Soybean flour is a good source of micronutrients and protein and being gluten-free, it is an excellent replacement for wheat flour.
However, not many people enjoy soybean flour and studies have shown that it may not be as healthy as we previously thought, especially when compared to its substitutes.
Either way, soybean flour seems to work for some, but for others, there are many substitutes to choose from!
What are the 7 best soybean flour substitutes? Many nutritious flours can substitute soybean flour such as almond flour, rice flour, chickpea flour, and more. Most of these substitutes are also gluten-free which makes them a better option over traditional bread flour as well.
Read below to learn more about soybean flour, how it compares to others, and the best soy flour substitutes that you can buy today!
Soy Flour Vs. Wheat Flour
Soy flour is made from toasted soybeans that are de-hulled and ground. This results in a fine-grain powder or “flour” that can be used in many different ways, much like wheat flour.
However, unlike wheat flour, soy flour is gluten-free which makes it an excellent alternative for anyone who is looking for a gluten-free substitute. However, soy flour does have a few cons to it.
For example, soy flour isn’t as nutritious compared to other seed or nut flour and may even cause thyroid problems in some people.
Sure, it contains better nutrition compared to wheat flour but one must also consider the cons before switching flour preferences.
Wheat flour is the gold standard when it comes to cooking and baking.
It is predominately the first choice for many people and since humans have cultivated and used wheat flour over centuries, we have modeled the majority of our recipes after it.
But that doesn’t mean that wheat can’t be substituted!
Wheat flour offers a very balanced nutritional profile with a decent amount of protein and low levels of fat. However, it contains gluten, which helps create the protein strands required to form a dough.
In the case of substitutes, you can use different binding agents in the absence of gluten to provide structure to the dough.
This may also result in fluffier and airer baking products that are structurally better—even when compared to both, wheat and soy flour.
Needless to say, if you are looking for a better replacement both nutritionally and structurally, then there are plenty of options to choose from.
But how is soybean flour made in the first place? This is an important question as it will also highlight how other nuts and legumes can be processed to create fine-grain flour.
Manufacturing Soy Flour
The journey of soybean flour starts at the milling plant where soybeans are carefully washed and then soaked.
The soaking process hydrates the legumes which loosens the hull. The hull is then mechanically processed and removed, leaving behind pure soybean endosperm.
The soybeans are then dried using either natural or artificial methods. Large industrial dehydrators can also be used to quickly process the soybeans.
The legumes may even go through a thorough roasting process that dries and roasts the beans which also imparts a rich, nutty, and earthy flavor.
Once the beans are dried, they go through a large grinding machine that processes the soybeans until they transform into a fine powder. The flour is then packaged, labeled, and sent off to different locations!
Making Flour At Home
The process of turning soybean into flour has huge implications because the same process can be replicated on a range of different legumes and nuts—you can even do this at home!
That’s right! You can make flour at home and skip the preservatives or other additives that are commonly found in commercial-grade flours.
For example, in the case of almond flour, you can speed up the de-peeling or de-hulling process by blanching the almonds in boiling water for 5 minutes and then straining them.
Wash the almonds again under cold water to bring their temperature down, de-hull them, and set them to dry overnight.
Process the dry almonds in a food processor (this one’s our favorite!) until you get a fine powder and that is it! Instant almond flour!
Flour making is so simple and fun that once you start making it, you might not want to go back to the commercial varieties!
Just make sure that you don’t overprocess the ingredients or you might end up with something completely different i.e., nut or legume butter.
Here’s a super helpful tutorial from chef Joshua Weissman on how to make your own flour at home!
The 7 Best Soybean Flour Substitutes
Here are seven of the best soybean flour substitutes that you can use for a variety of different cooking and baking recipes:
1. Almond Flour
As mentioned, if you do want to try a soy flour substitute, then we highly recommend that you start with almond flour.
Almond flour has a much better nutritional profile and can help create one of the fluffiest and lightest cakes along with other baking products.
Almond flour is gluten-free and packs more moisture and is a bit denser which means that you will have to add all the “wet” ingredients in small increments to match the measurement in the recipe.
In most cases, you can substitute 1 cup of soybean flour with 1 cup of loosely packed almond flour (1:1 ratio).
2. Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is one of the best substitutes for a variety of reasons. It’s healthier, lighter, and comes from the same family as soybean.
To substitute soybean, you can use a 1:1 ratio in any recipe.
Chickpea flour is not that aromatic and has a subdued flavor which makes it a fantastic choice for any type of cuisine. It can be used to thicken food and can also be used to make flatbread and even pizza dough!
3. Rice Flour
Rice flour is a similarly versatile and nutritious flour alternative.
Compared to soybean, rice flour comes closer to the texture and structural benefits of wheat flour so if you are looking for something that mimics wheat but is free of gluten, then rice flour is a great place to start.
This flour can be used in baking and everyday cooking. Rice flour is also usually added to ingredients or foods that require a crispy coating.
Keep in mind though, rice flour comes in both gluten and non-gluten varieties so you may want to check the back of the packaging for more information on the type of rice flour.
4. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour has lots of notable characteristics and is an excellent choice because it adds both a subtly sweet aroma and flavor to any recipe.
It is also jam-packed with nutrition and is much better than soybean flour in many aspects. Other than baking uses, it can also be utilized in thickening soups and other savory foods!
Remember, coconut flour adds a bit of sweetness to food so you might want to use it with caution.
Furthermore, coconut flour absorbs more moisture. You might want to adjust the quantity of water in cake recipes to avoid them from crumbling and being overly dry.
One cup of loosely packed coconut flour can replace one cup of soybean in almost any recipe!
5. Wheat Flour
This is an obvious choice! If you’re in an emergency and don’t want to use soy flour then plain wheat flour will do just as well!
Wheat flour gets a bad rap because of its gluten content but if you don’t have gluten sensitivity and need to replace soy flour with a very versatile and nutritionally balanced flour then wheat is a great choice!
6. Lupin Flour
Ground lupin isn’t a well-known flour but it makes for a great substitute for soybean as it contains more protein and is nutritionally balanced. However, you may want to use it sparingly because lupin can impart a bitter flavor.
Since it is denser, we recommend that you slowly add lupin flour until you get the right consistency in a batter or dough.
7. Quinoa Flour
This is another great substitute for soybean as it is way healthier and can add a strong aromatic flavor to any recipe.
Depending on the flour requirement, you can either substitute it using a 1:1 ratio or use it in smaller quantities to tame its flavor.
Either way, quinoa flour can help make crispy pastries, fluffy cakes, and it can produce one of the most amazing pancakes in the context of flavor, nutrition, and consistency!
Many other types of flours can substitute soybean – and by using the drying and grinding strategy, you can turn any plant-based ingredient into flour!
Now that you know the best substitutes for soybean flour, here are some related questions!
What is the best soybean flour substitute for baking?
If we are only talking about baking, then rice and lupin flour will make for excellent substitutes.
Also, if you don’t have dietary restrictions then you should opt for plain wheat flour when possible since it will provide a familiar flavor and texture.
Can chickpea flour be used as an all-purpose flour?
Compared to soybean flour, chickpea flour is similar and can easily substitute it in every recipe that calls for soybean flour.
This makes it an excellent all-purpose flour that can also, in theory, replace every other flour on our list too. One cup of soybean flour can be substituted with one cup of chickpea flour (1:1 ratio) in most recipes!