If you've wandered the baking aisle and noticed the intriguing bags of almond flour and almond meal on the shelves, here are all the answers to convince you to pick one up. Both are great tools for successful (and delicious) gluten-free baking, but you don't strictly have to be following that diet to appreciate their use in the kitchen. Here's everything you need to know about both almond flour and almond meal, from what they are, how they are different, and all the tasty ways you can bake with them.
Baking with Almond Flour and Almond Meal: Start Here
Both almond flour and almond meal have long been pantry staples of avid gluten-free bakers, and right now it's more popular than ever. From the surge of gluten-free baking recipes to our undying love for French macarons, almond flour is an ingredient you'll want to keep on your radar.
We're starting at the very beginning, introducing you to almond flour and almond meal, the similarities they share, and what sets them apart. We'll walk you through all of the irresistibly delicious ways to use them, and exactly what you can expect from treats baked with these gluten-free products.
How are almond meal and almond flour different?
You may have seen almond flour and almond meal sitting side by side on the grocery store shelf. In fact, some bags are even labeled as almond flour/meal. Both look remarkably similar — because they are!
When it comes to flavor, both almond flour and almond meal retain much of their natural flavor, and lend a sweet, nutty aroma to baked goods. Overall, it's their texture that sets them apart.
- Almond flour is finely ground almonds typically made using blanched almond with no skins. It's commonly used in baked goods, like cookies, cakes, and quick breads, and perhaps most famously in macarons. It has a finer texture than almond meal.
- Almond meal: Has a more coarse texture, and it typically (although not always) contains the skins.
Using Almond Flour and Almond Meal in Your Baking
Almond flour and almond meal can largely be used interchangeably, although there are some exceptions. Since the two have a different texture (almond flour is more fine, and almond meal is more coarse), it can have an impact on your recipe.
For example, if you're making delicate macarons or a light, airy cake, you'll want to reach for finer almond flour so your baked goods retain the light texture you're looking for. However, if your recipe is more forgiving, like quick bread, tart crust, or cookies, either is acceptable.
Almond flour or meal isn't a direct substitute for wheat or whole-grain flours, as almonds don't contain the gluten found in flour.
Store almond flour in the refrigerator or freezer.
Like whole-grain flours, almond flour has a high level of oil, making it more prone to oxidizing and going rancid. Almond flour can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months, or in the freezer for 12 months.
Not sure if your almond flour is still good? If it has an off smell or bitter taste, it's gone bad. Fresh almond flour should have a sweet yet nutty aroma and taste.
Read more: A Complete Guide to Storing Your Flour
A Recipe for Making Your Own
Recipes That Use Almond Flour and Almond Meal
Get your feet wet baking with almond flour and almond meal with these great recipes. Whether you're craving fancy French macarons or hearty muffins, the gluten-free ingredient can help you get there.
Opt for almond flour to keep these pretty pink French macarons, that are filled with a sweet white chocolate-coconut ganache, as delicate and light as possible.
Yes, that's a bold statement, but it's true. The dough is nothing but a mix almond flour, baking powder, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. It comes together in one bowl and bakes into chewy cookies that are gluten-free and vegan.
Either almond flour or almond meal can be used to make these fragrant cookies, spiced with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. Almond meal will just give a little more texture to the cookies.
There's no need to run out to your local bakery early in the morning to satisfy the craving for an almond croissant when it's easy to make them yourself using plain, day-old croissants. Almond meal, butter, and sugar make a sweet filling that transforms them into the bakery favorite.
Whether you use almond meal or flour in this recipe, both give the muffins an extra protein boost that makes them a satisfying choice for an on-the-go breakfast or snack.
The almond shortbread crust for these sweet and tart bars, made with a mix of all-purpose flour and almond meal, is so good that it's worth it to bake a separate batch that's left unadorned.
Just a little almond meal in this quick bread gives it a boost of nutty flavor that mimics the almond extract and chopped almonds in the batter.