Soy flour is one of the OGs of alternative baking. A versatile, protein-rich flour, it makes it an excellent option for those with gluten sensitivities or following gluten-free diets. Soy flour comes in different varieties, such as full-fat, low-fat, and defatted, which vary in their oil content and nutritional value.
In cooking and baking, soy flour imparts a mild flavor, though I can definitely tell it came from a legume, meaning that I do prefer more neutral-tasting or sweeter flours for certain recipes like cakes…Unless bean cake is your thing, which some people like. Speaking of alternatives! Here are my top 5 for soy flour, and we will get into the ‘why’ in this article.
- Lupin flour
- Okara flour
- Whole wheat flour
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
- Chickpea flour
- Pea flour
Best All-Around Soy Flour Substitute: Lupin Flour
Lupin flour is the best all-around soy flour substitute, offering a nutritious and versatile alternative for various recipes. Derived from lupin beans, legumes in the same family as soybeans, lupin flour has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that complements sweet and savory dishes.
When using lupin flour as a substitute for soy flour in recipes, it is best used as a partial substitute mixed with other flour for the best baking results.
Best Budget-Friendly Soy Flour Substitute: Okara Flour
Okara flour is the best budget-friendly soy flour substitute, offering a nutritious and cost-effective alternative for various recipes. Okara, also known as soy pulp, is a byproduct of the soy milk and tofu production process, meaning that it is not too pricey. Okara flour has a mild flavor that complements both sweet and savory dishes, though it is best to only use okara flour in recipes explicitly designed for it.
If you do want to switch it directly for the soy flour in a recipe, keep in mind it may absorb liquid differently than soy flour, so you might have to alter the liquid-to-flour ratio or add a binding agent like eggs for optimal results.
Best Easy-to-Bake-With Soy Flour Substitute: Whole Wheat Flour
Though it is not gluten-free, whole wheat flour is the best easy-to-bake-with soy flour substitute. Whole wheat flour is easier to bake with because of its gluten content, which helps to give breads their rise and baked goods their texture.
When using whole wheat flour as a substitute for soy flour in recipes, soy flour is likely to absorb more water than whole wheat, so you may need to adjust your liquids. If you need an easy-to-bake with gluten-free substitute, then your best bet is a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
Flour Closest in Flavor to Soy Flour: Lupin Flour
Lupin flour is the closest in flavor to soy flour, offering a similar beany taste profile. Both lupin and soy flours are derived from legumes, contributing to their similar flavors.
Lupin flour has a mild, slightly nutty, and subtly sweet flavor that pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes, whereas soy is not as sweet, so it’s better to use predominantly in savory dishes, in my opinion.
Best Neutral-Flavor Substitute for Soy Flour: Okara Flour
Okara flour is the best neutral-flavored substitute for soy flour. It is less likely to overpower dishes like soy flour might. However, it is often too dense to use as a stand-alone flour in recipes unless the recipe was designed with okara flour in mind, to begin with. Instead, use a percentage of okara flour with other gluten-free flour. So, for example, to make a pie crust, try 40% chickpea flour, 30% rice flour, and 20% okara flour, plus starches like tapioca for binding.
Best Healthy Substitute for Soy Flour: Chickpea Flour
Nutritionally, soy flour is an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and B vitamins. It also contains isoflavones, compounds known for their potential health benefits, including supporting heart health, bone health, and hormonal balance.
Chickpea flour is the best healthy substitute for soy flour, offering a nutritious and versatile alternative for various recipes. Made from ground chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, chickpea flour is high in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like folate, iron, and magnesium. It’s also naturally gluten-free and packed with slow-digesting complex carbohydrates.
Best High-Fiber Substitute for Soy Flour: Okara Flour
Okara flour is pretty high in fiber! It has 12 grams per ¼ cup compared to soy flour’s 10 grams, so it can make for a significant fiber boost when even just a small percentage is added into bakes. The fiber found in okara flour is both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance, which can help regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and promote a feeling of fullness. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and aids in moving food through the digestive system, preventing constipation and maintaining regular bowel movements.
Best Gluten-Free Alternative to Soy Flour: Lupin Flour
Lupin flour is probably the best alternative to soy flour if you want to stick with gluten-free flour. It has a similar nutrient profile (though lupin flour is surprisingly low carb, more on that soon), and it also is similar in flavor and baking properties to soy flour, though the flavor is a little sweeter.
Best Lower Calorie Substitute for Soy Flour: Lupin Flour
Lupin flour is surprisingly low in calories for a bean-based flour. While soy flour has 140 calories per ¼ cup, lupin flour only has 84 calories. Unsurprisingly, it is becoming popular, particularly for those on low-calorie or carbohydrate diets.
With 10 grams of protein per ¼ cup, it is also close to the level of protein found in soy flour, which is 12 grams per ¼ cup, and both are suitable for those looking to increase the protein content of their bakes.
Best Keto Substitute for Soy Flour: Lupin Flour
Lupin flour is the best keto substitute for soy flour, offering a low-carb, high-protein, and fiber-rich baking alternative. It is not, however, suitable for the paleo and Whole30 diets, as it is a legume.
Best Paleo/Whole30 Substitute for Soy Flour: Pea Flour
Pea flour is a suitable paleo/Whole30 substitute for soy flour made from ground yellow or green split peas. While peas are technically a legume, they are generally considered acceptable on a Paleo or Whole30 diet due to their nutritional profile and lower phytic acid content compared to other legumes. However, if you strictly avoid legumes, you can opt for almond or coconut flour as an alternative paleo/Whole30-friendly substitute.
Pea flour also has quite a strong taste, so be wary of that when baking, as it can be a little overpowering, particularly in sweet dishes.
One of the common disadvantages of soy flour is that many people are allergic to it! Soy allergies or intolerance can cause a digestive upset as a mild response, and soy allergies can have a much more severe reaction. So, if you find yourself feeling a little out of sorts after soy products, try cutting them out to see if it helps.
Many people think that soy raises estrogen and lowers testosterone, though studies and trials really have not shown that to be the case, especially when eaten in moderation. You are more likely to have hormonal issues from consuming meat and dairy than soy.