August 28, 2021 · Written by Foodtolive Team

Flour Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Different Types of Flour

What tastes better than freshly baked bread? Even if you cut down on flour products because of some reasonable reflections, you still most likely consumed bread in your childhood. This article is to conduct a comprehensive “flour guide” so that you learn more about flour types for baking and flour types for bread. The key goal is to remind how crucial this product is and what healthy recipes you can use it in.

Flour Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Different Types of Flour

What is flour?

Flour is defined as food produced by grinding grains of various agricultural crops, mainly cereals.

It is made from varieties of grain crops such as wheat, rye, buckwheat, oats, barley, millet, corn, and rice. Wheat and rye are the most popular types of baking flour. Still, if we compare these two, the usage of wheat prevails over rye type. Such tendency is explained by pleasant taste and high nutritional value of wheat flour products as well as the specifics of the zoning of wheat and rye cultivation.

Why is it important to choose the right flour for your baking?

The key to the success of any dish is the selected ingredients. You should figure out which flour is best for baking pancakes, pies or plain bread. It is necessary to take into account the type of flour, as well as the method of storage and its uses. There are a few basic criteria that you can focus on in the store:

  • Take special attention at the storage place: the flour should be kept in a clean, dry, odorless store or room. There should be no meat or other food in the compartment.
  • Make sure the expiration date is valid: no more than eight months. If the term is longer, it is likely to contain preservatives.
  • Check the nutrition label.
  • The flour should taste a bit sweet.

Flour Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Different Types of Flour

Flour Types and Their Characteristics


1. All-Purpose Flour. All-purpose flour is produced by grinding wheat kernels cleaned of bran and germs. This flour type is well known for high content of iron and B vitamins: (thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid).

Perfect for: bakery products, cakes, cookies

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 13 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: You can use all-purpose altogether with whole-grain flours to reduce the overall protein content in the recipe — for example, a half whole-wheat and half all-purpose mix to avoid dense muffins. Note that Gluten-free all-purpose flour blends can be substituted one-to-one since they work absolutely the same in the recipes. [1]

Recipe ideas: Garlic Herb Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls


2. Pastry Flour. Pastry flour is a low-protein flour ideal for baked goods. It has a high percentage of starch and less protein than other flours which allows you to get soft and delicate pastries.

Perfect for: biscuits, scones, pie crusts, quick breads

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 3 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Pastry flour is suitable for all bakery goods. Being very soft, it goes well in the recipes where tenderness takes priority (cakes, muffins, quick breads). In this case, both All-Purpose flour and Pastry flour can be used interchangeably. [1]

Recipe ideas: Cinnamon Sugar Mini Pumpkin Donuts


3. Whole Wheat Flour. Whole grain flour is made by grinding whole wheat grain (germs, bran and endosperm). For this reason, whole wheat flour usually has more protein than regular flour.

Perfect for: bread, pasta

Not suitable for: Can contain sugar; not recommended for gluten intolerant people

Protein content (1 cup): 16 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Despite valuable nutrients of the whole wheat flour, 1:1 ratio is not advisable as in the result you can get dense, coarse, and dry baking goods.

Recipe ideas: Classic Raisin Bran Muffins with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour


4. Rye Flour. Rye flour is obtained by grinding rye grains. This flour contains less gluten than wheat flour. Therefore, it is easier to digest. Moreover, Rye flour is rich in minerals (phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron); vitamins (groups B: thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin, folic, nicotinic acid; E, or tocopherol; A); valuable amino acids (lysine, niacin, etc.)

Perfect for: Bread, cakes, scones

Not suitable for: Not recommended for gluten intolerant people

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Due to different gluten-forming properties, Rye flour can’t be directly substituted for all-purpose or bread flour. However, note that rye flour is considered to be one of the most useful flours for baking due to the content of active enzymes that break down starch compounds. There is one drawback though – rye dough has less elasticity – as a result, the finished bread often loses its shape when being cut. In contrast, if you use wheat flour, the finished product is normally obtained with raised elasticity. [2]

Recipe ideas: Marrow Pancakes with Basil Chive Cream


5. Amaranth Flour. Amaranth flour is naturally a gluten-free, high-protein flour. This flour is produced by grinding amaranth grains. Amaranth flour is rich in fatty acids and contains tocotrienol, which is a powerful form of vitamin E. There are about five times more iron and three times more fiber in Amaranth flour than in Wheat flour. It is also rich in other trace elements, including potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A, C.

Perfect for: Bread, pancakes, cookies cinnamon rolls, scones, muffins

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 18 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Amaranth flour is dense in texture, so it can be used on its own. Still, it can substitute all-purpose flour in baked goods by up to 25 percent. [3]


6. Barley Flour. Barley flour is grayish-white in color. It has no taste or smell, however, the dish baked with this flour tastes tart due to high amount of fiber. Barley flour is one of the healthiest flours, as it is a good source of vitamins A, B, PP, as well as iron, potassium, sodium and other trace elements.

