A Quick Guide to Keto Flours: What to Use & How to Swap

  • By: Jan Helge
  • Date: februar 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 10 min.

When you first try your hands at low-carb keto baking, one of the most daunting tasks is knowing which flours to use and in what amounts.

Swapping out wheat flour for low-carb alternatives isn’t as simple as using one in place of the other, after all. Adjusting all of the recipe ingredients is necessary, as is knowing what flours are actually going to work with a low-carb recipe.

But which flours are exactly keto-friendly?

Most of the time, keto-ers rely on nut flours as substitutes for wheat flour. Almond and coconut flours are the backbone of countless low-carb baked goods. But there are other alternatives as well. These can help you get some outstanding results and add valuable nutrients to your diet — a priority for many keto-ers.

Another thing you need to know about is which flours to avoid. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with downright false and misleading claims. There’s also so much misinformation around that it can be difficult to tell the keto from the non-keto flours.

This keto flours guide aims to help you choose the best options for your lifestyle and learn how to start baking the keto way.

About Keto Flours and How to Use Them

An essential thing to know about keto flours is that they don’t behave like wheat flour.

Wheat flour forms gluten networks when mixed with water, which gives dough its elasticity. It also contains sugar, which allows yeast to ferment it and the dough to rise.

Low-carb flours, on the other hand, don’t contain any gluten or sugar. This means they won’t rise when mixed with yeast and become elastic when mixed with water. A couple of tricks help create wheat’s taste, look, and behavior in low-carb flour recipes.

And because they don’t behave like wheat flour, you cannot directly substitute them for wheat in a recipe. Instead, you either need to adjust recipe amounts or develop a new recipe.

But we suggest following existing keto recipes for baked goods — like muffins, pancakes, cakes, and bread — before you try your hands at low-carb experimenting.

As a general guide, below is how most people use keto flours:

Tip #1

If you want to use keto flour as a 1-to-1 substitute, do so only with almond flour. It behaves almost like wheat in many recipes. It tends to turn out spongy when used alone, though.

Tip #2

Use only small amounts of coconut flour. Usually, the recommendation is to substitute ¼ cup of coconut flour for every cup of wheat flour. That’s because coconut flour is very absorbent due to having lots of soluble fiber.

Tip #3

Many keto baking/dessert recipes combine almond and coconut flour at a 3:1 ratio. This gives the best structure, moisture, and flavor, hands down! The 3:1 ratio reduces the need for extra eggs as well.

Tip #4

Low-carb batters need to be thicker than what you’re used to. It can be tempting to thin out batters by adding more liquid, but this will result in a baking disaster in most cases.

Tip#5

Be generous with the eggs. Eggs replace the gluten and yeast in keto recipes, and most recipes call for more eggs than what you usually see in recipes.

Tip #6

If you really miss cake and bread’s soft and airy texture, try keto recipes that use wheat gluten and inulin. Wheat gluten is low-carb, while inulin is an indigestible fiber that can help with yeast fermentation.

Type of Keto Flours

There are four types of keto flours:

Nut flours have a nutritional profile that fits keto macros perfectly: they’re high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. When combined with the right ingredients, they can create tastes and textures that remind of wheat-based foods.

Seed flours can include sunflower flour, sesame seed flour, and flaxseed meal. They can replace nut flours in some cases if you suffer from nut sensitivities or allergies. They’re also generally cheaper than nut flours.

Fiber flours include konjac flour, psyllium husk, and oat bran flour. Konjac is a root veggie with a high fiber content that can replace starch (and even flour) in keto baking and cooking. Oat bran flour, not to be confused with oat flour, is a low-carb and high-fiber food. It contains insoluble fibers and can work in place of whole wheat flour in recipes.

And finally, there’s one legume flour being touted as a fantastic ingredient for keto baking, and that’s lupin bean flour. Unlike most beans, lupin beans don’t contain starch. Flour made by drying and grinding these beans is high in protein but low in carbs. Using it in keto baked goods in small amounts can enhance their properties or work as an egg replacer.

The Best Keto Flours

On a keto diet, you want to have the absolute best. Quality ingredients result in tasty meals. When you’re able to enjoy your meals, you’re more likely to stick to your diet. And besides, quality counts where health is concerned. With that in mind, here are the best keto flours to buy today:

1.  Almond flour

Almond flour being a keto diet staple, it’s hard to imagine keto baking would be possible without it. With its mild, sweet taste, flaky texture, and off-white hue, it’s the closest thing to regular flour for the low-carb eater.

