How to choose which gluten-free flour to use: let the recipe be your guide

Back in the day, gluten-free baking was complicated: you had to create your own blend of tapioca and potato starch and rice flour, adjust the amount of eggs or liquid in a recipe… and hope for the best. But as more and more people turned to gluten-free baking, the process became simpler. You bought some gluten-free flour and xanthan gum, found yourself a gluten-free recipe, and followed it.

Several years ago, with the advent of all-in-one replacement gluten-free flours, baking gluten-free became easier still. Simply substitute this new GF flour for the all-purpose flour in your recipe: end of story. No hand-blending flours; no xanthan gum; no seeking out gluten-free recipes.

However,  for those just starting down the GF trail — or who don’t bake gluten-free frequently — which flour to choose can be confusing.

Confused about how to use the different types of gluten-free flour out there? Here's a simple guide. Click To Tweet

There are many gluten-free flours out there, but only two main types of packaged gluten-free flour blends.

How to choose which gluten-free flour to use via @kingarthurflour

Gluten-free flour: all-purpose blend

The original blend — we’ll call it gluten-free all-purpose flour — is one that’s formulated specifically for gluten-free recipes. Our Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour is a good example.

When should you use gluten-free all-purpose flour in your recipe?

  • The recipe lists “gluten-free” in its title, e.g., Gluten-Free Almond Bundt Cake.
  • The recipe includes xanthan gum, which helps add structure to your baked goods in the absence of gluten.
  • The recipe calls for “gluten-free flour blend,” or similar wording.

How to choose which gluten-free flour to use via @kingarthurflour

Gluten-free flour: replacement blend

The newest type of gluten-free flour — we’ll call it gluten-free replacement flour — includes xanthan gum along with the typical blend of gluten-free flours. This means you can simply replace the all-purpose flour in many of your favorite traditional recipes with this new gluten-free flour. Our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour is a good example.

When should you use gluten-free replacement flour in your recipe?

  • The recipe wasn’t formulated to be gluten-free, and typically doesn’t call itself gluten-free.
  • The recipe doesn’t include xanthan gum in its list of ingredients.
  • The recipe calls for standard unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour, not gluten-free flour.

How to choose which gluten-free flour to use via @kingarthurflour

What about gluten-free flour and yeast?

Baking bread and rolls without gluten is a challenge. But it’s possible to make decent yeasted baked goods without gluten — so long as you choose the right recipe and follow it carefully.

  • The recipe will usually say “gluten-free” in its title, e.g., Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread.
  • It will include xanthan gum.
  • It will call for gluten-free all-purpose flour.

Can you bake your mom’s favorite dinner rolls simply by substituting a gluten-free replacement flour for the all-purpose flour in her recipe?

No. Our Measure for Measure Flour is ideal for almost all of your favorite classic recipes — brownies, cookies, cake, biscuits, pancakes, muffins, etc.

But its particular formulation, one that makes it perfect for other recipes, means it’s not appropriate for yeast recipes. For bread, rolls, and pizza crust use a gluten-free recipe and gluten-free all-purpose flour.

What’s your biggest gluten-free baking challenge? Our Baker’s Hotline is ready for your questions!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Beverly

    Hi – I’ve used the measure to measure flour on chocolate chip cookies and they came out very cakey … is there anything I can do to make a more moist cookie given the GF flour?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Beverly, we’ve got a great article for you on how you can tweak your cookie recipe to make it exactly as moist and melty as you want: Cookie science! It’s actually a fascinating topic, and once you know the basics, you can get almost any cookie recipe more to your liking, including those that are gluten-free. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

  2. Jane Apps

    I am a newly diagnosed gluten free. In looking over your recipes, I copied Fruitcake Drops and then realized it called for KA Unbleached All-Purpose flour. Can I substitute KA Gluten free flour. After the reading I have done, I am guessing not?? If so any suggestion of what I might have to do to make that substitution.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jane, we recommend our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour as a substitute in this recipe. It’s a little different from our Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour in that it has xanthan gum to help your baked goods hold together. If you want to experiment, you can try adding one teaspoon of xanthan gum for each cup of your Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour in the recipe, but it may take some trial-and-error to get the mix exactly right. We suggest picking up some Measure for Measure Flour for this recipe, then saving your All-Purpose for another recipe that calls for it specifically. Happy gluten-free baking! Kat@KAF

  3. Linda S

    I am making Brazilian Cheese Puffs for Thanksgiving. The recipe calls for Tapioca Flour. Can I use the Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour or Rice Flour instead and get the same results?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Linda. Unfortunately, this recipe is designed to be made solely with tapioca flour, and we wouldn’t recommend replacing it with anything else — we fear the ingredients would wind up being wasted. Instead, we’d recommend making our Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls which call for our GLuten-Free All-Purpose Flour, and add 3/4 cup of cheese to the mixture for that lovely savory note. Happy baking!Annabelle@KAF

  4. Joseph Clegg

    I would like to know what other GF flour I can use for the Holiday Stollen. The flour I use for my GF bread is a combination of Sorghum, Amaranth, and Quinoa for a 2 lb loaf which is stiff enough to spread goat cheese on without any “peeling” of the bread. For sweetbread I use Almond, Millet, and Quinoa. So I would rather not use a rice based flour, too soft for me. What do you suggest?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Joseph! It sounds like you really know your gluten-free flours very well! We haven’t tried it in our test kitchen, but we’ve heard some folks have good experience with a mixture of oat, sorghum, tapioca and masa harina (nixtamalized corn flour). If you do decide to give this a go, definitely let us know how it works! We’re always interested in new gluten-free combinations that work well in our favorite recipes. Happy gluten-free baking! Kat@KAF

  5. Mary Ferrell

    How is the gluten free all purpose flour different than the gluten free replacement flour? They are both good for baking muffins, cookies, etc. that don’t use yeast? I’m confused between the two.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Mary, our Gluten-Free Flour doesn’t have xanthan gum added to it while our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour (the flour that can be used to replace all-purpose flour 1:1) does have xanthan gum added to it. The Gluten-Free Flour should be used in gluten-free recipes that specifically call for it, while you can use the Measure for Measure Flour in recipes that you’d like to convert to gluten-free. The only caveat is that Measure for Measure shouldn’t be used in recipes that call for yeast. If you’re looking to bake gluten-free yeast recipes, choose from this collection on our website here for best results. Happy GF baking! Kye@KAF

  6. Monica

    I have printed out several of your wonderful looking gluten free recipes and noticed that one recipe call for KA GF Multi Purpose Flour while another recipe calls for KA GF Flour. Could you please tell me the difference in these two flours. (I tried searching for the multi purpose flour but there were no matches.) I’m looking forward to some Christmas baking soon!!

    Thank you! I enjoy using your products!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good question, Monica. Our Gluten-Free Flour used to be called Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour. That was confusing to some bakers, so we’ve simplified it to be “Gluten-Free Flour.” Most all of our recipes should call for this ingredient; if you noticed it still days “Multi-purpose Flour,” in any places, feel free to let us know so we can update it. Happy GF baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can, Beth! Either the Gluten-Free Measure for Measure or the Gluten-Free All-Purpose flours can be used to thicken things such as gravy, pie filling, or sauces. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

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