Back in the day, gluten-free baking was complicated: you had to create your own blend of tapioca and potato starch and rice flour, adjust the amount of eggs or liquid in a recipe… and hope for the best. But as more and more people turned to gluten-free baking, the process became simpler. You bought some gluten-free flour and xanthan gum, found yourself a gluten-free recipe, and followed it.

Several years ago, with the advent of all-in-one replacement gluten-free flours, baking gluten-free became easier still. Simply substitute this new GF flour for the all-purpose flour in your recipe: end of story. No hand-blending flours; no xanthan gum; no seeking out gluten-free recipes.

However,  for those just starting down the GF trail — or who don’t bake gluten-free frequently — which flour to choose can be confusing.

There are many gluten-free flours out there, but only two main types of packaged gluten-free flour blends.

How to choose which gluten-free flour to use via @kingarthurflour

Gluten-free flour: all-purpose blend

The original blend — we’ll call it gluten-free all-purpose flour — is one that’s formulated specifically for gluten-free recipes. Our Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour is a good example.

When should you use gluten-free all-purpose flour in your recipe?

  • The recipe lists “gluten-free” in its title, e.g., Gluten-Free Almond Bundt Cake.
  • The recipe includes xanthan gum, which helps add structure to your baked goods in the absence of gluten.
  • The recipe calls for “gluten-free flour blend,” or similar wording.

How to choose which gluten-free flour to use via @kingarthurflour

Gluten-free flour: replacement blend

The newest type of gluten-free flour — we’ll call it gluten-free replacement flour — includes xanthan gum along with the typical blend of gluten-free flours. This means you can simply replace the all-purpose flour in many of your favorite traditional recipes with this new gluten-free flour. Our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour is a good example.

When should you use gluten-free replacement flour in your recipe?

  • The recipe wasn’t formulated to be gluten-free, and typically doesn’t call itself gluten-free.
  • The recipe doesn’t include xanthan gum in its list of ingredients.
  • The recipe calls for standard unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour, not gluten-free flour.

How to choose which gluten-free flour to use via @kingarthurflour

What about gluten-free flour and yeast?

Baking bread and rolls without gluten is a challenge. But it’s possible to make decent yeasted baked goods without gluten — so long as you choose the right recipe and follow it carefully.

  • The recipe will usually say “gluten-free” in its title, e.g., Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread.
  • It will include xanthan gum.
  • It will call for gluten-free all-purpose flour.

Can you bake your mom’s favorite dinner rolls simply by substituting a gluten-free replacement flour for the all-purpose flour in her recipe?

No. Our Measure for Measure Flour is ideal for almost all of your favorite classic recipes — brownies, cookies, cake, biscuits, pancakes, muffins, etc.

But its particular formulation, one that makes it perfect for other recipes, means it's not appropriate for yeast recipes. For bread, rolls, and pizza crust use a gluten-free recipe and gluten-free all-purpose flour.

What's your biggest gluten-free baking challenge? Our Baker's Hotline is ready for your questions!

PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!