I frequently get asked, “What is the best Paleo baking flour to cook with?” I get it. Paleo flours can be expensive, and when you’re new to the diet, it feels like you’re dropping a small fortune to stock your initial Paleo pantry. The flours that you’ll need for your go-to baking staples will depend on what you’re most going to bake or cook. Here’s a breakdown of the most common ones seen in Paleo recipes, and how often you might go through them.
The closest standalone replacement for white flour or whole wheat flour, cassava flour is suitable for people who can’t eat nuts, it’s AIP-friendly, and it’s fairly easy to work with. You’ll definitely want this on hand if you’re going to bake cakes, muffins, biscuits, or sandwich-style breads. Depending on frequency of baking, you may go through a few pounds of this per month.
The most long-standing Paleo flour, this is a good one-for-one replacement for whole grain flours, and anything you bake won’t have a nutty flavor. Thanks to the popularity, you can now find this in bulk at places like Amazon and Costco, which cuts down on the price per pound. Almond flour is great for savory breads, muffins, dense cakes (like carrot cake), and meatloaf. A bulk bag from one of those stores will easily last a few months, if not longer, when you store it in the refrigerator and when you are baking a few items each week.
A less common flour, hazelnut is much more expensive per pound than the previous two. This is a “use sparingly” type of flour, and is ideal for dessert toppings (like apple crisp) and muffins. It works best when paired with almond or cassava flour.
While tapioca isn’t a one-for-one replacement baking flour, it is an excellent staple for any Paleo pantry. It’s inexpensive because it’s usually used in 1 or 2 tablespoon increments, so even a half-pound bag will last quite awhile. It can be used for making gravy, sauces, icing, pancakes, cupcakes, muffins, and breads.
Another alternative to tapioca, arrowroot functions much the same, and is a similar price point. It can be used in the same ways as tapioca.
A newer Paleo flour option, plantain flour is very comparable to cassava flour in how it’s used. Because it’s not quite as common yet, its pricing is higher than cassava, and it’s not as easily available, but I predict this will be a more common ingredient in the coming years, and a good option for anyone who doesn’t respond well to cassava.
Tigernuts, which are root vegetables and not actual nuts, are similar in resistant starch to plantains. You can use tigernut flour in much the same was as cassava and plantain, although tigernut at this point is the most expensive of the three, and tends to be a little grittier than the other two. Still, it’s an excellent option for anyone on an AIP diet or who can’t eat tree nuts.
Coconut flour used to be one of the few Paleo-friendly flours available, and is also an inexpensive option. It can be tricky to bake with, however, because it is not a one-for-one flour replacement and it soaks up an incredible amount of liquid. Often recipes will only call for a few tablespoons to a ¼ cup at most. Coconut has a strong coconut flavor, but it does produce smooth results that are closer to that of white flour. It can be found in almost every market and grocery store now.
If you’re only stocking three Paleo flours, I recommend cassava, almond, and tapioca. These three will give you the ability to make a majority of Paleo recipes you’ll find, and one or more can substitute for the other Paleo flours if needed in a pinch or for allergy purposes or taste preferences.