Rice flour is a type of fine flour made from milled rice. It is popular in Oriental cooking and has a mild, neutral flavor. This flour has a distinct white hue and is primarily used as a thickening agent, although it has gained popularity in recent years and is incorporated into many recipes because it is gluten-free.
Rice flour can be made from either white rice or brown rice. Brown rice flour has a nuttier taste and denser texture than white rice flour.
Several foods can work as a substitute for rice flour, including cornstarch, almond flour, and coconut flour. Some substitutes will work better than others, depending on how you plan to use flour in the dish and your dietary needs.
Best Substitute for Rice Flour: Cornstarch
The best substitute for rice flour is cornstarch because it is gluten-free and has a mild flavor like rice flour. Cornstarch gives fried food a crispy coating and can be used to thicken sauces too. Substitute rice flour with cornstarch at a 2:1 ratio.
Cornstarch is a pantry staple. It’s more affordable than rice flour and available in most grocery stores.
Like rice flour, cornstarch can withstand long cooking times. However, certain sauces won’t thicken well with cornstarch. You should avoid using cornstarch as a substitute for rice flour in acidic sauces and sauces made of fat like butter.
Cornstarch isn’t the best substitute for rice flour in baked goods like cakes and bread. This is because cornstarch lacks the proteins that flour has. These proteins give baked goods their form and texture. However, you can combine cornstarch with flour to improve tenderness and give baked goods a crumbly texture.
Other Rice Flour Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
There are plenty of foods that can substitute rice flour in most recipes. Many of these alternatives are affordable and staple pantry products.
There are several other flours that can work as a substitute if rice flour isn’t available. Almost all of the flours featured below are gluten-free.
All-purpose flour is flour milled from hard red wheat or a combination of hard and soft wheat. All-purpose flour has a neutral flavor and can be used for virtually anything, including frying, baking, and thickening sauces. This substitute gives baked goods a fluffy texture.
All-purpose flour isn’t a suitable substitute if you’re following a gluten-free diet as it contains gluten. You should replace every 7/8 cup of rice flour with a full cup of all-purpose flour.
Almond flour is a gluten-free flour made from blanched, ground almonds. Their outer skins are removed in the blanching process, giving the almonds a smooth texture. This flour is also rich in vitamin E and magnesium, which is an added health benefit.
Almond flour has a sweeter flavor than rice flour, and its sweetness makes it an excellent substitute for dessert sauces or baked goods. Although, almond flour isn’t a suitable substitute for individuals with nut allergies.
You should substitute almond flour at a 1:1 ratio. However, almond flour isn’t ideal for frying as it burns easily.
Coconut flour is a soft flour made from dried, ground coconut flesh. It is gluten-free and has a natural sweetness that works well for desserts and in some baked goods.
Use half the amount of rice flour given in the recipe when substituting, and reduce added sugars. You should also add more liquid to the dish to keep the dessert moist because coconut flour is dense and absorbent.
Millet flour is made from ground millet. This flour is a great alternative to brown rice flour, as it has a similar sweet and nutty taste. Millet flour is gluten-free and gives baked goods a cream hue and light texture. However, too much millet flour can make baked goods crumbly.
Millet flour can be used as a substitute for breading since it doesn’t burn easily and provides a crispy coating. Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.
Sorghum flour is made from finely ground whole grain sorghum. This flour can be found at health food stores and comes in several hues, with the most popular being cream.
Sorghum flour is gluten-free, versatile, and has a mild taste. Substitute sorghum flour with rice flour on a 1:1 basis.
Sorghum flour can sometimes bring about a bitter taste in the dish. If this happens, you should add additional sweetness to the dish.
Tapioca flour is produced from the crushed pulp of the cassava root. This flour is budget-friendly and is commonly used to make tapioca pearls in boba. Tapioca flour is gluten-free and has little to no taste or aroma, making it a suitable substitute for rice flour.
Tapioca flour works well as a thickening agent, but it does thicken rapidly. Gradually add small amounts to ensure the mixture doesn’t become too thick. This flour can help bring out a chewy consistency in bread.
Use double the amount of tapioca flour when substituting it for rice flour.
Chickpea flour is made from milled chickpeas. This gluten-free flour alternative is dense and has a sticky texture, making it an ideal binding ingredient. A 1:1 substitution ratio will work for most recipes, but chickpea flour is more absorbent than rice flour, so increase wet ingredients if necessary.
This flour is easy to make from scratch using a food processor. Add dried chickpeas to the processor and blend on high power until it forms flour. Then, sieve the flour to remove any large pieces.
Oat flour is a whole grain flour made from oats. It makes a good gluten-free substitute for brown rice flour because of its nutty flavor. Oat flour is highly nutritious and is rich in fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B1.
Oat flour has a silky texture and adds moisture and fluffiness when added to foods. Use oat flour as a 1:1 replacement for rice flour.
There are a few other starches you can use to replace rice flour. The starches below are effective thickening agents but can’t withstand long cooking times. You should take the dish off the heat as soon as the mixture has thickened to avoid the thickness breaking down.
Potato starch is the extracted starch of potatoes. Potato starch is gluten-free, doesn’t have an overpowering taste, and is a stronger thickening agent than rice flour. Substitute one cup of rice flour with two tablespoons of potato starch when thickening.
Arrowroot is a starch produced from a tropical plant called Maranta arundinacea. Arrowroot powder is popular because it is gluten-free, flavorless, and works well as an alternative thickener in many recipes. You can also use it to make clear jelly, and it has an extremely long shelf life, making it a pantry staple ingredient.
Rice flour has a higher starch content than arrowroot powder, and because of this, you should use half the amount of arrowroot when substituting rice flour.