Chickpea flour is a popular gluten-free flour alternative. However, for many reasons, you could be looking for a substitute. Read on to learn about chickpea flour and the substitutes to help you select the best replacement for your recipe.
Chickpea flour is highly nutritious and high in protein, minerals, fiber, and vitamins. However, for various reasons, you might need to find an alternative. In this post, I detail chickpea flour and its multiple benefits. Moreover, it will provide you with the ten best chickpea flour substitutes. Read each replacement to determine the right one for your recipe.
What is a Chickpea Flour?
Chickpea flour has been a staple in the Indian subcontinent and around the Mediterranean for centuries. Also known as besan or gram flour, it is made using the most common type of chickpea: desi chickpeas or ground-up garbanzo beans.
Chickpea flour substitutes are great for making flatbreads, cakes, cookies, and pancakes. This flour is also strong enough to bind ingredients when making veggie burgers and falafel. This flour variation is high in fiber and protein, is gluten-free, and has a slightly nutty flavor. The flour is ideal when looking for a gluten-free option.
Despite its popularity, chickpea flour can be hard to find. If you cannot locate this flour, you can make your own or opt for a substitution.
Chickpea Flour vs. Gram Flour
Gram flour and chickpea flour can be used interchangeably, but they differ. For starters, gram flour has a smooth texture, whereas chickpea flour has a coarse texture. You will need less water when cooking with gram flour.
Alternatively, you will need more water when using chickpea flour. In terms of flavor, chickpeas have a more robust flavor, whereas gram flour is more subtle.
Chickpea Flour vs. Besan Flour
Besan flour is made with split brown chickpeas or chana dal. Alternatively, chickpea flour is made of white chickpeas. Both tend to have similar flavors but are not the same. Besan flour is an excellent substitute for chickpea flour.
Why Use Chickpea Flour?
- Gluten-free cooking – Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free and perfect for gluten-free baking.
- Binding Agent – You can use chickpea flour or one of its replacements as a binding agent with vegetarian burgers, cakes, or falafel.
- Thickening Agent – This is a great ingredient to thicken soups and sauces.
- Easy to prepare – Chickpea flour is easily made at home with dried chickpeas. Grind the dried chickpeas in a food processor till it becomes a fine powder and you have made your chickpea flour!
- Vegan – Chickpea flour can easily be made into a cheese substitute. With its nutty flavor, it has a surprisingly good cheese-like taste.
Chickpea Flour Nutrition
Chickpea flour is a nutritious ingredient that offers a variety of health benefits, including the prevention of heart diseases, promoting fullness, managing body weight, and slowing digestion. In addition, chickpea flour is gluten-free.
When you substitute chickpea flour for wheat flour, a 1:1 ratio works great. Compared with wheat flour, the same amount of chickpea flour substitute will keep you full for longer. Chickpea flour has more fiber and supports your metabolism, as digesting chickpea flour is easier.
Chickpea flour has a higher amount of carbs than traditional flour. Typically, one cup contains 356 calories, 53 grams of carbohydrates, and 9.9 grams of fiber.
Another nutritional fact is that chickpea flour has a 44 glycemic index. As a moderately glycemic ingredient, it regulates blood pressure and facilitates weight loss. Lastly, garbanzo bean flour contains minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, folate, zinc, and potassium. It has a positive impact on heart health and is great during pregnancy.
Ten Best Substitutes for Chickpea Flour
If you cannot find chickpea flour for the recipe you plan on making, get one of the following substitutes. Let’s find out more about these substitutes:
1. Almond Flour
Almond flour is one of the best replacements for chickpea flour. It is rich in protein and is loaded with nutrients. This flour is known for macarons and has a slightly sweet flavor. Almond flour is a good substitute for chickpea flour for baking. You can also make this gluten-free flour at home by grinding almonds in a food processor or blender into a fine dust.
The chickpea flour to almond flour ratio is 1:1 in most recipes.
2. Quinoa Flour
Made with ground quinoa seeds and has a fine consistency, quinoa flour is another gluten-free alternative. As a bonus, quinoa flour is highly nutritious.
This flour can be costly. However, quinoa fans find the "mother of all grains" is worth the price. Because quinoa has a distinctive taste, replacing chickpea flour with quinoa flour at a 1:1 ratio can quickly overwhelm the flavor of your baked goods. For this reason, replacing your overall flour recipe quantity with 25% quinoa and 75% with neutral flavored flour is recommended.
3. Millet Flour
Millet flour, commonly used in Asia and Africa, is made from cereal grains and is rich in antioxidants and proteins. Its mildly sweet flavor makes it a substitute for sweet and savory foods. This is an excellent choice for preparing baked goods.
While millet flour is very nutritious, it is not recommended for people with thyroid issues. Millet can drastically reduce iodine levels. “Millet flour contains goitrogens, which can give rise to goiters if not enough of iodine is consumed.” (source, The Healthy)
When baking, you can substitute regular flour up to 25% with millet flour. When cooking, you can substitute for all-purpose flour using a 1:1 ratio.
4. Buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour is considered a "pseudo-cereal," meaning it is consumed like cereal but is technically not. This flour is high in protein and fiber than traditional flour, which makes it a perfect substitute for making gluten-free pasta, pancakes, and crackers.
