While you can use almost all types of flour and starch as a rice flour substitute, you must remember that its primary use is for gluten free baking and cooking. You're probably thinking, "Well, I'm not serving guests sensitive to gluten anyway.", but recipes using gluten free flour will have a different outcome than when using ingredients with gluten.
Hence, this list contains the best gluten free substitutes for rice flour that I have already successfully used in my recipes.
Whether you're looking for a brown rice flour substitute, white rice flour substitute, or glutinous or sweet rice flour substitute, I have got you covered, so let's get started!
Cornstarch: The Best Rice Flour Substitute
If you need an easily accessible gluten free substitute for sweet rice flour, white rice flour, or brown rice flour, cornstarch won't disappoint! Not only does it have a neutral flavor, but it's also a versatile ingredient.
You can use it as a thickening agent by mixing it with cold water to create a slurry and then adding it at the last part of the cooking process. When using it as a substitute for rice flour in your baking and breading recipes, use half the amount of the rice flour required in your recipe.
However, you can't use cornstarch if you or any of the people you're serving have corn allergies. But fret not; I listed below my top choices for white rice, brown rice, and sweet or glutinous rice flour substitutes.
3 Best White Rice Flour Substitutes
Aptly named, this flour is made from bran-free white rice, so it is tasteless. That's why I made sure that the following substitutes have a neutral flavor or don't have strong flavors that can affect the overall quality of your recipe.
1. Arrowroot Powder
This flour obtained from the arrowroot plant can be used as a substitute for white and brown rice flour, but I find it's more suitable as a white rice flour substitute. Not only does it have a similar texture to it, but it's also tasteless.
It's a popular thickening agent with comparatively similar properties as cornstarch. That's why you must also create a slurry before adding it to your recipe at the later stage of the cooking process.
To use this substitute for white rice flour as a thickener, use twice the amount in your recipe.
You can also use arrowroot powder for your breading and baking recipes. However, you need to mix it with any gluten free flours, and finding the right amount to use requires trial and error.
Based on my experience, the total mixture should contain 25% arrowroot powder and 75% gluten free flour. For instance, if you need to replace one cup of rice flour, your substitute will be a mix of ¼ cup arrowroot powder and ¾ cup gluten free flour.
Best for thickening jellies, pie fillings, puddings, gravies, sauces, and soups.
2. Coconut Flour
While not tasteless, coconut flour is your best gluten free option if you're looking for an alternative that's also low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, Paleo-friendly, and grain-free.
There are two coconut flour properties that I want to make a note of. First, it has a slightly sweet taste, so I usually use it for gluten free baking and recipes that require sweeteners.
Another is coconut flour absorbs moisture more than rice flour. For this reason, I add ¼ cup more of any liquid ingredient and one egg than what's listed in the original recipe. Doing so ensures I don't end up with crumbly and too-dry baked goodies.
When I replace rice flour with coconut flour, I only use half the amount of what the recipe calls for. For instance, I only add ½ cup of coconut flour for every cup of rice flour required.
Best for baked goods and sweet sauces and fillings.
3. Coconut Flour + Almond Flour
Almond flour alone is a good rice flour substitute, but I prefer to mix it with coconut flour for many reasons.
One is that it's expensive, so I find using it as a substitute for rice flour impractical. Its use is also limited to baking because it has a slightly coarser texture than rice flour.
It also easily burns, so it isn't the best coating to use when frying foods. Lastly, almond flour or any flour mixture containing it isn't a good rice flour substitute if you're serving someone with nut allergies.
So why even add it to coconut flour? Well, it has a strong nutty taste and smell that can help balance the coconut flour's sweetness.
Simply mix equal amounts of coconut and almond flour, and follow a 1:1 ratio when using the mixture as a substitute for rice flour.
Best for baked goods and thickening sweet sauces and fillings.
4 Best Brown Rice Flour Substitutes
While also made from rice, specifically the brown variety, this rice flour has a slightly nutty flavor. Of course, it was my top consideration when I looked for the best substitutes for brown rice flour.
1. Buckwheat Flour
For many reasons, I consider buckwheat flour as the second best substitute for brown rice flour next to cornstarch. It has the same earthy, nutty flavor as brown rice flour and a good amount of protein that gives baked goodies a wonderful texture.
Besides being a great gluten free baking ingredient, you can use buckwheat flour as a thickening agent, breading for deep frying food, and making rice noodles, pancakes, waffles, and crepes. I also love that you don't need to make any measurement adjustments when substituting rice flour with buckwheat flour.
I also sometimes add buckwheat to other gluten free flours, cake flour, or all purpose flour to create a flour blend.
If there's one thing I would like you to note when shopping for buckwheat flour is that there are two varieties available: light and dark. I prefer the light one because it has a mild flavor; dark buckwheat flour has a strong bitter taste that can affect the flavor quality of your dishes.
Best for just about anything.
2. Chickpea Flour
While not as easily accessible and is usually only available in health food stores, chickpea flour is an excellent substitute for rice flour because of its distinct earthy flavor. It's made from garbanzo beans or chickpeas, so it's not just perfect for those following gluten free diets. Vegans and vegetarians can also use chickpea flour.
Garbanzo bean is also an ingredient known for its high protein content. Hence, chickpea flour is also perfect for those who are minimizing their carbohydrate intake.
