When you can’t use wheat flour for cooking, one of the obvious problems that comes up is what to use instead. Most beginners to being gluten-free find themselves launched into an orbit with spinning satellites of all these expensive flours that can be hard to track down. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to use. Here is a short alphabetical list of some gluten-free flours and basic information about them. Once you have all these you’re ready to make some bread. Check here to see choices for the best gluten-free bread machine.
Very few of these flours can be used alone to make anything edible. People who do a lot of gluten-free baking will often create flour mixes, which they will mix up in some quantity and then have handy for use any time.
Amaranth Flour – Has a light but pleasing nutty like or malt flavor. Ground from a plant seed. High in protein and nutritious. Added in small quantities to flour mixes for baking.
Arrowroot – Like the name would imply this is made from a root. If you are allergic to corn, this makes a great substitute. You can substitute measure for measure. Arrowroot is basically tasteless and keeps well.
Buckwheat - Despite it’s name, this is not wheat. It is actually a relative of rhubarb. A dark flour with a strong distinctive flavor. The seeds of the plant are ground to make this flour. Good in flour mixes for “whole grain” baked goods.
Cornstarch – This is starch that has been refined from corn. It is bland and should be used with other flours to create flour mixes. It stores well.
Garbanzo Bean Flour – Garbanzo beans are also known as chick peas. This flour is made from ground beans. The flour is high in protein and has a strong flavor. It should be stored in the refrigerator.
Garfava flour – This is made from garbanzo beans and fava beans. It stores well and has a strong flavor. Makes a good substitute for rice flour. It is also high in protein. Good for bread, cakes, and cookies.
Millet flour – Millet comes from the grass family and is one of the earliest cultivated grains. It is nutritious and a good source of protein. It has a wonderful flavor and is a little sweet. Good in flour mixes. Popular for breads.
Potato flour – Made from dehydrated potatoes. Mostly used for thickening sauces, gravies, and soups. When added to flour mixes, it adds a moist crumb. Very useful for baked goods, but usually only used in small amounts. Can impart elasticity to dough. Has strong potato flavor and keeps well.
Potato starch – Made from dehydrated potatoes. Mostly used for thickening sauces, gravies, and soups. When added to flour mixes, it adds a moist crumb. Very useful for baked goods. Can impart elasticity to dough. Not as flavorful as potato flour.
Quinoa Flour Related to spinach and beets. Made from ground plant seeds. The flour is high in protein and has a mellow flavor. Add to flour mixes.
Rice Flour, Brown – Brown rice flour is more flavorful than white rice flour. Slightly nutty flavors. It is used in flour mixes with other flours and is popular from putting in breads. Refrigerate.
Rice Flour, White – This flour is made from white rice. It can be used alone, but most people add it to other flours. It adds a sponginess to baked goods. Best for recipes that need a light texture. It is bland, not very nutritious, and stores well.
Sorghum Flour – This flour is high in protein and B vitamins and is sweet and flavorful. It is almost always used in mixes. It is good for making breads and other baked goods. It stores well on a shelf.
Soy Flour – High in protein and has a nutty flavor. Good used in mixes. Does not store well. Combines well with rice flours. Is good for making cookies.
Tapioca Flour – Same as tapioca starch. This is ground cassava root. It makes gluten-free baked goods more chewy. Low in nutrients. It stores well, is bland, and should be used mixed with other flours.
Teff Flour – Teff is the smallest grain in the world. Teff flour is high in protein, calcium, zinc, iron, and fiber. It is used in flour mixes to make breads and cookies.
Xanthan Gum – Xanthan gum is made from a kind of bacteria, Xanrhomonas Campestris. It is used for thickening and is sticky in a way that makes it handy for gluten-free baking. It is used very sparingly in flour mixes.
Well that’s some of the basics. Obviously there are lots of other kinds of flour. When you are eating gluten-free, these flours can be very useful.