If you don’t have regular flour on hand, or if you need to substitute it for something else for dietary purposes, there are several alternatives. There are a surprising number of flour substitutes that you can use, and some may already be in your pantry.
Flour is traditionally made with wheat that is finely ground. You can find flour made from soft wheat and hard wheat. Soft wheat is low in protein and is often used for making items that are lighter and fluffier like angel-food cake, which often calls for pastry flour. Harder wheat can be used in recipes that result in denser products like bread. All-purpose flour, the one most commonly found in kitchen pantries, is made to have a mix of flour protein to make it just the right combination for most cooking and baking.
All purpose flour is extremely versatile, but some people may want a substitute, or need a substitute for health reasons. Thanks to many advances in the cooking world, there are a number of different types of flours currently produced that can be found on the shelves in your local stores.
The Best Flour Substitutes
Flour is used in different ways and for different things. Cooking with flour is often used for thickening, or creating a crust or breading, and you’ll need smaller amounts. Baking with flour often uses a larger amount of flour to create things like bread, cake, and cookies.
Using flour substitutes can sometimes result in different textures or flavors, so you’ll want to check recipes to be sure that the alternative you choose will work well with the end product that you’re making.
Here’s a list of some of the best flour substitutes to use in your recipes. While most of these are alternative flours, we’re also including things that aren’t flour, that can be used in it’s place. We’re also including with-gluten and gluten-free options so you have plenty of choices in case you’re looking for alternatives for dietary purposes.
Almond Flour is made from raw, ground almonds, and is sometimes also called almond meal. It is gluten free and vegan and is a good alternative for those with diabetes. Almond flour has a slightly sweet flavor and can affect the overall flavor of your recipe when using it in place of regular all purpose flour. While it is finely ground, almond flour is a bit more grainy than other flours. Almond flour is best used in baked goods like cakes, cookies, and breads.
Arrowroot Flour (Also Called Arrowroot Starch or Powder)
Arrowroot flour comes from the arrowroot plant and is mostly flavorless and odorless. It is a versatile flour alternative that works great in both sweet and savory recipes. Arrowroot flour is vegan and gluten free and is an excellent all purpose flour alternative. Arrowroot is a great thickening agent so it is perfect for soups and stews and pie fillings, but you can also substitute it for wheat flour in recipes for baked goods like bread and cake.
When using arrowroot in your recipes, you’ll usually want to make it into a slurry or paste by mixing it with a cold liquid before adding it to the rest of your ingredients. Generally, baked recipes that use arrowroot flour will be lighter and fluffier than with other flours.
If you use Bisquick to make your pancakes, you probably have a box of this in your pantry. Bisquick is a premade baking mix that includes flour, oil, corn starch, baking soda, salt, sugar, and a few other ingredients. Because it is essentially flour, you can use it in place of all purpose flour in most of your recipes — keep in mind that it does have those other ingredients, so there are things you may not need to add to your recipe, or that you’ll at least need to reduce the quantity of some ingredients. For example, you won’t need to add salt or baking soda, but you will still need to add sugar, as the sugar in the Bisquick likely won’t be sweet enough for the recipe you’re making if it is a sweet dish. You can also use Bisquick as a thickener for sauces, soups, and gravies, but you’ll only want to use a small amount to avoid changing the flavor too much.
Bisquick is perfect for making pancakes and waffles, biscuits, muffins, shortbread, pie, breads and even sausage balls. You can even use it to make dumplings, breakfast bakes, casseroles, churros, and more. Bisquick is vegan but it is not gluten free, as it contains regular flour, but there is a gluten free Bisquick that is made with rice flour.
Buckwheat flour is an ancient-grain flour that is gluten free, vegan, and slightly nutty in flavor. In large amounts, buckwheat flour is very chalky so it is recommended to mix it half and half with another flour when using it as a substitute for all purpose flour.
Buckwheat flour is best used in baking and is great for pancakes, crepes, cookies, bars, biscuits, scones, cakes and crackers. It is commonly used to make buckwheat noodles used for udon, but it can be used in baked goods as well, but it may not create light, fluffy breads because of the lack of gluten.
Canned Chickpeas and Black Beans
These work well in baked goods, especially in brownies. They’ll come out extra fudgy! Use black beans though so the color matches. You can swap 1 cup of flour for 1 cup of mashed chickpeas or black beans.
Note: Chickpea flour is also available on the market which is made from dried and ground garbanzo beans. It is a good alternative flour for those with diabetes and works well to make cookies, pancakes, and flatbreads. When using chickpea flour use about half the amount of regular flour.
Cassava Flour is from the root vegetable yucca. It has a lot of fiber and is similar to wheat flour so it is great for substituting in recipes for baked goods. Cassava flour has a neutral flavor so it won’t change the flavor of your recipes like some other alternative flours might, and you can use it in the same 1:1 proportion as regular flour.
Because of cassava flours versatility, you can use it for different cooking methods. It works well as a crust for chicken and seafood when frying, and works equally well to make baked items like pie crust, cake, biscuits, pancakes, and even tortillas. Cassava flour is both gluten free and vegan.
Note: Tapioca flour is also made from the cassava root but it is different from regular cassava flour. Tapioca flour or starch is much finer and is best used for some baked goods and thickening sauces and soups.
