There are plenty of reasons to seek alternatives to white flour, including the desire to shift to a healthier whole-grain diet and gluten allergies or sensitivities. Some of the following flour substitutions are whole grains and others are completely gluten-free for those who need to eliminate gluten from their diets.
Whole Grain Substitutions for White Flour (Including Gluten-Free Options)
1 cup white all-purpose flour = 1 cup whole wheat flour = 1 cup spelt or other grain flour = 1 cup oat flour
Oats are gluten-free, but there is a risk that they will contain traces of gluten due to cross-contamination. If you have a severe gluten allergy, be sure to buy from companies such as Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods whose oat products are tested to ensure that they are gluten-free.
Wheat flour is a mix of gluten protein and starch, so for best results in gluten-free baking, it should be replaced with a combination of gluten-free flour and starch. Gluten Free Girl provides instructions for making gluten-free flour blends.
Note: Replacing all the white flour in a recipe with whole grain flour makes recipes healthier, but it can change the texture and appearance of finished baked goods – see Tips for Baking with Whole Grain Flours to improve whole grain baking.
Specialty Wheat Product and Flour Substitutions
The following are good substitutes for various specialty flour and flour product types:
- Bread crumbs (1 cup) = 1 cup cracker crumbs = 1 cup ground oats = 1 cup ground cornflakes
- Bread flour (1 cup) = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon wheat gluten (you can also substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour without the wheat gluten, but this will usually make the texture of breads less elastic and more crumbly)
- Bulgur or barley (1 cup, cooked) = 1 cup cooked brown rice = 1 cup cooked white rice = 1 cup cooked wild rice
- Cake flour (1 cup) = 3/4 cups all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pastry flour (2 cups) = 1+1/3 cups all-purpose flour + 2/3 cup cake flour
- Self-rising flour (1 cup) = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon of salt (some sources recommend 1+1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt)
- Whole wheat flour (1 cup) = 7/8 cup all-purpose white flour + 2 tablespoons wheat germ = 1 cup graham flour
Thickening Agent Substitutions
The following are substitutions for a number of grain- and starch-based thickening agents:
- Arrowroot starch (1 teaspoon) = 1 tablespoon flour = 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Cornstarch (1 tablespoon) = 2 tablespoons white flour = 1 tablespoon potato starch = 1 tablespoon rice starch = 1 tablespoon arrowroot = 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
- Instant tapioca (1 tablespoon) = 1+1/2 tablespoons flour
- Tapioca starch (1 tablespoon) = 1 tablespoon cornstarch = 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch = 1 tablespoon potato starch
For more baking substitution options, see the main Cooking and Baking Ingredient Substitutions page.
- Allrecipes.ca. (2014). “Common Ingredient Substitutions.” http://allrecipes.com/howto/common-ingredient-substitutions/
- Gluten-Free Goddess. (2008). “Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions.” http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.ca/2008/12/baking-cooking-substitutions-for-gluten.html
- Henneman, A. (2013). “Ingredient Substitutions.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln. http://food.unl.edu/web/fnh/ingredient-substitutions
- JoyofBaking.com. (2014). “Baking Ingredient Substitution Table.” http://www.joyofbaking.com/IngredientSubstitution.html/