5 Alternative Flours to Try (and How to Use Them)

buckwheat banana cake
Photo Credit: Alex Lau / Bon Appetit

February 9, 2021

By Sheela Prakash

Flour is a pantry staple for good reason: It’s present in just about every baked good, sweet or savory. While all-purpose flour is far and away the most popular choice, it’s really just one of many. There are countless other flours out there that are well worth exploring, even if you’re not following a certain diet, like gluten-free or low-carb. These alternative flours have different textures and flavors, and they often have added nutrients as well.

Here are 5 alternative flours to try:

1. Buckwheat Flour

Despite containing the word “wheat” in its name, buckwheat flour is totally unrelated to wheat. In fact, it’s wheat- and gluten-free. It’s also antioxidant-rich and a great source of B vitamins.

The color of buckwheat flour is quite dark, resulting in deep brown baked goods. The flavor is also a bit intense: It’s earthy, nutty, and slightly bitter.

How to use it: It’s best to combine it with another flour (as in this Buckwheat Banana Cake with Yogurt-Espresso Frosting from Bon Appetit) — unless you’re making something that’s traditionally made completely with flour, such as buckwheat crepes.

almond flour cookies
Photo Credit: A Saucy Kitchen

1. Almond Flour

Almond flour is the perfect introduction into the world of alternative flours. It’s made from almonds that have been blanched, to remove their skins, then finely ground. It lends a nutty, slightly sweet taste to baked goods and, because almonds naturally contain lots of healthy fat, it makes cookies and cakes extra moist and rich-tasting.

Almond flour is naturally gluten-free and grain-free and suitable for a low-carb diet. It’s also a good source of protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin E.

How to use it: Substitute 1:1 for all-purpose flour.

feta pizza
Photo Credit: Candy Sharf

3. Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour is also known as garbanzo flour, gram flour, or besan and is made from finely ground dried chickpeas. It’s full of protein and fiber, along with magnesium and potassium. It’s also naturally gluten- and grain-free.

The flavor of chickpea flour is distinctively savory, so it works better in savory baked goods than sweet ones.

How to use it: Blended with another flour if using it in a sweet recipe. Or, just stick to savory baked goods like this Chickpea Flour Sandwich Bread from Power Hungry.

cassava flour pumpkin bread
Photo Credit: All the Nourishing Things

4. Cassava Flour

This lesser-known alternative flour is made from the whole root of a starchy root vegetable native to South America. Cassava, otherwise known as yuca, delivers a mellow flavor that closely mimics all-purpose flour.

It’s high in carbohydrates, if that’s a concern, but it’s also fiber-rich.

How to use it: Substitute 1:1 for all-purpose flour.

oat flour muffins
Photo Credit: A Couple Cooks

5. Oat Flour

Oat flour is one of the easiest alternative flours to try at home because you can make it yourself. Simply blend old fashioned rolled oats in a food processor until they’re finely ground. Of course, oat flour is readily available at grocery stores, too.

As long as the oats are noted to be gluten-free, oat flour is, too. It lends a nutty flavor and chewy texture to baked goods and is perfect in both sweet and savory recipes. You’ll get lots of good fiber from oat flour, as well as nutrients like protein, magnesium, and phosphorus.

How to use it: It can be used on its own but I love using it in combination with almond flour.