Chances are you already know a thing or two about coconut flour – like the fact that it’s gluten-free or that it’s a great flour substitute for making healthy desserts. But fava bean flour? That one might be a little new…
That’s why we’re here! We’ll break down all the details about both coconut flour and fava bean flour so you can get familiar with the nitty gritty. And if you’re interested in more types of flour, there’s plenty more (over 50!) where those came from.
Here’s everything you need to know about these flour alternatives so you can learn how to use them and how they might benefit you.
Comparing coconut flour and fava bean flour
|Coconut flour||Fava bean flour||All-purpose flour|
|Substitution ratio vs all-purpose flour||1:4||1:4||N/A|
|Allergens||Coconut (tree nuts)||Fava beans (rare)||Wheat, gluten|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)||Up to 2 years||6 months||6-8 months|
|Best for baking…||Most desserts – especially cakes, cookies, and pie crusts, muffins, and dense breads (especially pumpkin bread!)||Breads, pizzas, pasta, pancakes, cookies, cakes, thickener in soups and stews||Non-yeast recipes (think cookies, biscuits, and some breads)|
Coconut flour and fava bean flour (also called faba bean flour or broad bean flour) have a surprising amount of similarities overall. The main difference between the two is that fava bean flour is made from legumes, and thus isn’t suitable for a paleo diet – and fava bean flour has a shorter shelf life.
Otherwise, these two flour alternatives fit similar diets (gluten-free and, in small doses, keto) and can be used to make similar recipes like breads, cookies, and cakes – although fava bean flour is used in more savory recipes than coconut flour, which tends to work best in desserts and baked goods. Because they both have high liquid absorbency, the two flours have the same recommended substitution ratio: one cup subbed in for every four cups of all-purpose flour. However, while coconut flour can be used on its own in a lot of recipes, fava bean flour is most often combined with other flours (more on that later).
What are the ingredients in coconut flour and fava bean flour?
Fava bean flour is exactly what you’re thinking: it’s made from grinding split and dried raw fava bean pods (with those tough spines removed). Fava beans, which are also known as broad beans, are large, meaty beans that are high in protein; just like the beans themselves, their flour has a smooth and creamy texture with a mild, savory flavor.
Where fava bean flour is more savory, coconut flour is more sweet. That’s because it’s made from ground, dried coconut meat – so it brings some of that natural coconutty sweetness with it. Because fava bean flour comes from a legume and coconut flour comes from a fruit, their ingredients offer different health benefits based on their nutritional profiles.
Baking with coconut flour vs baking with fava bean flour
Since coconut flour is naturally sweet, it tends to be used most often to bake healthier versions of desserts and baked goods, like this decadent pumpkin coffee cake or this delicious banana bread. Because it’s dense by nature and highly absorbent, it often needs to be compensated with extra binders or liquids in the recipe, so it’s important to get the ratios right (we suggest using recipes that are intended specifically for coconut flour). However, it can definitely act as a grain-free, gluten-free alternative that can be substituted for all-purpose flour to give your baked goods some more nutritional value.
Fava bean flour is a bit different in terms of usage. While it can be used to make desserts like coconut flour, it’s also used in many savory recipes – like different types of breads, pizza doughs, pastas, and soups. It’s possible to use this flour on its own, but not common; most recipes you’ll find include a blend of fava bean flour and other flours (most often, garbanzo bean or chickpea flour). That’s because it’s usually used as a “flour improver” to help bread rise, or simply to enhance a product’s protein content. It’s usually best mixed with other flours at a 25% ratio, and adds a beany, almost nutty element to both sweet and savory items.
Coconut flour + fava bean flour nutritional facts
|Per 1/4 cup serving||Coconut flour||Fava bean flour||All-purpose flour|
|Carbs||18 g||18 g||23 g|
|Fiber||10 g||8 g||1 g|
|Fat||3 g||0 g||0 g|
|Protein||6 g||8 g||4 g|
|Glycemic index score||45||Likely pretty low*||85|
In terms of nutritional facts, coconut flour and fava bean flour again prove to be very similar. Although fava bean flour is a lower calorie, no-fat option, the carb, protein, and fiber content are all very comparable between the two. With the same amount of carbs per serving, coconut flour is slightly higher in fiber while fava bean flour is slightly higher in protein. Both flours are also likely much lower than all-purpose flour in terms of their glycemic index scores.
Coconut flour and fava bean flour offer healthier alternatives to wheat or all-purpose flour, as they’re both high in fiber and protein and they’re nutrient-packed – but they come with slightly different health benefits. Coconut flour is high in potassium and iron, while fava bean flour is high in folate, copper, and manganese. Some benefits of coconut flour include a reduced risk of heart disease, digestive health support, and blood sugar control. Some of fava bean flour’s main benefits: it can help decrease high blood pressure, aid bone health, and boost immunity.
How to store coconut flour and fava bean flour
Coconut flour has a longer shelf life than fava bean flour. When stored correctly – in a cool, dry, place that’s kept away from dampness or humidity – coconut flour can last up to two years on the pantry shelf.
It’s a bit harder to determine the true shelf life of fava bean flour, but a good rule of thumb is to not exceed six months in the pantry since bean flour tends to turn rancid more quickly. To extend the shelf life of fava bean flour, we recommend storing it in the fridge or freezer, which should buy you another six months to a year.
Coconut flour vs fava bean flour: the final summary
Although coconut flour and fava bean flour are derived from very different ingredients – sweet, dense coconut vs earthy, meaty bean pods – these two gluten-free flour alternatives have a lot in common.
Both flours are high in fiber and protein with low glycemic index scores. They’ve got slightly different but equally beneficial nutritional value; coconut flour is rich in potassium and iron while fava bean flour is rich in manganese, copper, and folate. When used in baking, both are very versatile and can be used in a plethora of sweet and savory recipes (coconut flour leaning more sweet, and fava bean flour leaning more savory).
In summary, both coconut flour (like our favorites) and fava bean flour are excellent gluten-free, healthy alternatives to all-purpose flour – it just depends what you’re looking for, but it’s hard to go wrong!
Fava bean flour, or broad bean flour, can be used to make a wide array of both sweet and savory dishes – from products like breads, pastas, and pizza crusts to sweets like pancakes, cookies, and cakes. It can also be used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews.
While fava bean flour has a lot in common with coconut flour, the most similar flour and often the best substitute for coconut flour is almond flour. Just keep in mind that it’s not as absorbent as coconut flour, so the recipe may need to be altered.
Garbanzo flour and chickpea flour are different names for the same thing – flour made from ground garbanzo beans. While fava flour is similar in that it’s also a bean flour, it’s specifically made from ground fava beans (or broad beans). Both are creamy in texture and mild in taste, and the two are often blended together into one flour.