Are you confused about coconut flour vs almond flour?
Both are gluten-free, both are grain-free and both are used heavily in low carb and keto cooking ... but which is best and how do you use them?
Can these flours be easily swapped in recipes? Let's dig in ...
Low-Carb Flours - Which Is Best To Use?
Before we begin the coconut flour vs almond flour debate, you may wish to learn more about all low-carb flours. Read my Ultimate Guide To Low-Carb Flours.
It's a general overview of low-carb flours and how to use them.
Which is healthiest?
Both coconut flour and almond flour are low-carb flours and naturally gluten-free.
Both are less processed than "healthy whole-grains", both coconut flour and almond flour are more nutritious without the need for fortification, that many wheat-based products often have.
As with most baking ingredients, there are pros and cons, so let's go through them.
And why am I beginning to use coconut flour more frequently in recipes?
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What Are The Benefits?
3 BENFITS OF BAKING WITH COCONUT FLOUR VS ALMOND FLOUR
- Allergies – so many readers are requesting nut-free recipes. Either because they have nut allergies, or like me, their children attend a school with a nut-free policy. So baking with nuts is out of the question.
- Cost – coconut flour is cheaper to use. Prices vary from country to country, and what is currently on sale, but for us in New Zealand, coconut flour is half the price of almond meal/flour. Not only is coconut flour cheaper to buy, but the amount you use in a recipe is also incredibly small compared to almond meal/flour. A cake might require cups of almond meal/flour, whereas a coconut flour recipe might only require ¼ of this.
- Omega3/6 ratio – almonds have a high omega 6 (pro-inflammatory) content. This isn’t so important when you are just eating a few almonds as a snack, but to rely on cups of almond meal/flour for meals and baking, really does make a difference and adds up quickly.
Note On Nuts: “The FDA lists coconut as a tree nut but in fact, coconut is a seed of a drupaceous fruit. Most people allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. Coconut allergy is reasonably rare. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to, or eliminating coconut from, your diet.”
Why Am I Making More Coconut Flour Recipes?
It has been requested that I bake more frequently with coconut flour than almond flour.
But don't worry. If you don't like, or can't tolerate coconut flour, I will continue to develop new low-carb and keto recipes with almond flour/meal.
I love cooking with both low-carb gluten-free flours.
I will continue to add substitutions for older recipes. For example, I have added instructions to my Fat Head pizza recipe. You can now make it with almond flour OR coconut flour.
What Are 3 Differences Between These Low-Carb Flours?
With the increasing number of allergies, more readers are asking for tree nut-free recipes. And as many parents know, an increasing number of primary schools and kindergartens are making a nut-free policy for baking and school lunches.
So many low-carb recipes use almond flour/meal, it limits what baking we can send our children to school with.
Depending on where you live this may vary, but here in New Zealand, coconut flour is almost half the price of almond flour/meal.
Coconut flour is a pretty economical low-carb flour to buy and to use because you only use ¼ of the volume of almond flour.
3: Fat content and quality
Almond flour has a higher fat content but it is the quality of fat that is important to consider. Almond flour is high in omega 6 which is the inflammatory polyunsaturated fat we want to avoid in large quantities.
Coconut flour is lower in fat (another reason why it is so absorbent for liquids in recipes), but it is stable saturated fat.
Omega 6 is inflammatory and omega 3 is anti-inflammatory.
In the past, our omega 6:3 ratio was closer to 1:1, in modern times it has moved to be 15:1, i.e.: a highly inflammatory diet. "Excessive amounts of omega-6 ... promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert suppressive effects." Source.
It takes 90 whole almonds to make 1 cup of almond flour. It is too easy to overindulge in almonds from almond flour low-carb baking.
Takeaway notes: Coconut flour is versatile, cheaper, healthier, has better omega 3:6 ratios and far lower in carbs than almond flour.
Benefits of using low carb flours
- High in fibre - both coconut and almond flours are high in fibre.
- High in protein - coconut flour isn't as high as almond flour, but when you consider baking using coconut flour generally requires more eggs to help the baking rise and improve moisture, it can be considered a higher protein option.
- Low carb - both are lower in carbs than wheat and grain-based flours. 1 cup of wheat flour contains a whopping 73g net carbs compared to 10g net carbs in 1 cup of almond flour, and 6g net carbs in the equivalent ¼ cup of coconut flour (40% less than almond flour).
- Nutrition - there's not much in it, but both are better than wheat and grains. Don't rely on low-carb baking to provide you with the basis of your nutrient-dense diet. Low-carb baking, whether it is from coconut flour vs almond flour, should not be relied upon regularly. Part of the ethos of going low carb is not to rely on the sweet tastes, not to rely on treats but to use them occasionally. It is always better to reach for a low-carb treat rather than a highly processed, high-carb one, but they must begin to make less of an appearance in your weekly meal plan.
Coconut flour cooking tips
Unless you are very experienced at low-carb cooking, you cannot directly substitute coconut flour for almond flour in recipes.
This is the NUMBER ONE mistake everyone makes.
Readers tell me time and time again their baking has failed when they swap coconut flour directly for almond flour.
For those of you new to cooking with coconut flour, it can be tricky to work with unless you understand how coconut flour works and behaves.
I always suggest that you begin to bake with coconut flour using recipes that have already been developed using coconut flour.
Once you feel comfortable with the properties of coconut flour, you might want to try experiment converting some almond flour recipes.
TOP TIP 1: The best recipes to begin converting are those that aren't heavily based on almond flour so a recipe that only used ½ cup of almond flour is much easier to convert to coconut flour than a cake that uses perhaps 2-3 cups of almond flour. It simply won't work.
TOP TIP 2: Some people are more sensitive to the subtle flavour of coconut flour than others. Coconut flour may need additional flavouring and sweeteners in sweet recipes or additional herbs and spices in savoury recipes to over-ride the subtle coconut flavour it has.
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How Coconut Flour Works
Coconut flour is dehydrated and defatted flesh from the coconut. It is the high fibre by-product of making coconut cream and coconut milk.
Coconut flour is incredibly absorbent and it is best left to swell and absorb the moisture it has been mixed with.
For example, if you were to make my keto waffles and don't allow the batter to stand for a few minutes while the waffle maker is heating up, you may think the batter is too liquid and too runny to create the perfect waffle.
If however, you allow the batter to rest for a minute or two, you will see the batter thickening all by itself.
Because coconut flour is so incredibly absorbent, you will need extra liquids. Extra eggs are required to help improve the texture of the baking and to help the cake to rise.
Coconut flour will work in many of these recipes, but you need to use only a small quantity and it may not give you that crunchy texture you are used to with breadcrumbs.
BEST COCONUT FLOUR RECIPES
- Keto vanilla berry mug cake + VIDEO
- Nut-free "peanut butter" cookies
- Fat Head nachos + VIDEO
- Keto waffles + VIDEO
- 1-minute keto muffins + VIDEO
- Coconut flour bread + VIDEO
Read More: The Ultimate Guides Series
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Food 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 lists
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Vegetables
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Fruit
- Ultimate Guide To Healthy Fats
- Ultimate Guide To Low Carb Sweeteners
- Ultimate Guide To Low Carb Flours
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Alcohol
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Beige Food
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Nuts And Seeds
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Sauces