Brown rice flour is one of many gluten free flour options and has become increasingly popular in its own right and as a flour substitute. Because the flour relies on brown rice, it tends to be high in fiber and contains more nutrients and plant-based compounds than many other flour options. It features also in a variety of recipes, including pizza dough, highlighting its versatility.
Yet, while brown rice flour is useful, you won’t always have it on hand. It mightn’t be the right choice for some situations anyway, especially as it is fairly high in carbs. As such, you may need to turn to alternative ingredients instead.
There are many interesting substitutes for brown rice flour, including oat flour, almond flour, white rice flour, and even whole wheat flour. These are all viable alternatives and can often be used as a 1:1 replacement for brown rice flour.
Still, it’s important to pay attention to the properties of each type of flour as they all differ. Finding the right substitute for the right situation requires a little understanding and finesse. But don’t worry, we’re going to step you through the various options.
White Rice Flour
Let’s begin with the obvious – white rice flour. This is made from rice, so it has many of the same properties as brown rice flour. The biggest differences are that it has a milder flavor and isn’t as coarse.
Sometimes these differences aren’t a big deal and you can simply try a 1:1 substitution. However, baked goods tend to be denser with brown rice flour than with white rice flour. This makes the brown version best for hearty recipes, including many breads and muffins. White rice flour is a better choice for lighter recipes, such as cakes.
Still, despite these limitations, white rice flour will give you the closest results to brown rice flour. It’s often easier to find than brown rice flour as well, which is another reason for considering it.
While coconut flour doesn’t have all the features of brown rice flour, it remains extremely popular. Not only is coconut flour minimally processed, but it is also low in carbs.
The low carb content means that the flour shouldn’t spike your blood sugar levels. It’s also suitable for diabetics and people following a keto diet. This is an important feature, given that rice flour and wheat flour is very high in carbs.
You can actually substitute coconut flour for brown rice flour in a recipe, although the final flavor profile will become sweeter and less nutty as a result. For a cup of brown rice flour, you’ll need just 1/4 cup of coconut flour, as coconut flour is much more absorbent.
Almond flour is another famous gluten free flour. Like coconut flour, it’s low in carbs, easy to find, and features in many recipes (of course, it’s no good if you have a nut allergy). You’re also getting plenty of nutrients from the flour.
Much of the time, you can use almond flour as a 1:1 substitution for rice flour. You might occasionally need an extra egg or two for texture, but this isn’t always essential.
The flour does also carry some of the familiar nutty flavor of almonds. This works well in some recipes, but poorly in others, so you’ll need to consider your desired flavor profile.
Sorghum isn’t that well-known in the United States, but it’s a crucial grain elsewhere, including in the Middle East and Africa. Plus, it’s a gluten free ingredient like brown rice flour.
It’s an interesting alternative to consider, due to its nutty and earthy flavor. This flavor should work well in any recipe that originally called for brown rice flour.
The flour is powerful in baking, such as when you’re making bread and muffins. You can also use it as a thickener or as part of the batter when making dried food.
However, too much sorghum flour can make your baking taste sour. If your recipe just calls for a little brown rice flour, then you should be able to use sorghum flour as a 1:1 replacement. Otherwise, try using sorghum flour as part of a flour mixture.
Tapioca flour and cassava flour both come from cassava roots. However, the roots have been processed differently, which creates flours with distinct properties.
Cassava flour is mild and easy to work with, which makes it a useful substitute for all purpose flour. Tapioca flour is a little different and is most often used as a thickening agent in recipes.
However, tapioca flour can also act as a brown rice flour substitute, especially in the batter for fried foods. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio in baking as well, but be sure to add the flour slowly, as the thickening effect can be dramatic.
Chickpea flour is fascinating and is still seriously underused. It’s a powerful type of flour because it is dense and helps bind ingredients together. That combination of features helps to create sturdy textures in gluten free baking, ones that are hard to get otherwise.
The flour is also nutritious, offering a surprising amount of fiber and protein. This can be helpful in plenty of recipes, especially if you’re trying to improve your health.
You may sometimes see this flour called by another name, like gram flour or garbanzo bean flour. It’s the same ingredient regardless.
Have you heard about buckwheat flour before? It’s a little obscure but also fascinating, as it is often quite dark and has a noticeable nutty aftertaste. Those features make the flour excellent for recipes where you want a decent amount of flavor and substance.
The name is also misleading, as buckwheat isn’t a type of wheat at all. We’re actually talking about a gluten free seed that is surprisingly high in fiber and protein.