Coconut is made from dehydrated and finely ground coconut meat. Compared to all purpose flour, coconut flour is coarser in texture and the grittiness may be noticeable in some recipes. Coconut flour works well in baked goods, making them light and fluffy, but it is highly absorbent so you will want to use less than what you would use when baking with all purpose flour otherwise your recipe may turn out quite dense. Generally, you’ll only need about 1/4 cup of coconut flour for every cup of regular flour. Coconut flour also does impart its own flavor, so it will be noticeable in the finished product. Coconut flour is both vegan and gluten free.
You won’t necessarily want to bake a cake with this, but if you’re trying to create a breading for your chicken, go for it. Cracker crumbs are great for coating your fish and meat before you sauté, broil, or fry it. Saltines and Ritz are also great for adding to meatballs, meat loaf, and other dishes that need something to hold all the meat together.
Oat flour is made of ground rolled oats. This whole grain flour is a great flour alternative for diabetics and it is gluten free and vegan. Oat flour is good for baking and is often used for making waffles, pancakes, breads, muffins, granola bars, and cookies, and often yields a chewy texture. The flavor is slightly nutty and may be noticeable in some of your recipes. When baking with oat flour, you’ll need a bit more than when using all purpose flour. Try 1 1/3 cups of oat flour for every cup of all purpose flour.
Potato Flakes/Instant Mashed Potatoes
What? Yes! Potato flakes are just dehydrated potato, and potatoes are naturally great thickeners. You can use a teaspoon at a time to stir into your soups and sauces to thicken them up until you reach your desired consistency. But here’s good news – you can use them for baking too! When you’re making bread, biscuits, focaccia, rolls, and other bread-like recipes, you can try using 1-2 tablespoons of potato flake in place of each cup of flour. The end product will be surprisingly moist and fluffy.
Rice flour is found in both white and brown varieties. Compared to all purpose flour, this one is a little more gritty, so choose a finely ground version. Rice flour is great for dredging and making pan fried dishes, resulting in a tempura-like coating. It does have a subtle, slight nutty flavor so it may change the flavor of your recipes, especially if used in large amounts.
Rice flour is often used to make rice noodles and pancakes, but can also be used to make cakes, biscuits, crepes, shortbread, and pastries. It can also be used as a thickening agent for soups, stews, and sauces. Keep in mind that rice flour can not be used in equal proportion to all purpose flour. You’ll want to use slightly less rice flour than you would all purpose flour by removing one to two tablespoons of flour per cup. Rice flour is both vegan and gluten free.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is darker in color and coarser in texture than regular all purpose flour. It is a great flour for adding more whole grains to your diet and can be used for for baking, but your cakes and breads may be denser and drier. It is recommended that you use half the amount of all purpose flour. Whole wheat flour can also be used as a breading for pan-fried recipes and as a thickening agent for soups, stews, and sauces. Whole wheat flour is vegan, but is not gluten free.
How To Choose The Best Flour Substitute
Are you looking for a substitute for all purpose flour because you don’t have any on hand or for dietary purposes?
If you’re trying to find an alternative based on what you have in the house, rather than going to the store to purchase more, your options will be limited to what you currently have available. In this case, if you have other forms of flour on hand such as cake or pastry flour, bread flour, self rising flour, or even Bisquick or another pancake mix, these can be easily adapted to sub in for all purpose flour for most baked goods and other cooking preparations.
There are a few other items that can be subbed for all purpose flour in small amounts such as corn starch, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, panko, potato flakes, and even beans! If you need a large amount of flour, your best bet is to choose another form of flour, but if you need about one cup of flour or less, or if you just need a thickener or a binding agent, choose one of those other crumbly items we just listed, grind them up finely in a blender or food processor, and go ahead and use that in place of regular flour.
Your best option is to choose the alternative that will be most compatible flavorwise or texturewise with the recipe you are trying to make.
If you’re looking for an alternative for dietary purposes, you’ll want to choose the alternative that is most compatible with your dietary preferences. If you’re going gluten free, you have a lot of options. If you have allergies, choose a flour that is not made from grains or nuts. Cassava flour tends to be a great option that is vegan, gluten free, compatible with diabetic diets, and has the least allergenic issues.
Our Top Picks
If you are looking for a flour substitute, your best option is to use another form of flour – or if you have Bisquick, use it. If you need a general flour alternative primarily for dietary concerns, choose cassava flour. It’s affordable, the neutral flavor blends well with all recipes, and it is compatible with most diets.
Best Uses for Different Types of Flour
Best Flour Substitutes for Baking
- Bread Flour
- Cake or Pastry Flour
- Cassava Flour
- Chickpea Flour
- Oat Flour
- Potato Flakes (instant mashed potatoes) – use 1-2 tablespoons per each cup of flour called for
- Rye Flour
- Self-rising flour
- Spelt Flour
- Whole Wheat Flour
Best Flour Substitutes for Thickening
- Arrowroot Powder/Flour/starch
- Potato Flour
- Tapioca Flour/Starch
Best Gluten Free Flour Substitutes
- Almond Flour
- Amaranth Flour
- Buckwheat Flour
- Cassava Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Millet Flour
- Quinoa Flour
Best Flour Substitutes for Breading/Frying
- Almond Flour
- Arrowroot flour/starch
- Cracker Crumbs
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- Rice Flour
Best Flour Substitutes for Diabetics
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Chickpea Flour
- Oat Flour
- Spelt Flour