Flax seed powder, also known as flax meal, is a versatile ingredient used in many recipes.
It adds nutrition, thickness, binding properties, and even eggy flavor in baked goods.
But what if you don't have any flax meal on hand? Not to worry, there are several great substitutes you can use instead.
Top Substitutes for Flax Meal
Finding a suitable flax meal substitute depends on how it's being used in a particular recipe. Here are some of the best options:
1. Chia Seeds
Chia is very comparable to flax nutrition-wise. The seeds are high in fiber, omega-3s, protein and minerals like iron, calcium and zinc.
Chia forms a gel when mixed with liquid, so it works perfectly as a flax egg replacer. Simply combine 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water and let sit for a few minutes.
In baked goods, you can swap an equal amount of ground chia seed meal for flax meal. The results will be quite similar, though chia has a slightly stronger flavor.
Whole or ground chia seeds also make great smoothie boosters and mix-ins for oatmeal, yogurt, etc. Their gelling action helps create fun textures like chia pudding. Overall, chia is the most versatile, nutritionally sound substitute for flaxseed.
Key Takeaway: Chia, psyllium, and milled hemp seeds make excellent substitutes for flax meal in recipes.
2. Psyllium Husk Powder
Psyllium is a type of soluble fiber supplement made from the husks of Plantago ovata plant seeds. It's most commonly used as a laxative and to relieve digestive issues.
But psyllium can also stand in for flax meal! It has an even stronger gelling effect and acts as an excellent binder in baked goods.
Use an equal amount of psyllium powder in place of flax meal in recipes. Be aware that psyllium soaks up more moisture, so you may need to reduce other liquids in the recipe.
While not as nutrient-dense as flax or chia, psyllium still provides a good dose of soluble fiber with just 1-2 tablespoons. It also has no flavor, so it won't impact the taste of foods.
3. Milled Hemp Seeds
Shelled hemp seeds can be ground into a meal to make an excellent flax substitute. Hemp meal has a similar protein and fiber content to flaxmeal. And it provides other nutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium.
Hemp meal won't gel up or act as a binder like flax. But its soft texture integrates seamlessly into baked goods, smoothies, sauces and more. And it adds a pleasant, nutty flavor.
You can find pre-ground hemp meal, or simply grind whole hemp seeds yourself in a coffee grinder or food processor. Use hemp meal in place of flax at a 1:1 ratio.
How to Use Flax Substitutes in Recipes
Now that you know the best alternatives for flax meal, let's look at how to use them in all kinds of recipes:
As an Egg Replacer in Baking
One of the most common uses for flax meal is as a vegan egg substitute. This is because the ground seeds form a thick gel that helps bind and add structure to baked goods.
Both chia and psyllium work excellently in place of flax eggs:
- For 1 flax egg, combine 1 Tbsp ground chia or psyllium powder with 3 Tbsp water. Let rest for a few minutes until gelled.
- Use this egg replacement in pancakes, cookies, muffins, breads, etc.
- May need to experiment with amounts to get the perfect consistency. Start with less liquid for psyllium.
- Hemp seeds won't work as an egg sub since they don't gel up.
As a Nutritious Addition
Sprinkling flax meal into smoothies, cereal and yogurt is an easy way to add nutrition.
Hemp seeds and ground chia seamlessly replace flax in these applications:
- Add 1-2 Tbsp to smoothies for extra protein, fiber and healthy fats
- Mix into yogurt, oatmeal, granola - their mild flavor blends right in
- Sprinkle onto salads for added crunch and nutrition
As a Binder and Thickener
Chia and psyllium both mimic the thickening power of flaxmeal:
- Add ground chia or psyllium to veggie burgers, meatballs, or nut loaves as a binder
- Use in place of eggs to hold together breaded, fried foods
- Thicken up smoothies, puddings, jams, or sauces
- Make chia pudding by combining chia seeds with milk/yogurt and refrigerating overnight
As a Gluten-Free Baking Aid
In gluten-free recipes, flax adds moisture and structure. Chia, hemp and psyllium all work as replacements:
- Substitute Measure-for-measure in recipes for breads, muffins, cakes, cookies etc.
