Quinoa flour has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its impressive nutritional profile and gluten-free properties. Made from ground quinoa seeds, this flour contains high levels of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It has a lovely light texture and slightly nutty, earthy flavor that works well in both sweet and savory recipes.
However, quinoa flour can be more expensive than traditional flours and not always readily available. If you find yourself without quinoa flour, don't worry - there are several great substitutes you can use instead.
Overview of Quinoa Flour
Quinoa is an ancient grain that originated in the Andean region of South America. The edible seeds are highly nutritious, gluten-free and a complete protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids.
Once the bitter outer coating called saponin is removed, the quinoa seeds can be ground into a fine flour. This finely milled flour has gained popularity in recent years due to its impressive nutritional profile:
- High protein - Quinoa flour contains about 8-12% protein content, more than traditional flours. The protein is complete, making quinoa flour an excellent choice for vegetarians.
- Gluten-free - Since quinoa is naturally gluten-free, quinoa flour is safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.
- High fiber - Quinoa flour provides 5-7g of dietary fiber per 100g serving, promoting digestive health.
- Rich in nutrients - Quinoa flour contains iron, magnesium, B-vitamins, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin E.
- Low glycemic index - The carbohydrates in quinoa flour are slowly digested, helping regulate blood sugar.
Thanks to this stellar nutritional profile, quinoa flour makes a great addition to recipes. It has a lovely fine, powdery texture similar to wheat flours and a mild, slightly nutty, earthy flavor. The flour works well in both sweet baked goods like cakes, cookies and muffins, as well as savory items like flatbreads, pizza crusts and pancakes.
However, quinoa flour does have a few drawbacks. The flour can have a bitter taste if not rinsed properly before grinding. It is also more expensive than traditional flours. And since quinoa flour lacks gluten, it can produce denser results in baking. Using it in combination with other flours and starches can help overcome this hurdle.
Overall, quinoa flour is a fantastic gluten-free, high-protein flour, but it may not always be on hand. Fortunately, there are several suitable quinoa flour substitutes to choose from.
Best Substitutes for Quinoa Flour
Here are the top alternatives to use when you don't have quinoa flour:
1. Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is one of the closest substitutions for quinoa flour. Since rice is also a seed, brown rice flour shares a similar texture, binding properties and neutral flavor profile with quinoa.
- Texture most similar to quinoa flour
- Neutral, slightly nutty flavor
- High fiber and protein for a rice flour
- Lower fat than quinoa flour
Replace quinoa flour 1:1 with brown rice flour in recipes. The results may be slightly less dense since brown rice flour contains less protein. But the two flours can generally be swapped without adjustments.
2. Oat Flour
With its mild oat flavor, oat flour makes another excellent quinoa flour substitute in baked goods. It has a similar texture and protein content as quinoa flour.
- High protein content
- Adds great flavor and texture
- Nutritious beta-glucan fiber
- May contain gluten unless certified gluten-free
Use oat flour instead of quinoa flour at a 1:1 ratio. The oat flavor pairs nicely with baked goods like muffins, breads and granola bars.
3. Almond Flour
Almond flour is prepared from finely ground almonds, giving it a pleasant nutty flavor and dense texture. Its fat and protein content mimics qualities of quinoa flour.
- Sweet, nutty flavor
- Protein rich and high fat
- Dense texture helps binding
- Can make baked goods dry, so add extra eggs/liquids
Since almond flour absorbs more moisture, substitute 1/4 to 1/3 cup almond flour for every 1 cup quinoa flour in recipes. Reduce other dry ingredients slightly to compensate.
4. Coconut Flour
Like almond flour, coconut flour is high in protein and healthy fats. Made from dried coconut meat, it has a pleasant coconut aroma and flavor.
- Very high fiber content
- Distinct coconut flavor
- Absorbs lots of moisture
When substituting coconut flour, use only 1/4 to 1/3 cup for every 1 cup quinoa flour. The coconut flour will soak up more moisture, so add extra eggs or liquid when replacing quinoa flour in baked goods.
5. Chickpea Flour
Sometimes called garbanzo bean flour or gram flour, chickpea flour offers another gluten-free, protein-packed quinoa flour alternative. It has an earthy, nutty taste.
- High protein and fiber
- Strong flavor profile
- Denser texture than quinoa flour
Replace quinoa flour with chickpea flour using a 1:1 ratio for savory items like flatbreads, pancakes or dumplings. You may need to tweak recipes, as chickpea flour absorbs more liquid. In baking, try using 3/4 cup chickpea flour for every 1 cup quinoa flour.
