Did you know that one cup of all-purpose flour contains nearly 100 grams of carbs? So much for diving into a donut when you crave something sweet on a keto diet! One bite alone could kick you out of ketosis.

But this doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to enjoy a fried or baked dessert or even a sandwich while you’re on a super-low-carb diet. There’s a whole world of delicious, keto baking waiting for you—if you understand the best low-carb substitutes for traditional, high-carb all-purpose flour (hint: they’re all grain-free, gluten-free flours).

Keto-Friendly Flours

Yes, it’s true. You can have your keto dessert and eat it too—if you stock up on and use these keto-friendly flours when baking or breading foods at home. The following low-carb flours are the most commonly used and versatile in keto recipes. Just make sure you are keeping an eye on your carbohydrate intake; while keto-friendly flours open many doors to you for baking and cooking, their carbs can add up quickly!

Almond Flour: Keto’s All-Purpose Flour Alternative

Almond flour is simply finely ground blanched almonds (i.e. blanched almond flour; conversely, almond meal provides very different results when used in baking; see more about almond meal below.)

The keto-almond flour connection is strong; almond flour is a must-have for the keto kitchen for numerous reasons: it has great health benefits, it’s a good source of vitamin E, and it’s also rich in magnesium, iron, manganese, calcium, and potassium. It also lends a nutty flavor and moist, slightly dense character to baked goods.

Even if you haven’t baked with almond flour in the past, you’ve probably enjoyed it: you know those colorful, fancy French sandwich cookies, macarons? They’re made with almond flour!

If you’re on keto, almond flour will be your top choice for baking because it’s low-carb, high in fat, moderate in protein, and has great flavor and texture. Important to note: the amount of macros in almond flour varies by brand, so look for brands that contain 10 or less net carbs per cup.

Cooking Tips: Almond flour is great for cakes, cookies, and quickbreads. Try these low-carb recipes to become familiar with keto-almond flour favorites: keto bread recipe, Lemon Bars, Keto Waffles, Killer Keto PancakesKeto Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins, Keto Double Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts, and more keto almond flour recipes.

  • Almond Flour Nutritional Information*
    Optimal brands (We like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods bulk section):1/4 Cup(28g): 162 Calories, 14g Fat, 2.5g Net Carbs, 6g Protein
    *Note: macros vary from brand to brand, so be sure to check the label of the brand you’re using to get the most accurate totals.

Almond Meal

Like almond flour, almond meal is made from ground almonds, However for almond meal, the skins are not removed before grinding, so the texture is coarser and more grainy than almond flour. Similar to almond flour, almond meal’s macros vary by brand, so look for brands that have around 10 or less net carbs per cup.

Cooking Tips: Almond meal is commonly used in baked goods like cookies and quick breads (with denser results than if you use almond flour), and because of its texture, it can also be used instead of breadcrumbs to coat meats or chicken or top vegetables and casseroles to create a crispy crust. Want to explore a delish recipe with almond meal? Try these Almond Cookies with Lemon Zest–yum!

  • Almond Meal Nutritional Information*
    Optimal brands (We like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods bulk section): 1/4 Cup(28g): 162 Calories, 14g Fat, 2.5g Net Carbs, 6g Protein
    *Note: macros vary from brand to brand, so be sure to check the label of the brand you’re using to get the most accurate totals.

Coconut Flour

Light and extra fine with barely-there coconut flavor and a low score on the glycemic index (a whole cup of coconut flour has only 24 net carbs), coconut flour is made from super-fine ground, dried coconut meat. It’s great for low-carb baking, and it’s lower in calories and carbs and higher in fiber than almond flour. It’s also rich in protein and fat, which makes it exceptionally filling. Coconut flour is versatile, too, so use it in savory and sweet recipes.

Cooking Tips: This versatile flour can be used for baked goods, coatings, and to thicken soups. Coconut flour is absorbent, so expect to use more liquid than normal when baking with it. And batters made with coconut flour take a little more time to thicken. Give it a try with this awesome recipe for Coconut Flour Cupcakes–and don’t forget the frosting!

  • Coconut Flour Nutritional Information*
    1/4 Cup/(24g): 120 Calories, 4g Fat, 6 Net Carbs, 4g Protein
    *Note: Coconut flour macros vary (though not as dramatically as almond flour); be sure to check the label of the brand you’re using to get the most accurate totals.

Ground Flaxseed or Flax Meal

Flaxseed, also known as linseed or flax, is best consumed in milled or ground form because whole flaxseed is difficult for the body to digest and absorb. Nutritionally, flaxseed is high in fat, fiber, and cholesterol-lowering Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also low in digestible carbs.

Cooking Tips: Expect baked items to brown more quickly when they contain flaxseed meal, so consider lowering the oven temperature a bit or decreasing the cooking time. Flax’s high oil content makes it a good substitute for eggs in baking recipes; for each egg you want to replace, mix 1 Tbsp of ground flax meal with 3 Tbsp of water, and let the mixture gel for 10 minutes. Want to give flax meal a try? Start with a keto Slicing Bread or More Mojo Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe!

Flaxseed Nutritional Information:1 Tbsp: 37 Calories, 3g Fat, 0g Net Carbs, 1.3g Protein

Other Flours to Explore

Once you get the hang of these key keto flours, you many want to explore the following flours.

  • Chia Seed Flour
  • Nut Flours: walnut flour, hazelnut Flour, pecan flour (you’ll most likely need to make the latter one yourself, but can find recipes online)

Binding Agents

Binding agents help your alternative flour mimic wheat flour’s desirable structure by binding with other ingredients; they also add structure and texture to the final product.

Xanthan Gum

A gluten-free food additive that’s made from bacteria-fermented sugar, xanthan gum is a powdered binding agent that lends structure to baked goods and thickness to soups and stews. It’s often used as a substitute for cornstarch and contains minimal carbs, making it a favorite source among keto cooks. You’ll find chances to use xanthan gum in our Slicing Bread and Lemon Bars recipes.

Cooking Tips: Use xanthan gum to thicken soups and sauces or give structure to baked goods. You don’t need a lot–a teaspoon or less will usually do the trick!

Xanthan Gum Nutritional Information 1 Tbsp: 30 Calories, 0g Fat, 7g, 0g Net Carbs, 0g Protein

Psyllium Husks

Psyllium is a seed that is produced commercially mostly for use as a dietary fiber, and its small husk is known for being an excellent, fiber-rich binding agent, especially when ground into a fine psyllium husk powder. When combined with liquid, psyllium husks become thick and gluey and expand to 10 times their original size! You can find them in well-stocked grocery stores and health food stores or you can make your own by grinding psyllium husks into a powder in a food processor. 

Cooking Tips: Psyllium husk is also an inexpensive binding agent. A half teaspoon of psyllium husk per serving is enough to thicken your favourite recipes.

  • Psyllium Husk Nutritional Information 1 Tbsp (9g): 30 Calories, 0g Fat, 0g Net Carbs, 0g Protein

Mojo On!

Ready to get cooking? Find these keto-friendly ingredients in well-stocked grocers or on Amazon, then have fun using keto flours when you meal plan, bake, and dive into everyday keto-friendly low-carb recipes on your own or from cookbooks. You’ll find that when you combine these flours and baking agents with sugar-free keto-friendly alternative sweeteners, you can enjoy a variety of baked goods you may have thought impossible on a keto diet. Keto Vanilla Donuts with Chocolate Glaze, anyone? 



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