Thinking about ditching the all-purpose flour for coconut flour, but wondering if it really is healthier? This might be just what you’re looking for. These two flours are vastly different when it comes to baking, and it’s important to know the ins and outs before deciding which one you want to stick with.
But before we get into any comparisons, let’s start by defining our combatants. All-purpose flour is exactly what it sounds like—a general-use flour for just about any type of baking or cooking need. However, coconut flour is something quite different. It is made from dried, ground coconut meat, has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor, and is wheat and gluten-free.
|Coconut Flour||All-Purpose Flour|
|Allergens||Coconut (tree nuts)||Wheat, gluten|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/unsealed)||Up to 2 years||6-8 months|
|Best for baking||Cakes, cookies, pie crusts, muffins, and dense breads (especially pumpkin bread!)||non-yeast recipes (cookies, biscuits, some breads)|
Differences between coconut flour and all-purpose flour
As you can see, coconut flour and all-purpose flour don’t have a lot of similarities aside from being pretty good in cookies.
Coconut flour is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent alternative for those with gluten sensitivities or allergies, while all-purpose is not.
Because they work differently, if you want to substitute one for the other in recipes, it’s best not just to swap them out one for one – you’ll likely end up needing much less of the coconut flour. For these reasons, it’s always best to stick with recipes specifically written for either type rather than trying too hard to mix and match ingredients – unless you already have lots of experience doing so! For alternatives to both flours, check out this in-depth explainer on all the major flours.
Baking with coconut flour vs baking with all-purpose flour
When it comes to taste, there’s no denying that the flavor of coconut shines through in anything using coconut flour. The nutty sweetness provides a unique flavor profile that can stand out in dishes like cakes and cookies – though many find the taste overpowering at times. All-purpose flour doesn’t have this same effect since it has so little flavor on its own.
Baking with coconut flour can take some getting used to, as it absorbs moisture faster, creating more density and requiring binding agents like eggs to get the product to hold together. All-purpose flours may be easier to work with but tend to produce less flavorful baked goods overall; they often lack the nutty sweetness associated with coconut products.
As a general rule, and any food allergies or eating rules aside, If you’re after something light and fluffy with a subtle sweetness, then go for all-purpose flours—they’ll give you those traditional baking results without too much fuss. If you want something dense yet flavorful with a hint of nuttiness, then reach for the coconut; just make sure you use plenty of binding agents, so your goodies don’t fall apart in the oven! And remember, you can use coconut flour in all kinds of recipes.
Ingredients in coconut flour vs all-purpose flour
Good coconut flour has just one ingredient: Coconut flakes. White all-purpose flour is made from hard and soft wheat, and is also often bleached (gross) and fortified with B vitamins.
When buying either, check the label to ensure you get something as close as possible to 100% of the main ingredient. We’ve done the hard work for you and already identified the best coconut flour you can buy.
Coconut flour + all-purpose flour nutritional facts
|Per 1/4 serving||Coconut flour||All-purpose flour|
When it comes to nutrition, there are some clear differences between coconut flour and all-purpose flour. Coconut flour generally contains more dietary fiber than all-purpose flour and fewer net carbs per serving. Additionally, it has more protein than all-purpose flour and higher levels of healthy fats like lauric acid, which can help keep you feeling full for longer periods.
Coconut flour also has a much lower glycemic index (GI) than all-purpose, so it is a much better option for balancing blood sugar and avoiding spikes. (If you’re looking for an even lower glycemic index, try almond flour.)
Coconut flour vs all-purpose flour storage
If you’re storing coconut flour, it should be kept in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. Its natural oils can go rancid when exposed to the elements, so it’s important to keep it at room temperature or cooler. It can also be stored in the fridge or freezer if you don’t plan on using it right away.
All-purpose flour fares better at room temperature since its lower fat content makes it less prone to spoilage. Still, we recommend keeping it sealed up as much as possible too. As a bonus tip, transferring all-purpose flour into an airtight glass jar can help keep out moisture and pesky critters searching for snacks.
That said, unopened coconut flour typically has a longer shelf life than all-purpose flour, 2 years for the former as compared to 6-8 months for the latter.
Coconut flour vs all-purpose flour: The ultimate verdict
I personally prefer coconut flour any day. I can’t go past the density and flavor it gives my baked goods, and all the nutritional benefits and uses you can get out of coconut flour. Sure, it takes some practice to get it to bind and bake right, especially once you begin substituting it in place of wheat flour, but I think it is worth it. If you are looking for ease and convenience and don’t have any wheat or gluten allergies or sensitivities, then there is nothing wrong with a good quality all-purpose.
Yes, but avoid making the newbie mistake of substituting it one to one. You only need about a quarter of the flour you would typically use with all-purpose flour, and you will need to add extra eggs for texture and binding.
No, coconut flour does not rise. You have to get creative to get it to lift. You could try beating the eggs to give your batter more volume, which will help.
You can, and it’s easy peasy. Simply add 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of fine salt for every cup of all-purpose flour.