Gluten-Free Flour Mixes

If you’re new to the gluten-free diet and are trying your hand at gluten-free baking, you might be a bit overwhelmed because there are so many gluten free flours. Unfortunately, you can’t just buy a type of flour and substitute it for wheat flour. Gluten-free flours usually have to be combined to work well in baked goods.

Once you’ve figure that out, there’s a new problem. There are so many gluten-free flour mixes! There are recipes in cookbooks and on web sites for flour mixes, and there are packaged mixes at the health food store. Which one should you use?

To answer that question, you have to ask yourself a few other questions.

  • Do I want the convenience of buying a flour mix for all or part of my baking?
  • Do I want to save money and make my own?
  • Are there other types of flour I need to avoid?
  • Is the nutritional content of a mix important to me?
  • Do I want to avoid certain tastes, textures, and smells?
  • Do you want to achieve certain tastes, textures, and smells?

There are so many flour mixes out there because people have different answers to those questions. If there was one perfect gluten-free flour mix, we would all be using it! Once you have answered those questions, look for flour mixes that meet your requirements for the first four questions. Try them out to see how they match with your answers to the last two questions, and you will find what works for you.
Here are my personal answers to the above questions:

  • I don’t buy flour mixes, I make them. I even go as far as milling some of my gluten-free flours.
  • I don’t have other allergies or intolerances to restrict me.
  • Nutritional content is important to me. I like using brown rice flour and sorghum flour for that reason. My decision, though, depends on what I’m baking. If it’s an occasional treat, I don’t worry so much about the nutritional content. If it’s part of my regular diet, I do.
  • I don’t like the smell or taste of bean flours, and I don’t seem to digest them well. Although they add protein and give breads a nice texture, I don’t use them. Soy flour is included in that.
  • Who doesn’t want their food to smell, taste, and feel good? Specific preferences depend on the specific food I’m baking and I adjust my flour mix according to that.

When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, there was not the wealth of information and recipes available that there is now. My greatest help came from cookbooks by Bette Hagman that I found at the library. Bette Hagman was a pioneer in the field of gluten-free baking and cooking. In some ways, we all owe her our gratitude for blazing the trail. One of her many accomplishments was to develop a gluten-free flour mix that works well in many recipes. I don’t use it as much as I used to, but I still keep the mix on hand and find that it works particularly well in dessert recipes.

Bette Hagman’s basic gluten-free flour mix (she did develop other mixes):

  • 6 parts rice flour (white or brown)
  • 2 parts potato starch
  • 1 part tapioca starch

The second cookbook author who has greatly influenced me is Carol Fenster. You can check her out at Savory Palate. She also has several flour mixes, but my favorite is her sorghum flour blend.

Carol Fenster’s Sorghum Blend

  • 3 parts sorghum flour
  • 3 parts potato starch or corn starch (I use potato)
  • 2 parts tapioca starch
  • 1 part corn, almond, or bean flour (I use corn)
Carol’s Newer Sorghum Blend
  • 1 1/2 c. sorghum or brown rice flour
  • 1 1/2 c. potato starch or corn starch
  • 1 c. tapioca flour

You can see that Carol’s mix has more starch than Bette’s which makes it lighter. It does not contain rice, which is a benefit for those who can’t have it or don’t like the texture of rice flour. I also keep this flour mix on hand. Sometimes I will use a combination of the two mixes.

I know there are plenty of other good, nutritional gluten-free flours such as amaranth, millet, and quinoa. Some I have tried, some I haven’t. I occasionally try different things, but I run out of room to store so many flours, and what I have works.

You will find that most of my recipes on this site do not call for a flour mix, but have individual flour amounts listed. I do that so that if you want to duplicate what I have done, you can do so without having to make up a flour mix first. It is also because I am often tweaking a recipe a little. However, you can substitute whatever flour mix you like using for the total amount of flour I have listed, and you should still get good results. Just remember that if your flour mix has xanthan gum in it, omit that from the recipe or adjust it.