Perfect for: cookies waffles, muffins, pancakes

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 16 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Barley flour is most often used for baking, but it never plays a major role in the recipe. This is due to the low content of gluten in the flour, that makes it impossible to bake pure barley bread. For baking, barley flour is mixed with wheat or rye. As a result, it gives dark color and a nutty taste.


7. Buckwheat Flour. Buckwheat flour is produced by grinding buckwheat groats. It is absolutely gluten-free, so it’s a great alternative for gluten intolerant people. Moreover, Buckwheat flour is so nutritious that it regulates cholesterol levels, provides body with fiber and plenty of lecithin. Note that Buckwheat flour is of two types: light (made from hulled buckwheat) or dark (unhulled). The light one is finer-textured and subtler in taste while the dark one has more fiber and flavor. [4]

Perfect for: Cookies, scones, biscuits, soba noodles, quick breads.

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 15 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Buckwheat flour can generally substitute All-Purpose flour for waffles, crepes and pancakes. If you are not familiar with assertive flavor of buckwheat flour, it’s better to start adding a mix of buckwheat and rice flours. Still, if you like the taste, don’t hesitate to fully replace Buckwheat flour with All-Purpose Flour. [4]

Apple Gruyere Buckwheat Biscuits, Buckwheat Scones With Cherry Jam, Buckwheat & Oat Cutout Cookies


8. Cassava Flour. Cassava flour is a variety of flour without wheat made by heating and drying the fibrous root of cassava. Naturally, it is absolutely gluten-free, so cassava flour is beneficial both for gluten-intolerant people and for those who strive to keep a healthy diet.

Perfect for: Bread, pies, crepes

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 3.9 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Cassava flour is a great substitute for All-Purpose White flour. However, it is not a perfect match for every recipe: Cassava flour is lighter than All-Purpose flour, it absorbs more liquid. That means, you would have to play a bit with water proportions. [5]

Recipe ideas: Cassava Flour Pizza Crust


9. Coconut Flour. Coconut flour is a soft flour produced from coconut that has been dried and ground. This flour has a mild, sweet, and fairly distinct taste. Coconut flour tends to absorb much more liquid than other flours. For this reason, it cannot be used as a one-to-one substitution. Note that Coconut Flour is absolutely safe to eat raw. Furthermore, it is a wonderful low carb option for no bake recipes.

Perfect for: Cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, savory crepes

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 20 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: You can’t substitute coconut flour on a 1:1 ratio for all-purpose flour, or most other flours, but try to cut down the amount of flour to ¼ of what you would normally use.

Recipe ideas: Chocolate Vegan Mug Cake


10. Corn Flour. Corn flour is made by grinding corn grains. Like corn, flour has a slightly sweet taste and is yellow in color. Corn flour is normally more dense and crumbly than other flours because it’s naturally gluten-free.

Perfect for: bread, pancakes, waffles, pastries

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 8.1 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Corn flour can be easily replaced for All-Purpose flour in baking. However, when it comes to deep-fried dishes, cornstarch and Potato flour are better alternatives for substitution.


11. Garbanzo Bean Flour. Garbanzo Bean Flour (also called Chickpea flour) is a great gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Chickpea flour is a pulse flour made from a type of ground chickpea called the gram chickpea. It has a nutty taste and is rich in various nutrients: Protein (higher proportions than other flours), fat, fiber, folate, iron, carbs, phosphorus, thiamine.

Perfect for: Bread, pizza, cakes

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 20 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: You can substitute the garbanzo bean flour in your recipe for the same amount of all-purpose flour, as long as you’re not making a gluten-free recipe. All-purpose flour doesn’t have the same complex, nutty taste as garbanzo bean flour, so the flavor of the finished dish may be significantly different. [6]

Recipe ideas: Tuscan Chickpea Flatbread , Chickpea Flour Mini Vegan Frittata


12. Kamut Flour. Kamut grains are old relatives of durum wheat; the kernels are two or three times bigger in size than wheat grains. Kamut flour has an amber color, oily smell and mild taste with a sweetish nutty flavor.

Perfect for: Bread, biscuits, cakes

Not suitable for: Contains gluten

Protein content (1 cup): 15 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Kamut flour is versatile. It can be used as a substitute for wheat flour for any meal you prepare.


13. Millet Flour. Millet Flour is stone ground and whole grain with subtle flavor, lots of vitamins and minerals like protein, essential amino acids and dietary fiber. Millet flour gives light, sweet-nutty flavor and a crumbly texture to baked goods. And most importantly, it provides baked goods with useful properties.

Perfect for: Pancakes, muffins

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 13 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: You can replace about ½ cup of all-purpose flour in a recipe with Millet flour. Note that this flour has more of a meal texture. Therefore, it’s not that good for sponge cakes, but it is a great ingredient for muffins and cookies.