- May need to tweak moisture levels slightly to account for gelling properties
- Hemp meal adds great flavor and nutrition, while chia and psyllium aid binding
- Can mix & match substitutes to achieve desired texture and nutrition
Key Takeaway: Flax substitutes like chia and hemp seeds can be seamlessly incorporated into many dishes as an egg replacer, binding agent, or nutritional boost.
Flax-Free Recipes to Try
Here are some tasty recipes that use flax alternatives so you can start experimenting:
Chia Berry Breakfast Pudding
- 1 cup dairy or non-dairy milk
- 1⁄4 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
- Whisk together milk and chia seeds. Let sit 10 minutes to thicken.
- Fold in berries and sweetener if desired.
- Refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours until pudding-like.
- Top with extra fruit, coconut, granola or nuts!
Hemp Heart Bolognese Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground turkey or beef
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1⁄4 cup hemp hearts
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In large pan, cook onion and garlic in oil until soft
- Add ground meat and cook until browned
- Mix in carrots, celery, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spices
- Simmer 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender
- Remove from heat and mix in hemp hearts
- Serve over pasta, zucchini noodles or roasted vegetables
Psyllium-Boosted Banana Bread
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 eggs OR 1⁄4 cup psyllium + 6 tbsp water
- 1⁄3 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 cups gluten-free flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1⁄4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix bananas, sweetener, oil and vanilla.
- Add eggs OR psyllium/water mixture and let sit 5 minutes to thicken.
- In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
- Fold dry ingredients into wet until just combined.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Key Takeaway: Get creative in the kitchen with these recipes utilizing nutritious and accessible flax substitutes like chia seeds, hemp hearts, and psyllium husk.
Tips for Buying and Storing Substitutes
To get the best results from flaxseed substitutes, keep these tips in mind:
- Buy whole seeds (rather than flours or meals) and grind them yourself to maximize freshness. Whole chia, hemp, and psyllium seeds have a longer shelf life.
- Check the expiration date when purchasing pre-ground meals. Use within a few months for optimal freshness.
- Store in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer to prevent oils from going rancid. Ground seeds are more prone to spoilage.
- Buy organic or high-quality seeds when possible for better taste and nutrition.
- Purchase small packages if you won’t use quickly to reduce waste.
Having the right flax alternative on hand can make your life easier when a recipe calls for flax meal and you're out. Experiment with nutritious ingredients like chia, hemp seeds and psyllium husk to find your perfect substitute match. Just be sure to store them properly so they stay fresh. With so many options to try in both sweet and savory dishes, you can seamlessly sub flax meal in any recipe.
Key Takeaway: To maximize freshness, taste, and nutrition, store flax substitutes in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer. Opt for whole seeds rather than pre-ground meals or flours when possible.
Can I replace flax meal with almond meal?
Yes, almond meal can be used in place of flax meal in many recipes. It won't provide the same gelling effect but adds great flavor and nutrition. Use an equal amount in baked goods like muffins, cookies and breads. Keep in mind almond meal contains almonds, so avoid if you have a nut allergy.
What's the best substitute for flax eggs?
Both chia seeds and psyllium husk powder make excellent flax egg substitutes. Simply combine 1 tablespoon of either with 3 tablespoons water and let sit until thickened. This mixture can replace 1 flax egg in recipes.
Is milled flaxseed the same as flaxseed meal?
Yes, milled flaxseed and flaxseed meal are the same thing. They both refer to flax seeds that have been ground into a fine powder. Either term can be used interchangeably.
Can you eat chia seeds raw?
Yes, chia seeds can be eaten raw without any preparation needed. They can be soaked in liquid to form a gel, sprinkled on foods, or eaten by the handful alone. Their crunchy texture and mild flavor make chia seeds a great nutritious snack.
How long does psyllium husk last?
Psyllium husk powder has a relatively long shelf life of around 2 years if stored properly in an airtight container. Whole psyllium husks last even longer - about 3 years when kept in a cool, dry place. For maximum freshness, try to use psyllium within 6-12 months after opening.
Flax meal is incredibly versatile, but you have options if you ever need a substitute. Chia, hemp, and psyllium all make nutritious alternatives and can imitate the thickness, binding, and egg-like properties of flaxseed.
Get creative and add them to smoothies, baked goods, sauces, and more. With proper storage and high-quality ingredients, you can seamlessly integrate any of these into your favorite flax recipes.