There are actually two types of buckwheat flour to consider: dark buckwheat flour and light buckwheat flour. The darker version is made without hulling the buckwheat grouts, which produces a stronger flavor. While the flavor and color of dark buckwheat can be appealing, you may sometimes want to stick with light buckwheat instead.
Millet flour is another interesting choice. It’s made using finely ground millet, which naturally makes the flour gluten free.
The flour is often said to have a mild corn-like flavor and some sweetness. However, reports vary, with others saying that the flavor is surprisingly strong instead. Such differences could be due to variation in millet seeds from harvest to harvest or between cultivars.
Because the flavor can potentially be strong, you may need to mix millet flour with another type of gluten free flour. Doing so stops the flavor from being too intense. The approach is helpful anyway and helps to give you a more balanced ingredient for your baking.
Like brown rice flour, oat flour is a whole grain ingredient. It even offers a similar color to your recipes. This is also a straightforward choice, as you can use oat flour as a 1:1 replacement for brown rice flour.
Oat flour is lighter than brown rice flour, which means your baked goods will generally be less dense. You’ll often get a little chewiness and fantastic flavor from the oat flour as well.
Another great feature is that you can make oat flour yourself. You just need the oats and then something to grind them up. A blender will often do the trick here. The finer you can grind the oats the better, as the flour is most versatile when it is finely ground.
One word of caution here – oat flour isn’t always gluten free. While oats don’t contain any gluten, they can easily get contaminated with it during processing. If you’re sensitive to gluten, you’ll need to look for gluten free brands. Here, the products should be tested to ensure there’s been no gluten contamination.
Quinoa is often called a superfood, partly because it is highly nutritious and partly because it can be used instead of less nutritious options, like white rice. Quinoa flour is an alternative way to use the pseudograin, one that’s just as powerful.
Notably, quinoa flour is simply made by grinding quinoa seeds, so you get all the powerful nutrients from quinoa seeds. The flavor profile is surprisingly similar to brown rice flour as well, giving you some nutty and earthy tones.
It isn’t all good news, as quinoa flour can be tricky to work with. This is because the protein and fat content is different than many other products, including brown rice flour. That difference means you’ll need to experiment with the liquids in your recipe and binding ingredients to get the desired texture.
Teff is a very fine flour that comes in a few forms, including white, brown, and red. White is the most widely available version and has a mild flavor. The brown version tends to be coarser and has a stronger flavor, while red teff flour is more intense again.
The flavor profile tends to be nutty and earthy, so it’s in line with brown rice flour. That nutty flavor is also excellent in many baked goods.
If you’re directly replacing brown rice flour with teff flour, try for a 1:2 ratio, where you’re using one part of teff for every two parts of brown rice flour in your recipe. Of course, some tweaking may be needed depending on the recipe you choose.
You could also experiment with using teff flour as part of a gluten free flour blend. This helps to drop down the intensity of flavor, while still giving you the desired texture results.
Whole Wheat Flour
Brown rice flour is often used instead of whole wheat flour, so why not make the substitution in the opposite direction? Whole wheat flour certainly has a lot going for it, as it is easier to find and is less expensive than many of the options on this list.
Whole wheat flour also provides texture and flavor to your baking. This makes them much more interesting than if you’d used a less flavorful type of flour, like white rice flour or coconut flour.
Still, whole wheat flour does have an obvious issue – the gluten content. The flour is a poor choice for anyone with gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Even if you’re fine with gluten, the protein means that whole wheat flour will behave differently in your recipes, leading to an increased rise and more lightness. While such effects are often helpful, they could mess up a recipe that’s designed exclusively for gluten free flour.
Oat flour has many similarities to brown rice flour, especially as both are gluten free and are made from whole grains. If you use oat flour as a 1:1 replacement, your baking will be a little lighter, but will have a similar flavor profile.
You can also turn to white rice flour. While this isn’t a whole grain product, it is still made from rice and behaves similarly to the brown version. Here too, you’ll end up with lighter baking if you use white rice flour instead of brown rice flour.
This list has mostly featured gluten free options, any of which could be an excellent replacement for brown rice flour. Oat flour, white rice flour, and quinoa flour are some of the best choices.
You can also turn to gluten free flour blends. These include multiple types of gluten free flour and are normally easy to use. In fact, the right blend should produce better results than any single type of flour.
The Best Low Carb Brown Rice Flour Alternative
Almond flour is your best option here, as it is naturally low in carbs, is easy to find, and features in many keto recipes. Coconut flour is an option too. While this contains more carbs than almond flour, the carb content is still low enough for it to work on a keto diet.