Buckwheat comes in two varieties, light (made from hulled buckwheat) or dark (unhulled). The dark version is higher in fiber. This flour has a strong and aromatic flavor.
While tempting, buckwheat is not an easy 1:1 swap. This particular flour is heavier and has a distinctive taste. In addition, over-mixing will result in a thicker texture than you probably desire. It is recommended only to swap out 25% of whole wheat flour for buckwheat flour.
5. Oat Flour
Easily accessible in most supermarkets, oat flour is a gluten-free option with a silky smooth texture and a delicious flavor. This sub for chickpeas flour is loaded with nutrients like fiber, copper, magnesium, vitamin B1, etc. Oat flour offers a mildly sweet flavor and a fluffy texture. Oat flavor can also be made at home by placing old-fashioned rolled oats in a high-performance blender and blend into a fine dust.
My personal favorite use for oat flour is baked oats for breakfast. It also works well with brownies and cookies.
6. Cassava Flour
Cassava flour is popular in Africa, Asia, and South America. This flour is made by drying the fibrous cassava root and grinding it into a powder. High in carbohydrates, fine powder, and earthy texture make cassava flour an excellent chickpea flour substitute for crackers and bread.
This flour has a light texture and neutral flavor, making it a perfect chickpea flour substitute for any need.
Cassava is also the main ingredient in fufu, a West African specialty served with soups and stews. I bet you're asking what does fufu taste like? Generally between a potato and a sweet potato.
Read my Other Substitution Posts
7. Amaranth Flour
Amaranth is an ancient grain that dates back at least 8,000 years. This particular flour is made by grinding the seeds from the Amaranthus plant into a fine dust.
Amaranth is a nutrient-rich alternative that has a slightly nutty taste. Because of this, mixing 25% amaranth and 75% almond flour is recommended when baking. This versatile flour can be used universally for baking and cooking.
Once the package is opened, store it in an airtight container in a dry place for up to two months.
8. Wheat Flour
There are many different types of wheat flour on the market, so many you might not realize that most standard household flour is considered wheat flour. The most common types are whole wheat, all-purpose, cake, and bread flour. Every wheat flour will contain gluten.
Most wheat flour can be swapped at a 1:1 ratio of flour for chickpea flour. However, whole wheat flour has a heavier texture and flour. To be on the safe side, replace with a mix of 25% whole wheat flour and 75% all-purpose flour.
9. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is made from the meaty part of the coconut and is a by-product of the coconut milk industry. This flour is soft, chewy with a fine texture.
While most flours are made from starch, coconut flour is made from dried fruit. The result is that coconut flour will remain more weather than traditional starch flour.
To avoid having soggy baked goods, substitute with coconut flour up to 25% of the overall flour quantity.
10. Spelt flour
Spelt flour is wheat flour made from the entire wheat grain. Unlike whole wheat flour, spelt flour comes from a different type of wheat. The result is a flour that performs similarly to all-purpose but has more flavor similar to whole wheat flour. In other words, it's the best of both worlds.
Spelt flour can be used at a 1:1 ratio as chickpea flour or all-purpose flour. This flour's gluten is different from traditional all-purpose and breaks down easier. For the best result, reduce the mixing or kneading time by 10% - 15%.
If it is your first time using spelt, the flavor is nuttier than chickpea flour. Mix using 25% - 50% spelt.
10 Chickpea Flour Substitutes Comparison Chart
For a quick reference, use this chart to help you determine which flour substitute is best for you.
|Flour||Gluten-Free||Protein||Texture||Ancient Grain||Common Uses|
|Almond||Yes||21g||Light||No||Baking, coating for meats, crackers|
|Amaranth||Yes||16g||Medium||Yes||Baked goods, flatbreads, pancakes|
|Buckwheat||Yes||13g||Medium||Yes||Pancakes, soba noodles, breads|
|Cassava||Yes||0g||Fine||No||Gluten-free baking, thickener|
|Coconut||Yes||16g||Fine||No||Gluten-free baking, thicking, coating|
|Millet||Yes||5g||Medium||Yes||Flatbreads, porridge, baked goods|
|Oat||Yes||14g||Light||No||Breads, cookies, muffins, pancakes|
|Quinoa||Yes||4g||Light||Yes||Baking, thickener, coating for meats|
|Spelt||No||14g||Medium||Yes||Breads, pasta, baked goods|
|Wheat||No||13g||Medium||No||Breads, pastries, cakes, cookies, sauces|
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, chickpea flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour. Chickpea flour is a lighter flour high in protein but lower in carbs and calories.
Chickpea flour can be stored at room temperature for up to six months in a tightly sealed, airtight container or for up to 1 year in the freezer.
Besan is a flour of chana dal or spelt brown chickpeas. Besan flour is different from chickpea flour. It tends to have a different taste and is less bitter. Generally, besan flour is added to recipes for crispiness. Even though they differ, besan flour is one of the best replacements for chickpea flour.
I hope this helps you find the perfect replacement for your recipe. If you have any thoughts or questions, please send me a comment.