Baking with gluten-free flour mixes and blends is not for the faint of heart. There are a lot of considerations you’ll need to make when baking with gluten-free flours to ensure your baked goods have the right taste and texture. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
After following a gluten-free diet for nearly a decade, I like to consider myself a bit of a gluten-free flour expert… well, maybe a gluten-free baking flour junkie is more like it.
I’ve tried many gluten-free flour blends and find they each react differently depending on the recipe you’re making.
If you’re just starting your gluten-free journey, you are very lucky because the commercially available gluten-free flour mixes and blends on the market today come ready for you to use as a measure for measure substitute in any of your recipes.
Psst! If you’re looking for more information about how to bake with almond flour, please read my article, Can You Use Almond Flour in Place of Regular Flour?
It wasn’t always that way, though.
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 doughy and stretchy. This elasticity is not seen with gluten-free baking 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 a single gluten-free flour, such as 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.
And instead of going through all the hard word of coming up with making a gluten-free baking flour blend of your own, all you have to do is go to the store and pick one to try.
In fact, most grocery stores carry several gluten-free flour mixes and blends, giving you the opportunity to find your gluten-free baking groove.
While I think having options is a fantastic feat for the gluten-free community, it’s still important to test various cup for cup gluten-free baking flour blends to find one you like most or the one that works best in any given recipe.
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. You will also need a totally different gluten-free flour mix when baking sweet breads made with yeast.
All-Purpose vs. Cup for Cup Gluten-Free Baking 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 gums are binding agents that hold your baked goods together. Without the gums, your cookies might 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 offers up this chart to help you understand how much xanthan gum to add depending on the baked good you’re making.
What’s Inside a Gluten-Free Baking Flour Blend?
When you buy a cup for cup 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 believe that choosing a cup for cup gluten-free flour baking 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 different flour blends in your favorite recipes to see what happens.
Yeast vs. Non-Yeast Recipes
Bob’s Red Mill discusses the differences between its all purpose gluten-free flour blend, and its 1:1 gluten-free flour blend, and one of the takeaways from the article is that different flours work different in yeast vs. non-yeast recipes.
Bob’s Red Mill says that its All Purpose Flour works well in yeasted recipes because it contains a higher protein and fiber content. An article posted on the Bob’s Red Mill website goes on to say that a higher protein content will add better structure for the carbon dioxide bubbles released from the yeast.
On the other hand, the company says its 1-to-1 gluten-free flour works well with recipes that use baking powder and/or baking soda as the leavening agent, and it already contains xanthan gum to improve the structure of baked goods.
Instead of using an all-purpose or 1-to-1 flour blend to make sweet bread recipes, I highly recommend using Lorraine’s Sweet Dough Mix.
This blend will change your life as it’s specially formulated to enable you to make those doughy recipes you crave.
Best Gluten-Free Baking 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 the idea for now.
In the meantime, here my top TWO favorite cup for cup gluten-free baking flour blends that I think are worth trying with your favorite recipes. Each measure 1:1 with wheat flour. So if your recipe calls for one cup of wheat flour, simply swap it with one of these cup for cup baking flour blends.
(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. 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 baking 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 Gluten-Free Baking Flour Brands
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 gluten-free baking flour blends you may want to try.
And 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
And don’t forget to use Lorraine’s Sweet Dough Mix when making sweet breads made with yeast.
Want to Blend Your Own Gluten-Free Baking Flour?
I personally do not blend my own baking 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 blends that are 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 baking flour blend.
PS: The Heritage Cook offers great information about how to build your own gluten-free flour blend as well.
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 commercially available gluten-free baking flour blends. As you become more adventurous, you can begin to mix your own gluten-free flour blends, if you dare or desire. For me, I’m happy buying one at the store. One and done!