Coconut flour and peanut flour are just two types of flours on a long list of what’s available out there today. There’s no shortage of gluten-free, grain-free flours to use as alternatives to wheat or all-purpose flour that fit many different lifestyles and dietary needs. Each flour offers its own benefits and unique qualities – the trick is figuring out what works best for you!
So when it comes to coconut flour and peanut flour, how are they different? How are they typically used in baking, and which is the better option? If you’re wondering about the answers to these questions, you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking it down for you so we can come to a final verdict: it’s time for coconut flour and peanut flour to face off.
Comparing coconut flour and peanut flour
|Coconut flour||Peanut flour||All-purpose flour|
|Substitution ratio vs all-purpose flour||1:4||1:1||N/A|
|Allergens||Coconut (tree nuts)||Peanuts||Wheat, gluten|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)**||Up to 2 years||Up to 1 year||6-8 months|
|Best for baking…||Most desserts – especially cakes, cookies, and pie crusts, muffins, and dense breads (especially pumpkin bread!)||Breads, pastries, savory dishes, thickening agent in soups and stews, cakes, muffins, cookies||Non-yeast recipes (think cookies, biscuits, and some breads)|
Both coconut flour and peanut flour are great alternatives to wheat flour that are very amenable to different diets. Since both are gluten-free, grain-free, and lower in carbs, they’re solid options for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, as well as those following keto or paleo diets.
Both types of flour are extremely versatile in the kitchen; coconut flour is generally used to make sweeter baked goods like cakes, muffins, and dense breads, and peanut flour can produce similar items like cakes, pastries, and cookies (but can also be used in more savory dishes due to its nuttiness).
Because coconut flour is highly fibrous, it’s very liquid-absorbent, so the ratio to replace all-purpose flour is lower (1:4 coconut flour to regular flour) to account for the flour’s density. Peanut flour, on the other hand, while it tends to be slightly more absorbent than all-purpose flour, can usually be replaced with a 1:1 ratio for flour in most recipes.
What are the major differences between coconut flour and peanut flour?
One of the biggest (and most obvious) differences between these two flours is the main ingredients they derive from. Coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat that’s been ground into a powder. Peanut flour is (you guessed it) made from peanuts – typically dry, lightly roasted peanuts that have been partially defatted. That means some of the fat has been removed by pressing the oil out before the peanuts are roasted and ground up; this creates a product that’s lower in fat and higher in protein.
Since coconut flour comes from a fruit and peanut flour comes from a nut, the two flours have other foundational differences. When it comes to taste, coconut flour has a naturally sweet flavor while peanut flour has a stronger, richer flavor and a nutty profile. When it comes to texture, coconut flour is very dense and tends to weigh baked goods down – peanut flour, however, is much lighter and can add an airiness to baked goods. Because of these differing characteristics, the two flours are used differently in baking. How, exactly? That’s up next.
Baking with coconut flour vs baking with peanut flour
As we discussed, these two flour alternatives are both very versatile and can be used to make a wide variety of items right at home in your kitchen. But because they each come with a distinct flavor profile – coconut flour is sweet and peanut flour has that strong, nutty taste – you’ll want to make sure those flavors go well with whatever you’re baking. So coconut flour is typically used in a lot of desserts that benefit from its sweetness and density, like homemade donuts or cookies; peanut flour can veer more savory, and in sweets it’s best used with flavors that complement it like banana or chocolate.
When it comes to substituting these flours into recipes, coconut flour is definitely a bit more complicated. Because it’s high in fiber, coconut flour is dense and highly absorbent – which means only a small amount is needed (about 25% of the amount of all-purpose flour called for) to compensate for the amount of liquid needed to balance it out. It can be a little tricky to get the ratio right and ensure that the final product isn’t too dry or crumbly, so I generally recommend sticking to recipes made specifically for coconut flour. Aside from its sweetness, coconut flour is a great way to add fiber to baked goods and produce a healthier dessert that still tastes delicious. (As always, mileage varies based on the quality of your coconut flour.)
Peanut flour is easier to use in baking, either in its own recipes or substituted for regular flour. That’s because it’s lighter and, although slightly more absorbent than all-purpose flour, more similar in texture – so you can typically replace it at a 1:1 ratio. As you’ve seen, this flour can be used in a wide variety of ways, from thickening soups to enhancing the flavor of savory recipes to adding protein to baked goods. Pro tip: you can also mix peanut flour with a liquid like water or milk to make a lower-fat, no-sugar/no-added-sugar peanut butter alternative.
Coconut flour + peanut flour nutritional facts
|Per 1/4 cup serving||Coconut flour||Peanut flour||All-purpose flour|
|Carbs||18 g||11 g||23 g|
|Fiber||10 g||5 g||1 g|
|Fat||3 g||4 g||0 g|
|Protein||6 g||14 g||4 g|
|Glycemic index score||45||15||85|
Coconut flour and peanut flour are fairly comparable in terms of calories and overall fat, but they differ widely in the rest of their nutritional makeup. Coconut flour has twice the amount of fiber as peanut flour (and 10x that of all-purpose) while peanut flour has more than twice the amount of protein as coconut flour (and even more than that when compared to all-purpose flour).
As a low carb food, peanut flour is very keto-friendly, and it’s also the best option of the three flours for diabetics, since it has a low glycemic index and hence doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike much. It’s an extremely high-protein flour (some basically consider it a natural protein powder), and also a great source of zinc, potassium, magnesium, and folate.
Best ways to store coconut flour and peanut flour
Coconut flour will generally keep longer than peanut flour (around two years vs. one year on the pantry shelf). It’s important to store both flours in a cool, dry location and make sure they’re tightly sealed.
Because peanut flour is made from nuts and has some natural oil, it’s more likely to turn rancid more quickly. To keep it at its freshest, you can always store it in the refrigerator/freezer which will help lengthen its shelf life.
Coconut flour vs peanut flour: the ultimate verdict
Honestly, this face-off is a tricky one – each of these flour alternatives offers its own benefits, both practically and nutritionally, and there aren’t many downsides to either one. So the final verdict on these two is a rare tie; there’s not really a wrong option, which means it just comes down to which is better for you.
If you want a gluten-free, grain-free flour alternative that tastes delicious and adds loads of nutrition to baked goods and desserts, coconut flour is for you. You’ll get all of the benefits of this high-fiber flour while savoring the sweet, coconutty flavor and the heartiness it adds to your favorite treats.
If you’re looking for a flour that’s lower in carbs and extremely high in protein, or if you’re concerned about blood sugar levels, go with peanut flour – as long as you like the strong, nutty taste of peanuts! You can sub this gluten-free, grain-free alternative at a 1:1 ratio for all-purpose flour (and many others) to make a wide array of both sweet and savory items to enjoy.
You can substitute coconut flour for peanut flour, but the amount will be very different – you’ll need to keep in mind that coconut flour is much more absorbent, so it needs more liquid in the recipe to compensate. It may take some trial and error, but a good place to start is to replace 25% of the peanut flour in your recipe with coconut flour.
No, these are two slightly different products. Peanut flour is simply ground up peanuts that have been defatted and roasted, so peanuts are the sole ingredient. Peanut powder uses peanut flour as its base, but typically adds other ingredients to the mix like salt and sugar.
It’s hard to determine the healthiest flour available because it depends on what health benefits you’re looking for AND the science is both evolving and highly debated. That said, as an alternative to all-purpose flour, coconut flour has the benefits of being gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and keto-friendly. Coconut flour also has more protein, more fat, and fewer net carbs (it’s very high in fiber), resulting in a lower glycemic index (45 vs. 85) for those watching their blood sugar.