The one exception to substituting any flour mix would be when making a loaf of bread. If you’ve tried it, you know that baking gluten-free bread is tricky. Therefore, I recommend following anyone’s bread recipe closely the first time, unless you just like to experiment.
If you have questions about gluten-free flours or mixes, please leave a comment or send me an email.




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Comments

  1. Rosemary says:

    Hello, I found your blog via the UBP and I’m so glad I did. Your blog is such a good resource. My goddaughter was just put on a gluten-free diet and her mom (my BF) is having quite a hard time finding things she’ll eat. I’m so sorry that you have these health issues, but it seems as though you have taken charge of the situation. Good luck on your continued journey and I plan on coming by your blog again.

  2. Linda, this is a very logical way to break down the GF flour mix issue. I agree with you completely that bean flours have too intense a smell and flavor for most applications, and I have also omitted it from my flour mixes.

    As for protein, this is where amaranth comes in for my mix. It adds a lot of flavor as well as protein, and you don’t have to add a lot to reap its benefits.

    I’m curious about this Bette Hagman flour mix you mention. I have seen it elsewhere, and I’ve tried it but with poor results. I found that it made the dough much too wet, and the product much too dense. What type of recipes has it worked in for you? I probably only tried it for scones and muffins.

    I love your posts on GF flours – very informative! Thanks again.

  3. Gina, I have used Bette’s mix in cakes, cookies, muffins, and other things with good results. It will be a bit heavier because of the amount of rice flour, but how finely the flour is ground will have an effect on the outcome. As I mentioned, I sometimes use both Bette’s and Carol’s mixes to get a good balance.

  4. That is a great idea. My sister-in-law can’t have gluten. I’ll have to share this with her.

  5. marylandceliac says:

    Jules Shepard’s gluten free flour blend can be substituted in any recipe. If you buy it before May 31, she will donate $5 to the center for celiac research for every bag purchased. It contains Expandex, which increases the shelf life of baked goods.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-5121-DC-Gluten-Free-Examiner~y2009m3d22-Jules-Shepard-Gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mixes-and-two-books

  6. Hi Linda,

    Just curious if you have used Jules Gluten Free flour. I have had good luck since I found it and am afraid to try something else. Your insight would be wonderful.

    • Hi Kim. I have not tried Jules flour mix because I prefer to use some whole grains, because I mill many of my own flours, and because of the cost. I am sure it works well, though. You could try substituting it for the total amount of flour used in my recipes and see how it works.

      • Hi Linda,

        I am not familar with milling flour or why one would have to do it. Can you explain.

        I am very heatlh conscious, is your way much more healthy? I am concerned because although I don’t eat alot of processed food, since being diagnosed I have gained 10 lbs. I have been told this is normal because my body is absorbing now, however I have never eaten healthier in my whole life.

        Just looking for something that isn’t so heavy, something that is more light and fluffy…..

        Thanks – Kim

  7. Brad Fullmer says:

    Linda,
    I was recently dianosed with celiac disease and am coping with the fact that I won’t be able to eat traditional breads, pastas, many cereals, etc. ever again. I’m also amazed that gluten is so ubiquitous in processed foods (who would think a can of Campbell’s tomato soup would have wheat?).
    Anyway, I would like to start baking gluten-freed breads, muffins, biscuits and desserts, make gluten-free pancakes, etc. and I frankly have no idea what flour mixtures work best for various applications.
    I would prefer my baked goods to be as ‘light’ and ‘fluffy’ as those made with wheat flour, but it seems like this is simply just not feasible. What flour mixture has worked best for you. I might even break down one day and buy a mill and start milling my own flour, since you seem to be a proponent of it.
    Thanks for your insight.
    – Brad Fullmer
    Salt Lake City

    • Hi Brad. I find that it depends on the recipe. Most of the time I don’t use a flour mix at all but combine individual flours for each recipe. You will see that reflected in the recipes on this site. However, substituting the total amount of flour that I use in a recipe for a flour mix often (but not always) works well. I’m afraid you will have to experiment a little to see what you like best. Some popular mixes are Pamela’s, Jules, and King Arthur.

