Rice flour is a popular ingredient for baking, frying, or thickening gravy. If you need a replacement, there are a few other ingredients you can substitute.
Here are 8 of the best substitutes for rice flour:
- All-purpose flour
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Millet flour
- Sorghum flour
- Tapioca flour
- Chickpea flour
Now, let’s take a look at each of these alternatives and find out which ones work best for specific food and cooking types. As a bonus, I’ll also teach you to make your own rice flour and answer a few other questions you may have.
If you’re using rice flour to cook fried foods or as a thickening agent in soups, gravy, or other sauces, cornstarch is one of the best substitutes you can use. Both ingredients are gluten-free and relatively tasteless.
Use cornstarch if you want that same extra-crispy texture in fried foods.
When you’re using cornstarch for either of these types of cooking – frying or thickening – you can do a 1:1 substitution.
For example, if you’re breading chicken for frying, and the recipe tells you to use a cup of rice flour, you can easily substitute a cup of cornstarch instead. You don’t have to worry about conversions or adding additional ingredients.
The same isn’t true if you’re baking, though.
You can also use cornstarch as a substitute for rice flour in baked goods, but it doesn’t stand alone well. Instead, you’ll want to use additional ingredients to get the desired effect.
As for the best brand of cornstarch, I’m sure everyone has his own opinion about that, but I’ve always thought this type is one of the best.
2. All-Purpose Flour
If you need a variety of gluten-free flour, all-purpose flour will not be the best choice because all-purpose flour isn’t gluten-free.
However, some brands make gluten-free all-purpose flour, such as this one, while traditional all-purpose flour contains about 8% – 11% gluten.
If gluten isn’t an issue, then all-purpose flour is an excellent alternative to rice flour because it’s all-purpose. That means you can use it for practically anything. In fact, when it comes to baked goods, all-purpose flour is even better than rice flour because it gives your cakes and cookies a fluffier, less brittle texture.
Plus, it’s usually cheaper and easier to find in stores.
Considering most people transition to rice flour because it’s gluten-free, though, this may not be an option for everyone. If it is an option for you, I highly suggest that you use it.
3. Almond Flour
Another gluten-free option is almond flour, which is made of blanched and ground almonds.
This flour works best when you’re making baked goods, although it isn’t terrible for frying foods. You have to be careful using it for fried foods, though, because it cooks quickly and will burn easily. Furthermore, if you use too much, your fried foods will take on a slightly nutty flavor.
An alternative to fried foods using almond flour is to coat your food with almond flour and other ingredients as normal, then bake it. It still gets a crispy outer coating, but it doesn’t burn as easily when you fry it.
Other than those two issues, almond flour is a great rice flour substitute. In addition to being naturally gluten-free, it’s also packed with protein, potassium, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. It’s also better for your heart than all-purpose flour.
Healthful Tip: You may want to limit how many baked goods made with almond flour you consume, as almonds are higher in Omega-6 fatty acids. These fats can contribute to inflammation and other health issues.
When added to baked goods, almond flour doesn’t have much flavor, and the other ingredients such as sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon, should mask what flavor it does have.
There are plenty of brands from which you can choose, but if I’m going to buy almond flour, I like to stick with the healthiest type I can find and buy this type.
4. Coconut Flour
You can also use coconut flour as breading for fried foods, and it works exceptionally well as a thickening agent.
Coconut flour is both gluten-free and grain-free, and you can use it in practically any type of recipe in which you’d use rice flour.
It’s made of dried ground coconut pulp and has plenty of vitamins and minerals that are good for you. It has a low glycemic index, is reasonably high in fiber, and is low-calorie. It’s also easy to digest and doesn’t have a ton of carbs in it.
Despite it being relatively low-carb, it has a natural sweetness that lends itself well to baked goods. Because it has its own sweetness, you can also often cut back on the amount of sugar or sweetener you use in baked goods.
You will have to do a bit of conversion when transitioning from rice flour to coconut flour. Because of its natural sweetness and density, you’ll use less coconut flour (about 50% less) than you would rice flour.
Additionally, you may need to use more of some ingredients, such as eggs and liquids, because coconut flour sucks up moisture, and you’ll end up with brittle baked goods if you don’t add enough water, milk, and other similar ingredients.
Pro Tip: As is also true of almond flour, using too much coconut flour will leave you with a coconut taste in your food. I once made that mistake when frying chicken, and it was disgusting.
So remember to scale back on the flour in any recipe when you’re substituting coconut flour. As long as you do that, coconut flour makes an excellent substitute in fried foods, baked goods, and as a thickening agent.
5. Millet Flour
Although it isn’t the best substitute for white rice flour because of its taste, millet flour is a decent gluten-free alternative to brown rice flour. Brown rice flour has a slightly nutty flavor, and while millet flour has more of a corn-like flavor, the two are relatively interchangeable in most recipes for baked goods.
Millet tastes great in bread, cakes, and muffins, though, and it almost gives you that same great texture you get with all-purpose flour. It’s also an excellent option for pancakes and other breakfast pastries.
Several people are also fond of using millet flour for frying foods.
Phoebe of Feed Me Phoebe claims that she’s “found nothing better for getting a nice crispy coating on pan-fried meat or fish,” but I prefer to stick to baked goods when I’m using millet flour.
I can never seem to get anything as crispy as I like it when using millet flour.
I use this brand from Amazon.com.
6. Sorghum Flour
I’m not 100% sold on sorghum flour, but plenty of people seem to think it’s a fantastic replacement for rice flour, so I decided to add it to the list anyway.
People like it because it’s gluten-free and packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It’s also a pretty significant source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins, and can help regulate metabolism.
