We’re back with more flour talk! There are so many types of flour available today, like coconut flour, that offer alternatives to traditional wheat flour. If you need help keeping track of them all, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with our complete guide to 50+ types of flours. Whether you need to use a different flour for allergy or dietary reasons or you just want to experiment with something new, there are lots (and lots) of options to choose from.
Another flour alternative that you may not have tried before (or maybe you haven’t realized you’ve tried before, because it sneaks its way into many products): soy flour. So what exactly is it, and how is it different from coconut flour? Which one is ultimately better for baking? Keep sifting through – we’ll answer all these questions and more.
Comparing coconut flour and soy flour
|Substitution ratio vs all-purpose flour
|Coconut (tree nuts)
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)*
|Up to 2 years
|Best for baking…
|Most desserts – especially cakes, cookies, and pie crusts, muffins, and dense breads (especially pumpkin bread!)
|Breads and baked goods like cakes and donuts; also candy, fudge, pancake mix, frozen desserts, and pasta; thickener in sauces and soups
|Non-yeast recipes (think cookies, biscuits, and some breads)
Like coconut flour, soy flour is a gluten-free option for those with celiac disease or dietary restrictions. But while it’s somewhat keto-friendly since it’s lower in carbs than wheat flour, soy flour is not paleo-friendly (soybeans are a legume, which is a paleo diet no-no).
Also similar to coconut flour, the liquid absorbency of soy flour is fairly high, which means that it soaks up the moisture in a recipe and thus you won’t need to use as much of it to replace all-purpose flour. Coconut flour and soy flour tend to have different effects on the final product when you bake with them, which we’ll explain more below. While they can be used to make similar types of desserts, soy flour is differentiated in that it’s also used in items like fudge, candies, and frozen desserts.
Full-fat soy flour vs. defatted soy flour
Before we get into the differences between soy flour and coconut flour, let’s distinguish between the two main types of soy flour that you’re most likely to see on your grocery store shelves: full-fat soy flour and defatted soy flour.
Full-fat soy flour, also called natural soy flour, contains the oils that are naturally present in soybeans – so it’s obviously much higher in fat, and also retains more calories and fiber. This type of soy flour has a nutty flavor to it and a shorter shelf life due to its oil content.
Defatted soy flour, on the other hand, is processed without those natural oils. As a result, it’s more highly concentrated when it comes to protein, and has less fat. Defatted soy flour also has a milder taste, which is why it tends to be more commonly used.
Coconut flour and soy flour: let’s talk ingredients
The main difference between soy flour and coconut flour comes down to their ingredients. Coconut flour derives from a fruit – it’s dried coconut meat that’s been ground up, which makes it both grain-free and gluten-free. Soy flour, on the other hand, is legume-based – it’s made by dehulling and grinding soybeans. While it’s also a gluten-free flour, it’s not a good option for paleo diets because it’s a legume.
Because of the different properties of the foods they’re made from, coconut flour and soy flour differ in nutritional breakdown and health benefits. They’re both dense, gluten-free flours that are highly absorbent, but soy flour has more protein and less fat while coconut flour has more fiber and better overall health benefits. We’ll get more into the nitty gritty below!
Baking with coconut flour vs baking with soy flour
Coconut flour is great for baking desserts like cookies, cakes, and dense breads because there’s a natural sweetness to its taste. When used in the correct amounts (usually a 1:4 ratio to all-purpose flour) and compensated with extra liquid or binders due to its high absorbency, coconut flour can be very versatile – turning baked goods into a healthy and delicious gluten-free, grain-free treat.
Soy flour is typically used in baking for two main reasons: to either increase the protein content of a product, or to extend its shelf life. It can thicken and improve the texture of a dough, adding a tenderness and moisture to baked goods while significantly increasing the amount of protein (as well decreasing the overall amount of gluten). Because of the extra water that’s absorbed, soy flour can keep breads and other baked goods fresher longer, delaying the staling process. One thing to keep in mind is that because of the protein, soy flour browns more easily – so often a lower oven temperature is needed.
Soy flour is often used in addition to wheat flour for the reasons mentioned above – and in even smaller amounts than coconut flour for quick-baking recipes that don’t contain yeast. Soy flour can also be used as an egg replacement in some cases, and outside of baking it can be used as a low-fat alternative for frying food as well as a thickening agent when cooking sauces, soup, gravies, and stews.
Coconut flour + soy flour nutritional facts
|Per 1/4 cup serving
|Soy flour (full-fat)
|Soy flour (defatted)
|Glycemic index score
Nutritionally, these two flours are quite different. They’re both generally high in calories and while they’re lower in carbs than all-purpose flour, neither are necessarily considered a low-carb product. Both are higher in fiber than regular flour, but coconut flour has more than twice the amount of fiber as defatted soy flour.
Meanwhile, soy flour is lower in fat and twice as high in protein as coconut flour. It also has a lower glycemic index score of 25, making it a better choice for diabetics or anyone who needs to watch their blood sugar levels.
So coconut flour is a great source of fiber and soy flour is a great source of protein. What about their other health benefits? Both are rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can improve heart health and reduce cholesterol, prevent certain types of diseases, and assist with weight management. However, while coconut flour is widely believed to be very healthy, soy flour is a bit more controversial – there tends to be conflicting research about whether its benefits outweigh some of its potential risks. Many concerns seem to be unproven by human studies, but it’s important to keep in mind nonetheless – so we recommend consuming soy flour in moderation.
How to store coconut flour and soy flour
Coconut flour has a much longer shelf life than soy flour. When kept in a cool, dry place, coconut flour will stay good for up to two years, so you can keep it in your pantry without a problem.
Soy flour, on the other hand, is best stored refrigerated or frozen. It will typically last for a few months (around 5 max), but even less if it’s natural (or full-fat) soy flour due to the oils that can cause it to go rancid. When kept in the freezer, soy flour can last for a bit longer – usually up to one year.
Coconut flour vs soy flour: the ultimate verdict
Coconut flour and soy flour are actually similar in many ways: they’re both gluten-free flour alternatives with a denser consistency that can be used to add specific desired health benefits to your baked goods. But when it comes down to it, one is better than the other.
The final verdict: coconut flour is ultimately better. Why? Well, it’s true that soy flour poses many benefits like heart and bone health, and it’s a great option for someone with a high-protein diet – but there’s unfortunately too much controversy over its potential health risks (such as thyroid function, certain cancer risks, and digestive issues).
So we recommend sticking with coconut flour as a baking alternative – it’s not only abundant with health benefits but it’s also a versatile, gluten-free, grain-free flour that gives texture and sweetness to baked goods. It’s a sure bet!
Because they have a similar density, coconut flour and soy flour can be substituted for each other in recipes. It’s recommended to sub in twice the amount of soy flour for coconut flour, or ½ the amount of coconut flour for soy flour.
Because coconut flour poses very few health risks and is high in fiber, healthy fats, and many beneficial nutrients, it’s largely considered a safe alternative to wheat flour, and one of the healthiest gluten-free options along with almond flour.
Soy flour is a great source of protein, and it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as iron, potassium, and dietary fiber. Its health benefits include reduced cholesterol and disease prevention. There is debate over potential health risks such as breast cancer and digestive issues, but it’s believed that more research and human studies are needed to prove negative effects.