Gluten free substitutions
For those who miss their old family favourite recipes, don’t despair. Any recipe can be converted to be gluten-free if you take the time to convert it properly. Begin with the question: is your original recipe measured in cups or by weight? If measured in cups, convert your cups of wheat-based flour to cups of gluten free flours. If by weight, convert your weight of gluten flour to the same total weight in gluten free flours.
You may need to make slight adjustments to the cooking times depending on the flour(s) chosen.
For one cup of wheat-based flour, substitute these flours:
- 1 cup amaranth flour
- 1 cup bean flour (any)
- 1/3 cup coconut flour (increase eggs in recipe by 2 + increase liquid by 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 3/4 cup potato flour
- 7/8 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 cup millet flour
- 1/2 cup nut flour (any)
- 3/4 cup soy flour
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 7/8 cup teff flour
For one tablespoon of wheat-based flour, substitute these starches:
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour (for dredging purposes only)
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon sweet rice flour
- 1/2 tablespoon arrowroot starch
- 1/2 tablespoon potato starch
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
For one cup of cake flour, substitute these starches:
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
- 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 cup tapioca flour
Special note: There will be some slight texture differences depending on the starch chosen.
For gluten-free cooking, you can also simply take whatever weight of gluten-containing flour and use the same weight of gluten free flour. Just remember to tare your kitchen scale to account for the weight of the bowl! Please note that certain flours such as coconut might require adjustments to the liquid content of your recipe.
Weight of one cup of flour:
- almond flour = 96 grams
- amaranth flour = 108 grams
- buckwheat flour = 120 grams
- chestnut flour = 107 grams
- chickpea flour = 92 grams
- coconut flour = 112 grams
- corn starch = 150 grams
- hazelnut flour = 88 grams
- millet flour = 119 grams
- potato flour = 190 grams
- potato starch = 170 grams
- quinoa flour = 124 grams
- rice flour = 160 grams
- sorghum flour = 121 grams
- soy flour = 84 grams
- tapioca flour = 122 grams
- teff flour = 115 grams
- sweet rice flour = 204 grams
Special note: Coconut flour should be substituted by weight to wheat flour in 1:3 ratio and will require 2 eggs + 1/3 cup liquid to be added to the recipe for every 40 grams of coconut flour.
Don’t we need to substitute with a blend of gluten free flours?
Not really. I find that a blend of gluten free flours tends to overcomplicate recipes. There is no reason you need to combine eight different flours to get something to use in baking. It is simply a matter of choosing an appropriate gluten free flour for your particular recipe. Use common sense. Don’t use bean flours for cakes. Don’t use gummy starches like tapioca for chiffon and angel food cake. Don’t use potato flour for any recipe that doesn’t list it as an ingredient in the first place unless you want the recipe to taste like potatoes. Don’t expect a lot of nutrition from recipes made solely of sweet rice flour or corn starch.
Are you making a leavened or yeasted bread? For recipes such as bread dough that would require gluten action, it is generally better to include a mix of gluten free flours in your recipe to more closely mimic gluten flours (generally part flour and part starch). This is also the only time that I recommend the use of guar gum or xanthan gum. If the gluten in wheat-based flours is required for the recipe, you will need that extra binder.
However, if your recipe notes “do not overmix”, gluten is undesirable. Substitute flours as you see fit in this case.
Flour substitution guide
- Whole-wheat flour ==> sorghum flour.
- Cake flour ==> sweet rice flour.
- All-purpose flour ==> millet flour.
- Chocolate-based recipe (cake, cupcake, etc) ==> teff flour.
Note that this is just a guide; your mileage may vary.