5 All Purpose Flour Substitutes & How to Use Them

It can be easy to assume that there is just one type of all-purpose flour that exists, simply because there is a style of flour which literally uses this as its name. But, this isn’t actually the case.

In fact, there are all sorts of different flours that can be used as all-purpose flour, and they all have different names. From Cassava to Coconut flour, there are lots of different all-purpose flours to choose from. 

The tricky thing with all-purpose flour is that it is very difficult to find the correct conversions between the different types. It can also be difficult to know when it is suitable to use which substitutes.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the top 5 all-purpose flour substitutes, and when it is best to use which. So to find out more, keep on reading. 

Coconut Flour

One of the best   flour substitutes is undoubtedly coconut flour. As its name suggests, this flour is produced using coconuts, and it is made from coconuts that have been dried out. This is done by squeezing the juices out of coconut meat, and then drying out what remains.

Once it has been dried in an oven at a low temperature, this coconut meat is then ground down to produce a flour-like consistency. 

You might expect coconut flour to have a strong coconut flavor, but it does not. Just like coconut oil, the flavor of coconut flour dies off as the coconut is transformed into its new consistency.

This means that you can use coconut flour in place of regular all-purpose flour without the flavor affecting whatever it is that you are making. 

How Its Made

We have briefly mentioned how coconut flour is produced, but let’s take a deeper look at how it is made. Like we mentioned, coconut flour is made with leftover coconut meat.

When a coconut is opened, the first thing to be drained from it are the juices. This is mainly coconut milk, and it is harvested first because this is the most important part of the coconut.

Once the milk has been drained, the meat of the coconut is inedible. This is why it is then converted into coconut flour.

The coconut meat is mainly dry after the milk has been drained. But, it is dried even further by being placed in the cooker at a low temperature.

Once it has been baked, the coconut meat will be completely dried, which means that it is ready for grinding. Due to the natural consistency of coconut, when it is ground down, it begins to form a natural flour consistency, even though this isn’t what it was built for.

The main difference between coconut flour, and other types of all-purpose flour, is how dry it is. Due to this, you have to be very careful when using coconut flour in recipes because if you use too much it can easily dry out your food and make it inedible.

So, it is incredibly important that you use the correct amount of coconut flour for the recipe. To work this out, you will need to learn how to substitute coconut flour for regular all-purpose flour. 

How To Substitute It

Like we said, it is very important that you take care when adding coconut flour to your recipe. This is because coconut flour is incredibly dry, and it has the ability to dry out any recipe that it is added to.

Due to this, it is important to think of coconut flour in terms of teaspoons rather than cups. When you are following a recipe, it can be very difficult to ignore the measurements that they suggest. But, this is something that you must do when working with coconut flour. 

So, when using coconut flour as a substitute for, it is important to add a little at a time. Don’t dive in with cups of coconut flour, instead take your time and leave the mixture to sit between each teaspoon that you add.

This is very important because coconut flour takes a little longer to interact with the moisture in the mixture, so if you do not let it do its job, you risk adding too much and drying your recipe out. 

Other than that, working with coconut flour is a piece of cake. So, if you want a simple substitute for all-purpose flour, coconut flour is one of the best options to choose. 

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour, or tapioca starch as it is otherwise known, is another wonderful substitute for all-purpose flour. Tapioca flour is similar to another type of flour that we will be looking at shortly, and that is cassava flour.

This is because tapioca flour is made using the roots of the cassava flour, hence the similarity between these two types of flour.

Traditionally, the cassava plant only lived in the North and North-east of Brazil. But, it is now grown in lots of different areas of the world. You will now find the cassava plant in Asia, Africa, and most of the West Indies.

This is why both cassava and tapioca flour have become so widely popular. But, what else should you know about tapioca flour? Let’s take a look. 

How Its Used

There is one context where you will have heard of tapioca flour before, and might have even tried it. This is if you, or someone that you regularly cook for, is gluten-intolerant. Tapioca flour is regularly used as a substitute for all-purpose flour in gluten-free dishes because this flour is gluten-free.

You might also have seen tapioca flour being used as a substitute for cornstarch because it is also able to thicken sauces and pies. 

Tapioca flour is often used in these dishes because its natural appearance and consistency makes it perfect for it. Tapioca flour is designed to be incredibly fine and very white.

This combined makes it perfect for all the purposes that we mentioned earlier, along with creating a crisp crust and chewy texture. Now, let’s take a look to see if there are any differences between tapioca starch and tapioca flour. 

Starch VS Flour

Some people might tell you that there is a difference between tapioca flour and tapioca starch. But, there actually isn’t. These two names are used interchangeably, and as long as the product has been labelled correctly, there is no difference between the two. The most important thing to ensure is that you pick up tapioca flour, not cassava flour. 

While tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same thing, cassava flour and tapioca flour definitely are not. So, it is very important that you double-check that you have picked up tapioca flour, and not cassava flour. As long as the name states ‘tapioca’, then it will be tapioca flour that you are using. 

How To Substitute It

Thankfully, substituting all-purpose flour for tapioca flour is a lot easier than coconut flour. This is because we can give you clear directions on how to substitute it. Unlike coconut flour, the ratio at which you should substitute tapioca flour is clear. So, when you want to substitute it, follow these instructions very carefully.

If you are using tapioca flour as a substitute for cornstarch, then you should swap it out of the recipe at a ratio of 1:2. This allows the tapioca flour to do its job in place of the cornstarch.

Alternatively, if you are using tapioca flour as a substitute to all-purpose flour, then simply substitute it at a ratio of 1:1. So, put the same amount of tapioca flour into the dish that you would if you were using regular all-purpose flour.

