This article, Everything You Need to Know about Cup for Cup Gluten-Free Flour Blends, contains affiliate links. This article updated June 2019.
After being gluten-free for more than seven years, you could consider me a bit of a gluten-free flour expert…. well, maybe a junkie. I’ve tried many gluten-free flours. Maybe too many – lol!
However, if you’re just starting your gluten-free journey, you are very lucky. The commercially available cup for cup gluten-free flour blends on the market today come ready for you to use as a measure for measure substitute.
It wasn’t always that way. You see, gluten is a key ingredient in baking. It’s the “glue” that holds recipes together. When gluten is mixed with water, the flour becomes dough and is stretchy. This elasticity is not seen with gluten-free flours.
So gluten-free bakers wised up. They realized that they could not bake a gluten-free cake that held together well and tasted good by using just one gluten-free flour, like rice flour. Instead, they found if you combined several types of flours, starches, and binders, each offering different textures and protein properties, they could find a good combination that would closely mimic the taste and texture of gluten.
The good news is you don’t have to do that work because it’s already been done for you. Today you can simply purchase a cup for cup gluten-free flour substitute to make the recipes you loved prior to becoming gluten-free. It’s just short of a gluten-free miracle if you ask me!
While I think having so many options is amazing, it’s still important to test various cup for cup gluten-free flour blends to find one you like most. You may find that one brand works well for your grandmother’s cookie recipe, while another blend works better for getting that flaky pie dough or homemade pasta.
All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour vs. Cup for Cup Gluten-Free Flour
There is a difference when it comes to a gluten-free all-purpose flour and a cup for cup gluten-free flour blend and it’s typically because all-purpose mixes do not include xanthan gum or guar gum. These are binding agents that literally hold your baked goods together. Without the gums, your cookies would literally crumble.
Some people do not want to eat xanthan gum (it’s a highly processed ingredient), or they prefer to add their own amount of xanthan gum depending on the baked good they’re making.
Bob’s Red Mill has this chart to help you understand how much xanthan gum to make depending on the gluten-free baked good you’re making.
What’s Inside a Gluten-Free Flour Blend?
When you buy a cup for cup gluten-free flour blend, you’ll notice a combination of a few types of ingredients:
- You’ll see at least two different types of flour, which might include a mix of white rice flour, brown rice flour, quinoa flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, etc.
- You’ll see one or a mix of starch(es), including but not limited to corn, arrowroot, potato and tapioca starch.
- You’ll see xanthan gum or guar gum, which, as mentioned prior, are binding agents that hold your gluten-free baked goods together when gluten is not present. Some mixes may include psyllium husk, another binding agent that is also high in fiber (a key ingredient in laxatives).
I truly believe that choosing a cup for cup gluten-free flour blend is in the tastebuds of the beholder. You may like the taste and texture of something that another person does not like. That’s why it’s important to try your favorite recipes using various flour blends and see what happens.
Best Cup for Cup Gluten-Free Flour Blends
I have a vision to one day test the exact same recipe with several different blends so I can truly understand how each blend works when put to the test. As you can imagine, this would be a big undertaking, so I need to table it for now.
In the meantime, here my top TWO favorite cup for cup gluten-free flour blends I personally think are worth trying with your favorite recipes. See if you can make your favorite recipes gluten-free with these gluten-free flour blends that swap measure for measure with wheat flour.
(1) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Flour:
Bob’s Red Mill offers a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend that I love – and it’s my go-to gluten-free flour mix. I love that it’s also dairy-free and corn-free – big pluses in my book!
You can purchase Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Flour on Amazon and in many grocery stores nationwide.
(2) Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend:
This is a wonderful gluten-free flour blend and one I highly recommend. Cup4Cup works well in cakes, cookies and homemade pasta recipes. I thought it worked beautifully when I made my highly requested homemade gluten-free pasta, too.
The only reason I don’t use Cup4Cup as much anymore is that it contains dairy. While I’m not fully dairy-free, I do limit my dairy intake and I often find myself baking for dairy-free friends.
You can purchase Cup4Cup on Amazon.
Other Cup for Cup Gluten-Free Flour Blends
I wish I had time to try all the wonderful cup for cup gluten-free flour blends available on the market today, but alas, there are too many of them. This is a great problem to have, agree?
In the past, everyone would have to buy all these different flour and make their own blends. Now, we can can use some of the best blends created by recipe experts.
Here are some other cup for cup gluten-free flour blends you may want to try. If you’ve tried any of these blends, please leave a comment to share which ones work best for you and why. This is a great opportunity for us to share what we know!
- Better Batter All-Purpose Flour Mix
- GF Jules Gluten-Free Flour
- King Arthur’s Measure-for-Measure Gluten-Free Flour
- Namaste Gluten-Free Perfect Flour Blend
- Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
- Ryze Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Want to Blend Your Own Gluten-Free Flour?
I personally do not blend my own cup for cup gluten-free flour blend unless I’m following a recipe that says I need to (such as when I make my gluten-free challah recipe). I am completely satisfied with the gluten-free flour blends commercially available.
However, if you’re looking to create your own flour blend, I want to share a bit more about each gluten-free flour so you become familiar with the huge variety flours, starches and ingredients often found in gluten-free (and even paleo) baking.
Remember, you’ll want to combine a variety of flours, at least one starch, and of course, don’t forget the binding agents (gums), when creating your own gluten-free blend. The Heritage Cook offers great information about how to build your own gluten-free flour blend.
