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. Dave P

    Hi PJ,
    Great article! I truly enjoy Measure for Measure. I used it in all of my Christmas cookies without telling anyone. No one knew the difference until they saw me eating some. They knew I am Celiac. You could see the look on their faces when it dawned on them they were eating gluten-free too!

    My biggest questions:
    1) When can you substitute one rice flour for another?
    2) Are you going to continue to sell your brown rice flour so I can make your home blend?
    3) Why do/did you use white rice flour in your mixes but not sell it on its own? It seems to be superfine grind

    Thanks for making gluten-free baking much easier and enjoyable!

    Dave

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad that Measure for Measure has been a helpful kitchen assistant, Dave! We’re happy to answer your questions.
      1. You can substitute a brown rice flour blend for Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour anytime.
      2. Sadly, brown rice flour was not a big seller and was discontinued last year. There are no plans to carry it again at this time.
      3. Similar answer to question 2, we used to carry it but it just didn’t sell.

      We’ve had great success finding these types of flours in the bulk section of some health food or natural food grocery stores, and we hope you’re able to find some to make your own blends! Kindly, Annabelle@KAF

  2. Jen Hedderman

    I always have success with KA all purpose flour for baking. I just check add the xanthan gum when necessary. I also like that I can use the same flour for thickening etc. when I wouldn’t want xanthan gum. I just wish the price would come down a bit.

    Reply
  3. Ruth Myers

    Although I do not have to avoid gluten, my adult daughter does. I also have a small baking business selling goods at local farmers markets in season. Many of my customers are looking for gluten free items, and I try to have 1-2 gluten free items each week in addition to my full of gluten products. King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Blend is amazing! I have substituted it in many of my regular recipes, with wonderful results. When my daughter was married a year ago, she wanted to have several different kinds of “treats” in addition to her wedding cake. Many of those treats were made using Measure for Measure, as well, and no one could tell the difference. Thank you for making gluten-free baking not quite so unappealing!!

    Reply
  4. Jamie

    I made an oatmeal cake with the measure for measure and thought I might have a piece of two leftover. Well I will say I brought not a piece of that cake home and everyone thought it was moist and very good.

    Reply
  5. Andrea

    Would you recommend M4M flour for a traditional crumb cake which uses flour both in the cake and in the crumb topping? I have a recipe I love, but would like to make it GF. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      A crumb cake would be the perfect recipe to use M4M in, Andrea! You may find the baking time takes a couple of minutes more, but other than that, no substitutions or changes are needed. Happy GF baking! Annabelle@KAF

  6. Amy Binns

    I have 2 celiac kiddos and KA flours and mixes are by far our favorite. Thank you for making my life easier to give my kids homemade treats.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Amy, that’s what we’re here for: to help everyone have the very best baking experience possible. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm here! PJH@KAF

  7. Melody Broome

    What about the Baking Mix? Is it different than the All Purpose Flour and the Measure for Measure replacement flour?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Melody. The Baking mix is quite different from the flours, and is similar to a gluten-free Bisquick. It already has xanthan gum in it along with leavener, so it’s ideal for making pancakes, biscuits, waffles, etc. In addition to the recipes on the Baking Mix box, we offer dozens of others on our website that are sure to spark your inspiration. Happy GF baking! Annabelle@KAF

  8. Julie Kostick

    OMG, I just made the most beautiful buns using the chewy ciabatta roll recipe with my sourdough starter, extra gluten and 1/3 white whole wheat subbed in for AP. Just pulled them out of the oven as he came home from a doctor appointment and he has been put on a FODMAP diet that includes going gluten free.
    Thank you KAF, your GF recipes, products and blogs just might save me. Looks like going back to school just when I was getting great results with whole grains and yeast!

    Reply

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