Lately I've been experimenting with using ground nut meals in baked goods after I tried a walnut cacao nib scone that had a good bit of the flour replaced with walnut meal. I began doing the same with almond meal in my cookies and scones, and the result is nuttier, fragrant baked goods.
But this brings me to a common question when shopping for these recipes: Is almond meal different than almond flour?
What's the Difference?
Almond meal and almond flour both consist of ground almonds, but here are their subtle differences:
- Almond meal is generally a coarser grind made from almonds that almost always still have their skins, so you'll see flecks of the skin in the meal.
- Almond flour is ground more finely and usually made from blanched almonds (no skins).
Can You Use Them Interchangeably?
Why the distinction? Why make things difficult in the first place? Because almond meal and almond flours have different textures, depending on your baking project or task, what you use does make a difference in how your food turns out.
For instance, if you're making a nice, fluffy cake, you're going to want to reach for almond flour (or further grind down your almond meal) so that the cake has the light texture you're looking for. If your recipe is more forgiving (cookies, brownies or quick breads), it likely won't matter much and you can use either one.
Can I Substitute Regular Flour with Almond Flour or Almond Meal?
So can you go all in, using all almond flour instead of regular flour in your favorite baking recipes? Tempting as it may seem, this isn't advised because almonds don't contain any of the gluten that flour contains. Your baked goods aren't going to turn out as they're meant to if you make this 100% switch without making other alterations.
Instead, I think a good rule of thumb is to begin by substituting 1/4 of the flour for a nut flour or meal of your liking and see how it goes — it's all in the experimentation and testing. I've had great luck using 1/2 the amount of almond meal in brownies.
As I've been seeing more and more nut meals and flours in the grocery stores, it's been exciting to bake with them because they're an extra way to add flavor (and a little extra protein) to your favorite recipes. So proceed cautiously, but proceed knowing that the results will always be delicious.
(Image credits: Heike Rau/Shutterstock; Olga Lyubkina/Shutterstock)