Whether you need this great rice flour substitute to make a light and fluffy cake, deep frying food, or thicken your sauce, use the same amount of chickpea flour as your recipe requires for rice flour.
Best for just about anything.
3. Oat Flour
When you run out or can't find rice flour, replace it with the same amount of oat flour. It is a good brown rice flour substitute because they have the same texture and appearance. It also has a slightly earthy flavor that closely resembles the nutty notes of brown rice flour.
Not only that, but it's also rich in antioxidants and fiber and is a good source of good carbohydrates. It also gives your baked goods the fluffiness and lightness brown rice flour brings to the table.
But what I love most about oat flour is you can easily find it in local stores.
One thing I want you to note about oat flour is that not every product is gluten free. Make sure you check the label before placing it in your grocery cart.
Best for just about anything!
4. Sorghum Flour
Made from cereal grains, sorghum flour has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor, so it's been a popular gluten free option in commercial baking for years. Today, many home bakers are using it as a common alternative to all purpose flour.
When you replace rice flour with sorghum flour, you don't need to make changes in the measurements. However, when you mix it with other gluten free flours or even with plain flour, make sure that sorghum flour only makes up 30% of the blend.
That's because sorghum flour has a distinct bitter taste that can affect the taste of your baked goods or dishes. It's also why you shouldn't use it solely when making breading for your fried foods.
Sorghum flour is also one of the gluten free flours that tend to absorb moisture more than rice flour. As such, I recommend that you add ¼ or ½ cup more of the amount of liquid ingredients required in your recipe.
Likewise, adjust the amount of binding agents when using sorghum flour as a substitute for brown rice flour. For instance, add one more egg or one tablespoon of xantham gum to what's originally listed in your recipe's ingredient list.
Best for baked goods.
3 Best Glutinous Rice Flour Substitutes
This type of rice flour is a kitchen staple for those who love to prepare Asian desserts and treats. Not only is it sweet, but it also has a distinct milky flavor. Consistency-wise, it's sticky, almost glue-like, and turns chewy once exposed to heat.
These unique characteristics make finding an excellent substitute for sweet rice flour quite challenging. That said, here are two of my go-to naturally gluten free alternatives to this rice flour:
1. Tapioca Flour
The most accessible and affordable grain, gluten free substitute for glutinous rice flour is tapioca flour, a product made from the cassava plant's starchy pulp.
However, you will need to use more than the amount of rice flour your recipe calls for to achieve the chewy texture. The substitution ratio I use that works well is replacing one cup of rice flour with two cups of tapioca starch.
Tapioca flour also doesn't have the same level of sweetness as glutinous flour, so I sometimes increase the amount of sweet ingredients in my recipe. If you plan on doing the same, start by adding a small amount and gradually increasing it until you achieve the sweetness you're looking for.
I also would like to share that tapioca starch thickens quickly. It's why I add it at the later stage of the cooking process when using it as a thickening agent. Of course, I highly advise you to do the same, or you'll end up with a gooey, inedible product. Yikes!
Best for thickening sauces, filling, and gravies, making pie crusts, and baking sweet goodies.
2. Cassava Flour
As the name implies, this type of grain and gluten free alternative to rice flour is made from the whole cassava plant. It's a fine powder with no taste but a similar sticky consistency as glutinous flour that becomes chewy when cooked.
While you don't have to make any adjustments in the amount when used as a thickening agent, you can't use it as a standalone sweet rice flour substitute in baking. It works best when you combine it with any of the other gluten free flours. The blend that I use is I add ⅔ cup of cassava flour to ⅓ cup of another flour.
Since it's also flavorless, make sure you add a small amount of any of the sweet ingredients to your recipe when using cassava flour as a substitute for glutinous rice flour.
Best for making desserts and tortillas and as a thickening agent.
3. Potato Flour
Potato flour is often confused with potato starch, but it has less starch and is more nutritious. While it's beige and has a potato flavor, it gives your baked goodies the right amount of tenderness they need. It is also one of the best thickening agents you can easily find in your grocery store.
Need I say more? It is also one of the best rice flour substitutes when making gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian coating for savory and sweet fried food.
Best for just about anything.
Choose the Right Substitute for Rice Flour Now!
While cornstarch is an excellent all-around alternative to rice flour, it isn't free from one of the most common allergens: corn. Fortunately, my list above provided you with several other options that will ensure you can still prepare delicious recipes while sticking to your or your guest's gluten free diet.
Make sure you pick a suitable substitute for rice flour for your recipe and follow the suggested ratios and other tips I provided.
Homemade White, Brown, and Sweet Rice Flour Recipe
- High-speed blender or food processor
- Fine-sieve colander
- A large bowl
- Airtight glass or plastic container
- 2 cups uncooked, whole-grain white rice, brown rice, or short-grain rice Note that the amount of rice you need will depend on how much rice flour you need. Generally, one cup of uncooked rice will give you half a cup of flour.
- Place your uncooked rice in your blender or food processor.
- Replace the lid of your appliance, and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds to grind the rice.
- Place your colander on top of your mixing bowl.
- Pour the ground rice grains into your colander and gently sift.
- Put the sifted ground rice (the one in your bowl) back into your kitchen appliance.
- Repeat steps 2 to 5 until you have fine, powder-like rice flour.
- You can now use it in your recipe or transfer it to your plastic or glass container and seal it tightly. Store at room temperature for three months.
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