11 best flour substitutions
Stock your kitchen cupboards with our best flour substitutions so you're never caught short again. Find gluten-free options and learn how to make self-raising flour from plain.
Running low on flour? Don't let it stop you from baking. See our clever ideas for the best flour substitutions that you can buy or make at home. Or, perhaps you're looking for a healthy flour with a nutritional boost.
We explain how to swap in flours made with almond, coconut, buckwheat and more. And, enjoy our all-time favourite alternative flour recipes, including fluffy American pancakes, spicy onion bhajis and colourful funfetti biscuits.
Next, discover how to replace eggs and buttermilk with our helpful guide to common ingredient substitutions. Be inspired by our flourless cake collection. And, try our zesty lemon & polenta drizzle cake.
How to make plain flour into self-raising flour
If you only have plain flour and you need some self-raising, you can make your own by adding 2 tsp baking powder to 150g plain flour.
11 best flour substitutions
1. Chickpea flour
Often confused with besan (see below), chickpea flour is made from ground white chickpeas. It has a coarse texture which is helpful when using it as a binding ingredient. It's best used to make fritters, veggie burgers, pancakes and waffles, or as a thickener in soups, curries and sauces.
Chickpea flour has impressive health benefits – it's lower in carbs and calories than regular flour, but richer in protein and fibre.
In Indian cooking, it is traditionally used to make crisp onion bhajis and other fried delights. Try it yourself with our delicious red onion & chilli bhajis with mint & garlic raita.
You can usually substitute half the amount of plain flour in a recipe for chickpea flour. But, be warned, it can suck up a lot of moisture, so it may not be right for every recipe – especially if you're making a cake or bread.
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2. Almond flour
Almond flour is an excellent alternative to have in your kitchen cupboard. It's easy to find in shops and commonly used in plenty of sweet and savoury dishes, including brownies, pancakes, puddings, cakes, falafel and more.
Made from ground blanched almonds, it's high in protein, rich in fibre and gluten-free. That means it's a safe option for anyone following a low-carb or paleo diet.
Regular flour can be substituted 1:1 with almond flour, although another egg may be needed to properly bind your mixture together. Give it a go with our fluffy gluten-free pancakes or try our ingenious keto bread.
3. Gluten-free flour mixture
If you’ve ever tried gluten-free baking, you may have noticed that your cakes and breads come out of the oven heavy and dense. This is because gluten is what gives elasticity and helps hold foods together. To make up for this lack of elasticity, gluten-free flour is usually mixed with different grains to give lighter results.
Rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat are just some of the common grains that you might find in a gluten-free flour blend. These combination flours usually work best in cakes, biscuits and pastry.
In most cases, you should be able to swap plain flour for the same amount of gluten-free flour in a recipe. Although it's always a good idea to read the instructions first.
Pick up gluten-free flour in your next shop to make our easy gluten-free scones for a delightful afternoon tea. And, get stuck into our gluten-free baking collection – we have lots of brownies, breads, cakes and sausage rolls for you to try.
4. Coconut flour
Coconut flour is made from dried coconut flesh. It has a soft texture and subtle flavour that works wonderfully in lots of sweet dishes. It contains no gluten, which means anyone who is avoiding gluten can safely use it as a substitute for regular flour.
Coconut flour can be a tricky substitute to use because it's thicker than wheat flour and retains more liquid. It's best to use it in recipes that call for it specifically, such as our gluten-free coconut pancakes.
If you are going to use coconut flour as a substitute, you may have to do a little playing around to get the quantities right. The rule of thumb is to use about a quarter of the quantity of regular flour – and you may need an extra egg or a little more liquid.
5. Gram flour (besan)
Gram flour, also called besan, is made from split brown chickpeas or chana dal. A staple in Indian and Pakistani cooking, it's used in many sweet and savoury dishes, including pakoras, bhajis and biscuits. It can also be used to thicken curry sauces and soups.
Gram flour is packed with protein, naturally gluten-free and lower in carbohydrates and calories than any other flour, making it an excellent healthy substitute for dishes like our baked carrot & nigella seed bhajis with raita.
Due to its rougher texture and increased density, you will only need to use half of the amount of gram flour to regular flour.
