Once upon a time, if you went to the grocery store for gluten-free flour, you didn't find much. Then things changed. Now, flour choices for gluten-free bakers can feel overwhelming. One key thing to know: Because no single gluten-free flour or starch behaves just like wheat flour, using a blend gives you the best results when ditching the wheat.
But which blend is best? It depends on what you want to bake. And I should know; I'm the blogger behind Gluten-Free Baking. Here are my five favorite gluten-free flour blends.
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, $4 for 22 ounces
Bob's Red Mill began offering gluten-free flours and mixes years before other brands. Therefore, it's not surprising that their gluten-free flour blend is one of the best on the market. The only problem when you're dealing with a producer with such a varied product line, is which Bob's gluten-free flour blend you're talking about.
My favorite, hands-down, is their Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour Blend — not to be confused with their Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour. The Baking Flour blend, made from a mix of rice flours, sorghum flour, and tapioca and potato starch, steps in for wheat flour in recipes for muffins, cakes, and cookies nicely. Their Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, on the other hand, tends to bake up dense and heavy. When shopping for this flour, be sure to grab the blue bag!
Use this when ... you want to replace wheat flour in your favorite recipes for cakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins.
King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, $6.50 for 24 ounces at Target
This is the only all-purpose gluten-free flour blend on this list that doesn't contain xanthan gum — an ingredient that adds structure to gluten-free baked goods. The omission of xanthan gum is a plus and a minus, depending on your needs and what you're making.
Without xanthan gum, recipes made with this mix can turn out somewhat dense and heavy. The lack of xanthan gum, on the other hand, allows you to customize recipes. You can add as much or as little as a recipe calls for. And because some folks chose to avoid xanthan gum, it's the perfect blend for them. This flour blend works especially well in recipes that were created to be gluten-free versus using it as a one-to-one replacement for flour in a traditional recipe.
Use this when ... you want to control how much xanthan gum a recipe contains. Best for gluten-free recipes for cakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins.
Cup4Cup, $12 for three pounds
A gluten-free flour blend that can trace its lineage back to the French Laundry? Yes! Cup4Cup flour was created for gluten-free recipes at the famous Yountville, CA, restaurant. This blend, like Bob's Red Mill's Baking Flour Blend, works really well in cakes, cookies, and muffins.
There's one big drawback to this mix: It contains milk, putting it off limits to those who need to avoid dairy. The milk powder helps baked goods made with this flour blend brown beautifully — thanks to the the Maillard browning reaction. If you're using butter or dairy in the recipe, reach for this mix. It enhances both flavor and browning.
Use this when ... a recipe includes dairy. May be used as a replacement for wheat flour in recipes for cakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins.
Note: Cup4Cup makes a whole-grain gluten-free baking flour blend. It's dairy-free but does carry a warning that it's processed in the same facility as dairy.
Jovial Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Pastry Flour, $13 for 24 ounces
Most gluten-free flour blends are made of "white" flours and starches. If you prefer a heartier flavor, and fiber, in your flour, Jovial makes a whole-grain, starch-free blend that fits the bill. The teff and sorghum flour add a nutty flavor to baked goods.
Due to the nature of whole-grain flours, coupled with the lack of starch, baked goods made with this flour tend to bake up a little denser than one made with other flour blends.
Use this when ... you want a whole-grain flour. Best for cookies, pancakes, and waffles.
Chebe Bread Original Cheese Bread Mix, $22 for eight 7.5-ounce bags
Chebe Mix is technically a baking mix, not a flour blend. It's used for making pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese rolls). However, I think it's one of the hidden gems of the gluten-free flour world for gluten-free yeast breads.
Most gluten-free flour blends, including all those listed above, advise against using their blend for yeast bread. However, when you combine the Chebe Original Cheese Bread mix with one cup of another gluten-free flour blend, you have a nice flour for gluten-free yeast recipes, thanks to the inclusion of modified tapioca starch in this mix.
I don't recommend using this mix on its own because it's made from only starch. Adding gluten-free flours gives bread recipes the protein they need to rise. That said, breads made with this blend don't bake up as light and fluffy as those made with traditional wheat flour. It isn't a perfect replacement. It makes great pizza crust and dinner rolls, though.
Use this when ... you want to make gluten-free pizza crust or dinner rolls. Combine one bag of mix with one cup of gluten-free flour. Whisk together before using.
Have you had success with any of these? Got anything else to add? Tell us in the comments below.