How to use flours made from almonds, oats, cassava, coconuts and more for delectable baked goods.
Credit: Antonio Carlos Soria Hernandez/Getty Images

If you’re new to gluten-free or low-carb baking and are confused by all the options for alternative flours, consider this your guide to selecting the right ones for your recipes.

It’s wise to follow a few simple rules before firing up your mixer and oven. First, you should always aim to use a combination of gluten-free flours — at least two and as many as four, as Chloe Charlier, founder of gluten-free bakery Breadblok in Los Angeles, California, recommends. For example, you may consider a blend of almond flour (rich in protein), rice flour (to add structure), and cassava flour (to lend elasticity). Blending flours also create a more nuanced flavor profile.

Second, Charlier suggests swapping out half of a recipe's all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour to experiment. “Through this process, you’ll begin to learn how various flours behave, which flavors you like, and which textures you prefer,” she adds.

Finally, don’t expect bakery-quality results right away. Give yourself grace as you work through recipes and enjoy the results. Even if the texture isn’t perfect, chances are pretty good that your cookies and cakes will still taste delicious.

We tapped Charlier, along with Dan Zuccarello, executive food editor for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, to walk us through the flavor profiles, nutrition, best uses, nuances, and storage tips for the most common alternative flours.

Almond Flour

Credit: Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Flavor: Mild, slightly sweet and nutty, with a dense, coarse texture

Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 6 grams protein, 15 grams fat, 4 grams net carbs  

Best uses: Rustic cakes, tarts, and cookies; a small amount contributes richness without adding noticeable flavor

What else to know: A common ingredient in gluten-free baking, almond flour is usually made with blanched (aka skinned) almonds, but almond meal may incorporate skin-on almonds, making it darker in color. Choose almond flour if you want to retain a lighter hue and texture in the end product. You can also make your own almond flour by grinding blanched almonds in a food processor.

Where to store: Refrigerator or freezer

Oat Flour

Credit: Barcin/Getty Images

Flavor: Toasty, nutty, slightly sweet

Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 4 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 19 grams net carbs (also a good source of fiber)

Best uses: Bread, muffins, cookies, teacakes

What else to know: Oat flour is one of the easiest gluten-free flours to make at home. Simply add whole rolled oats to a food processor and blend into a fine powder.

Where to store: Refrigerator or freezer

Coconut Flour

Credit: Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

Flavor: A noticeable coconut taste on its own, but neutral when combined with other flours

Nutrition per 2 tablespoons: 2 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 4 grams net carbs 

Best use: Blended with other flours, like almond or cassava, in cakes

What else to know: Made from dried, ground coconut meat, it’s porous, starchy, and highly absorptive, so don’t think it’s a typo if a recipe calls for a very small amount. It’s used to add texture and a slight sweetness to grain-free or keto baked goods, but can be tricky to work with, so use established recipes.

Where to store: Pantry

Buckwheat Flour

Flavor: Earthy

Nutrition per 1 cup: 7 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 34 grams net carbs 

Best uses: Pancakes, crepes, bread, and crackers. Because of its strong flavor, buckwheat flour is best used in combination with another flour.

What else to know: Despite its name, buckwheat flour is not related to wheat, but is, in fact, an herb.

Where to store: Refrigerator or freezer


Credit: Michelle Lee Photography/Getty Images

Flavor: Mild, nutty, and earthy

Nutrition per 1/3 cup: 5 grams protein, 1 gram fat, 33 grams net carbs (also a good source of iron)

Best uses: Breads, especially injera, the Ethiopian flatbread

What else to know: Teff has been a staple of Ethiopian cooking for thousands of years and has gotten much easier to find in supermarkets lately. About the size of a poppy seed, it’s the smallest of all the grains

Where to store: Refrigerator or freezer

Arrowroot Flour

Flavor: Neutral 

Nutrition per 1 tablespoon: Negligible protein and fat, 8 grams net carbs 

Best uses: Unlike flour and cornstarch, arrowroot flour doesn’t become cloudy as it thickens, making it a good choice for pie fillings and sauces. Substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot for every 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.

What else to know: A starch extracted from the root of a tropical plant, arrowroot flour acts as a thickener, with nearly twice the thickening power of regular flour. It can take on a slimy quality in recipes with dairy, so avoid using it in puddings and custards.

Where to store: Pantry

Rice Flour

Flavor: Neutral

Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 3 grams protein, 1 gram fat, 29 grams net carbs 

Best use: Breads, scones, doughnuts, croissants

What else to know: Rice flour adds great nutritional balance, a crunchy texture, and nice structure to gluten-free baked goods. However, the grind of white, brown, or sweet rice flours varies widely from brand to brand, ranging from very fine to a bit gritty. Be sure to use any specific brand mentioned in your recipe, look for a rice flour with a texture close to that of cornstarch, or use in combination with other flours.

Where to store: Pantry

Cassava Flour

Flavor: Neutral

Nutrition per 1/4 cup: Negligible protein and fat, 29 grams net carbs  

Best use: Moist breads (such as cornbread) or blended with other denser flours

What else to know: Made from the starchy tuberous root of the cassava plant, this white starch provides a distinctive chew, elasticity, and structure that is often missing in gluten-free baked goods. It’s a close cousin to tapioca starch, and the two can usually be used interchangeably in recipes.

Where to store: Pantry

Sorghum Flour

Credit: pamela_d_mcadams/Getty Images

Flavor: Neutral

Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 3 grams protein, .5 grams fat, 26 grams net carbs

Best use: Breads

What else to know: This ancient grain flour comes from India and Africa and pairs beautifully with other flours. In addition to baking, use it to make porridge or thicken stews.

Where to store: Refrigerator or freezer

Quinoa Flour

Flavor: Grassy and slightly bitter

Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 4 grams protein, 1 gram fat, 16 grams net carbs 

Best use: Equalizing sweetness in pastries

What else to know: If you find the flour a little too bitter, try toasting it to neutralize it. Spread the quinoa flour on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour in a 300-degree oven, checking occasionally to prevent burning.

Where to store: Refrigerator or freezer