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July 28, 2017

How to Use Rice Flour in Gluten Free Baking

Post by Cinde Little

How to use rice flour in gluten free baking is one of the first challenges for anyone new to the gluten free diet. In the past I had no interest in knowing why wheat flour worked. I could successfully bake so I never thought too much about it. After several years of gluten free baking I can tell you that understanding a few basics about flour is very helpful for gluten free bakers.

How To Use Rice Flour – The Basics

You might think (or hope) that you can simply buy a gluten free flour blend to replace wheat flour and bake all your old recipes. This is just not true.

No single gluten free flour or starch behaves like wheat flour. Thus begins the journey of trial and error with gluten free baking.

All flour contains protein, starch and fat…who knew! Flour is typically used to create structure in baked goods, to thicken sauces or as a coating for foods. These processes rely on the different properties of flour and they are not all the same.

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How To Use Rice Flour – An Overview

White rice, brown rice and sweet rice flour are all commonly used in gluten free baking. The flour is made from rice so like white rice and brown rice, each flour is a little different. Here are two important things to know about rice flour.

  • The milling process affects the texture of the flour and not all brands are the same. Finely milled rice flours are preferred. I buy Erawan brand white and sweet rice flours at my Asian grocery store and Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour. America’s Test Kitchen recommends all of Bob’s Red Mill brand of rice flours and I find them readily available.
  • Rice flour doesn’t absorb liquid and fat like wheat flour. This causes cookies to spread and cakes/muffins to be mushy or greasy. Letting batter/dough rest for several minutes, or up to thirty minutes, allows for proper hydration and gives a better result.

How To Use Rice Flour – White, Brown and Sweet

Store bought gluten free flour blends and most gluten free baked goods contain rice flour. Since no single gluten free flour behaves like wheat flour using rice flour in combination with other starches and flours will yield better results.

If you have a store bought flour blend that works for you great. Just know that most blends will not give the best result in all recipes. I can make any muffin recipe and quick breads with my gluten free flour mix that contains sweet rice flour. However, for crisp cookies using some brown rice flour, potato starch and/or almond flour gives a better result.

Americas Test Kitchen all purpose gluten free flour blend uses white and brown rice flour. Their two cookbooks, How Can It Be Gluten Free and How Can It Be Gluten Free Volume 2, are excellent resources for anyone wanting to understand what makes a recipe work. I now bake, and continue to experiment with both my homemade flour mix (that has sweet rice flour) as well as the ATK flour blend (that has white rice flour).

White Rice Flour


  • Neutral flavour and smooth texture
  • Affordable and easy to find
  • long shelf life


  • Not ideal in recipes with low liquid and high fat content like cookies and muffins
  • Gives baked goods with an unappealing, translucent-white colour


  • 30-60% of a flour combination for all uses

Brown Rice Flour


  • Affordable and easy to find
  • Mild flavour and texture
  • The tan colour gives baked goods a slightly browner look


  • Some brands have an odd earthy flavour
  • High fat content means shorter shelf life so is best stored in the fridge or freezer


  • Adds a crispness to cookies
  • 30-60% of a flour combination for all uses

Sweet Rice Flour (AKA Glutinous Rice Flour)


  • Combines more readily with fat than other rice flours
  • Freeze and thaw stable
  • Its’ natural elasticity makes it ideal for rice noodles


  • Name is confusing since this flour is not sweet and does not contain gluten.


  • As a thickener for soups and sauces
  • Up to 40% of a flour combination for all uses
  • Making rice noodles and wrappers

Tips for Continuous Learning

Enjoying home baked goods is one of the joys of baking. You don’t need to bake every day or even every week but the ability to make cookies, cupcakes and the occasional birthday cake is a life skill worth learning. If you have kids in your life be sure to involve them in the adventure.

Start with your favourite recipes and make them over and over. That is how I have learned to bake gluten free. I change one type of flour or slightly alter an amount then compare the results. Sometimes I make a double batch of muffins but I don’t double the ingredients in one bowl. I simply make two recipes side by side using a different flour combination. I often do this with my basic recipe for banana muffins. I know how they should turn out so I can compare and adjust accordingly. Try this with a favourite recipe in your house and I guarantee you will learn a little more each time. This will help you become more confident making substitutions when you bake.

How to Use Rice Flour – The Recipes

I use my homemade flour mix in some of my recipes but not all. I typically try a new recipe the way it is written then make adjustments from there. This table lists each recipe and shows which rice flour is used in that recipe.

Sorry there are no links in this table. Use the SEARCH magnifying glass in the top right hand corner from any page on my website to find what you are looking for.

Remember, no single gluten free flour can mimic all the properties of wheat flour. This means that each recipe almost always calls for another flour or starch therefore the table is only to give you an idea of how the rice flours are commonly used in different recipes.

A table of my recipes showing How To Use Rice Flour in them

Happy Baking!

This is the first in a series of blog posts on gluten free flours. My intention is to provide a basic overview of several gluten free flours for the everyday home cook, both new and experienced. Let me know in the comments below if you have a baking story to share.

How To Use Gluten Free Flour series:

  1. How To Use Rice Flour in Gluten Free Baking
  2. How To Use Starch in Gluten Free Baking
  3. How To Use Millet Flour and Sorghum Flour
  4. How To Use Corn Flour, Cornmeal and Masa Harina
  5. How To Use Almond Flour and Quinoa Flour
  6. How To Use Binders in Gluten Free Baking
  7. How To Use Chickpea Flour
  8. How To Use Teff Flour
  9. How To Use Buckwheat Flour
  10. How To Use Coconut Flour
  11. How To Use Oat Flour
  12. How To Use A Gluten Free Flour Mix


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