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

      Pam, our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure flour isn’t designed to be used in yeasted recipes, and this goes for wild yeast in the form of sourdough starter as well as commercial yeast. This is why all our bread recipes (including those that have additional instructions for making as a sourdough recipe, like our Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread), call for Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour instead. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

  1. Rod

    Can you explain what it is about the “measure for measure” GF flour that makes it not recommended for bread, yeast recipe? Just trying to understand the science. King Arthur’s all purpose GF flour contains no sorghum or xanthan, yet GF yeast bread recipes call for. The measure for measure includes both ingredients yet is not recommended for bread…

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Rod! Try as we might, the Measure for Measure just didn’t give us a great second rise when making yeasted doughs. The first rise is no problem, but the second one is lackluster and ends in a dense product. If you’re making a recipe that really only needs one rise, like doughnuts or pizza, it’s more cooperative. Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Peggy! You sure can use the Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour to thicken soups and gravies! Kindly, Morgan@KAF

  2. Emilie

    I have many recipes that I’ve been making for years that use AP flour as a thickener, and want to adapt some of them to be GF so my daughter’s boyfriend can eat them. One is your Creamy Tomato Soup recipe (best tomato soup recipe EVER!), and also dishes like chicken pot pie. I have both the KAF Measure for Measure Flour and the KAF Gluten Free Flour, and would love to know which one would work best in these types of recipes, and if there is any rule-of-thumb type guidelines as far as which would be the most similar substitute for recipes where the flour is a thickener.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Emilie, either one would work beautifully! Gluten plays a part in many recipes, but when flour is being used as a thickener (as in soups and gravies), it doesn’t play a role at all. So feel free to use whichever gluten-free flour is most convenient for you at the moment. Kat@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Elizabeth! Alas, yeast breads are a particularly tough nut to crack in the gluten-free world, though there are some exceptions. Gluten happens to be uniquely good at supporting the rise and structure of yeast bread loaves, and subbing in a gluten-free flour won’t provide quite the love needed to make it fly. Rather than attempting to convert an existing yeast recipe to be gluten-free, we recommend using a recipe specifically developed for gluten-free ingredients. We’d suggest doing a quick search on the internet for a recipe to get you started on your gluten-free challah journey. Kindly, Morgan@KAF

  3. Allison Needham

    Hi, I’m hoping to make a gluten free version of the Golden Vanilla Pound cake, but my grocery store didn’t have the measure-for-measure flour option. So I went with the King Arthur Gluten-Free AP Flour. Is it possible to augment the AP flour to be suitable in this recipe? I have some GF starches and flours that I could mix in if will help.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Allison, you can do that! Adding 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour should result in a tasty (although not quite identical) cake. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

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