. I buy mine from the dollar store. They come salted, but I wash them in a bath of tap water, then leave out to dry. To attempt true almond flour, which is like the factory produced “sawdust” of slivered, blanched almonds, then you can blanch your almonds, remove the outer “skins,” grind as above, push the ground results through a strainer, re-grind any portions too large to strain, and then repeat the straining process.

  3. I am looking for a flour that works great for making chicken and dumplins…before I found out WHY I was so sick I made one of my families favorite meals:chicken and dumplins!! It was so easy to getting to use the wheat flour…just add water and drop the dumplins in. Is there a GF flour out there as easy to use as wheat flour once was? You can use wheat flour for anything…breads, gravy, desserts, etc… There has to be something! Can you help me? Thank you

  4. The absolute closest thing to wheat flour that I’ve found is from Jules Gluten Free ( I’ll be reviewing in on this site next week. It’s sold in tiny sample bags or a huge 5-lb. bag. We can buy it locally which at least saves shipping costs.

  5. I need help as to where to purchase Malanga Flour and Lotus Flour. Thank you. I can’t find any by doing a google search. I hope to be able to purchase cassava flour and arrowroot flour in the health food store. I HOPE!

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Hi Syrena,
    I think it’s difficult to buy malanga flour in English online because malanga is sold mostly in Cuba and in Puerto Rico, where it is called yautia. You could try searching in Spanish or go to a Latino or Cuban grocery store. This website might help you:
    Or this one:

    You can buy dried lotus root from Eden on Amazon and just grind it up into lotus flour in your food processor, but it’s $27 for 4 ounces. Sliced lotus root soaked in brine is available at most Asian grocers.

    You can also try tapioca (cassava) flour as a substitute for these two if you’re looking for them because of severe allergies. Plenty of places, including Bob’s Red Mill, sell tapioca and arrowroot flour. This place has a good selection:

  7. Mary, I live on Cape Cod and I can always find Coconut Flour in the Shaw’s supermarkets around here (in the “health food” section, of course); I imagine the Boston area Shaw’s stores would also have it. It’s a dollar or two more than the health food stores usually sell it for, but a bag lasts awhile so it’s not too big of a deal.

  8. Our grandson has autism. My daughter is putting him on the gluten free diet. He has a very limited diet. One of the foods he was having almost everyday is Ramen Noodles. Has anybody found a gluten free brand? Please email if you do. Thanks.

  9. It saddens me to know that your grand child is autistic.That notwithstanding,I am pleased to inform you that help for his rehabilitation can be found,and does exist.

    Should you be interested,you can contact me at:
    [email protected]
    I thank you.

  10. Hi,
    Does anyone know where I can find yellow split pea flour to buy around Boston? I could not find it in Indian grocery stores.
    Many thanks.

  11. I am in Southern Missouri & I’m looking for Acorn Flour. Where is the closest place to buy it & approximately what does it cost? Thank you, Bevy

  12. hi,
    I am from Malaysia and diagnose with coeliac 4 years ago and just found out last week that i now have type 1 diabetes..In my country it is very hard to go on gluten free diet or to find anything which is gluten free foods..when i go grocery shopping and i ask anyone about gluten free all i get was a blank stare at me but i am getting used of it already…it is consider very rare cases for having coeliac in Malaysia and almost everyone in the food industry or organic industry in my country does not understand gluten free products..with coeliac have already hit my pancreas and also diabetic it is more hard for me to eat cause almost all the gluten free products is high in sugar level ..normally they subsitude wheat for sugar or corn starch which is high in sugar..i hope someone out there can help me life my life a better way..

  13. I purchased some sweet potato flour but I’m having a hard time finding out how much sweet potato flour (SPF) to mix with other gluten-free flours for baking. I can’t use flour mixes with almond, soy, or corn because I’m allergic to them. I would really like to try baking with just the sweet potato flour but it lacks the protein that wheat flour has. Any suggestions of flour ratios?

  14. Hi Rachel (from Malaysia)..
    My fiance has coeliac. I’ve found a lot of gluten free flours, cake and bread mixes at Village Grocer at 1 Mont Kiara.
    Hope this helps.

  15. Hi Zach,

    That’s a good question and I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that masa harina is made from nixtamal which is made from hominy. Hominy is the endosperm of corn, which means that the the hull (skin) and the germ (brown tips with most of the nutrition) of the corn kernel are removed. Hominy is much more easily digested and so allows the human body to absorb the niacin of corn. Nonetheless masa harina is not a whole grain. If you are seeking a whole food, your best bet is stone-ground cornmeal, which is simply the dried whole kernel, ground but not heavily processed. Your other two options are polenta (medium-ground cornmeal) and corn flour (finely ground cornmeal). My understanding is that you will not be able to absorb the niacin from these whole corn foods. I hope this helps!

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