Overview of Gluten-Free Flour
This article provide a brief overview of gluten-free flours and answers some common questions.
What is gluten-free flour?
Gluten-free flour refers to any flour that is not made with one of the 3 gluten-containing grains of wheat, barely, or rye. Standard baking flour contains wheat and therefore contains gluten. Gluten-free flours include singular flours made from grains and nuts or a blend of flours and starches.
What’s the difference between gluten-free flour and regular flour?
Gluten-free flour doesn’t contain wheat or other gluten containing grains like regular flour does, and all purpose gluten-free flours are blends of multiple flours, starches, and gums that attempt to replicate the structure and consistency that the gluten in regular all-purpose wheat flour provides to foods. Singular gluten-free flours, like almond flour, rice flour, or buckwheat flour, usually don’t come as close to replicating the taste and texture of wheat flour in foods as gluten-free flour blends do.
What are the different types of gluten-free flours?
The 2 main types of gluten-free flours are gluten-free flour blends and flours made from singular grains, nuts, or other plants. Gluten-free flour blends are a combination of grain, nut, or plant flours and starches, and these flour blends are generally used in baked goods the same way wheat flour is used.
Some gluten-free flour blends distinguish between “all purpose” gluten-free flour and “cup for cup”,”measure for measure”, or “1:1” gluten-free flour. All-purpose gluten-free flour is used when a gluten-free recipe calls for flour, whereas “cup for cup” or “measure-for-measure” flour serves as a 1 for 1 replacement of regular wheat flour in recipes. While a 1 for 1 replacement works in some cases, it may not work well for recipes that use yeast, because gluten-free flour typically does not rise as well.
As an example, if you were following a gluten-free bread recipe, you would likely use a blend of gluten-free flours, but most gluten-free bakers wouldn’t use a bread recipe that normally calls for wheat flour and directly substitute the 1 for 1 gluten-free flour because it likely wouldn’t work well. Similarly, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of gluten-free flour, you won’t get as good results if used 1 cup of just coconut flour or rice flour.
Here are some of the singular gluten-free flours:
Gluten-Free Grain Flours:
- Brown Rice Flour
- White Rice Flour
- Sweet Rice Flour
- Sweet Brown Rice Flour
- Millet Flour
- Quinoa Flour
- Buckwheat Flour
- Fonio Flour
- Teff Flour
- Oat Flour
Gluten-Free Nut Flours
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flour
Gluten-Free Legume Flours
- Garbanzo Bean/Chickpea Flour
- Fava Bean Flour
Other Gluten-Free Plant Flours
- Tapioca Flour
- Cassava Flour
- Potato Flour
- Corn Flour
- Arrowroot Flour
- Sorghum Flour
- Amaranth Flour
- Tigernut Flour
What does gluten-free flour contain?
I compared 20 different gluten-free flour blends and found the most common ingredients are:
- Rice Flour (Brown Rice, White Rice, Rice, & Sweet Rice)
- Tapioca Flour/Starch (Tapioca Flour and Starch are the same)
- Potato Starch
- Sorghum Flour
- Xanthan Gum
The 20 gluten-free flour blends compared did not contain yeast, soy, eggs or peanuts, or added sugar.
Allergens in Gluten-Free Flours
Relatively few of the gluten-free flour blends compared did contain at least one food allergen:
- 2 out of 20 gluten-free flour blends contained milk in the form of milk powder
- 1 out of 20 gluten-free flour blends contained tree nuts in the form of almonds flour and coconut flour
- 4 out of 20 gluten-free flour blends contained corn in the form of cornstarch or corn flour
Does gluten-free flour have starch?
The majority of gluten-free flour blends contain starch. The most common kind of starches in gluten-free flour blends are tapioca starch and potato starch, but cornstarch, modified food starch, and rice starch are also used in some gluten-free flour blends.