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. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Li, our Almond Flour happens to be processed in a certified gluten-free facility, so it is gluten-free. (This might not be the case for all brands of almond flour, so be sure to check the package if you need it to be certified gluten-free.) When we refer to “Gluten-Free Flour” in this post, we’re talking about our Gluten-Free Flour blend, which is made up of whole-grain (brown) rice flours, tapioca starch, and potato starch. We hope this helps clarify, and happy GF baking! Kye@KAF

  1. Joy DeNicola

    Can gluten free flour be used to make fresh pasta dough? Which particular flour would you recommend? Does anything else in the standard pasta dough recipe need to be changed when using gluten free pasta dough?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Joy! We have a whole blog article and recipe about Gluten-Free pasta ready to go. It calls for our Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, which is readily available in grocery stores — usually in a blue & white box. Happy GF baking! Annabelle@KAF

  2. sandra warber

    Does either your Measure for Measure or All Purpose Flour require refrigeration?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Neither of them require being refrigerated, Sandra, though we do always recommend storing any flour in an airtight container or bag in your freezer to keep it at its freshest. Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Laura, you can view the full ingredients label for most of our products by clicking on the “Nutrition + Ingredients” link below the orange add to cart button when viewing a product on our website. Here are the links to the full ingredient list for our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour and our Gluten-Free Flour. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Jake, there’s no xanthan gum added to our Gluten-Free Flour, so most of the recipes that call for it will also call for the addition of xanthan gum. (This is true whether you’re baking yeast breads or not.) The xanthan gum helps bind the ingredients and gives your baked goods structure. There’s usually a small quantity called for, but it’s an important ingredient. Kye@KAF

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