Cassava Flour

We have just briefly mentioned cassava flour, so let’s take a further look at this substitute for all-purpose flour. When it comes to all-purpose flour substitutes, cassava flour is arguably the best. Like we said earlier, cassava flour comes from the same plant as tapioca flour, and that is the cassava plant. 

But, the difference between cassava flour and tapioca flour is the area of the plant that it comes from.

Like we said earlier, tapioca flour is made from the roots of the cassava plant, but cassava flour is made from the cassava plant itself. This is why most people think that cassava flour is the superior option between these two. But, let’s compare the two to see the differences. 

Cassava VS Tapioca Flour

As we have said, the main similarity between cassava and tapioca flour is that both of them are made from the cassava plant. Both cassava and tapioca flour are made using the root of the cassava plant, but they use the roots in different ways.

In tapioca flour, the starch is extracted from the cassava root through washing and pulping. This starch is then used to make tapioca flour. But, in cassava flour, the entire root is used. This is why cassava flour has a lot more fiber in it. 

There are some concerns about the safety of using the cassava plant, as it can be toxic. But this is only true when the plant is raw. As you cook flour when baking, this makes it perfectly safe to eat.

So, you haven’t got to worry about any harm coming to you from eating this. As long as the cassava plant is cooked, then it will not put you at risk. 

Important Things To Know

Before we go any further, we should take a look at the nutrition that you can get from cassava flour. As you would expect, cassava flour is high in carbohydrates, this is because it is a starchy plant.

When we say high in carbohydrates, we really mean high in carbohydrates because it actually contains more than 100 grams of carbs. 

It is for this reason that cassava flour is so popular. By using this, you will get double the amount of carbohydrates that you would get from sweet potato. This is why a lot of people rely on cassava, and choose to use it in their baking.

Now, let’s take a look at how to substitute cassava flour for all purpose flour, and more importantly, why it is the best. 

How To Substitute It

As we have said, cassava flour is often seen as the perfect substitute for all purpose flour. This is mainly because of how good it works as a substitute.

Other flours try to compare to this, but they simply just can’t compete. This is because cassava flour is nut-free, grain-free, gluten-free, and it also lacks a strong flavor, so when you use it, it will not affect the flavor of whatever you are baking. 

As well as this, it is also very soft and powdery, so it is the perfect consistency and texture for an all purpose flour substitute. Due to this, you can easily substitute all purpose flour with cassava flour in any recipe, and this is so simple because it can be replaced at a ratio of 1:1.

So, if you want to use cassava flour instead of all purpose flour, simply follow the measurements on the recipe, but use cassava flour instead. 

Arrowroot Flour

Alternatively, if you want another starchy flour, then arrowroot flour might be the best choice for you. This flour is very starchy, and it is also gluten-free, so it is very common for this to be used when baking.

Despite its name, commercial arrowroot flour is not always made using the arrowroot plant. This is how it was originally made, but it is now sometimes made with the root of the cassava or yucca plant. 

The main advantage of arrowroot flour, over some of the other substitutes that we have looked at, is that it is low in calories. Even the healthy options that we looked at earlier are high in calories, which is why arrowroot flour stands out from the rest.

Of the flours that we have looked at so far, arrowroot flour is most closely related to tapioca flour. This is because it is often used as a thickening agent in recipes.

So, theoretically, you could also substitute arrowroot flour for cornstarch if you wanted to. But, how do you substitute it? Let’s take a look. 

How To Substitute It

Just like the last two alternatives that we have looked at, arrowroot flour is also relatively easy to use as a substitute. This is because this flour is very versatile.

Like we said earlier, this flour can be used to substitute all purpose flour, and it can also be used to substitute cornstarch. This is possible because the flour acts as a thickening agent when combined with liquid. 

Before you use arrowroot flour, you will need to make it into something known as a ‘slurry’. To do this, you have to add your arrowroot flour to room temperature water at a ratio of 2:1.

Stir this together, and you will have your starchy water, which can then be added to your recipe as a substitute. As with the last two substitutes we have looked at, substitute your arrowroot flour at a ratio of 1:1. 

Almond Flour

Finally, let’s wrap up this complete guide with almond flour. When it comes to nut alternatives, a lot of people are wary because this is one of the most common allergies in the world. But, almonds aren’t actually a nut.

A lot of people believe that they are, but in reality they are not. Almonds are part of the drupe family, and they are actually closer related to the peach than they are to a nut. 

Another common mistake that people make when it comes to almond flour is confusing them with almond meal. These are two very different things, and this is mainly because of the way that the almonds are prepared before they are ground.

Almond flour is made with almonds that have had their skin and shells completely removed. Due to this, almond flour has an incredibly soft finish. 

Whereas, almond meal is made by grounding almonds that still have their shells connected. Due to this, almond meal has a lumpier consistency because there will be chunks of shell within it.

If you can only get almond meal, it is possible to use this as a substitute. But, before you do, you will have to work your way through the bag of almond meal, removing all the shells. This is why it is best to just buy almond flour if you can. 

How To Substitute It

Unfortunately, we are wrapping up this list with a substitute that isn’t particularly easy to swap out. Almond flour isn’t the perfect substitute because it has a fairly high water content, so you have to use more of it than you would a regular flour.

To combat this, some people mix almond flour with one of the other substitutes that we have looked at to create a drier consistency. 

But, if you are determined to just use almond flour, then this will work. To do this, you will have to simply use more flour. The best way to do this is by adding the flour by eye. Add the amount that your recipe tells you, then if it still looks wet, simply add some more until it looks right. 


In short, this has been a complete guide to the 5 best all-purpose flour substitutes, and how to use them. By far, the best substitute is cassava flour. But, all of these flours work excellently as long as they are substituted correctly. To ensure this, follow the instructions that we have given you above.