How To Substitute Gluten Free Flour in Recipes?


I LOVE gluten free flour…………. and I have NO “issues” with gluten. Rather I eat gluten free flour because I love the taste and the health benefits. 

Even f you have NO “issues” with gluten, the wonderful taste and the health benefits of gluten free flour are STAGGERING!

Gluten free flour can be  used to make delicious baked treats that are really healthy for you and offer a variety of tastes that are different from our “wheat based society.” Once you start baking with gluten free flour, you will wonder why you have not always used these amazing flours before!  If you want to know HOW to bake with gluten free flour, READ ON!

What Is a “Primary” Gluten Free Flour?

It is important to understand that when baking with gluten free flour, it is advised to combine multiple flours (primary and secondary flours) to achieve the desired taste. The reason is that combining different types of gluten free flour, helps the taste, and helps to bind your treat together. (Gluten holds things together and rich protein in flours or eggs can help substitute for this. However, if you used only one protein rich flour, it would not taste good; as it would be TOO heavy in protein.)

The combination of flours is the magic trick!

So what I mean by a “primary” gluten free flour is that you can use this type of flour with the highest percentage in your recipe. For example, if you need 2 cups of flour, you can use 1 1/2 cups of a “primary” gluten free flour, and then mix in other  flour as a “secondary” as a general guideline.

My Primary Gluten Free Flour Choices:

#1. Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is DELICIOUS.

  • The biggest question I am asked…..does it taste like coconuts?

No, it doesn’t make your food taste like coconuts, but it gives food a moisture that is wonderful and very healthy too! There are some recipes and cookbooks out there that enable you to cook ONLY using coconut flour; which would technically make it a primary flour, but I add it to the secondary list for most cases.

  • Bruce Fife wrote the book Cooking with Coconut Flour where you can use coconut flour as a primary flour…..with A LOT of eggs. I like his recipes if you double all of them to get 12 servings, and would recommend his book.
  • I typically use coconut flour as a “secondary gluten free flour” when I am creating recipes.

Tip: When baking with this gluten free flour, your recipe will need more moisture and more eggs to bind than many of the other flours. “A little coconut flour goes a long way.”

This fabulous gluten free flour can be used on it’s own as long as you have enough protein to bind it together. (Typically requires a lot of eggs) You can also use this flour as the primary flour and augment it with other gluten free flours. It is DELICIOUS and so healthy for you.

#2.  Blanched Almond flour

Almond flour is my favorite primary gluten free flour…….. HANDS DOWN!  This unique gluten free flour does not require the addition of other flours, as long as you are using a recipe that was designed for it. In saying that, almond flour also works really well in combining with other gluten free flours.

#3. Brown rice flour – This gluten free flour is a wonderful, healthy, primary flour and can be used as 75% of your flour source. Taken from the healthy “brown rice, this fiber rich flour is super healthy for kids and delicious!

Don’t you agree that the Garbanzo Bean marketing department should change the name? Well, they have tried. This gluten free flour is also called Chick Pea flour or Gram flour. That is the BEST they could come up with?

#4. Garbanzo bean flour– I know this gluten free flour doesn’t sound appetizing, but it is delicious, healthy and is a wonderful primary gluten free flour that you can use up to 75% in a recipe. And…………..NO, I know what you are thinking……… it doesn’t taste like beans! (I thought the same thing!)

My Favorite “Secondary” Gluten Free Flours:

A secondary gluten free flour, is one that you could combine with a primary flour to add nutrients, protein, taste for the health benefits and to help bind the baked goods together.

For example, if you used 1 1/2 cups of one of the primary flours, then you could combine a variety of “secondary” gluten free flour to make up the remaining 1/2 cup of flour that was left.


1. Quinoa Flour

Quinoa is a complete protein and is filled with health benefits.  This gluten free flour is a very versatile and easy to bake with.

Quinoa flour adds taste, moisture, protein and binding action to your baked treats; and should be a staple for gluten free baking.

2. Millet Flour

A healthy delicious and healthy gluten free flour, Millet flour is delicious to combine with other secondary flours.

3. Amaranth Flour

This gluten free flour is the most difficult to bake with. It is considered to be a “complete protein” and is very valuable to use for that reason. It also adds a sweet taste that is lovely.

  • Please beware though that too much of this gluten free flour can make your baked goods not turn out at all.

Tip: Do not use more than 1/4 of a cup (TOPS) of Amaranth flour in any recipe. Even 1-2 tablespoons enriches the health benefits of your treat.

4. Almond Meal

Please don’t confuse almond meal with blanched almond flour. They are NOT the same.

Almond meal grinds up the entire almond, where blanched almond flour removes the skin. The skin is loaded with health benefits, so almond meal is very good to use in cooking and baking; but only in very small amounts.

