What can I substitute for rice flour?

In this concise article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for rice flour”? With an in-depth analysis of rice flour, and the possible substitutes for rice flour.

What can I substitute for rice flour?

There are various substitutes for rice flour that give the same texture to your fried products as rice flour does. If you run out of rice flour in your kitchen or stores, then no need to worry, you can go with its substitutes that include cornstarch, all-purpose flour, almond flour, coconut flour, millet flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and chickpea flour.

Rice increasingly plays a strategic role in food security in West Africa, where annual per capita consumption levels rose five-fold in the last six decades and are currently the highest on the continent. Production increased during the 2009-2018 period, but as a result of rapid demographic growth (2.7% annually) and diet changes, the region increasingly relies on rice imports (1).

Substitutes for rice flour

Rice flour is gluten-free, so all the substitutes mentioned in this article are the best substitutes for it, making sure that they are gluten-free.

Cornstarch:

Cornstarch is the best substitute for rice flour if you want to get your soups, gravy, or other sauces thick. Just like rice flour, cornstarch is also gluten-free and tasteless.

You should replace it with a ratio of 1:1. As if you are frying chicken and you must add one cup of rice flour to your recipe then you can easily replace it with one cup of corn starch. There is no need to add extra or fewer ingredients to it.

You can also use it in baking. But, when you are replacing it with baking goods, you need to add some extra ingredients to have the same effect.

 Wet milling separates corn into its four basic components – starch, germ, fibre and protein. After steeping for 30–40 h, the next step in the process involves a coarse grind to separate the germ from the rest of the kernel. The remaining slurry is finely ground and screened to separate the fibre from the starch and protein. The starch is then separated from the remaining slurry. The starch can then be converted to syrup, or it can be made into several other products including paper, paints, ethanol and laundry detergents (2).

All-purpose flour:

You can easily replace all-purpose flour if there is no issue with gluten. But, if you want it gluten-free then you must avoid this all-purpose flour because all-purpose flour contains 8-11% protein, which contains gluten. Gluten is an important component of wheat flour and is credited with the elastic, cohesive structure found in bakery goods. Wheat derived all purpose flour contains an average of 10 – 13.5% protein along with 76.3% carbohydrates with 2.7% dietary fiber (3).

All-purpose flour gives a fluffier and less brittle texture when used for cookies and cakes.

Another reason you would like to replace rice flour with all-purpose flour is, it is cheaper and relatively easier to find in stores. 

Almond flour:

Almond flour can also be used as a substitute for rice flour. It is gluten-free. It is made up of balanced and properly ground almonds. It works best for baking products. But, you should be careful while using it for frying products. Because it takes no time to cook and can burn quickly.

Other than this issue almond flour works well as a substitute for rice flour. Moreover, almond flour is rich in protein, fibre, and some vitamins and minerals, such as  chlorine, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. It is suitable for the many almond hearts rather than all-purpose flour. From all gluten-free flour types, almond flour is superior in terms of nutritional components, is rich in protein and good fats for health (4).

Also in the almonds composition can be found a substance called amygdalin, also known as vitamin B17, which plays an important role in the fight against cancer and successfully prevents the occurrence of the disease by removing the cancer cells (4).

If you are consuming too many almond containing products, then you should limit its quantity because it is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, so it could cause inflammation or other health problems.

It does not work well for baking products because other ingredients like sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon could overlap its flavour.

Coconut flour

For breading your fried food, you can replace coconut flour if there is a shortfall of rice flour. It works too well for making the gravy of any food thick. 

It is gluten-free, also it is grain-free. It has a low quantity of glycemic index, is rich in fibre, and has fewer calories (5).

The digestion of coconut flour is easy. Moreover, there are not as many carbs in it.

Millet flour:

Millet flour is not a good substitute for replacing rice flour, but we can use it. Its taste is more corn-like. It has a gluten-free substitute for brown rice flour such as brown rice has a texture of nuts. Both products are used as an alternative for baking recipes.

Millet grains are gluten-free, non-acid-forming, easy to digest with low glycemic index. Its low glycemic index food property is reported to be a good choice for people with celiac disease (disease caused by gluten-containing cereal protein ingestion) and diabetes as consumption of the grain assists in the regulation of blood glucose level. The grains consist of dietary fiber, carbohydrates, iron and calcium in high concentration when compared to other cereal grains (6).