    • Hi Brad
      Just want to tell you that I started with Pamela’s when I first went gluten-free. It just seemed an easier way to get started. Reading about all of the different flours, etc was quite confusing. I have to tell you I don’t know what I would have done without her pancake and baking mix. I use it for most of the basic daily stuff even now. (pancakes, waffels, corn bread and muffins, sour cream coffee cake, etc) I suggest you go to http://www.pamelasproducts.com to check out her recipes. It can be found in most large grocery stores. I order it by the case from Amazon which gives me free shipping and a better price. However, Pamela’s online offers the same price and shipping.
      I have moved on to experimenting with other flours but knowing this works for many of the things I need daily helps.

  8. Jeanne Cobetto says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your recipes! Will try the pumpkin roll one first.I’ve been baking and cooking gf for 6 years now since my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. I found that buying and storing so many different flours was expensive and unwieldy. Luckily I bought Annalise Roberts’ books, most notably Gluten-free Baking Classics, and found her blend(s) to work very well in a multitude of recipes, especially for baked goods. The key is the superfine brown rice flour from Authentic Foods in CA. They also provide Annalise’s blend already mixed up which again saves time and space. I highly recommend it, especially when new to the gf baking world. We’re big fans of King Arthur’s mixes since my daughter went away to college and can’t keep a full g-f pantry in her dorm room. Other favorites include Pamela’s pancake mix (works well for making calamari fritti (add some parmesan cheese and pepper); chickpea flour (from Indian food stores) in batter for fried fish; we like La Veneziane, Pasta Mia (Bi-Aglut) and Andriani’s Felicia corn-based pastas – the latter a bit hard to find. luckily there are more and more items available which makes experimenting more interesting.

  9. Heather says:

    Hi Linda!

    I like your website it is a good resource. I cannot have corn, wheat, or gluten. Can you recommend a flour mix for me. I am having trouble because xantham gum is a corn based product. What should I use instead of it? Is there any alternative to it? I heard Guar Gum and other gums, but what are they made from? Do they substitute one-for-one or what is the ratio? Additionally, I do not digest white potatoes well either. I know the topic is only gluten-free, but I was wondering if you have come across any insight I may have not found yet. Especially given the amount of people you interact with daily. Thanks ~ Heather

    • Hi Heather! Guar gum is corn free and can be used one for one in place of xanthan gum. There might be slight differences in the outcome, but it should work pretty well. I can’t think of a flour mix that does not contain xanthan gum or corn starch. You are probably best off making your own mix such are Carol’s newer sorghum blend listed in this post. I hope that helps.

    • I forgot to mention that you could try arrowroot starch in place of potato starch.

  10. Hi Linda, I want to try the Pumpking Pie Roll and I was wondering what flour mix you would recommend – I cannot eat any type of grains as I’m highly intolerant to gluten. Can you tell me what mix I can use for this recipe?

    TYVM

    Laura

    • Hi Laura. I think I used Bette Hagman’s flour mix in that recipe. I really don’t have experience with baking grain free. I have always used gluten-free grains. So sorry, but I can’t help you out on that.

  11. Allison S says:

    Hi Linda! Can you share some ideas about how I could use the gluten free bisquick mix in your recipes? I just found out I have celiac a couple of months ago, and I am really struggling with the diet. I was wondering if the GF biscuick might work in your pumpkin roll recipe, but I am also new to baking things from scratch! Thanks Linda, and happy holidays! :)

    • Hi Allison. I only tried the Gf Bisquick once and had a reaction to it so I don’t use it. I think a gf flour mix would be easier to substitute since the Bisquick contains sugar, leavening, and other things. It’s easier to simply replace the total amount of flour. But any substitute is going to work a little differently in recipes. I’m afraid you’ll just have to experiment. Let me know how it goes.

  12. Bev Westlake says:

    I can not use corn starch or potato starch do you have any other starches that I can use.

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