Not only is the use of alternative flours a must for those with gluten allergies, but it's also a great option for adding nutrients to many recipes. There are a ton of alternative flours on the market, so it's hard for even the most dedicated of bakers, like me, to keep track of them all. Depending on if you're looking for a lower-calorie banana bread or higher protein pancake, you can decide which alternative flour best meets your needs

Here is a breakdown of all of the most popular alternative flours, how they're made, what nutritional benefits they provide, and how you can start using them to make all of your favorite recipes. 

Amaranth Flour

Amaranth flour is made from milling the seeds of the amaranth plant. This results in a flour that’s high in protein content as well as calcium, iron, and fiber. While it cannot be substituted one for one for regular flour, there are a variety of recipes available to use amaranth, from pasta to waffles. 

Banana Flour

Banana flour is a great low calorie and gluten-free alternative to the original. It is made by milling dehydrated green bananas, resulting in a flour that has high levels of resistant starch. That means you can use less banana flour than you would regular flour when you substitute it in all of your favorite baking recipes. The result is a fluffy baked good without an overwhelming banana flavor. 

Buckwheat Flour

egg, bread, toast, egg yolk
Pascaline Pouzols

Despite what the name might suggest, buckwheat is actually made from a seed. It has a ton of health benefits, but the big leg up is that it has higher fiber content than oatmeal. Although buckwheat flour has a bitter, strong flavor, it can still be used in a variety of recipes. Some of the most popular are buckwheat crepes, pancakes, and tarts. 

Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour, also called garbanzo bean flour, is arguably the most nutrient-dense flour alternative. Not only is it packed with protein, but it also has a healthy dose of fiber and several other micronutrients.

While many gluten-free flour options lack binding power to give your baked goods a sturdy texture, chickpea flour is naturally dense and binds well. That makes it perfect for making bread, muffins, and cakes. 

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour, made from the dried coconut meat that is a byproduct of coconut milk production, is high in protein, fiber, and fat. That makes it a great substitute for regular flour to produce a more filling product.Bakers beware when using coconut flour in your regular recipes, though, because it is super absorbent. Recipes calling for coconut flour use a lot less of the stuff than you would think and more eggs than a normal recipe. My personal favorite recipes to make with coconut flour are pancakes and banana bread. 

Millet Flour

Because millet has a very similar protein structure to wheat, millet flour is a fantastic option for 1:1 substitution in recipes. The texture of millet bread is very light and the color is light, unlike many gluten-free breads. In addition to producing gluten-free goods that mimic those made with regular flour, millet flour adds a slightly sweet, corn-like flavor and some extra nutrients that wheat flour doesn't have. Although millet flour can be substituted 100% for regular flour, it's best to use it in combination with other flours in muffins and breads. 

Nut Flours (Almond, Peanut, Hazelnut, Cashew, etc.)

All nut flours are made from grinding what’s leftover of nuts after the oil is removed, while nut meals are made from grinding the whole nut. In recipes, they’re usually interchangeable.

Depending on which nut you choose, it will add a great, rich flavor to your baked goods. Although it’s higher in calories than regular and most alternative flours, nut meal adds healthy fats and proteins to baked goods to keep you feeling satisfied. 

They’re also great for a low-carb breading that adds protein to your recipes. To save a little money, you can make your own almond flour for use in a variety of baked goods. 

Oat Flour

As you can probably guess from the name, oat flour is simply made by grinding up the same oats that you use to make your morning oatmeal. It’s easy to make this flour at home, plus it’s cheaper than the store-bought version.

By substituting oat flour for the regular version, you’ll add extra protein and fiber to your diet. You can even skip the middle step of making the oat flour from oats when you make these delicious and healthy blender muffins

Potato Flour

Beware when shopping for potato flour, made from the entire potato, because it cannot be substituted for potato starch, which is only the starch.

Potato flour absorbs a lot of liquid, like coconut flour, and has a strong potato flavor, so it’s best used in savory bread.

Potato starch, on the other hand, doesn’t add any potato flavor to recipes, so it can be used in a variety of applications from breads to sauce thickeners to sweet baked goods. 

Quinoa Flour

Quinoa, if you didn’t already know, is a complete protein. That means it has all of the essential amino acids. Quinoa flour, therefore, is a great gluten-free flour substitute for adding healthy and filling protein to your baked goods. It adds a pleasant nutty flavor and can usually be substituted 1:1 for regular flour in recipes.

DIY quinoa flour is super easy to make at home from dried quinoa, so no need to run out to the store to try this alternative flour. 

Rice Flour

Rice flour is a really versatile option that is most commonly used in asian cuisine, like for making noodles or the trendy mochi dessert.

It is available in several varieties other than regular white rice flour, like glutinous rice flour and brown rice flour. Brown and white rice flour are interchangeable in recipes, but add different flavors.

It is especially great for breading fried dishes, which many gluten-free people have to miss out on. 

Sorghum Flour

Relearning how to bake with gluten-free flours can be frustrating. Many can’t be substituted 1:1 in your favorite recipes, and even if they can, the final product often ends up dense and nothing like it was with regular flour.

Sorghum flour is a great option for people looking for an alternative flour for their sweeter recipes. While it doesn’t do great as a 1:1 substitute, there are plenty of sorghum flour recipes out there for all your baking adventures.

Sorghum is also a common ingredient in gluten-free beers

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, is made by processing and drying the cassava root. Buyers beware that Cassava flour is something different entirely and can’t be used the same way in recipes.

Tapioca flour is most commonly used as a thickener, but it can also make some amazing gluten-free baked goods like this Brazilian cheese bread.

Recently, this option as a flour alternative for those on the paleo diet

Teff Flour

Teff is a tiny grain with huge nutritional benefits, like like protein, calcium, and iron. Teff flour is similar to quinoa and millet flour, because they're all from similar seeds. When it's ground into flour, the texture of teff is perfect for making sweet baked goods like pie crusts, cookies, and breads. 

Usually gluten-free bakers use a mixture of several alternative flours to get the perfect texture when it’s substituted 1:1 for all purpose flour in baked goods.

Here are some possible combinations that you can try, depending on what you’re making and the nutritional benefits you want to add to your diet.

If DIY flour seems like a waste of time to you, try Bob’s Red Mill for a huge variety of gluten-free flours and blends, as well as recipe ideas.