Made by finely grinding blanched almonds, almond flour is sold at most health food stores, some grocery stores, and online. [1].

Besides being very low in carbs, almond flour provides lots of fat, protein, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese. In addition, almonds are known to lower cholesterol, boost satiety, and even work as prebiotics [2].

keto flours - almond flour

While it’s best to purchase almond flour from stores, you can make your own at home. You’ll just need to add blanched almonds to a high-power food processor and grind until powdery. Another alternative is to use almond meal where appropriate or to use different nut flours, like acorn flour or walnut flour.

Nutrition info (1oz/28g):

163 calories | 14g fat | 2.6g net carbs | 6.1g protein

2. Coconut flour

Coconut and low-carb diets go hand-in-hand. That’s why you’ll see loads of keto recipes using coconut oil, coconut milk, desiccated coconut, and coconut flour!

While most coconut products are high-fat, not so much coconut flour. You see, coconut flour is essentially a by-product of coconut milk production. The solids left after coconut milk extraction are dried and ground up into a fine powder we call coconut flour.

The end product is defatted considerably, but it’s still nutritionally appealing [3]. There is almost 5g of protein and only 6g of net carbs in a 2 tablespoon serving. While the 6g of net carbs may seem like a lot to some, keep in mind that coconut flour is used sparingly in most recipes. It’s very high in fiber and tends to expand and absorb water like crazy.

keto flours - coconut flour

And as far as health benefits go, it can help decrease blood glucose, triglycerides, and blood pressure, according to one clinical trial published in 2015 [4].

Nutrition info (1oz/28g):

124 calories | 4.2g fat | 6.1g net carbs | 4.9g protein

3. Konjac flour

Konjac flour is one unusual ingredient we think can make a huge difference in your keto lifestyle. Konjac flour is essentially unpurified glucomannan. It is what miracle noodles are made of.

This high-fiber, low-carb flour is made from a fibrous root veggie. You could use it in place of regular flour in some recipes, notably in pasta and noodles. But in most cases, people use it in place of starch in soups, puddings, cookies, and other desserts.

Konjac flour can make for fluffier and softer baked goods and can help thicken creams and sauces. It’s also a great alternative to gelatine.

Nutritionally speaking, it’s very low in calories but high in fiber [5]. Use it sparingly because it is known to be an effective laxative — up to 10g per day should be safe [6].

Nutrition info (100g):

6.5 calories | 0g fat | 0g net carbs | 1.64g protein

4. Lupin Bean Flour

Do you love adding natural protein to your meals? Then you’ll love lupin bean flour.

This low-carb flour alternative is completely keto-friendly despite coming from a legume. That’s because lupin, the legume in question, does not contain any starches. Instead, it’s high in protein, fat, and fiber [7]. The resulting flour has a mild taste when cooked and an appealing golden hue. It’s great as an egg substitute in keto baking and helps add moisture and texture to doughs, batters, and more.

Nutrition info (100g):

243 calories | 11.5g fat | 0g net carbs | 36.3g protein

5. Sunflower seed flour

Not every keto dieter can eat nuts and nut flours. In that case, seed flours may be a good alternative. But, of course, there’s always the risk of cross-reactivity, so do check with your doctor if you can eat seeds when you’re allergic to tree nuts.

With that said, sunflower seed flour has a mild taste and texture similar to almond flour. Therefore, it can be used in place of almond flour in most keto recipes. And it’s also dirt cheap! You can even make your own at home simply by grinding raw sunflower seeds in a high-speed blender.

Sunflower seeds are rich in omega-6 fats, which some say can damage health if consumed in excess. But since you’ll be eating a wide range of fats on keto, this should help balance out the ratios of different fats on your diet if you choose sunflower seeds for your keto baking.

Nutrition info (10z/28g):

164 calories | 14.4g fat | 3.2g net carbs | 5.8g protein

6. Acorn flour

What if you happen to have a vast source of keto flour in your own backyard? Look for oak trees and think about it. Yes, acorns can be made into acorn flour suitable for the keto kitchen!

Acorn flour has a bit nutty and somewhat sweet taste. like chestnut. This means you might need to use less sweetener in a recipe. Great news, right?

The even greater news is that you can make acorn flour at home. It takes being in a DIY mode and feeling kind of adventurous but it feels absolutely fabulous to be able to make your own keto flour at home.

