Whether you need to steer clear of gluten because of an allergy or just like to experiment in the kitchen, there are plenty of choices beyond good old wheat. Mix things up with these flour alternatives.
New Ways to Get Whole Grains
Different flours provide unique flavor to the dishes you use them in. It’s also a good way to get in some of the whole-grain nutrients you can’t find in wheat flour. If you do have a gluten allergy, check packaging to make sure the brand you buy isn’t made in a facility that also manufactures wheat products.
You can find many of these flours at your local health food store or online, or you can also make your own with a quick zip of dry grains in the food processor. Since these flours don’t contain gluten, you’ll usually see them combined with other flours and maybe some xanthan gum in recipes for baked goods to get the right texture.
Characteristics: Fine and powdery, made from white or brown rice. Lower in protein, but higher in fiber than enriched wheat flour.
Uses: Baked goods, tempura and crispy coatings on veggies, meat, or fish.
Recipe: Crab Cakes
Characteristics: Made from whole-grain oats (also called oat “groats”) and high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Our resident food scientist Alton Brown has his own take on oat flour — watch this video and get his recipe for gluten-free oatmeal-raisin cookies. (Note: You can make your own oat flour by grinding oats in the food processor. If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure you buy oats labeled “gluten-free” as conventional oats are often contaminated during the growing and/or processing.)
Uses: Breads, pancakes, toppings and coatings with a nutty flavor – great for fruit crisps.
Recipe: Pear and Ginger Crumble
Gluten-Free Baking Mix
Characteristics: Made from a combination of dried and ground beans, potato starch and tapioca flour (see below). It’s slightly lower in calories than most other grain flours. There are a few different brand out there, we like Bob’s Red Mill.
Uses: Pizza dough, cookies, muffins and breads.
Recipe: Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins
Characteristics: Finely ground cornmeal made from whole yellow or white kernels. It has a slightly gritty texture and sweet corn flavor and is especially high in iron. “Masa Harina” is a special type for making tortillas, you can find it at most large chain grocery stores.
Uses: Polenta, crispy coatings, corn tortillas
Recipe: Corn Tortillas
Characteristics: Also called “cassava flour”, it’s derived from the starchy tuber called yucca.
Uses: Thickening agent for soups, sauces and fruit fillings; similar to cornstarch.
Recipe: Chewy Gluten-Free Cookies
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »