Paleo Pantry 101: Flours
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Paleo Pantry 101: Flours - The difference between them and when to use which one: Coconut, Almond, Cassava, Tapioca, Arrowroot, and Potato flours

When we switched to Paleo as a family, I wish I had someone to give me a Paleo Pantry 101: Flours tour! It was like I was speaking a foreign food language. I was overwhelmed and confused by all the unfamiliar products. 

Let me help you! I will take you item by item of the Paleo flours I keep in my Paleo kitchen as a mom of a large family and recipe creative.

The tricky part is that there is no one Paleo flour that is the perfect 1:1 swap for traditional white flour. Each Paleo flour has its own properties that are important to understand so you can know how to use each one.

Paleo Pantry 101: Flours – Almond Flour

WHAT IT IS

Almond flour is literally ground up almonds into a gritty flour. Almond meal is similar but usually coarser, and I don’t recommend using it for most recipes.

PREFERRED BRAND

I prefer to use a super-fine almond flour such as this one from Blue Diamond. The super fine texture will make for a better texture in baked goods. I find it at Sam’s Club or also well priced on Amazon.

 

HOW TO USE ALMOND FLOUR

GREAT FOR:

NOT GREAT FOR:

  • Almond flour does not work as a sauce thickener. 

 

 

Paleo Pantry 101: Flours – Coconut Flour

WHAT IT IS

Coconut flour is very finely ground dried coconut meat. 

PREFERRED BRAND

I usually get my coconut flour from Amazon, for convenience and price, or the bulk bins at Winco. But, I haven’t noticed much of a variation between coconut brands. 

HOW TO USE COCONUT FLOUR

GREAT FOR:

  • Coconut flour is incredibly absorbent to moisture and coarse. I have rarely used it in a baked good by itself, only in combination with other flours. The one exception to that is my Paleo “Corn” bread Muffins (below), where the coconut flour wildy similates a cornbread result, without any corn!
  • It can help add bulk to baked goods by absorbing moisture, and its high fat content gives the baked goods a softer texture. 

NOT GREAT FOR:

  • Its coarse nature makes it not ideal for breading, as it leaves a sandy texture.
  • It does not work as a sauce thickener.

Paleo "Cornbread" Muffins - Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free. 7-ingredients, easy and delicious!

 

Paleo Pantry 101: Flours – Cassava Flour

WHAT IT IS

Cassava flour is made from a cassava or yuca root vegetable that is local to South America and common in Africa and Asia. The yuca root is similar in texture to a sweet potato, and it is ground into a dense white flour. Cassava flour is nut-free, making it a common Paleo substitute for nut-free baked goods. 

PREFERRED BRAND

NOT all cassava flour brands are equal. I have tried quite a few that don’t perform well or have a strong flavor. If you try a recipe with cassava flour and struggle with the texture or flavor, the type of cassava flour you used might be at fault. My favorite brand of cassava flour is Anthony’s, as it works well and is budget-friendly. Otto’s is also a great brand. 

HOW TO USE CASSAVA FLOUR

Admittedly, cassava flour is not the most user-friendly. It is dense and absorbent and can be frustrating to work with.

HOT TIP: Because of this, always fluff your cassava flour before using it and scoop it into the measuring cup with a spoon. Also, start with slightly less cassava flour than what is called for, and double-check the texture of the baked good before adding the rest.

For example, with my Paleo Waffles (below) or Muffin recipes, I offer a cassava flour option for those who need nut-free. But double-check the batter texture details to ensure the batter doesn’t get too thick. If it’s too dense, you probably inadvertently added too much cassava flour. 

They say it’s 1:1 to white flour. I disagree. Again, I would start out with 75% of the amount of white flour it calls for (so, 1 cup white flour, start with 3/4 cup cassava flour) and go from there, again remembering the tip above on how to measure it. 

  • With the above disclaimers in mind, it is the closest Paleo single flour replacement for white flour. It can be used in baking and breading successfully.
  • Also works well for thickening sauces. 

Paleo Waffles - Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free. Crispy and a huge hit with the kids!

 

Paleo Pantry 101: Flours – Tapioca, Arrowroot, and Potato Starch or Flour

WHAT IT IS

These three white powdery gluten-free Paleo flours can behave very similarly, but it’s essential to know the differences and when to use each one.

  • Tapioca flour is actually also made from a cassava root, but through a different process.
  • Arrowroot is made from the arrowroot plant, a plant similar to the cassava plant.
  • Potato starch, you guessed it, comes from the starch of a potato, ground into a powdery substance.
PREFERRED BRAND
  • Tapioca flour – I get tapioca flour from Amazon or the bulk bins at Winco. 
  • Arrowroot flour – I also find this on Amazon or the bulk bins at Winco. 
  • Potato starch or flour – Well, ditto, lol. I buy it either on Amazon or in the bulk bins at Winco.

HOW TO USE IT

Here’s where things get a little specific, so pay attention. These three can sometimes be interchangeable, sometimes not. Instead of going by flour, let’s talk about which to use depending on what you want to do.

  • Thickening sauces: All three, tapioca, arrowroot, and potato starch, will thicken a sauce like cornstarch.
    • However, arrowroot and potato starch will both thicken it without any weird texture results.
    • Tapioca flour will create a “tacky” result. This works well if you wanted to make a stretchy, nacho-cheese type sauce, like in my Chili con Queso Dip (below) but not for other sauces. I don’t generally recommend tapioca flour for thickening sauces.
  • In baked goods: Generally, all three of these flours work well in baked goods, in combination with other flours. I often use a combination flour of tapioca, coconut flour, and almond flour in baked goods to create a great texture.
    • Due to its “tacky” result, Tapioca can help make a soft “stretch” to muffins or my Paleo crepes. But, too much tapioca flour in a baked good can leave it gummy in texture. 

Whole30 Chili Con Queso - Paleo, Keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, vegan options

 

I hope this Paleo Pantry 101: Flour edition helped you understand the ins and outs of using Paleo flours! If you have any further questions, comment below. Here’s to all the delicious creations to come!

2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Autumn! This is so helpful and easy to understand.

    Reply
    • My pleasure! I’m so glad you found it helpful. Thanks for letting me know!

      Reply

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