Does a gluten-free diet mean the end of sandwiches and brownies, apple pie and pizza? Not at all. Adjust your ingredients, amend your techniques, and soon the tempting aroma of homemade bread and cookies will be wafting out of your kitchen once more.
Need help? We're here for you. If you're new to gluten-free baking, start with one of our simple, fail-safe mixes. Once you've gained confidence, branch out into our carefully selected, kitchen-tested gluten-free recipes. Are you a seasoned gluten-free baker? Discover new ideas on our blog.
Getting started: the basics.
Gluten is found in certain grains, chiefly wheat, barley and rye. Those following a gluten-free diet avoid not just flour milled from these grains, but any of their derivatives, which can sometimes be surprising: some brands of vanilla extract contain gluten, for instance.
Baking gluten-free can be tricky. For best results, follow gluten-free recipes from a trusted source; and use the ingredients called for, rather than substitutes.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a combination of proteins in flour that form an elastic network responsible for baked goods' structure. The most common grains and flours that contain gluten include wheat, barley, and rye, as well as spelt, kamut, and other wheat relatives.
Oats, though gluten-free, are often problematic because of cross-contamination with wheat. Also, oats contain a protein similar to the protein in gluten, and can be problematic for people with celiac disease. In the past, oats had been cited as a product to avoid when you're baking gluten-free. But these days, it's possible to obtain oats that are certified gluten-free - a good choice for those with severe gluten intolerance.
What other baking ingredients, besides flour, might contain gluten?
While certain grains are the chief sources of gluten, it can be found in other baking ingredients that include derivatives of those grains. For instance, vanilla extract might contain gluten, as might baking powder, confectioners' sugar, or certain starch-based thickeners. Read labels carefully - and choose certified gluten-free products when possible.
How do gluten-free baked goods differ from regular ones?
When baking gluten-free for the first time, it helps to manage your expectations. It can be challenging to replicate exactly your favorite gluten-based baked treats. But if you learn what gluten-free baked goods taste like, and their typical texture, it's easier to track your progress towards your goal of great gluten-free baking.
Because they lack the structure gluten adds, some gluten-free baked goods may seem more crumbly than their wheat-based equivalent. Due to the combination of flours used, they also may become stale more quickly. As you learn to bake gluten-free, you'll figure out which ingredients, and combinations of ingredients, yield your favorite combination of taste, texture, and freshness.
Ready. Set. Bake!
The simplest, easiest way to begin baking gluten-free is with our mixes. Packed at a certified gluten-free facility, the only thing you'll need to add is milk, eggs, butter, or other everyday kitchen staples; no need to search out specialty gluten-free ingredients. Discover our fully array of quality mixes.
Once you've become familiar with gluten-free baking, it's time to move on to our baker-tested gluten-free recipes. Our test kitchen has spent years developing these delicious recipes, all of which you'll find on our recipe site. Here are some favorites to get you started:
Enjoy your favorite sandwiches again! This recipe yields a tender, tasty, high-rising loaf.
Crisp and chewy, this is a wonderful base for your favorite toppings.
Thorough baking and a golden brown color will give this crust a wonderful toasty flavor.
Moist, tender, and flavorful, you'd never guess these delicious muffins are gluten-free.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
These cookies are open to your own imaginative interpretation.
Moist, fluffy, chocolate-y - and delicious!
Many gluten-free recipes benefit from step-by-step photos, instructions and baking tips. Our blog devotes multiple posts to gluten-free baking; enjoy these examples:
Your essential ingredients
If you decide gluten-free baking will be a regular part of your routine, you'll want to stock your pantry. Here are the common ingredients you'll need for your best gluten-free baking.
Let's begin with the backbone of any gluten-free recipe: flour.
King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour, a carefully tested blend of white rice and whole-grain (brown) rice flours, tapioca starch, and potato starch, is perfect for all of your gluten-free baking recipes. We also offer King Arthur Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend, with the added fiber, protein, and flavor of whole grains.
While we highly recommend our own gluten-free flour - and the many recipes on our site that use it - you can make a decent substitute at home, one that can be tried in any recipe calling for a gluten-free flour blend. See our Brown Rice Flour Blend.
Because gluten-free baked goods lack the proteins necessary for structure-building, they can sometimes become crumbly, or not rise very well. Xanthan gum, a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer, improves the texture, "body," and rise of gluten-free baked goods.
Many recipes call for additional flours or starches beyond a basic gluten-free flour blend. These can add flavor and enhance texture; use them when called for in a recipe.
Milled from whole almonds, fine-textured almond flour is full of protein, fiber, and good fats. Add it to everything from scones to cakes to cookies to tart crusts for a rich, buttery flavor.
Ancient Grains Blend, a blend of four 100% whole-grain gluten-free flours (amaranth, millet, sorghum, and quinoa), adds nutrition and fiber to baked goods.
Finely ground coconut flour adds protein and fiber to recipes. It's delicious in cakes and cookies, and creates a more tender texture in pancakes, quick breads, and more.
Rice flour is used in many commercial gluten-free mixes. There are several types to choose from, and most recipes will specify which to use: regular long-grain rice flour, medium-grain rice flour, short "sweet" rice flour, or brown rice flour. Purchase stabilized brown rice flour when possible, as rice bran gets rancid very quickly. Rice flour is used as the backbone of many gluten-free recipes, but if used alone will have a gritty texture.
Used in small amounts in bread, potato flour includes the skin of the potato as well as its flesh. It contains fiber, and adds noticeable potato flavor to baked goods. It's particularly good in yeast breads.
Cornmeal can be either whole-grain (ground from the entire corn kernel), or de-germed (the germ removed to preserve freshness). It adds wonderful corn flavor to your baked treats, but no structure; it must be used in conjunction with other flours.
Cornstarch, a familiar pantry ingredient, is pure white starch. It lightens the texture of baked goods, without adding any flavor.
Derived from corn, this gluten-free dietary fiber is an easy shortcut to a healthier gluten-free diet. One serving contains 20-25% of your suggested daily fiber requirement.
This pure white starch feels similar to cornstarch, and contains no fiber. It's used to smooth the texture of gluten-free baked goods.
Tapioca starch (a.k.a. tapioca flour), also known as cassava or manioc, is a pure white starch. It's used to add "body" to baked goods, especially yeast breads, where it imparts chewy texture. Too much tapioca can make baked goods rubbery, so measure carefully.
Once you've become a confident gluten-free baker, you'll no doubt want to start converting your own tried-and-true recipes to gluten free versions. How do you make a standard recipe gluten free?
With lots of experimenting! Start with these tips:
- Recipes using less than ½ cup flour can usually be made gluten free simply by substituting gluten-free flour. In addition, any other ingredients in the recipe should be checked to see if they include gluten.
- For recipes using more than ½ cup flour, you'll need to make additional changes, such as adding xanthan gum to step in for the missing gluten. How much? Start with 1/4 teaspoon per cup of gluten-free flour used, and experiment until you find the level you like.
- Understand that taking a regular recipe and substituting gluten-free ingredients will change the recipe substantially. You'll need to experiment to find just which tweaks work with any particular recipe.
- It's best not to try to make an existing yeast bread recipe gluten free. Better to use yeast recipes specifically developed for gluten-free ingredients; discover the wide array of gluten-free bread, roll, and pizza recipes on our site.
Finally, we've done our own experiments around converting standard recipes to gluten free. See what we've learned:
Tips & Techniques
Gluten-free baking is a continual learning experience - for us as much as you. We've compiled some of our favorite gluten-free baking tips, and invite you to discover something new today. We've rounded up the most common questions people ask, and have provided the answers in our gluten-free FAQS.
Gluten-free muffin, quick bread, cake, and yeast bread recipes call for beating with an electric mixer - hand, or stand. Why? Because without gluten, baked goods have a hard time rising. Thorough beating adds air to the batter or dough, producing lighter texture...
Measure carefully; the flour/liquid ratio is important. Too much flour, your bread will be dry and crumbly. Too much liquid, and it may sink on the top. Measure flour by fluffing it in the container, sprinkling it into your dry measuring cup, then leveling it off. Don't tamp it down...
Gluten-free pie crust can be quite delicate and a challenge to handle before it's baked. If the bottom crust cracks or breaks while you're transferring it to the pan, simply press the cracks together again; this will prevent filling from leaking out the bottom of the crust...
Cakes, muffins & quick breads
Cake batter may be thicker than you're used to, and muffin batter much stickier; that's OK. King Arthur Cake Enhancer increases the shelf life of gluten-free cakes, muffins, and quick breads, keeping them moister and fresher longer. Alternatively, try adding a couple of tablespoons of applesauce (or puréed fruit baby food) or yogurt...
Gluten-free cookie dough tends to spread more easily when baking. Chill the dough before scooping, and bake on parchment, if possible, to limit spread. Another way to limit spread (and boost flavor!) is to add chips, nuts, or dried fruit to cookie dough...
For crisp, thin-crust pizza, use a dark pan. Spray the pan with non-stick vegetable oil spray, then drizzle with olive oil; use about 1 tablespoon oil for a 12" pizza. The oil increases the crust's crispness and flavor...
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