What is the best gluten free flour for baking, cookies, bread, and pies when substituting for all-purpose flour in recipes? The most popular and available brands have been thoroughly tested and compared to find the all-time winning mix!
Testing Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix
If you are new to gluten free baking, or still trying to find your perfect stride, you way be wondering, “what is the best gluten free flour to bake with?”
In the past several years there has been an explosion of gluten free flours on the market. While they make it more convenient, rather than buying several flours to make your own mix, most still lack considerably in taste and texture.
The problem lies in the infinite possibilities of starch blends and varying ratios they can be blended together. For instance, white rice flour gives a neutral taste, but gritty texture.
Using a mixture of gluten free starches, such as rice, tapioca, potato, brown rice, and cornstarch can balance each other out, hopefully creating the best gluten free flour. However, many products on the market fall short, resulting in disappointing baked goods.
For years I have been dedicated to Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour because the taste mimics regular flour, and yields consistent results in baking. Different gluten free flour blends have equally dedicated users, though, so I wanted to test – is it really the best??
Common Problems with Gluten Free Flour
I tested four popular and widely available flours – Cup 4 Cup, Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1, King Arthur’s Measure-for-Measure, and Walmart’s Great Value Gluten Free Flour Mix. To make sure I gathered a good variety of results, each were tested with different baking recipes – gluten free biscuits, pie crust, and cookies.
All the flours tested also include xanthan gum in the mix. Some gluten free flours don’t contain it, which gives bakers more control over the amount added based on what they are making (ie. bread would need more, pie crust requires less). However, I wanted to find an easy, 1-to-1 flour to be used interchangeably with regular flours.
I also used friends and family for “blind taste tests,” so my partiality to my “regular” brand wouldn’t come into play. I was searching for the best gluten free flour to hopefully avoid some of the common pitfalls like,
- Gritty texture – Usually comes from large amounts of rice flour used in the mix.
- Gumminess – Gluten free flours don’t absorb liquids as readily as regular flour, which leads to a dense, gummy texture.
- Holding shape – Gf flours also have a harder time absorbing fat. This is why gluten free cookies have a tendency to spread so much more.
- Aftertaste – Usually resulting from stronger tasting flours used in the mix, such as teff or sorghum.
Allergens and Ingredients
Price and Availability
Although there are plenty of gluten free flours on the market, I wanted to compare the top four widely available either at a local grocery store, on Amazon or Vitacost.
For the best price, it’s beneficial to order in bulk to bring down the price. If you sign up for Vitacost’s email list they send a lot of coupon codes. I order enough bags to earn free shipping and use a coupon code to make the price per bag cheaper.
Cup 4 Cup – Available at Target, Amazon, and Vitacost $8.99 for 32 ounce bag or $0.28 per ounce. Amazon and Vitacost sells in in 3 pound bags, but it is still the same price / ounce.
Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 – Available at Target, local grocery stores, Amazon, and Vitacost $8.59 for 44 ounce bag or $0.20 per ounce.
King Arthur Measure-for-Measure – Available at Target, local grocery stores, and Amazon $8.99 for 48 ounce bag or $0.19 per ounce.
Great Value – Available at Walmart only. $2.98 for 22 ounce bag or $0.14 per ounce.
To test gluten free flour with cookie dough I used a traditional, non-gluten free, chocolate chip cookie recipe and the dough wasn’t chilled first.
Bob’s Red Mill – The raw dough was considerably thinner than all the other doughs. I hesitated even baking them because I thought it would spread to one congealed glob on my pan.
Surprisingly, they didn’t all run together, but these cookies spread the most. The taste, across the board with all testers, was unanimously the worst. It had a strong aftertaste compared to the other cookies, and a drier, gritty texture. Overall ranked #4
Great Value – The dough held its shape well and the baking time was most accurate, where the other cookies needed a couple minutes longer.
