The 5 Best Gluten-Free Flours and What to Do with Them

Happy April Fools Day everyone! I had high hopes of delivering you a Faux Pho recipe today in honor of trickery and puns. But my weekend got away from me. Instead, I wanted to talk about a subject that I’ve been long overdue in discussing: the gluten-free pantry.

When I was first diagnosed with my gluten allergy two years ago, I felt totally lost. My cabinets were jam packed with pasta and barley and flour. I was used to cooking naturally gluten-free – meaning, I used fresh vegetables and grains (like quinoa) that didn’t involve any tinkering. But the world of GF flours was a mystery to me.

Luckily, my mom has been experimenting with different flours for years. I’ve adopted some of her go-to’s and wanted to share them below with you.

My worst fear is coming across a recipe that calls for 7 different flours and starches, and xanthum gum. Since I live in New York City, I know that jars take up valuable real estate in the kitchen (pictured above are a few of mine with Martha Stewart Avery chalkboard labels!). Here are my favorite 5 gluten-free flours that I like to keep around the house and some recipe ideas to keep those canisters from getting dusty.

1. White Rice flour. This is what I use as my all-purpose gluten-free flour. I like it for dredging, thickening – really anytime I need a tablespoon or so of regular flour (like in this chocolate cake recipe). It has a very mild taste and seems to play nicely with most foods. For the record, rice pasta is also not too shabby! Like most GF flours, rice flour has a different density than regular AP flour. If you want to use it interchangeably in a recipe, you should weigh it instead of measuring it cup for cup. I use rice flour as the base for my cornbread – no xanthum gum required! – and also for my fish and chip batter. These cornmeal cakes are also great. If cornmeal was a flour, I would put it in a tie for number one!

2. Millet flour. I have my mom to thank for introducing me to millet flour. It’s certainly not the most common, but I’ve found nothing better for getting a nice crispy coating on pan-fried meat or fish. My mom uses it all the time during the summer when she cooks up little vineyard sole with tartar sauce (try it with fried calamari too). It also works great with any dish that calls for dredging like this chicken fricassee.

3. Chickpea flour. I recently became obsessed with Socca. It’s a simple Italian chickpea flour based pancake that seriously satisfies those bready cravings. I make it all the time as a side dish, where the bread basket would ordinarily be. Baked Falafel is another easy favorite and uses a couple tablespoons of the stuff.

4. Buckwheat flour. I admit, I don’t have tons of uses for buckwheat flour. But these savory buckwheat crepes are a breakfast go-to much in the way pancakes are for most people. You can serve anything you want inside of them, which makes them a great vehicle for leftovers. Here’s a great cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen and muffins from Yummly.

5. Masa Harina. Mexican is my faovrite gluten-free cuisine, and masa harina is the base of a lot of dishes. Warning: masa is different from corn flour and should not be used interchangeably. You can make homemade corn tortillas. Or, my favorite sandwich bread alternative, arepas. It also is a nice thickener for chili if you don’t want to soupy consistency.

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40 Responses to The 5 Best Gluten-Free Flours and What to Do with Them

  1. Ravyn says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve recently converted to gluten-free after years of resisting it. I saw a ton of gf flour options at our farmer’s market, but I had no idea which to choose. This is so helpful!

    • Ravyn – I’m so glad you found your way to this post! It’s so tough starting out. But definitely fun to experiment. Let me know how your farmer’s market purchases pan out, and hope you’ll come back for more GF recipes! xo

  2. The gluten-free flour territory at the store is daunting one, so I really appreciate this post! I can’t wait to get my hands on some millet flour for summer fish frying. Is this pretty easy to find at the store?
    -Emily K.

  3. Lisa says:

    This is really helpful!! It is truly overwhelming when I see a recipe with 5-7 flours! I’m on an anti-inflammatory diet for some health issues and so GF cooking is still quite new to me. One flour that I have found that is quite versatile is GF oatmeal flour, but I’m thankful to get some feedback on these other flours!

    • Lisa – high five, friend. I too am anti-inflammatory in addition to gluten-free! I’m not crazy about it, but I definitely think about the pigments of the foods I am eating. I’m sure you know that trick – anything that’s vibrant has an anti-inflam quality. Although, clearly I do eat some beige foods, if these flours are any indication :) I don’t do a ton of baking, but I’ve heard great thing about oatmeal flour for GF baked goods! Any good recipes I should try? Thanks for stopping by! xo

  4. Lisa says:

    Personally I really love pancakes, so I’ve adapted the oatmeal flour into it! I make cinnamon applesauce/apple butter pancakes that are fantastic! I find that oat flour translates well into most baked goods – banana bread, applesauce bread, corn bread, cookies, Jamaican Easter bun…all have been a success for me! :)

  5. Lisa says:

    I actually plan on posting the recipe soon on my blog! I’ll be happy to notify you when I do! :) Thanks for sharing your delicious treats! Can’t wait to try more of them out!

  6. Phoebe, would you allow me reprint permission of a recipe from this site in my celiac support group newsletter?

  7. Frankie says:

    I like amaranth flour too for coating fish, and also masa harina when you want a catfish-cornmeal combo. Have you ever heard of Fufu flour? I saw some at a food market in Cleveland. They said it made good dumplings and it seemed like something that would be good in baking too. Thank god we have so many choices now.

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  9. Susan Sandes Chase says:

    I am thrilled to find your site! Do you have GF recipes in
    Book form? What is Lisa’s blog? I’m new to GF… You are
    a great inspiration…

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