With a name like "all-purpose," it's no wonder basic white flour can keep bakers in a one-type rut. But when other options offer both good taste and better nutrition, there's no reason to stick with only one flour variety. See how whole grain flours, whole wheat flours, and gluten-free flours can work for you.

Jessie Shafer
September 28, 2018

Choosing Flour Alternatives

Need to increase your fiber intake? High-fiber flour and white bean flour offer up to 8 grams per 1/4 cup. Want to up the amount of protein you eat in a day? Soy flour provides more than twice the amount of all-purpose flour. Want to make a cake or cookie recipe more moist and rich-tasting? Try almond meal (it's also much lower in carbohydrate than most flours). And if gluten intolerance keeps you from enjoying most baked goods, there are flours for that, too; mix up your next pan of brownies with a gluten-free baking mix.

True, it takes a little substitution know-how when baking with these alternative grains. That's why we enlisted the help of the experts and dietitians in the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen. After multiple tests, we bring you our best recommendations for flours that bake up delicious and healthful sweet treats.

Recipes that Work Best

Choose recipes with less than 2 cups of flour, especially when you're just beginning to bake with flour substitutes. Once you master those recipes, start experimenting with recipes that call for more flour.

Try Whole Grain Flours

Use recipes that call for whole grain flours. You'll experience a better result with most of these recipes because the proper ratios have already been tested.

Baking with Gluten-Free Flours

Mix gently when adding a gluten-free flour or flour blend to the wet ingredients in a recipe. Mix for a short duration and as lightly as possible to incorporate the flour. You'll need to add more liquid to the recipe because gluten-free flours absorb more moisture.

Read Labels Carefully

Gluten-free baking flours are wheat-free, but not all wheat-free or nonwheat flours are gluten-free. Read package labels carefully, especially if you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

Change Pan Size for Ground-Nut Flours

Use smaller pans when baking with ground-nut flours (such as almond meal). These "flours" do not have the same properties as grain flours and do not rise as well.

Use a Wire Cooling Rack

To avoid a baked loaf that is too doughy on the bottom, allow the loaf to cool in the pan for only 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Storing Whole Grain Flours

Store whole grain flours in the refrigerator in airtight containers. Expect them to last for 2 to 4 months. Always allow the flour to return to room temperature before using it in a recipe, and smell the flour for freshness first.

Flours for More than Just Baking

Use flour substitutes for more than baking. Think outside the flour sack by using alternative flours as breading for chicken or fish, to thicken a sauce, or as a nonstick dusting for greased baking dishes or pizza pans.

Mixing Different Types of Flours

If using more than one type of flour in a recipe (such as half white, half whole wheat), combine the flours in a bowl before adding them to the recipe.

Test Kitchen Tip

When measuring any type of flour, fluff it first with a spoon, and then scoop it gently into the measuring cup without packing it down. Level the top with a knife.

Test Kitchen Tip:

Recommended flours: Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground White Bean Flour; King Arthur High Fiber Flour Blend; Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour; Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Oat Flour; Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Corn Flour