The shape of the cookie held up with baking, but the cookie was considerably drier, very brittle and not very pleasant. Overall ranked #3
King Arthur – The raw dough had the consistency of “regular” cookie dough, and the shape held up best during baking. This flour seemed to do the best job of absorbing fats, so there wasn’t an issue with spreading.
By looks alone, there would be no way to tell these cookies were gluten free. The cookie was chewy, but unfortunately had an unappealing gritty taste. Overall ranked #2
Cup 4 Cup – The dough was slightly thinner than regular cookie dough. I was tempted to add a couple tablespoons more flour or chill the dough first, but I didn’t want to skew the results of the test.
Because of the thinner dough, the cookies did spread slightly and had to bake a minute longer. However the taste was resoundedly voted on the best.
The cookie was chewy, had no aftertaste, and many commented they would have no idea it was gluten free. Overall ranked #1
Gluten Free Cookie Recipes
Best Gluten Free Flour for Breads and Biscuits
For testing gluten free bread I used a pan biscuit recipe, which is similar to a quick bread recipe without yeast. Biscuits, like bread, use a considerable amount of flour and contains nothing to mask taste or texture, unlike cookies or brownies.
Bob’s Red Mill – After baking, this biscuit had a very dense, gummy texture. The biscuit was very chewy, almost inedible to bite into. Like the cookies, there was also a very strong aftertaste. Overall ranked #4
Great Value – This brand tied for the worst as well. The texture was similarly dense, although not quite as gummy. Like Bob’s Red Mill, there was a strong unappealing aftertaste. Overall ranked #4
King Arthur – By looks these biscuits baked beautifully. They had good height and very fluffy. However, the taste was very dry and grainy. While these biscuits might do well under a layer of gravy, eating on their wasn’t a great experience. Overall ranked #2
Cup 4 Cup – Like King Arthur, the rise of these biscuits was appealing. The texture inside was light and fluffy, plus they tasted most like traditional biscuits with no grittiness or aftertaste. Overall ranked #1
Gluten Free Bread Recipes
Pie Crust Testing
Making pie crust with gluten free flour is a true testament to its quality. Like bread, it doesn’t contain anything in the recipe to mask an off putting taste or texture. Also, it needs to roll up to rolling and shaping in a pie dish.
I used the same pie crust recipe and measurements for each crust, however some flours did a better job covering the pie dish.
King Arthur – This was crust was the driest during mixing so I had to add more liquid to get the dough to bind together. After doing this, it was easy to roll out, but covered the dish thinly.
The baked texture was chewy and dense, however there was no off-putting taste. Overall ranked #4
Bob’s Red Mill – This dough cracked the most during rolling, but came together nicely once it warmed up a little. It covered the dish well with good coverage.
The baked texture is dense, almost like a shortbread and has a rustic, whole grain taste. Overall ranked #3
Great Value – This dough was very easy to roll out, and covered the pie dish better. The baked texture was crispy and flakier, but the taste was lackluster and not very noteworthy. Overall ranked #2
Cup 4 Cup – While this dough was easy to roll, it was the thinnest and needed to be stretched the most to cover the pie plate.
The texture was very flaky and easy to cut through, while the other pastries were denser. It has a buttery, light taste, enough that the crust edges were always eaten, while the others were left behind on the plate. Overall ranked #1
Gluten Free Pie Recipes
Winning Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour!
Across the board Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour seems to be the clear winner in terms of taste and texture.
However, it also the most expensive flour. If you are willing to pay a little more, you are guaranteed a quality flour that replicates the taste of traditional baked goods.
The other drawback of Cup 4 Cup is the allergens it contains. If you cannot have dairy or corn, King Arthur Measure-for-Measure seems to be a good runner up.
Another option is to forgo a gluten free flour mix and bake with almond flour, which has a sweet nutty taste, low in carbs, and high in protein.
However, almond flour isn’t a one-to-one conversion, like gluten free flour blends, so it’ best used in recipes tested with almond flour, many of which can be found in this best almond flour recipes post.
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