Buying Guide for Gluten-Free Flour
Why buy gluten-free flour?
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance or you can’t eat gluten for other health purposes, buying gluten-free flour for your kitchen is a near necessity.
While there are plenty of pre-made gluten-free baked goods available for purchase these days, you may be one of the people who still prefer to make their own from scratch. Maybe you simply enjoy the baking process or want to convert some old family recipes to make them gluten-free. Maybe you’re worried about cross-contamination, even if the pre-made baked good itself is gluten-free. Maybe you find yourself craving a certain type of baked good but can’t find a gluten-free version that’s to your satisfaction. Maybe you can’t find a gluten-free version anywhere at all, or the price is too high for your budget. Maybe a loved one eats gluten-free, and you want to take the time and effort to make them a tasty treat with your own two hands.
Or maybe you need gluten-free flour at home for other cooking purposes, like coating chicken, fish, or meat. Basically, if anyone in your household has to eat gluten-free, it’s worth your while to keep at least a small bag of gluten-free flour at home, especially since it’s more cost-effective to make your own gluten-free baked goods.
What should you look for in gluten-free flour?
- Base: Many gluten-free ingredients can be used as a substitute for wheat flour. Rice flour and brown rice flour are probably the most popular, but they’re not the only choices. Corn flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, sorghum flour, coconut flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, almond flour, and oat flour (as long as it’s made with 100% certified gluten-free oats) are all gluten-free options. Some of these flours may slightly affect the taste of your food or give it a different aftertaste. Sweet rice flour, for instance, is a good choice for sweeter baked goods like cookies or cake. Also keep in mind that many gluten-free flours may include two or more different types of flour mixed together.
- Purpose: Do you want a general, multipurpose gluten-free flour or one meant for a specific purpose? Multipurpose flour is great to have on hand around the house if you don’t bake very often, as it can be used in general cooking as well as baking. Some gluten-free flours are intended solely for baking. Others are meant for specific mixes that make pancakes, waffles, and so forth. 1:1 gluten-free flour is a recent and extremely useful option. In gluten-free baking, you often have to use more flour than traditional recipes call for. 1:1 flour, however, allows you to use the same amount of gluten-free flour as you would wheat flour. This makes it much easier to convert regular recipes into gluten-free ones.
- Allergens: If you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, look for a gluten-free flour that is truly 100% gluten-free. This means it should be made in a gluten-free or allergen-free facility to ensure there’s no cross-contamination. There are also gluten-free flours that account for other types of allergies or dietary restrictions. You can find options that are nut-free, dairy-free, and soy-free as well as gluten-free, which is extremely handy if you have more than one allergy or you’re baking for a group of people who have different allergies. Some gluten-free flours, such as almond flour, are also an option for people following meal plans like the keto or paleo diet.
How much gluten-free flour should you buy?
It depends on how often you bake, how much you bake, and how often you use flour in your gluten-free home cooking. If you do so with any sort of regularity, you’ll probably want to go for a larger-sized bag, 5 pounds or more. As mentioned above, gluten-free recipes tend to use more flour if you’re not using 1:1 gluten-free flour, so you’ll probably go through it faster than you do with regular wheat flour. And gluten-free flour is generally more expensive, so buying it in bulk may help you save some money in the long run. If you don’t bake or cook at home much, you may not need so much flour.
Alternatively, maybe you’re experimenting with different gluten-free flours and don’t want to buy a huge bag off the bat. If you prefer to use, say, corn flour for coating fish but rice flour for baking, you may not want to buy two huge bags of both types since smaller bags will last you long enough.
For reference, there are about 3 1/3 cups of flour per every pound in the bag. So a 1-pound bag of flour will provide you with just under 3.5 cups of flour, a 3-pound bag holds about 10 cups, and a 5-pound bag contains roughly 18, so keep that metric in mind when deciding how much gluten-free flour you need. And keep an eye out for bulk packs or sets that contain more than one bag if you’re a frequent baker.
Our Picks for the Best Gluten-Free Flours
Better Batter Multipurpose Certified Gluten Free Flour
A multipurpose gluten-free flour with a neutral taste that won't overpower your homemade food.
Pros: This is a multipurpose gluten-free flour that you can use to create any sort of baked good. It’s both certified gluten-free and non-GMO, as well as vegan- and keto-friendly. In fact, it’s suitable for pretty much any dietary restriction, as it’s free of the most common allergens—it’s free of not just gluten but nuts, soy, dairy, eggs, and more. The rice, potato, and tapioca flour mixture has a neutral, almost nonexistent taste, so it won’t alter the flavors of your baked goods, no matter what kind. This makes it suitable for sweet and savory baking alike. You can even use it to make homemade gluten-free gravies, sauces, and pastas if you’re so inclined. Best of all, it works as a 1:1 substitution flour, so you don’t have to alter your regular recipes when converting them to gluten-free. You can buy this flour in a 2-pound, 5-pound, or 25-pound bag for really serious bakers.
Cons: The only real downside to this gluten-free flour is how expensive it is. Specialty gluten-free foods and baking ingredients are pricier than their standard counterparts anyway, but this one has a price high tag even by those standards.
Bottom Line: Whether you’ve been eating gluten-free for years or are just starting to cut it out of your diet, you can’t go wrong with this multipurpose gluten-free flour. Since you can use it for sweet and savory baking alike, you won’t have to buy two separate bags of flour for different tastes and flavors.
King Arthur Certified Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour
A 1:1 gluten-free flour that prevents you from needing to tinker with your recipes when converting them to gluten-free.
