The forever hard-to-pronounce quinoa (keen-wah) may look like a grain, but it isn’t. It’s a seed known as a pseudo-grain, as you can use it similarly to wheat-based grains. It is a popular alternative in gluten-free dishes and is rich in iron, protein, and fiber.
Coconut is also not a grain, but that we know. It is a more recently popular gluten-free alternative baking flour, and also coconut flour is nutritionally superior to some other flours like all-purpose.
They are super different, though, especially when it comes to flavors. Let’s break it down so you can decide which one you want to bake with.
Comparing coconut flour vs quinoa flour
|Quinoa flour||Coconut flour||All-purpose flour|
|Allergens||Quinoa, saponin||Coconut (tree nuts)||Wheat, gluten|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)||8 months*||Up to 2 years||6-8 months|
|Best for baking||Pancakes, cupcakes, pizza, pies, muffins and crackers.||Most desserts – Especially cakes, cookies, pie crusts, and muffins.||Non-yeast recipes (cookies, biscuits, and some breads)|
* The expiration date of quinoa flour is usually 3-6 months after packaging. However, when stored correctly, it can last 1-2 years.
Differences between quinoa flour and coconut flour
Quinoa can be used for a variety of cooking purposes. It is great for baked goods like pancakes, muffins, pie crusts, and even pizzas. When combined with other flours, it also makes a good sauce thickener and can be used in savory meals. The main difference between it and coconut flour when baking is the taste. Quinoa can taste bitter, and it has quite a strong, savory flavor, whereas coconut is a lot more subtle and sweet. You can read all about this in more in our in-depth flour guide.
Baking with coconut flour vs quinoa flour
Quinoa flour is not as absorbent as coconut flour, even though they are both high. I have found that some quinoa flours are more absorbent than others, so the 1:2 ratio with all-purpose might vary to a 3:4 or even a 1:1 in some cases, depending on the brand you use.
When used in baking, quinoa flour gives baked goods a slightly nutty, savory flavor and a chewy texture. Quinoa flour can be easily used in place of all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour in most recipes, which is why it is very commonly found as an ingredient in bread and pasta in the gluten-free section of supermarkets.
Some palates, mine included, find the taste of quinoa a little bitter. For this reason, I prefer to find toasted quinoa flour, as the toasting takes the bitterness out.
Ingredients in quinoa vs coconut flour
Quinoa flour is made from the edible white seed of the quinoa plant. You can get different colored quinoa, but for flour, usually white is used. This should be reflected in the ingredient label as 100% milled white quinoa seed or something of that nature.
If you can’t find it at the store, you can make your own by blending quinoa seeds in your food processor until they reach a powder-like consistency.
Coconut flour should be made from 100% dried and ground coconut meat. Anything else with additives and fillers, I try to avoid. You can also make your own coconut flour by blending dried coconut flakes in your food processor.
Quinoa flour + coconut flour nutritional facts
|Per ¼ Cup Serving||Quinoa flour||Coconut flour||All-purpose flour|
|Glycemic index score||40||45||85|
As you can see, the nutritional profiles of quinoa and coconut flours are similar, with coconut being far superior in the fiber department. (A key element to its high liquid absorbency.) Quinoa seed is considered to be a high-protein food, and a vegetarian source of complete protein, but it loses some of that when converted to flour.
Quinoa flour vs coconut flour storage
Similar to other flours, both should be stored in airtight containers away from light and heat. Both are best kept in the fridge or freezer, but if you only have space for one, I would put the quinoa in there as I find it slightly more prone to spoilage.
Quinoa flour vs coconut flour: The ultimate verdict
I really like the quinoa flour pasta I can find in the gluten-free section of the supermarket, and if I can get toasted quinoa flour, I like that for making some flatbreads, pizza dough, and crackers, but I prefer coconut overall, and especially in sweet things. If you have whatever it is in your genetics that makes quinoa taste bitter, then it’s hard to get past, and even if you don’t pick up on the bitter taste, it’s honestly then just a little bland. Sorry, quinoa!
For some people, it can be. If you aren’t used to high-fiber alternative grains and flours, then that can cause some digestive discomfort when you transition to them, but quinoa also contains a compound called saponin, which can cause quite a bit of digestive discomfort in a lot of individuals. So, if you are new to any form of quinoa, tread carefully and monitor your digestive reactions.
Quinoa is slightly higher in fiber than white rice, so it is a better option for people who are on a weight management diet, as it takes longer to digest and doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar the same way white rice does.
No, quinoa flour is NOT high glycemic. Its glycemic index score is roughly 40, which puts it about on par with coconut flour (45) and FAR below all-purpose flour (85). If you’re looking for an even lower glycemic index, try almond flour.
No, please don’t just replace flour with coconut flour – it will ruin your bake. You need to substitute 1/4 cup of coconut flour per cup of all-purpose flour to get things right – this is because coconut flour has high liquid absorbency and can dry out your whole bake if you don’t bring it in at a reduced ratio.