Coconut flour and almond flour are two of the most popular gluten-free baking alternatives to all-purpose flour. They’re naturally sweet and friendly to lots of different diets.
But if you’re just starting out with a gluten-free flour, which one makes better sense to bake with?
We’ll cover the full details of coconut flour vs almond flour. (Plus give you some healthy baking tips with both.) Let’s dive right in!
Comparing coconut flour vs almond flour
|Coconut flour||Almond flour||All-purpose flour|
|Substitution ratio vs all-purpose flour||1:4||1:1*||N/A|
|Common Allergens||Coconut (tree nuts)||Almond (tree nuts)||Wheat, gluten|
|Liquid absorbency||High||Medium (equivalent to all-purpose flour)||Medium|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)**||Up to 2 years||2-4 months (generally better to store in fridge or freezer)||6-8 months|
|Best for baking…||Most desserts – especially cakes, cookies, and pie crusts, muffins, and dense breads (especially pumpkin bread!)||Cookies, pie crusts, cupcakes, muffins, macarons, and sandwich bread||non-yeast recipes (think cookies, biscuits, and some breads)|
**Of course, your mileage may vary.
As you can see, coconut flour and almond flour have a lot of similarities – both are friendly to a variety of diets, as both are paleo-friendly, keto-friendly, and naturally gluten-free. Coconut flour is also considered one of the best vegan flours out there. Of course, both do contain tree nuts for allergen purposes (although technically coconut is a fruit).
Both are also excellent dessert flours – I particularly like coconut flour pie crusts and almond flour cookies. (If you’re interested in talking more about cookie baking, here’s the best flour for cookies.)
Differences between coconut flour and almond flour
The biggest difference between coconut flour and almond flour is in how they bake. Because of its high fiber content, coconut flour soaks up a lot of water and yields dense and thick bakes, while almond flour is much lighter and more airy – closer to all-purpose flour. As you can see, their substitution ratios reflect this – generally you put in one cup of coconut flour for every four cups of all-purpose flour when substituting (a 1:4 ratio), while almond flour is generally 1:1 vs all-purpose flour.
Other differences include their ingredients, nutritional facts and calories, and their ideal storage options.
Let’s go in-depth on all of these differences, starting with baking.
Baking with coconut flour vs baking with almond flour
As I mentioned, coconut flour yields a much denser bake than almond flour. (This is because coconut flour has FAR more fiber than almond flour … see the nutrition table below). A great example of how this plays out is coconut flour bread vs almond flour bread – while bread made from almond flour is good for sandwiches due to its lightness, coconut flour bread is much thicker and is better for toast, bread for an open-faced sandwich, or as a side dish.
Because both almond and coconut flour are gluten-free, generally you’ll find you’re using extra binders (usually whole eggs or egg whites) to keep everything together. Keep this in mind as you’re doing substitutions! And since almond flour is much higher fat than coconut flour (or all-purpose flour, for that matter), all those oils can turn a bake greasy if not properly balanced out by an experienced baker. For that reason, I usually recommend baking from an almond flour recipe instead of substituting directly, to start, as you get comfortable with almond flour baking.
Ingredients in coconut flour vs almond flour
Good coconut flour and almond flour each have just one ingredient: Coconut flakes for coconut flour, and almond flakes for almond flour.
I find that simplicity ideal, because I don’t like lots of extra nonsense added to my baking ingredients – I don’t want chemicals and preservatives and other stuff. Simple, straightforward, and to the point is best.
If you don’t feel like checking labels, here are the coconut flour and almond flour brands I recommend. (It’s Bob’s Red Mill, of course!) Here’s an in-depth explainer on how I found the best coconut flour to buy.
Coconut flour + almond flour nutritional facts
|Per 1/4 cup serving||Coconut flour||Almond flour||All-purpose flour|
|Carbs||18 g||5 g||23 g|
|Fiber||10 g||3 g||1 g|
|Fat||3 g||15 g||0 g|
|Protein||6 g||6 g||4 g|
|Glycemic index score||45||<1||85|
As you can see, there are some significant differences in nutritional values for coconut flour and almond flour. Both are fairly high protein (about 6 grams per 1/4 cup serving), but there the similarities end. Coconut flour has fewer calories (120 calories vs 170 calories for almond flour) and has far more total carbs (18 grams vs 5 grams for almond flour) and fiber (10 grams vs 3 grams for almond flour). In fact, almond flour is one of the lowest-carb flours and one of the highest calorie flours, while coconut flour is one of the highest-fiber flours. Meanwhile, almond flour has far more fat (15 grams vs 3 grams for coconut flour). Both almond and coconut flour have relatively high amounts of sugar compared to most other flours.
As you can see, although both flours are keto-friendly, almond flour is superior for the keto diet because of its higher fat and lower carb content. And if you’re curious, here’s a great almond flour keto bread recipe.
Also, it’s worth noting that almond flour has a FAR lower glycemic index score (the measure of whether a food will spike your blood sugar) than coconut flour, which generally makes it a more attractive flour if you’re cooking for someone with diabetes or who is otherwise counting their carbs.
Coconut flour vs almond flour storage
Coconut flour is highly shelf-stable. In fact, it can last for a VERY long time in the pantry – usually up to about two years unopened or in a sealed container, although of course your mileage may vary depending on the temperature and moisture in the air.
Because almond flour is made from almond flakes and has all the oils you’d expect from that, it’s not nearly as shelf-stable as coconut flour. Generally, almond flour should be good for 2-4 months unopened on a pantry shelf, which (at least for me, because I don’t bake consistently every week) isn’t enough time. You can lengthen how much time you have to use it by storing almond flour in the fridge or freezer. (I know that’s not ideal because usually fridge and freezer space is hard to come by in my house).
Coconut flour vs almond flour: The ultimate verdict
Ok – we’ve talked through the details. So which one is better?
While each flour is great for different bakes – as I shared above, there are plenty of great desserts and other baked goods incorporating each, I generally think coconut flour is the superior ingredient. Because of its greater shelf stability, somewhat greater versatility, delicious flavor, and the fact that it’s more beginner-friendly, coconut flour is my preferred gluten-free baking flour.
Here are 30 of my favorite coconut flour recipes, from pancakes to pizza crust to cookies to coconut shrimp!
Of course, almond flour is superior in plenty of individual situations – making sandwich bread, keto baking, or baking for someone with diabetes – so it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.
What do YOU think? Sound off in the comments!
I’d say about 4:1 – that is, four cups of almond flour for each cup of coconut flour. Keep in mind, too much almond flour can lead to a greasy bake, so I’d keep some coconut flour in the recipe to soak up those extra liquids.
Almond flour is generally better for keto, because it’s higher in fat and lower in carbs than coconut flour. (But both are still better than all-purpose flour.)
Yes, coconut flour definitely needs a binder. Because it’s naturally gluten-free (and gluten often helps hold bakes together), coconut flour will need binders (eggs, flaxseed, or similar) to compensate.