Chances are, if you walk into most kitchens, you will find common kitchen staples like sugar, salt, and flour, to name a few. But lately, there are so many varieties of these common ingredients, it isn’t as simple as it once was. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine which type of even these basic staples you should be using for your baking needs. Take flour, for instance—do you use white, whole wheat, or pastry flour, or do you go for a gluten-free option like almond, coconut, teff, or… the choices are seemingly endless. Lucky for you, I am here to help break it down and take the guesswork out of it—at least when it comes to almond vs. coconut flour.
Traditionally, flour was made by grinding grain, typically wheat. The process used stones or a giant steel wheel, and still does. The most common type of flour is white flour, which begins with refining wheat by removing the husk and bran, then bleaching it with chemicals, which removes all color from the finished powdery product. Unfortunately, this process also removes most of the vitamins and minerals.
Almond vs. Coconut Flour
With almond flour, the process is similar in that almond flour is simply ground almonds; however, one must be mindful of the difference between almond flour and almond meal. Almond flour is generally made with blanched raw almonds and is more coarsely ground, so it has an airier consistency like flour. Almond meal uses the whole almond and is not as finely ground. Both are gluten-free, grain-free alternatives to regular wheat flours, and they are becoming popular alternatives to baking everything from cookies to cakes to breadcrumbs.
When using in baking to replace wheat flour, you may use almond flour in a 1:1 ratio; however, the wet ingredients (especially binding ingredients such as eggs) may need to be adjusted.
Coconut flour is another gluten-free, grain-free alternative to regular flour, which is made from ground coconut flesh (the meaty part of the coconut). When baking with coconut flour, one cannot simply replace wheat flour in a recipe with a 1:1 ratio because they aren’t equivalent. Since coconut flour is considered extremely absorbent, you generally want to substitute 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup coconut flour for 1 cup of regular flour. As mentioned above with the almond flour, you will also need to increase the number of eggs due to the lack of gluten (which acts as a binding agent and improves texture).
As a general rule, for every cup of coconut flour you use, you will need to use six beaten eggs in your recipe in addition to approximately one cup of liquid such as coconut milk.
Fun fact: a coconut is actually considered a fruit, a nut, and a seed; however, it is rarely considered a nut and isn’t considered a tree nut allergen.
In my personal opinion (and from my personal experience), when baking with coconut flour, it is best to use established recipes that use coconut flour rather than waste considerable expense and time with experimentation.
The only time coconut flour is used in a similar ratio to regular flour is when you are frying or sautéing and need to dredge meats or vegetables. Then you can use coconut flour in an amount that is equivalent to wheat flour.
Let’s break down the nutrition information of almond vs. coconut flour per two-tablespoon serving:
As you can plainly see, there are some MAJOR differences in the macronutrients shown here between almond vs. coconut flour. So, while both would be acceptable for paleo folks, coconut would be preferable for those focused on fiber, and perhaps only almond flour would be suitable for ketogenic and low-carbohydrate diets.
Bake Off! Almond vs. Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies
In the future, I will be posting more recipes incorporating both almond flour and coconut flour and am open to suggestions for some of your favorite recipes that you would like to see revamped using each of these ingredients. For now, check out the following recipe for peanut butter cookies. I made two versions—one with coconut flour and one with almond flour. My taste testers were a 5- and 7-year-old, and unfortunately, they were not unanimous in their decision on the best cookie. So, I implore you to give one or both of these a try and let me know how they stand up to traditional peanut butter cookies.
- 1/4 cup coconut flour OR 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup low-carb sweetener or mix of sweeteners (such as erythritol or xylitol)
- 1/4 tsp stevia
- 1 cup unsweetened peanut butter
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients together until well combined and dough forms.
- Roll balls of dough and place on parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until edges of cookies have browned.
- Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
Chef Tip: If you want to be fancy, you can flatten each dough ball by making crisscross marks with a fork.
* For flatter cookies, press down first with your fingers before making the fork marks.
Chef Tip: If you have kids who love chocolate like I do, you can add Hershey kisses to the top as soon as they come out of the oven.
(per cookie with coconut flour)
- Servings: 20
- Calories: 100
- Fat: 9.2 g
- Carbs: 5.6 g
- Fiber: .9 g
- Protein: 3 g
(per cookie with almond flour)
- Servings: 20
- Calories: 107
- Fat: 9.8 g
- Carbs: 5.8 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 3.3 g