All-purpose flour, made with soft and hard wheat, is the go-to grain for most baked goods. But as more home cooks are seeking out non-wheat (AKA gluten free) or fiber-rich options, a wider selection of diverse flours is hitting supermarket shelves. Here's your guide to alternative flours, plus ideas for recipes that use these all-purpose flour substitutes.
Tip: Because of the differences in chemical properties of various flours, be sure to use a flour-specific recipe or to alter your recipe per our recommendations.
Calling all bakers! Learn our top three secrets to make a moist cake.
Whole Wheat Flour
This coarse-textured flour contains more protein and calcium than white flour, plus nutritious wheat germ. Whole wheat flour makes heavier breads and baked goods. Blending it with all-purpose flour will lighten the texture of the finished product while still maintaining the nutrition benefits.
Try it in: Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake
Whole wheat flour and cocoa powder team up to make this tender, rich cake featuring one surprising fat-replacer that bumps up the nutrition even more: blended bluberries!
Get the recipe: Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake
White Whole Wheat Flour
White whole wheat flour is milled from white wheat rather than the traditional darker wheat used in regular whole wheat flours. It has a similar nutrition profile and lends the same nutty, hearty characteristics to baked goods as whole wheat flour.
Try it in: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
Made with a two-to-one ratio of white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour, this quick bread recipe cranks up the fiber and protein—and keeps all the fall flavors (nutmeg, cinnamon) you know and love from other pumpkin breads. To clean up the recipe even more, we trade 3/4 cup low-fat yogurt for most of the oil.
Get the recipe: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
Coconut flour is high in fiber and low in carbs, but it has more saturated fat content than white flour. Coconut flour has a high moisture content, and it also has incredible absorbency, which can result in a drier, denser finished product. Using coconut flour in recipes might require adding additional liquid or fat.
Try it in: Cherry-Coconut Banana Bread
A combination of coconut, oat, and all-purpose flours gives this tropical bread recipe the perfect mix of heartiness and lightness. Coconut oil and mashed bananas make it super moist.
Get the recipe: Cherry-Coconut Banana Bread
Made from ground raw almonds, almond flour (or almond meal) provides high protein, fiber, moisture, and a nutty flavor to gluten free baked goods. Almond flour is higher in fat than white flour, however.
Try it in: Safe-to-Eat Monster Cookie Dough
Raw all-purpose flour has been linked to potential risk for E. coli contamination, so opt for safe flours like almond, oat, or coconut when you're whipping up no-bake recipes like this colorful, kid-friendly raw cookie dough.
Get the recipe: Safe-to-Eat Monster Cookie Dough
Available in both white and brown varieties, rice flour is packed with fiber and protein and has a nutty flavor. Rice flours have a tendency to produce a sandy or gritty texture, so look for finely ground rice flours or blend with another gluten free flour to offset the consistency difference.
Try it in: Gluten Free Lemon-Strawberry Cornmeal Scones
Brown rice flour, cornmeal, and a bit of sugar are the building blocks of these dense and sweet scones. Toss in a cup of strawberries and grate in fresh lemon peel for springy flavor and serve with a glass of milk for the ultimate snacktime dunking duo.
Get the recipe: Gluten Free Lemon-Strawberry Cornmeal Scones
Chickpea/Garbanzo Bean Flour
Made with ground chickpeas, this gluten free flour is higher in fiber, protein, and iron than white flour. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are generally milled when raw, but it can be roasted first. The dense texture of chickpea flour makes it work great as a thickener or binder in items like pasta sauces, fritters, or meatballs. And why not give it a shot as the base for socca (chickpea pancakes)?
Try it in: Chickpea Alfredo with Spring Veggies
Make creamy pasta completely vegan by using a blend of water and chickpea flour instead of cream or milk and blending cashews to replace the cheese. Few will notice it's not the typical Alfredo!
Get the recipe: Chickpea Alfredo with Spring Veggies
Nutty in flavor, high in fiber, and rich in vitamins, this ancient grain flour is another great gluten free swap. Since it can be chalky in large amounts, try a one-to-one ratio of buckwheat and another flour when a recipe calls for buckwheat flour as a significant portion of the dry mixture.
Try it in: Caramel Drizzle Brownies
When mixed with plenty of melted chocolate and topped with ooey-gooey caramel, you'll never even notice the nutritious buckwheat flour and wheat germ hiding in this rich brownie recipe.
Get the recipe: Caramel Drizzle Brownies
Available in white, light, medium, dark, and whole (pumpernickel), rye flour varies based on the amount of the bran that remains on the grain. The darker, more-whole rye flours are heavier and impart a slightly fruity flavor. You'll often find baking recipes that call for this gluten-inclusive flour mixed with wheat or white flour.
Try it in: Ginger-Mango Banana Bread
Clean out your pantry for this fresh, tropical twist on basic banana bread. The batter includes rye flour, white whole wheat, and all-purpose flour (plus plenty of warm baking spices).
Get the recipe: Ginger-Mango Banana Bread
This gluten free flour is made with ground oat groats—the germ, bran, and endosperm of the oat. High in fiber and slightly sweet in flavor, oat flour will most often be seen as a replacement for some of the white or wheat flour in breads, pancakes, and other baked goods.
Try it in: Strawberries and Cream Pancakes
You'll flip over these perfectly fluffy flapjacks, made with a amalgam of oat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, and a couple spoonfuls of chia seeds. A splash of orange juice brightens up the blend.
Get the recipe: Strawberries and Cream Pancakes
Click for everything you need to know about going gluten free, including our secrets for the best pastas, flours, and pizzas!
Ground amaranth, made with an ancient grain that contains many amino acids that are absent in most flours, contains no gluten and plenty of protein. It lends a slight earthiness to baked goods and is generally included in recipes in a 50/50 ratio with another lighter flour for the closest-to-classic structure.
Try it in: Caramel-Coffee Snickerdoodles
A scoop of amaranth flour is the perfect flavor fit for these fall-inspired caramel and coffee cookies. White whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour keep the cookie crumble you remember from childhood snack breaks.
Get the recipe: Caramel-Coffee Snickerdoodles
Our Test Kitchen's Top Healthy Baking Secrets
Now that you have the flour 411, learn even more about how to lighten up your favorite treats—while keeping all the flavor: