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. Jay W

    Hi, I have 2 questions regarding your Measure for Measure flour: 1) On the label it states that 4 tbsp weigh 31 grams. Would this be dip and sweep or sifted? 2) Can Measure for Measure be substituted for cake flour by replacing a certain amount with cornstarch (as all-purpose flour can be substituted with cake flour)? Thanks you for your great product!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jay, all our measurements are based on the “fluff and sprinkle” method of measuring, which you can learn more about here: How to measure flour. Regarding adding cornstarch to get a more tender texture, this has a two-part answer. Part 1: Yes, you can absolutely do this! It may make your cakes just a little bit fluffier. Part 2: It won’t, however, make a HUGE difference the way it does with all-purpose flour, as the main reason you add cornstarch is to reduce the amount of gluten in each cup of flour. Since there’s no gluten in your gluten-free flour, you don’t get the primary benefit. It’s definitely worth experimenting with if you want to see if it makes enough of a difference in your cakes to add in the extra step, though. That’s the fun thing about home baking; you get to decide exactly how you want your baked goods and what steps you’re willing to take to get there. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

  2. Mary

    I am a Southerner who loves cornbread. In my pre-gluten free days I used Martha White cornmeal which is a mix of cornmeal and wheat flour. I’m happy with the gluten free options for cornbread but I always find myself searching for a recipe and try to figure out ingredients. Either I have GF flour but not cornmeal or measure for measure GF flour and not all-purpose flour. I am not used to buying cornbread mix in a box. It was always a staple in my house. But, there are no ordinary recipes that call for flour to make non-GF cornbread. I need to know how much flour to mix with cornmeal. I bought a bag of the measure for measure flour and have not yet used it. Should I just experiment with ratios? I want to find a good recipe and use that one all the time without wasting lots of ingredients. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Mary! We’d recommend checking out our recipe for Gluten-Free Cornbread, there we use a 50/50 blend of cornmeal and Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour. You’ll notice that the recipe does make a sweeter cornbread so if you’re looking for a less sweet bread we’d suggest using about half of the brown sugar called for. If you’re looking to use our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour to substitute for the Martha White cornmeal your recipe uses, you’ll have to do some experimenting with different ratios of flour to cornmeal but equal parts might be a good place to start. Kindly, Morgan@KAF

  3. Mark Mullen-Muhr

    If a recipe calls for Measure for Measure gluten free flour and you only have KAF gluten free all purpose flour, can you make a substitution by adding xantham gum to the all purpose flour? If so, how much per cup of flour?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Mark, the two are not interchangeable as we went into in more detail in this article, so if you have the Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, you’ll want to use a recipe that’s calling for it. The Measure for Measure is interchangeable with regular all-purpose flour in non-yeasted recipes. Annabelle@KAF

  4. Camille Eppstein

    I was looking for a gluten free chocolate angel food cake recipe and I came across the one on King Arthur flour’s website but the recipe calls for the all purpose blend, not the measure for measure blend, however, the recipe does not call for xantham gum. So, I’m confused. Am I supposed to use the King Arthur gluten free all purpose flour that the recipe calls for even though the recipe doesn’t have xantham gum or should I be using the measure for measure version?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Camille, that’s an excellent question! Angel food cake doesn’t require the same kind of strength in its flour that other types of cakes do, as the eggs do a lot of the heavy lifting in that department. In this case, xanthan gum isn’t a necessary addition, but since it’s still a recipe that’s designed explicitly to be gluten-free, the Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour is still the one you’re looking for. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

  5. Pepper Abbott

    I was ecstatic when I came upon your Measure to Measure Flour. I bought 3 large bags and then realized perhaps it wasn’t the perfect answer to all things I used to use wheat flour when cooking. Could you give me a fairly comprehensive list of the item which are best made with the Measure To Measure flour? Hope this isn’t asking for an “all nighter” for you to complete the list.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No worries, Pepper! Thankfully, it’s pretty straight forward. Use the Measure for Measure in any recipe that calls for regular all-purpose flour. Simple as that! The only recipes it doesn’t work well in are yeasted recipes so for your bread, rolls, pizza, etc., you’ll want to use a recipe that’s specifically designed to be gluten-free and will use a different flour as detailed here in this article. Annabelle@KAF

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *