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Gluten Free Substitutes

As with many other types of cooking, cooking gluten-free requires a knowledge of which foods can be substituted for other as needed. This can be overwhelming, but with a variety of tips, these substitutions can be made with very little effort.


Gluten-free flours come in three textures: light, medium, heavy.

Heavier grains include buckwheat, quinoa, millet, cornmeal, nut meal and bean/legume. These grains generally contain more protein and when cooking with them, they can be a substitution for whole wheat flour. Products made with these grains will usually be dense, dark in color and they do not rise much.

Medium flours are made from sorghum or superfine brown rice. This weight of flour is similar to all-purpose flour.

Light flours include white rice flour and gluten-free starches such as tapioca starch, cornstarch, potato starch and arrowroot starch.

The best way to substitute gluten-free grains is to switch them with flour that is a similar weight. To help dough or batter bind, a mixture can be made of medium and heavy weight flour along with some starch.


Generally, in baking, the gluten-free starches are interchangeable. This includes arrowroot, cornstarch, potato starch or tapioca starch. Sweet rice flour can also be used, but the texture could be sticky, unless used sparingly. It is important to note, potato starch is not the same as potato flour.


Butter is the most frequent fat that those that are gluten-free dairy-free need to eliminate. Some have found organic coconut oil is a good replacement. It has a milder taste but it adds a silky texture and sweet taste to the dishes. It can be used as a solid, or warmed to create a liquid.

Canola oil can also be used but it should be organic and expeller pressed.

Another option for a fat substitute is olive oil. It works well in most baking dishes that also include herbs, citus or flavors like pumpkin.

Many recipes require eggs, in some form, if baking. A good substitute is one tablespoon tapioca or potato starch plus three tablespoons water for each egg. The leavening will need to be increased by adding one-quarter teaspoon baking powder.

Flax seed is another substitute. Two tablespoons ground flax meal, plus one-eighth teaspoon baking powder, mixed with three tablespoons water should be added per egg.

Other egg substitutes include: one-half of a mashed banana and one-quarter teaspoon baking powder per egg; three tablespoon vegan mayonnaise per egg for binding, one-quarter teaspoon baking powder can be added for leavening; one-quarter cup silken tofu per egg for binding, for leavening add one-quarter teaspoon baking powder; if not began, one tablespoon unflavored gelatin dissolved in one tablespoon cold water then add two tablespoons boiling water, beat until frothy then for leavening add one-quarter teaspoon baking powder.


Two-thirds to three-quarter cup of honey can be used instead of one cup granulated or brown sugar. The recipe’s liquid amount should then be reduced by one-quarter cup. Cookies made with honey will be soft plus the foavor and density will be different than those baked with sugar.

Using the honey guidelines, other items can be used such as maple syrup, gluten-free brown rice syrup, organic raw agave syrup or cane or sorghum molasses


Organic light coconut milk is a good substitute for dairy in cooking or baking. A caution is to look at the amount of guar gum in the milk as this can act as a laxative.

Other substitutes include rice milk for a thinner milk. To add a sweetness to the food, vanilla rice milk can be used. For a silky texture, nut milks and soy milks work.


Instead of a flour or other thickener, try using cornstarch, arrowroot flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, or a sweet rice flour.

By experimenting with ingredients cooks can find a suitable substitute for many or all ingredients used in cooking to help remain gluten-free.