Millet flour is best for use in cakes, pastries, muffins, bread, pancakes, etc and it gives you the great taste that you get after using other flours. It is also used for frying things and gives a crispy coating over chicken, fish, etc.

Sorghum flour:

It is also a substitute for rice flour. This flour is not sold in the market (100%) but many people think that it is a great alternative for rice flour. It is due to their taste that is gluten-free and has plenty of other nutrients like minerals, vitamins, source of protein, fibre, etc. It helps regulate metabolism. 

Sorghum is an abundant fiber source as it is a non-starch carbohydrate which is composed of insoluble fibers and soluble fibers that are located both in the endosperm cell walls and the pericarp and contribute about 6–15% of the grain’s total weight. Sorghum is also an excellent food for people with diabetes and obesity issues. It is characterized as having a low rate of protein digestibility and a low starch content. Other than that, good antioxidant properties are also associated with sorghum grains (7). 

Most people think that it’s bitter, so it is not a good option for substituting rice flour. I heard from many people that it’s a great option to use in sweets and pieces of bread. Every person has their own opinion about their usage. It is not a good option for frying meat though.

Tapioca flour:

It is slightly sweeter than rice flour. Tapioca flour is used usually for baking products. It is not well performed in frying things. It is like a thickening agent that is best for pastries and pancakes. It helps make the crust crispier. 

Studies showed that a small part of cassava starch was beneficial for the quality of gluten-free bread. Tapioca or cassava flour is gluten-free (8).

When we want to make sauces, tapioca flour is a great option to use for this purpose because it is smooth and has no smell. It adds creaminess to sauces. Overall, tapioca flour is more used in improving the texture of baking products.

Chickpea flour:

Chickpea flour is another substitute used in place of rice flour. It is also used mostly in baking products. 

However, when chickpea flour is added to a food application, it might interact with the volatile compounds present in the food product, due to protein or starch interactions. Moreover, the aroma of legumes is sometimes associated with an unpleasant, beany-like aroma and therefore the addition of chickpea flours to (semi-) liquid food applications might induce some new potential (off-)flavours and aromas to the product (9).

Other FAQs about Flour that you may be interested in.

Can you eat flour raw?

Can I mix bread flour and all-purpose flour?

Masa Harina vs Corn Flour

Conclusion:

In this concise article, all the possible substitutes for rice flour are discussed with their benefit and required quantity to use in either frying or baking.

References:

  1. Arouna, Aminou, et al. Policy options for mitigating impacts of COVID-19 on domestic rice value chains and food security in West Africa. Glob Food Secur, 2020, 26, 100405.
  2. McKevith, Brigid. Nutritional aspects of cereals. Nutrition Bulletin, 2004, 29, 111-142.
  3. Aguado, Ana Carolina. Development of okara powder as a gluten free alternative to all purpose flour for value added use in baked goods. University of Maryland, College Park, 2010.
  4. Stoin, Daniela, et al. Effect of almond flour on nutritional, sensory and bakery characteristics of gluten-free muffins. International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference: SGEM: Surveying Geology & mining Ecology Management, 2018, 8, 127-134.
  5. Trinidad, Trinidad P., et al. Dietary fiber from coconut flour: A functional food. Inn food sci emerg technol, 2006, 7, 309-317.
  6. Abah, C. R., et al. Nutritional composition, functional properties and food applications of millet grains. Asian Food Sci J, 2020, 14, 9-19.
  7. Khairuddin MAN, Lasekan O. Gluten-Free Cereal Products and Beverages: A Review of Their Health Benefits in the Last Five Years. Foods,  2021, 10, 2523. 
  8. Sigüenza-Andrés, Teresa, Cristina Gallego, and Manuel Gómez. Can cassava improve the quality of gluten free breads?. LWT, 2021, 149, 111923.
  9. Noordraven, Laura EC, et al. Effect of experimental flour preparation and thermal treatment on the volatile properties of aqueous chickpea flour suspensions. LWT, 2022, 160, 113171.