Recipe ideas: Mini Pancake Cereal with Millet Flour


14. Nut Flour. Nut flour is made of crushed ground nuts. This flour can be produced from almonds, cashews and other tree nuts. It is extremely useful because it contains proteins, vitamins (a good content of Vitamin E), minerals and fatty acids; it improves heart, liver and kidney functioning, strengthens the immune system. Nut flours have a unique nutty flavor.

Perfect for: pancakes, scones, pasta, biscuits, gluten-free cookies, macarons

Not suitable for: Not recommended for nut-intolerant people

Protein content (1 cup): Almond flour – 24g, Cashew flour – 13g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Cashew flour is an absolute substitute for All-Purpose flour. You can bake bread cookies, cakes, pancakes and a lot more. It works well both with sweet and savory recipes. Almond flour, in turn, is a little moist by its nature, therefore, you should mix it with a denser flour like coconut flour to keep the desired shape of your baked goods.

Recipe ideas: Almond Flour Blueberry Muffins, Rosemary Cashew Flour Biscuits


15. Oat Flour. Oat flour is made from ground oats. It is a very nutritious product. All because it contains soluble and insoluble fiber. The first reduces sugar levels, and the second normalizes the intestinal microflora, and removes toxins. However, being gluten-free, products made from oat flour won’t have that good of a structure and moisture. For example, oatmeal cookies will crumble and the bread will turn out flat.

Perfect for: cheesecakes, pancakes, waffles, muffins, fruit crumbles and crisps

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 15 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: It’s a healthy substitute for all purpose flour, and it’s easy to make at home. However, oat flour is not a 1 for 1 substitute for all-purpose flour. You’ll need to use oat flour recipes that are especially designed for using it. The gluten in all-purpose flour provides lift in baked goods, but oats are very dense. So if there is no recipe designed for oat flour, it’s better not trying it as a white flour substitute. Don’t expect making pizza dough or sourdough bread to taste and look good using oat flour. It won’t work! Instead, look to oat flour recipes we’ve created. They work great with this special flour. [7]

Recipe ideas: Chai Spiced Oat & Quinoa Flour Muffins


16. Quinoa Flour. Quinoa flour is produced by grinding quinoa into powder. It is a valuable source of protein, fiber, iron and unsaturated fats. Moreover, it may boost antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that are beneficial for the digestive system.

Perfect for: pancakes, cupcakes, pizza, pies

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 16 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Quinoa flour can be substituted for 1/2 of the All-Purpose flour in many recipes or completely replace wheat flour in cakes and cookie recipes. [8]

Recipe ideas: Chai Spiced Oat&Quinoa Flour Muffins


17. Rice Flour. Rice flour is produced from rice grains. This flour is very popular among those keeping a healthy lifestyle. Unlike Wheat flour, it is gluten-free. In addition, Rice flour is rich in protein, B vitamins and zinc.

Perfect for: rice noodles, pancakes, cakes, biscuits

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 9.4 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Rice flour is naturally gluten-free and its grains are much harder than wheat grains, so it doesn’t absorb liquid. Thus, you cannot use Rice Flour as 1:1 substitution for all-purpose flour.

Recipe ideas: Homemade Rice Noodles


18. Spelt Flour. Spelt flour is made by the stone-grinding method. Organic stone-ground spelt flour retains maximum nutrients because its processing is minimal. Therefore, by adding it to baked goods, you not only enhance the taste but also infuse them with fiber and plant proteins. It is also rich in such valuable minerals as zinc and iron.

Perfect for: cakes, breads, muffins, scones, chocolate chip cookies and waffles

Not suitable for: No major restrictions

Protein content (1 cup): 22 g

Substitute for all-purpose flour: Stone-ground Spelt flour is similar to Wheat flour in texture and properties. However, they aren’t identical, so you can’t use it as a full substitute for all-purpose flour. Note that spelt flour is “lighter” than whole wheat flour; therefore, products baked with it are lighter and fluffier.

You can use organic white spelt flour in a recipe by substituting 50% of regular wheat flour.

Flour Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Different Types of Flour

Still in doubts which flour to choose?

If you are looking for the most nutritious one, buckwheat flour is definitely the best option for you. It contains the largest amount of protein with a minimum amount of fat, carbohydrates and sugar. Oat and rice flour rank second and third accordingly, since Oat flour has a high content of fiber and easily digestible proteins; Rice flour is good for the body as a whole – it helps strengthen bones, joints, has a positive effect on the skin, nails and hair, and normalizes blood sugar. Even if you don’t feel like a pro whenever you bake bread or anything else, remember the words of the famous blogger Israelmore Ayivor, who once said “Your flour is your dream and your bread is your fulfillment. The environment in which your flour is baked can influence the shape of your bread… Just take it as simple as that!”. In addition to the useful information above, we’ve created a video guide, that will serve of great help, when selecting the perfect flour for you.