  • Almond meal doesn’t act like a “flour” would, and is best to add no more than 1/2 cup if you are replacing flour.

There are so many different types of gluten free flour including:  buckwheat, corn flour, potato flour, soya flour, tapioca flour, white rice flour, teff flour and sorghum flour to name a few.

I have not used every gluten free flour there is in baking; but when I do test each and every one of them…..I will let you know what I find. Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Join The Conversation: What is Your Favorite Gluten Free Flour and Why? Do You Have Any Questions About Gluten Free Flour? Please comment below.

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  1. anna says:

    what about lima bean flour in muffin recipes. i bought the flour and was looking for a real good and healthy muffin recipe. please reply!!!

    • Living Healthy Mom says:

      I LOVE IT!

      Have not tried it yet but once I do I will let you know what I find.

      Most of the time you can use 1/4 of almost any new flour in a recipe with good results. Try one of my muffin recipes and substitute 1/4 cup of flour with lima bean. Let me know what you find!

      Happy baking!

      • Brenda says:

        What I am looking for is a chart showing wheat to alternate flours.
        Like: 1 C wheat = ? C amaranth + ?C something else. This would be most helpful. I would also like to substitute wheat flour for alternative flour. I am very new at this. I have baked since I was 10-12 years old. Thank you for any help you can offer

        • Hi Brenda, this is a great question.

          When using healthy flours, the only hard core rule to go by is if you mix several of them together it will be easier to get to a 1 to 1 ratio of white flour. Only almond flour and coconut flour can be used on their own with a greatly adjusted recipe. All other ones taste best when blended with other flours. It also increases the nutritional level.

          So, if you are new to this fun adventure, you can start by just making what you bake healthier. Substitute a 1/4 of a cup of any flour with the white flour and keep the same recipe the same. You should have good results with almost any flour…..generally speaking, and depending what you are making. 1/4 of a cup of nutrition in your muffins is better than none.

          Next step….mix three flours together when you make something and see what happens.

          NOTE: Amaranth flour and quinoa flour should only be used in small quantities like 1/4 of a cup. It is too strong, and makes baked goods too moist if you use more.

          Easy flours to experiment mixing together are barley flour, oat flour, blanched almond flour, kamut flour, millet flour, garbanzo bean flour, brown rice flour, teff and buckwheat.

          Take three of these flours and mix together in a recipe and you should get great results for muffins, cookies, waffles, pancakes, scones etc.

          Coconut flour absorbs liquids and needs more protein and liquids in the recipe. If you add coconut flour, you should add more eggs and moisture like applesauce or almond milk.

          If you have only gluten free flours you will also need more protein to help bind.

          Okay…so that is a crash course in substitution. You will learn as you go and that is a lot of the fun!


  2. Solimar says:

    Your information here is wonderfully valuable! I have a child who must stay on a gluten free diet and I have e joyed learning about the amazing health benefits found in quinoa and amaranth flour. Even if someone isn’t gluten intolerant these flour are way more healthy than wheat!! Thanks again. 🙂

  3. Mary Ann says:

    I'm making a Lazy Daisy Cake. It callls for 2 cup of all purpose flour.Can I use glutenfree multi-purpose flour?

    • Living Healthy Mom says:

      Hi Mary Ann, This is a great question. It is possible to adjust regular recipes with a great deal of accuracy, but you can not substitute just the flours. Gluten free flours require more protein in recipes (example…eggs), and not all gluten free flours are the same. Various gluten free flours require varying approaches to your recipes.

      For example, coconut flour absorbs liquids and will often need more eggs and liquid such as yogurt, orange juice etc than other gluten free flours.

      Generally, I don\’t tend to like most gluten free mixes. Many of them have white rice flour as a high percentage flour, which doesn\’t have any more nutrients than white flour. If you pick your own flours you can chose ones that are nutritious and delicious.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Shirley says:

    What can I subsitute for flour, to make a crumb crust. My recipe calls for 1 1/2 c of flour, 3/4 c butter, 1/2 c br. sugar and 3/4 c. finely chopped nuts. You melt the butter stir in the rest and then bake in a large flat pan, stirrring to break up chunks. It is a base for a frozen dessert. This dessert is requested every year and this year, we have someone who cannot eat gluten. I would love to still bring the dessert.

    • Living Healthy Mom says:

      Hi Shirley, I would start my using Spectrum shortening instead of butter. It is a healthy shortening based on coconut oil. That will make your treat a lot healthier, yet keep the consistency you need for fat.

      I have made many crumb crusts using coconut sugar so I would add that too instead of white sugar.

      If you really want to top the dish off with “health,” (I would!:) combine a mixture of white flour with another flour like coconut flour, or almond flour. If you are looking for a gluten free option, then use 100% blanched almond flour.

      Let me know how it goes. Good luck!