Flummoxed by all the different flours in the baking aisle? Using alternative flours in your cooking can add fun new flavors, textures, and nutrients to your cooking and baking, Here’s your guide to some of the more unique flours on the market and tips for using them.

Lentil flour

Made from ground, dried lentils, lentil flour is high in protein and fiber. Naturally gluten free, it doesn’t have the stretchiness of wheat flour, so it’s best for quick breads and cookies, you can swap up to 25% of regular wheat flour to add flavor and nutrition. With it’s savory taste, it works well as a binder in vegetarian cooking or thickener in soups. Try it in: Banana Date and Honey Muffins, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chickpea flour

Similar to lentil flour, chickpea flour is made from ground, dried chickpeas. It’s packed with fiber and protein too, and easier to find in grocery stores – it may be labeled as besan or gram flour. It’s commonly used in French, Italian and Indian cuisine. Because it has a mild flavor, it can be used in a wide range of sweet and savory dishes. Replace up to 25% of the flour in your baking with chickpea flour, or in denser baked goods with lots of butter and sugar (think blondies) you could use all chickpea flour. Try it in: Chickpea Flour Breakfast Pizza, Simple Protein Cookies

Coconut flour

This gluten-free, grain-free and low-carbohydrate flour is made from dried, ground coconut meat – a by-product of coconut milk production. It’s very high in fiber and extremely absorbent, so don’t try to substitute with other flours at a 1:1 ratio or the finished product will be unbearably dry. Generally speaking you’ll need ¼ to 1/3 cup coconut flour for every cup of grain-based flour, and you may still need to add more eggs. If you’re new to using coconut flour, start with a recipe. When used correctly, coconut flour yields a light vanilla flavor and tender texture. Try it in: Coconut Flour Coffee Cake Muffins with Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter and Jelly Breakfast Cake

Almond Flour

Both almond flour and almond meal are two staples in gluten free baking. Almond flour is made from ground, blanched almonds and has a softer, finer texture, while almond meal has a coarser grind made from almonds with the skin on. Both add healthy fats and fiber to your baking. It’s grain-free and low in carbohydrate, with a nutty flavor that’s especially tasty in desserts. Almond meal is especially delicious in quick breads, where it adds a pleasant crumb. The finished product won’t rise as much because it’s a heavier flour, so you may need more baking powder or baking soda. Try it in: Almond Flour Skillet Cookie, Almond Flour Biscuits

Cricket flour

Yup, cricket flour. Bugs, especially crickets, are becoming popular as a sustainable protein source. Made from ground roasted crickets, cricket flour is being marketed as a gluten-free, high protein flour alternative. It’s grain-free (obviously…because it’s a bug), low in carbohydrate, and can be used as a 1:1 replacement for any four, although it may benefit from a little more liquid and fat or letting it sit for a few minutes to let the flour hydrate. Try it in: Chocolate “Chirp” Cookies (get it?)

Have you experimented with any alternative flours? Share your tips (and recipes!) below!

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