Key Takeaway: Good quinoa flour substitutes mimic quinoa's protein content, gluten-free properties and mild flavor. Brown rice, oat, almond, coconut and chickpea flours make great alternatives.
How to Substitute Quinoa Flour in Recipes
When substituting for quinoa flour, there are a few considerations:
Flavor - Pick a flour with a complementary flavor to the recipe. Neutral brown rice or oat flour works for most baked goods, while almond or coconut flour lend a nice flavor.
Protein content - Try to choose a flour with similar protein percentages as quinoa's 8-12% protein. This helps mimic quinoa's binding properties.
Absorption - Some quinoa flour substitutes like coconut and chickpea flour absorb more moisture. Use less of these flours and add extra eggs or liquid to account for the increased absorption.
Gluten content - Verify your flour substitute is gluten-free if needed. Oat flour may contain gluten unless specified as gluten-free oats.
Balance of ingredients - Since alternative flours behave differently, you may need to alter other ingredients like leaveners or fats to achieve the desired consistency.
Cooking time & temperature - Denser flours like almond or chickpea may require lower oven temperatures and longer bake times. Watch carefully to avoid over-baking.
Start by substituting quinoa flour at a 1:1 ratio with your flour of choice, then tweak recipes as needed based on the results. Combining two flours can help mimic quinoa's texture and protein content more closely.
Recipes Using Quinoa Flour Substitutes
To give you an idea of how to use quinoa flour substitutes, here are a few recipe examples:
Quinoa Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mix-ins like chocolate chips, raisins, etc.
Oat flour replaces half the quinoa flour, while quinoa flakes add texture and subtle quinoa flavor. Almond flour boosts protein content for chewy cookies.
Gluten-Free Pizza Crust
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup warm water
The brown rice, tapioca and chickpea flours form a blend that mimics the texture of quinoa flour in this gluten-free crust.
Coconut Quinoa Muffins
- 1 cup quinoa flour
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes
Coconut flour adds great coconut flavor while soaking up more moisture. Extra egg and oil prevents the muffins from drying out.
As you can see, the quinoa flour substitutes lend their own unique qualities to recipes while mimicking the protein, texture and binding abilities of quinoa flour. Start by substituting at recommended ratios provided above, then adjust to your taste preferences.
Key Takeaway: Get creative with quinoa flour substitutes like oat, coconut, chickpea and brown rice flours. Tweak recipes by adjusting moisture, leaveners, oven temps and cook times as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best gluten-free substitute for quinoa flour?
For gluten-free recipes, the best quinoa flour substitutes are brown rice flour, oat flour made from certified gluten-free oats, almond flour, coconut flour and chickpea flour.
Can you replace quinoa flour with all-purpose flour?
Technically you can replace quinoa flour with all-purpose wheat flour, but the flavors and texture will be quite different. All-purpose flour contains gluten, so it won't work if you need a gluten-free option. Due to the lack of gluten, using all-purpose flour may yield denser results.
Is quinoa flour healthier than other flour substitutes?
Quinoa flour is very nutritious, but alternative gluten-free flours can also provide health benefits. For example, almond flour is high in healthy fats, protein and vitamin E, while coconut flour is loaded with fiber. Oat flour contains beta-glucans for heart health and chickpea flour is packed with protein. All the substitutes mentioned above are nutritious gluten-free options.
Can I make quinoa flour at home?
Yes, you can make quinoa flour at home by simply grinding dry quinoa in a coffee grinder, food processor or high-speed blender until it becomes a fine powder. Be sure to rinse the quinoa well and let it fully dry before grinding. Homemade quinoa flour won't be as finely ground as commercial flour, so it works best in heartier recipes like bread or muffins vs delicate cakes.
What binder can I use in place of quinoa flour?
To help bind and add moisture in place of quinoa flour, you can use options like eggs, yogurt, mashed banana, applesauce or other pureed fruits. Ground flax or chia seeds also add binding properties when combined with flour substitutes. If your recipe turns out too dry, try adding one of these binders next time.
While quinoa flour adds great nutritional value to recipes, there are several suitable alternatives to use when you're out of this specialty flour. Brown rice, oat, almond, coconut and chickpea flours all make excellent substitutes, mimicking quinoa's protein content and gluten-free properties.
When baking and cooking, consider each flour's individual characteristics. Adjust moisture, leaveners and cook times accordingly for the best results. With a well-stocked pantry of flours, you can easily adapt recipes when quinoa flour is not available.