Coconut Flour: Is This the Best Gluten-Free Flour?

We asked you about your favorite gluten-free flours earlier today, and I wanted to chime in with one more: my favorite. Over the last several years as more and more gluten-free recipes worth trying have surfaced, it seems as though I've had a constant stock of coconut flour in my pantry. It's 100% gluten free and is loaded with fiber and packs a protein punch as well. It has quickly become my go-to flour for baked goods, gravies and even smoothies. You heard me — smoothies.

What Is Coconut Flour?
Coconut flour is made by pressing the oil and water out of the meat of a coconut and then grinding the fiber that is left into flour. The result is a light, slightly yellow and rather clumpy flour.

Coconut flour is considered to be hypoallergenic, as so few people are allergic to it, and is a great ingredient when feeding a crowd with sensitivities. It has anywhere between 28%-50% of your daily fiber in just a few tablespoons, comes laced with protein (a gram per tablespoon) and doesn't contain any transfats. It has a slightly sweet taste and yes, also that of coconut.

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Where Do I Find Coconut Flour?
It's carried in most major Whole Foods, health and alternative food stores across the country. A 16 ounce bag will run you anywhere from $4-$10 depending on the retailer or brand. If you're lucky you'll find it on clearance as it has a stamped-on expiration date. Because it isn't as popular as other alternatives, you'll see it reduced in price or clearanced out frequently.

Don't be afraid of a little ol' shelf date, pick up a bag anyway, and pop it in your freezer, where it will last for a solid 6 months if not more. So although the original price might seem a little steep, truth be told, I haven't paid more than $2 per bag in quite some time thanks to a keen eye for bargains.

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How Do You Use Coconut Flour?
There are several contradictory schools of thought on this issue. The first will tell you to only substitute out 20% to 30% of the flour in a recipe with coconut flour. The second says go ahead, make a 100% substitution; just make sure to add 1 egg for every ounce of flour to cover the last of gluten (this trick works especially well in baked goods). The third group would prefer to tailor a recipe specifically for coconut flour so you're not making any real substitutions; they're already built in.

In my own kitchen, I typically fall into the second category — the add an egg group. Outside of baking, there aren't too many times I use flour (breading meats, sauces, gravies), so a full-out substitution is usually just fine. Plus — most baked goods can support the extra eggs since the coconut flour will absorb the extra moisture from the egg, which is brought into the recipe to provide lift and do the absent gluten's job.

Aside from baked goods, coconut flour is an excellent addition to smoothies, shakes, and even hot chocolate, occasionally. Because of its health benefits and mellow taste it's a great way to get a little extra fiber and protein without even trying!

Are you a coconut flour fan already? Share your thoughts and own results when using this alternative flour in the comments below!

Related: Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan! Gluten-Free!) & Coconut Icing

(Image: Sarah Rae Trover)