The work required to make acorn flour is worth it for all its health benefits. It is a source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin A, manganese, and linoleic and linolenic acid.

Nutrition info (100g):

501 calories | 30.2g fat | 50.8g net carbs | 7.5g protein

50.8g net carbs seem like a lot, but keep in mind 100g is way more than a typical serving. A typical serving of acorn flour would have about 15 g net carbs.

7. Other flours suitable for keto baking

Besides those top six flour, there are other options that are more or less frequently used in keto kitchen:

  • Flaxseed meal: Seeds are keto-friendly, and flax seeds are no exception. It comes in very handy to learn about using and making your own golden flaxseed meal or brown flaxseed meal.
  • Sesame seed flour: Sesame seeds have one of the highest fat amounts amongst seeds, which makes them a keto superstar. However, sesame seed flour is usually sold «defatted.» So why not make sesame seed flour at home by simply grinding sesame seeds in a food processor.
  • Lupin flour: Lupin bean flour is flour made of sweet lupin beans. Interestingly, lupin beans are legumes that contain no starch. The carbs they do contain are mostly indigestible fibers. So you might want to consider getting some lupin bean flour for use on your keto diet.
  • Konjac flour: Want to add beautiful soft texture to your baked goods? Konjac flour can somewhat replace starch or thickeners in keto recipes. It is a fine powder made of the dried roots of the konjac plant. These roots contain at least 45% glucomannan which is a water-soluble fiber. When purified, konjac flour is also known as glucomannan powder.
  • Psyllium husk: An extremely useful ingredient in keto kitchen. Especially when one finds it difficult to give up baked foods like bagels, pizza, and such. Using psyllium husk in adapted recipes gives dough more elasticity which makes it is easier to handle. This plant-derived ingredient is rich in soluble fiber and has virtually no net carbs. When adding it to water, it absorbs it to form a gel. Virtually

You know that cereal flours are off-limits on a low-carb lifestyle. But what about other flours? Well, there are probably more non-keto flours than there are those you can enjoy on this diet. A couple of examples include:

  • Chickpea flour (besan)
  • Soy flour
  • Millet flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Cassava flour
  • Tapioca starch
  • Corn flour
  • Gluten-free flour

All of these flour alternatives are high in carbs, except for soy flour which is moderate in carbs but still too high to be keto-friendly.

Summary

Baking on keto is possible thanks to keto-friendly flours. But a bit of tweaking is needed to get it right.

Usually, that means avoiding yeast as a leavening agent and adjusting the ingredients. With simple swaps and tweaks, you can get beautiful pizza doughs, bread, cakes, cookies, muffins, and more without worrying about going overboard on the carbs.

This guide explains which flours to use, how to use them, and why. However, there are countless other options, some of which we might cover in the future.

References:

  1. Nutrition Data. Nuts, almonds, blanched. Accessed Aug 2021. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3086/2
  2. Barreca D, Nabavi SM, Sureda A, et al. Almonds (Prunus Dulcis Mill. D. A. Webb): A Source of Nutrients and Health-Promoting Compounds. Nutrients. 2020;12(3):672. Published 2020 Mar 1. doi:10.3390/nu12030672
  3. Nutrition Data. Coconut Flour, 2 Tablespoons. Accessed Aug 2021.
    https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/591392/2
  4. de Paula Franco E, Moraes de Oliveira GM, Raggio Luiz R, Rosa G. EFFECT OF HYPOENERGETIC DIET COMBINED WITH CONSUMPTION OF COCONUT FLOUR IN OVERWEIGHT WOMEN. Nutr Hosp. 2015;32(5):2012-2018. Published 2015 Nov 1. doi:10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9661
  5. Konjac Foods website. BENEFITS AND NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT KONJAC. Accessed Aug 2021. http://www.konjacfoods.com/health/index.html
  6. Chen HL, Cheng HC, Liu YJ, Liu SY, Wu WT. Konjac acts as a natural laxative by increasing stool bulk and improving colonic ecology in healthy adults. Nutrition. 2006;22(11-12):1112-1119. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2006.08.009
  7. Ruiz-López MA, Barrientos-Ramírez L, García-López PM, et al. Nutritional and Bioactive Compounds in Mexican Lupin Beans Species: A Mini-Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1785. Published 2019 Aug 2. doi:10.3390/nu11081785

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