6. Rice flour
Rice flour is made from finely milled white or brown rice. Not to be confused with rice starch (which is used as a whitener in processed foods), rice flour is a commonly used substitute for wheat flour. It's naturally gluten-free and gives cakes, breads and biscuits a light, crumbly texture. It can also be used in puddings, pancakes, bread dough and to thicken sauces.
Rice flour can be tricky to work with. It doesn't soak up as much liquid, resulting in dry or crumbly bakes. For that reason, it's best to use it alongside another flour as part of a mixture.
Give rice flour a go – bake a batch of our delightful funfetti biscuits.
7. Buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour is milled from an ancient grain-like seed. Traditionally, it's used to make breads, noodles and pancakes, but its sweet, nutty flavour can be delicious in cakes, biscuits and other baking recipes, too.
Buckwheat is a nutritional powerhouse compared to other gluten-free grains, such as rice and maize. It's rich in minerals, fibre and antioxidants – making it a popular choice with healthy eaters.
Substituting the same amount of wheat flour for buckwheat flour could be disastrous for your bake. As a general rule, it's best to swap 25% of wheat flour for buckwheat. If all goes well with your bake, you can introduce more buckwheat next time.
A great place to start with buckwheat is classic crêpes – they tend to be more forgiving than other recipes because you can easily adjust the liquid. Then give our buckwheat American pancakes a go, and giant smoked salmon blini for a dinner party starter.
8. Oat flour
Oat flour is a nutritious wholegrain flour made from rolled oats. Just like regular oats, this flour is bursting with nutrients such as manganese and fibre.
Perhaps the most convenient of all the flour substitutes, oat flour can be easily made at home by blitzing whole rolled oats in a high-powered blender. Although, if you'd prefer to buy it, you can find it in most good health food shops.
While gluten-free oat flour is readily available, not all oat flour is safe for those following a gluten-free diet. So, make sure you check the pack before use.
Oat flour doesn't behave the same way as wheat flour. Rather than substituting the same amount of wheat flour for oat flour, look out for recipes which specifically call for it, like our vegan blueberry & lime tart.
9. Quinoa flour
Quinoa flour is made from finely ground quinoa seeds. It has a similar texture to wheat flour and is naturally gluten-free.
As it has a strong, distinct flavour, quinoa flour is usually combined with other flours to make gluten-free pizza dough, pancakes, muffins and quick breads.
Quinoa flour packs a nutritional punch. It's high in fibre – quinoa has almost double the fibre content of any other grain – and protein. Plus, it's a low-GI food, meaning it has a low glycemic index and won't raise your blood sugar levels quickly.
In most recipes, you can swap half the wheat flour for quinoa flour. And, when it comes to baking, you might be surprised to find that high protein quinoa flour gives a similar stretchy quality to that would usually come from the protein in gluten.
Still new to cooking with quinoa? We know you'll love using it as a coating for fishcakes, in muffins, to make porridge and in our kale & quinoa patties with pesto & goat's cheese.
10. Millet flour
Millet flour is a soft, fine flour that's popular in baking because of the subtle sweet flavour it brings to cookies, cakes and other foods. While you could easily mistake it for wheat flour, millet flour is completely gluten-free, making it a great alternative for anyone with a gluten intolerance. It's also higher in vitamins and minerals than regular flour.
Millet flour can be used as a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour, although it's more commonly used as part of a gluten-free mixture with other flours.
Haven't tried cooking with millet yet? You'll love our millet porridge with almond milk & berry compote.
11. Yellow pea flour
This alternative flour is made from super nutritious yellow peas, which are high in protein, fibre, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A. What's more, they absorb nitrogen while they grow, making them a low-carbon crop.
Naturally gluten-free, yellow pea flour is excellent in falafel, pancakes, batters and bakes. It has a noticeably nutty, sweet flavour that's enjoyable in all kinds of dishes – we used it to make these delicious socca pancakes.
Enjoyed these substitutions? See more useful tips:
Green kitchen swaps
Kids' baking recipes without flour
Classic recipes minus the meat
Top 10 healthy storecupboard recipes
Are there any other ingredients you would like to know swaps for? Tell us in the comments below.
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