Some people swear by the sweet taste of coconut flour, while others can’t get enough of the nuttiness of graham flour – not to be confused with gram flour, the Indian chickpea flour.
Today we’re talking about what makes those delicious graham crackers, but that’s not all graham flour is good for!
We’ll start off by comparing the similarities and differences between coconut flour vs graham flour – and find out what each one has to offer!
Comparing coconut flour vs graham flour
|Coconut flour||Graham flour||All-purpose flour|
|Allergens||Coconut (tree nuts)||Wheat, gluten||Wheat, gluten|
|Liquid absorbency||High||Medium (slightly higher than all-purpose)||Medium|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)||Up to 2 years||1-6 months||6-8 months|
|Best for baking||Most desserts – especially cakes, cookies, and pie crusts, muffins, and dense breads.||Graham crackers, pie crusts, cheesecake crust, muffins, and bread.||Non-yeast recipes (think cookies, biscuits, and some breads)|
Coconut flour and graham flour are both healthy alternative flours. In addition to their abundant fiber and protein content, they both have a higher nutritional value when compared to other flours like all-purpose flour.
But just one look at them and you know they couldn’t be more different — graham flour looks like a pile of sandy pebbles and coconut flour resembles a soft, crumbly pile of ground coconut.
In fact, that’s precisely what coconut flour is. Coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat, whereas graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour made from the entire wheat berry, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. It is typically stone-ground on traditional millstones which helps to maintain its nutritional value.
Differences between coconut flour and graham flour
Perhaps the biggest difference between using coconut flour and graham flour is their absorbency. Coconut flour is very absorbent and requires more liquid when baking. On the other hand, because of its coarser texture, graham flour does not require as much liquid.
Both come with different allergens. Graham flour contains gluten in the wheat and is high in carbs, so it’s not gluten-free, keto-friendly, or paleo-friendly. Coconut flour contains coconut but not gluten, making it perfect for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease – so it’s great for paleo and gluten-free diets. It’s also high in fiber and low in carbs, making it the better option for low-carb keto or paleo bakes. If you’re interested, here’s a great coconut flour keto graham cracker recipe.
Baking with coconut flour vs baking with graham flour
Coconut flour definitely beats out graham when creating moist treats. Because it absorbs more liquid than graham flour does, it will tend to deliver thick and dense bakes…but I’ve found that subtle coconut flavor is great for most desserts.
Graham flour, on the other hand, will give you a touch of that classic honey-sweetness but is still significantly less moisture-heavy than coconut flour.
Graham flour can easily be used as a replacement for other wheat flour. However, it’s much coarser than the fine grind of standard whole wheat flour, resulting in more rustic baked goods with nutty flavors from the husks found in whole-grain wheat grains.
Ingredients in coconut flour vs graham flour
Coconut flour typically consists of one ingredient: coconut. Avoid additives, stabilizers, and extra chemicals – good-quality coconut flour shouldn’t require any of them – and of course I always recommend buying organic. If reading through all the labels isn’t your idea of a good time, we’ve done the hard work for you – here are the best coconut flour brands you can buy.
In addition to whole wheat flour, graham flour may include other ingredients such as rye, ascorbic acid (preservative), or amylase (food enzyme) to help keep it fresh. This depends on the manufacturer or individual product.
Coconut flour + graham flour nutritional facts
|Per 1/4 cup serving||Coconut flour||Graham flour||All-purpose flour|
|Carbs||18 g||23 g||23 g|
|Fiber||10 g||4 g||1 g|
|Fat||3 g||0.5 g||0 g|
|Protein||6 g||4 g||4 g|
|Glycemic index score||45||30-45||85|
As you can see, coconut flour has more calories than graham flour. It’s also higher in fiber, fat, and protein than graham flour. Coconut flour is nutritionally dense – and versatile!
Of course, because graham flour is made from whole grain instead of refined wheat flour, you’re getting extra fiber, vitamins, and minerals when you use it. So don’t let the high carbs fool you – those added nutrients help give graham flour its low glycemic index so you don’t have to worry as much about blood sugar spikes vs all-purpose flour. Of course, if you’re trying for REALLY low glycemic index, almond flour is a great option.
(And if you want more details…we’ve built out an in-depth explainer on every major type of flour.)
Coconut flour vs graham flour storage
If you’re trying to choose between coconut flour and graham flour for a recipe, you might want to take into account their storage needs.
Coconut flour will last months on months if stored in a cool and dry place (up to 2 years). Graham flour doesn’t keep as well and can spoil rapidly if left out. The shelf life of graham flour is about 1 month at room temperature or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Coconut flour vs graham flour: The ultimate verdict
The answer depends on you!
If you don’t bake that often or are looking for a long-term, reliable baking flour, coconut flour might just be the perfect fit. It’s also a great choice if you’re trying to up your fiber intake or want something that’s keto-friendly or gluten-free.
On the other hand, graham flour provides a heartier flavor and can be used in recipes that call for wheat flour without major adjustments.
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with coconut flour as long as you’re following a recipe that uses it. Which one do you prefer?
A substitute for graham flour is whole wheat flour, oat flour, almond meal, or a combination of any of these flours. Whole wheat flour will give the closest texture because it contains gluten like graham flour. Oat and almond meals are gluten-free options that will produce different textures than graham flour.
Almond flour is the most similar to coconut flour in terms of its texture and flavor. Both are gluten-free, have a slightly sweet and nutty taste, and are high in fiber and protein. Of course, there are still sizeable differences – almond flour is made from almonds, so it’s oily – meaning it can lead to a greasy bake if not carefully balanced with other flours.
No, you cannot simply replace wheat flour with coconut flour as coconut flour absorbs more liquid and should be used sparingly. For best results, use about 1/3 to 1/4 of the amount of coconut flour in a recipe that calls for regular flour. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose flour, you would use only ¼ cup of coconut flour instead.