Pros: A 1:1 gluten-free baking flour is an extremely handy baking ingredient for experienced and novice gluten-free bakers alike. Instead of having to fiddle and experiment with the right amount of flour to make regular cookies, cakes, etc. recipes gluten-free, 1:1 flour means you don’t have to alter the amount of flour in the recipe at all. In other words, this high-quality 1:1 gluten-free flour completely eliminates the need for trial and error experimentation when converting your recipes. Not only is this flour certified gluten-free, dairy-free, and kosher, but it’s loaded with nutrients that other gluten-free flours tend to lack. It contains extra iron, calcium, and vitamin B to add extra nutrition to your baked goods. The resealable bag helps to keep the flour inside fresher for whenever you need it next. Each bag of flour has a 3-pound capacity to last you that much longer and was made in a certified gluten-free facility.
Cons: This flour wasn’t really designed to accommodate baking recipes that involve yeast or yeasted dough. Thus you’ll have to find another gluten-free flour if you want to make products like gluten-free pizza or bread.
Bottom Line: Take the guesswork out of your gluten-free baking with this 1:1 gluten-free flour. Made from a blend of rice and sorghum flour, you’ll be able to use all your favorite old recipes from prior to your diagnosis without the experimentation and ruined batches of cookies or cupcakes.
Anthony's Organic Coconut Flour
A certified gluten-free and organic flour that's also vegan and keto-friendly.
Pros: Having a hard time finding a gluten-free flour that’s also certified organic? Look no further. This coconut flour is certified USDA organic and verified gluten-free, so it kills two birds with one stone. There are no preservatives used in making this flour, and it’s only made from one ingredient: milled ground coconut. This means that this flour is also compatible with vegan, keto, and plant-based diets as well as gluten-free ones. And since it’s made from coconuts, this flour has more fiber and protein than the average gluten-free flour. It also adds a bit of sweetness and density (the latter of which is especially hard to achieve in gluten-free baking) to your baked goods, making it an especially good choice for products like cakes and cookies.
Cons: If you have a coconut or general nut allergy, you’ll have to find a different organic gluten-free flour since this one is made solely from coconuts. It’s also not the best choice for savory baked goods due to its natural sweetness.
Bottom Line: If you’re trying to eat organic and/or a plant-based diet as well as gluten-free, this is the perfect flour for you. It’s USDA-certified organic and non-GMO verified, so you’ll feel good about putting it into your baked goods and subsequently into your body. Just be sure to avoid it if you have any sort of nut allergy.
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
A four-bag pack of all-purpose, 1:1 gluten-free flour that won't require any extra specialty ingredients.
Pros: Do you bake a lot? This high-quality gluten-free flour is sold in packs of four, each containing 22 ounces (over a pound) of flour. If you need more or less flour, never fear; you can buy this flour in a single 1.37-pound bag, an 8-pound set, a 16-pound set, or a 25-pound bag. They’re mixed in a separate, completely gluten-free facility, so you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination if you’re highly sensitive to gluten. This blend of sweet rice flour, whole-grain brown flour, whole-grain sorghum flour, and tapioca flour comes together to make an all-purpose, 1:1 flour mix that is suitable for a gamut of gluten-free baked goods from cookies and brownies to pancakes and muffins and more. It’ll also work in more savory foods like gravies and homemade pasta. The xanthan gum and potato starch help your baked goods keep their structural integrity and texture without falling apart at one touch. You won’t have to add any specialty ingredients or customize your recipes when making them gluten-free.
Cons: This is another gluten-free flour that doesn’t work quite as well with items like bread that requires the dough to rise before baking. You can use this flour for such products, but it may take a few tries to get the hang of it.
Bottom Line: If you bake often, you’re going to want to order your gluten-free flour in larger bulk quantities or bags. And this bulk pack of gluten-free flours, from a highly trusted gluten-free brand with their own separate gluten-free facilities, is perfect for high-volume bakers.
Blanched Gluten Free Flour
A gluten-free flour made out of finely sifted, blanched almonds and no other extra ingredients.
Pros: This almond flour is an ideal choice not only for gluten-free baking but for several other dietary needs as well. The only ingredient in this flour is finely sifted blanched almonds, so you don’t have to wonder what sort of odd products or preservatives go into your flour and, subsequently, your digestive tract. Since almonds are the sole ingredient, this flour is allergy-safe pretty much across the board, except for tree nuts. It’s also ideal for anyone following vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or keto diets. The blanched almonds that are ground up to make the flour are of the highest possible quality and are certified non-GMO. They’re even packed with protein, fiber, and vitamin E. Choose between a 1- and a 3-pound bag of this almond flour, depending on your needs and how often you bake. It’s also great for cooking as well as baking, such as coating fish or chicken.
Cons: Since this is another nut-based flour, it’s obviously also another choice that you’ll have to skip if you have any sort of nut allergy or sensitivity. And while great for baking, keep in mind that you’ll probably need to add more almond flour than regular flour that the recipe calls for, so you will likely go through it faster.
Bottom Line: As long as you don’t have any sort of nut allergy, this gluten-free almond flour should suit your needs nicely. It doesn’t contain any extra unrecognizable ingredients or preservatives; just be prepared to add a binding agent like xanthan gum or egg white (if you’re not vegan) to hold your baked goods together.
Eating gluten-free is a big hassle, but it’s a necessary one for many people. Buying your own gluten-free flour makes it much easier for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance to enjoy tasty cakes, cookies, pies, breads, and more without having to worry about cross contamination or paying twice the price for a baked good that tastes like dry cardboard or sawdust.