Brown rice flour is a healthy ingredient to be used in baking, frying or thickening sauces. However, there are times when you need to substitute this gluten-free flour with something else.
So what is the best brown rice flour substitute? Luckily, there are many gluten-free alternatives to brown rice flour. You can use sorghum flour for baking and cornstarch for thickening sauces and gravies. Brown rice flour is also used for frying food and in this case, it can be substituted by potato starch and cornstarch for the ultimate crispy coating.
Go on reading to learn everything about brown rice flour, from the best alternatives to how to make it at home if you don’t want to substitute this nutritious flour with anything else.
What Is Brown Rice Flour and How Is It Used?
Brown rice flour is popular as a gluten-free alternative for wheat flour. It is a stone-ground flour made of whole-grain brown rice.
In addition to being gluten-free, brown rice flour has a better nutritional value compared to wheat flour. It is rich in fiber, vitamin B, iron, and γ-Oryzanol. The latter represents compound lipids that comes from the bran of brown rice. γ-Oryzanol is said to have many health benefits, including decreasing cholesterol levels.
Brown rice has a slightly nutty flavor that distinguishes it from other flours and starches that have no distinct taste.
As for the color, brown rice flour has a creamy white color as a result of being milled with the rice bran on. It is very easy to distinguish from regular rice flour as the latter has a paperwhite color to it.
When it comes to its uses, brown rice is quite multipurpose. It can be used for:
- Thickening gravies and sauces
You can substitute other types of flours with brown rice flour and vice versa. You can also blend a certain amount of brown rice flour with other flour varieties for your desired flour consistency and outcome.
Are Brown Rice Flour and White Rice Flour Interchangeable?
As both are rice flour, one may think that brown rice flour and regular white rice flour can be used interchangeably in the same amount.
While you can substitute brown rice flour with the white rice variety, everything depends on what you are making.
Firstly, the taste differs. Brown rice flour has a nutty taste as opposed to white rice flour which has a very mild flavor.
Secondly, the two flours differ in texture. Brown rice flour is denser while the other one is much lighter.
If you want to use white rice flour instead of brown rice flour in a baking recipe, you will need to add more of the white flour as brown rice flour is thicker and takes more liquid content to reach the desired consistency for baking.
Substitutes for Brown Rice Flour for Baking
Brown rice flour is widely used in baking. If you are using this type of flour in baked goods for its gluten-free property, you might want to substitute it with alternatives that are also gluten-free.
Gluten-free substitutes for brown rice flour in baking include:
- Almond flour
- Amaranth flour
- Coconut flour
- Arrowroot flour
- Oat flour (certified to be gluten-free)
- Tapioca flour, etc.
The proportions for swapping brown rice flour with any of these gluten-free alternatives are 1:1.
The Best Substitute for Brown Rice Flour for Baking
Sorghum flour is the best alternative to the brown rice flour and there is more than one reason for it.
First and foremost, sorghum flour is also gluten-free. Secondly, there are no difficulties with proportions. You will need to use as much sorghum flower as you would use brown rice flour.
Why Sorghum Flour is Good for Baking
There are many benefits to using sorghum flour in baking. It makes a good alternative not only for brown rice flour but also for wheat flour that is not gluten-free.
In fact, many people state that sorghum flour and wheat flour taste similar. So, if you have ever wanted to make your wheat flour recipes gluten-free, using sorghum flour is a good way to do so.
- Improved texture. Sorghum flour contains a sufficient amount of protein and fiber to give baked goods enough stability to hold their structure. This flour is good for baking muffins or bread.
- Lots of nutrients. It is not an easy task to find a flour that will provide your body with nutrients. Sorghum flour is rich in antioxidants. It has good properties to decrease high cholesterol levels and diminish the risks of heart problems and diabetes.
Sorghum flour also contains minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium), vitamin B3 and is a source of fiber.
- Easy to find in stores. Unlike brown rice flour that you can make at home if you set your mind to it, sorghum flour is bought from stores.
If you are going to substitute something as easy as brown rice flour with another flour, it should at least be easy to find in stores. Luckily, sorghum flour is a quite popular gluten-free flour and most stores carry it. I recommend this brand.
Substitutes for Brown Rice Flour for Frying
There are a number of substitutes for brown rice flour when it comes to frying. The key point to pay attention to is that you need to find an alternative that is as light as brown rice flour coating.
When deep-frying food coated in rice flour, the latter does not absorb too much oil, which results in fewer calories in the final product.
When choosing a substitute for the brown rice flour coating for frying, there are two things to keep in mind.
- The substitute should be gluten-free. If you are not against or can use products containing gluten, you can easily use all-purpose flour. However, it should be noted that all-purpose flour makes the coating quite heavy as opposed to brown rice flour, which is very light.
- The substitute should be neutral in flavor. As brown rice flour has a distinct nutty flavor, it is quite hard to find an alternative with the same flavor qualities.
The Best Substitute for Brown Rice Flour for Frying
Unless you don’t want to use plain white rice flour instead of brown rice flour for frying, the best choice lies with starches, especially potato starch and cornstarch.
While these two ingredients cannot compete with brown rice flour as far as the nutritional value goes, they may outperform it when it comes to the crispy coating of fried food.
Both starches along with the brown rice flour do not absorb excessive amounts of oil when fried and are gluten-free, which makes them some of the best substitutes for brown rice flour when used in frying.
The Best Brown Rice Substitute for Thickening Sauces
If you don’t mind gluten in your diet, you can substitute brown rice flour used as a thickener for sauces or gravies with all-purpose flour.
When it comes to finding the best thickener for sauces to use instead of brown rice flour, the options are not as many as for baking alternatives.
It goes without saying that you can use plain white rice flour in recipes where you are required to thicken a sauce or gravy using flour. In some cases, it is even better to use white rice flour than brown rice flour.
The latter is more granular and can interfere with the smooth texture of the sauce if added in large amounts. White rice flour, on the other hand, is much ‘gentler’ when it comes to thickening sauces.
The best substitute for brown rice flour for thickening sauces is cornstarch. It is a gluten-free alternative that will produce the same result when added to a gravy or a sauce.
However, if you decide to thicken a sauce with cornstarch instead of rice flour, keep in mind that the technique to do so differs.
While you can sprinkle some rice flour into the sauce and simply mix, to thicken it with cornstarch requires a different method. You need to make a semi-liquid mixture with cornstarch and a tablespoon of water and only then add it to the sauce.
As opposed to brown rice flour that works almost immediately in changing the consistency of a sauce, cornstarch does not have a quick effect. You should leave the sauce on low to medium heat and leave it on fire until you no longer taste the starchy flavor of cornstarch.
How to Make Brown Rice Flour at Home
Making brown rice flour is easier than you think it is. You only need one ingredient and a high power blender.
To make brown rice flour at home you only need to put your desired amount of brown rice in a blender, turn it on with the highest power and wait until the rice reaches flour consistency.
If you are someone that uses this gluten-free flour often, you can make more in advance and store the flour in containers in the pantry.
If you don’t want to look for substitutes for brown rice flour, then knowing how to make it yourself will come in handy.