Plus, as recipes go, you can use a 1:1 conversion rate with rice flour or any other type of flour, which makes substituting with it easier than substituting with many other varieties of gluten-free flour. All that sounds great, I know, so why don’t I like it?
I don’t like it for one simple reason: It’s bitter and has a strong, overpowering taste, and that taste isn’t good, at least not in my opinion.
Most people offset that bitterness by using a few other various types of flour and ingredients, but I’ve never really seen the point of using something that I have to combine with a million different things to make it work.
From what people have told me, though, it does a great job in bread and sweets, and apparently, it’s much better than rice flour when it comes to making bread rise. It isn’t great for frying meat, though.
7. Tapioca Flour
Although you can also use it for baked goods, particularly pancakes and pastries, tapioca flour works best as a thickening agent.
When it comes to making sauces, condiments, pie fillings, and other similar things, tapioca flour is the stuff. It’s smooth and has little taste and no smell, and it adds a rich creaminess to sauces and comforting robustness to soups.
It doesn’t work as well for frying things, but as I’ve already mentioned, you can use it for baked goods. It adds a nice chewiness to pastries, and it helps make crusts crispier. Overall, it just improves the texture of most baked goods.
You’ll have to do some recipe tweaking, though.
Tapioca flour comes from the cassava tuber, and it’s a bit sweeter than rice flour. Despite that, you’ll have to use almost double the amount of tapioca flour to get the same result you would get with rice flour.
For example, if a recipe calls for a fourth cup of rice flour, you’ll need to use a half-cup of tapioca flour. If you’re using it as a thickening agent instead of cornstarch, the same rules apply. When a recipe calls for a tablespoon of cornstarch, you’ll use two tablespoons of tapioca flour.
The only thing I don’t like about tapioca flour is that it’s another one of those gluten-free flours that work best when combined with other types of flour, so I don’t use it as often as I use some of the various options on this list.
When I do use it, I usually purchase this brand.
8. Chickpea Flour
Our final rice flour alternative is one that not a lot of people use – chickpea flour. You can buy it in most “green” grocery stores, online, or in health food stores. There are even some mass merchandise retailers that sell it.
However, plenty of people make their own.
You make it simply by throwing a cup or two of chickpeas into a blender and grinding them until they reach a flour-like consistency.
Like rice flour, chickpea flour is naturally gluten-free, and according to plenty of chefs, blogs, and websites, including Healthline, it contains more nutrients than just about any other type of flour you can buy.
It’s practically exploding with fiber, protein, and other necessary vitamins, and it has intense binding power, which is something many gluten-free flours don’t have.
For that reason, most people use chickpea flour in their baked goods, particularly the flatter, denser baked goods like pancakes and tortillas. It has a bit of a nutty, chickpea-like taste, but if you’re using it to make things with plenty of other ingredients, you won’t usually notice it.
Another reason people love chickpea flour so much is because you can usually use it at a 1:1 ratio when replacing flours. Of course, that isn’t always the case, but it is about 95% of the time. Plenty of people also use it in addition to weaker gluten-free flours to help bind their ingredients together more securely.
It also works well in sauces, dressings, and other condiments and provides a creamy, silky consistency to those things without adding a bitter or unpleasant taste. There is a downside to chickpea flour, though.
Like coconut flour, it sucks up moisture and can become sticky if you aren’t careful with your liquid ingredients.
Bonus: Can You Make Your Own Rice Flour?
If you’re looking for an alternative to rice flour because you really don’t like its taste or texture, any of the above-listed flours should work well enough as substitutes for you. However, if you’re looking for an alternative because you simply ran out of rice flour, your best option is to make your own!
You can make your own rice flour at home. Pour one or two cups of uncooked rice into your blender and grind it until it turns into a fine powder. Then, use it as you would commercially-made rice flour.
Are White Rice Flour and Brown Rice Flour the Same?
White rice flour and brown rice flour are not the same, just as white rice and brown rice are two different types of rice. Brown rice flour is made from whole grain rice with the bran still intact. White rice flour is made from white rice that’s been hulled.
Of the two types of flour, brown rice flour is the healthiest. It has more protein, fewer carbs, and significantly more fiber. The calorie count on both is pretty similar, but even so, white rice flour has just a few more of those than brown rice flour, too.
Can I Substitute Plain Flour for Rice Flour?
You can substitute plain flour, also known as all-purpose flour, for rice flour in just about any type of cooking you’re doing. Plain flour works well in baked goods, fried foods, and sauces or soups that need thickening.
However, plain flour is not gluten-free, so if you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative to rice flour, you’ll need to find another option.
Can I Substitute Cornstarch for Rice Flour?
You can substitute cornstarch for rice flour, especially if you’re frying meat or veggies or using it to thicken soups, sauces, pie fillings, gravies, or other similar foods. It’s naturally gluten-free and has almost no taste that you’ll notice in any of your dishes.
Cornstarch is probably the best replacement for rice flour, short of making a homemade version of it.
Can I Substitute Coconut Flour for Rice Flour?
You can substitute coconut flour for rice flour, particularly if you’re using it for baked goods or as a thickening agent. You can also use coconut flour to make breading for fried foods, but be sure you don’t use too much, as it doesn’t convert 1:1.
You’ll get an overwhelming coconut flavor that won’t taste great on your food if you do. If you plan to fry the food in coconut oil, add even less coconut flour.
Is Almond Flour the Same As Rice Flour?
Almond flour isn’t the same as rice flour. Rice flour is made from ground rice – either white or brown – and almond flour is made from blanched and ground almonds. You can use both of these flours in many of the same recipes, however, and both are naturally gluten-free.
For more, don’t miss Can I Substitute Cornmeal for Flour? (With 6 Alternatives).
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