Gluten-Free Flours 101
Almond flour is made from ground almonds. Blanched almond flour, which is most commonly used, means the outer skin of the almonds was removed before the almonds were milled. Almond flour is high in protein, fiber and fat and adds extreme moisture to baked goods. It’s sweet and nutty too.
Amaranth is an ancient grain that can be turned into a flour. It’s high in protein, minerals and vitamins and has a mild, nutty flavor.
Arrowroot is similar to cornstarch (and can be used in place of cornstarch). It is often used in gluten-free baking and also can be used in a roux as a sauce thickener.
Bean flours have a strong, nutty flavor and work best in savory baked goods.
Brown rice flour is one of the most commonly used flours in gluten-free baking. It is milled from unpolished brown rice. It should be refrigerated and kept in a cool place to keep it fresh.
Buckwheat flour is treated as a grain but it is not a cereal or grass, rather, it’s classified as a fruit. It’s high in fiber and protein and has a strong flavor.
Cassava flour is a white powdery flour made from peeled, dried and ground yucca root (tapioca flour is just the starch of the yucca root while cassava flour is the entire root). It can be used in equal weight measurement to wheat flour, making it one of the best grain-free and Paleo flour options.
Chickpea flour is used a lot of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine and is made from protein- and fiber-rich garbanzo beans. It has a strong taste and works well in baking gluten-free breads.
Coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat and has a distinct sweet coconut-flavor. It is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, healthy fats and protein, making it a popular choice for those on a grain-free, Paleolithic diet. Coconut flour is highly absorbent and only a little flour is needed to produce a recipe as the flour absorbs the liquid in your recipes.
Corn flour is made from finely ground corn that is ground to a very fine, flour-like texture. It can be used in making baked goods.
Cornmeal is made from coarsely ground corn and is coarser in texture and yellow in color. Corn muffins and polenta are typically made with cornmeal vs. corn flour.
Cornstarch is the refined starch derived from corn and is used to thicken sauces and add silkiness to a baked good.
Guar gum is a thickening agent that adds structure or “glue” to gluten-free baked goods. Without guar gum (or xanthan gum), gluten-free baked goods would crumble.
Flaxseed meal has a mild, nutty flavor and contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. It had a nutritional boost to flour and can also be used as substitute for eggs in baked goods. Only a little (1-3 tablespoons) of flaxseed meal is needed in recipes.
Millet flour has a mild, sweet and nutty flavor and is made from the ancient millet grain and adds a cake-like crumble to baked goods.
Oat flour is made from oats that are pulsed into a flour-like texture. Remember, while oats are naturally gluten-free, they are notoriously cross contaminated with wheat crops. Therefore, you should only use clearly labeled gluten-free oat flour. Oats have an earthy flavor and add moisture and structure to gluten-free baked goods. (Read, Are Oats Gluten-Free?)
Psyllium husk powder is a form of fiber made from the husks of the Plantago ovat plant’s seeds. It is a laxative and is the primary ingredient in Metamucil®. Psyllium husk has gained popularity in gluten-free baking as a binding agent. It has a high viscosity, which allows it to bind to water more effectively than xanthan gum to give baked goods good structure.
Potato starch is a fine white flour derived from the flavorless starch from white potatoes and has a similar texture as cornstarch and tapioca starch.
Potato flour is made from whole peeled potatoes that are cooked, dried and ground into a powder. It can be used in place of xanthan or guar gum in some recipes.
Quinoa flour is made from the ancient quinoa grain (technically quinoa is a seed). Quinoa is the only non-animal product that is a complete protein (this means it contains all nine essential amino acids). Quinoa flour has a delicate, nutty (and sometimes bitter) flavor.
Rice flour is made from finely milled rice. Rice flour is used in baking and typically works well when blended with starches. Rice flour doesn’t have a strong flavor or color, making it ideal for baking but it requires blending with other flours and starches to work.
Sorghum flour, also known as jowar, milo or cholam flour, is made from ground sorghum grains. It is high in fiber and protein. Sorghum flour has a mild, sweet flavor, making it ideal for use in gluten-free baking.
Sweet rice flour, also known as mochi flour, is made from glutinous rice flour. The word “glutinous” simply describes the stickiness of the rice when cooked and it does not contain gluten despite what the name suggests. Glutinous rice flour is often used as a thickening agent in sauces, crusts and breads.
Tapioca flour or tapioca starch are used interchangeably to describe the starch derived from the yucca root. It can be used as a thickening agent and has similar properties to potato starch and cornstarch.
Teff flour is an ancient gluten-free grain that looks like a poppy seed. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is high in calcium, protein and fiber.
Tigernut flour is gaining in popularity, and, unlike its name suggests, it’s not a nut at all. A tigernut is a root vegetable, making it naturally gluten-free and grain-free. Tigernut flour is slightly nutty and sweet in flavor, so recipes calling for tigernut flour may require less sugar.
Xanthan gum is a thickening agent that adds structure or “glue” to gluten-free baked goods. Without xanthan gum (or guar gum), gluten-free baked goods would crumble.
Are You Up to the Challenge?
Baking gluten-free is tough – I won’t lie. Without the gluten (or glue), recipes can fall apart, fall flat or taste gritty.
I highly recommend new gluten-free bakers take advantage of the wonderful cup for cup gluten-free flour blends commercially available, and then, as you get more adventurous, begin to mix your own gluten-free flour blends, if you dare.