What gluten-free flours do you need on hand for baking and cooking? Find out the 10 best flours and starches to stock your pantry.
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I’ve talked before about gluten-free flours and how you don’t necessarily NEED a ton of different flour products on hand in order to live a healthy and easy gluten-free lifestyle.
And yet, here I am today wanting to tell you about how I have a million flours on hand to make my life a little easier.
When I first started eating gluten-free and dairy-free about five years ago, I thought I’d save myself some time and buy an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend. I used it to make pancakes, cookies, and pizza crust – as this was a time when gluten-free products weren’t as readily available as they are right now in regular grocery stores – or even health food stores for that matter.
What I learned pretty quickly is that when people say that gluten-free food tastes like cardboard they’re pretty spot on but only when you use the wrong flour blend to create something.
See, when you use regular all-purpose flour – it truly IS all-purpose. You can use it in just about any baked good or baking recipe you run across. You can stir it into sauces and soups to help thicken or use it to coat chicken and make a crunchy crust.
But gluten-free all-purpose flours? Nope. You’re more likely to eat something that tastes like beans or be as dense as cardboard than to eat something that tastes like bread or cookies or homemade gluten-free biscuits.
It’s just how all-purpose blends are created. They’re meant to work for a lot of dishes, but they truly don’t work for everything (… and really if I’m being 100% honest, not much of anything).
After a few years (yes, a few years) of trying multiple gluten-free all-purpose flours and settling on one that worked okay for most things, I finally decided that I was tired of dishes tasting “good enough” and was going to learn why all those gluten-free flour blends were truly “blends.”
Read on: Is flour gluten-free?
Why is that I needed 12 different flours to substitute for the ONE product I was buying before and at a MUCH cheaper price?
What I learned was that each flour has its’ own unique texture, consistency, flavor, and bite to it. I learned that you often need to combine “starch” with “flour” in a gluten-free flour blend in order for it to have that gluten-like texture that we’re often so familiar with. And so it doesn’t crumble apart in your hands or mouth before even biting down on it.
I learned more than anything that it’s often a great idea to have a number of gluten-free flours in many varieties to create blends based on what’s right for a certain recipe. The consistency and texture and flavor you’re looking for in a cookie varies a lot from what you want out of a pancake or a pizza crust or a donut.
In the gluten-free flour world, one size does NOT fit all. I’ve personally had my fill of bean-flavored cookies and brownies over the years and frankly, I’m over it.
These days, when you peek into my pantry, you see a TON of different flours and starch options. I’m not an amazing baker. I truly have zero idea what I’m doing when it comes to making up my own baking recipes in the kitchen (and when I do stumble upon something that works, it’s an honest mistake miracle).
I rely on cookbooks and recipes I find online to guide me – but the lesson I’ve learned a few times over is that it’s totally worth it to have different flour options available in my pantry when I do want to get baking.
Plus, my little baker (my son) LOVES “making something” (aka helping with cooking and baking) – and honestly, sometimes the more ingredients I can get him to add to a bowl, the more important he feels in the process. So for now, it’s kind of a win-win to have extra ingredients for our baking adventures.
These are the top 10 gluten-free flours and starches (plus four baking extras) that I keep on hand at all times:
- Brown rice flour
- Amaranth flour
- Coconut flour
- Almond flour
- Millet flour
- Teff flour
- Sorghum flour
- Tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch in recipes)
- Corn starch
- Arrowroot starch
- Flaxseed meal
- Xanthan gum
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
Read on: Is rice flour gluten-free?
Read on: Is coconut flour gluten-free?
Obviously, this looks like a lot to keep on hand. And yes, it is – it fills an entire shelf and a half of my pantry (including bags that I keep as extra on my top shelf to refill glass jars).
I can combine these in a million different ways using different recipes I find online or in cookbooks. I’ve found that I use more of certain flours than others – but it all depends on the recipe I use. Based on who’s creating the recipe, they have their own preferences on what to use – and what to leave out.
The one thing I do want to mention here though is that all of these flours ARE nutritionally dense. Teff, sorghum, amaranth, and millet flour in particular all are amazing sources of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and even protein. Yes, plant-based protein for the win! Your pancakes and cookies can actually be good for you AND gluten-free!
Another thing I’ve come to realize that my pantry looks a bit like an advertisement for Bob’s Red Mill. Because that’s the brand that I’ve come to trust and know.
I love the Bob’s Red Mill brand for a few reasons:
- It’s readily available. I can find most any of these flours now at my local grocery store – which has some but not a ton of natural or health food options.
- They offer 100% gluten-free products for all the flours I’ve listed above – and have dedicated and certified gluten-free facilities, which is awesome to know and put my mind at ease.
- I can buy them either through the Bob’s Red Mill website or through Amazon and buy in bulk. I can order one 14 oz bag, or four 14 oz bags, or even a 25 lb bag(!!) if I’m really serious about bulking up. I’ve never bought that much flour at once, but still the idea that if I were that serious about baking, they could provide for my needs!
- Almost all their products are available through Amazon – and coupled with my Prime membership, I can have any of these flours shipped to me within 2 days. It’s awesome!
- I’ve also bought these products on Thrive Market, which is super convenient with my membership. Get a $20 credit when you sign up for a membership here!
- They’ve even got a TON of recipes available on their website to help you get started using their flours, so you can get a leg up in your gluten-free baking without even having to buy a cookbook.
Next, you might be considering the price of all these different flours – is it worth it to spend all that money? Surely these flours do not come cheap.
Honestly, that’s a totally personal question based on what your finances are like, what your lifestyle is like (I mean.. will you use these products or will they sit on your shelf for a year?), and how interested you are in exploring gluten-free baking.
There are no right or wrong answers here – and if you choose to forgo buying a ton of different Bob’s Red Mill flours and opt for just one multi-use all-purpose flour blend for your baking adventures, please buy this brand. In my opinion, it’s 1000 times better tasting than the Bob’s Red Mill option. Which most certainly does taste like beans since the top ingredient is you guessed it BEANS!
So there you have it. If you’re on the fence about whether you should invest in some gluten-free flours to make your own blends, to create recipes you’ve found in cookbooks or online, or to just experiment with the flavors and textures on your own – I HIGHLY recommend Bob’s Red Mill products for your gluten-free flour needs.
Have you been on the fence about buying these dedicated gluten-free flours? What’s been the number one thing holding you back from going for it?