How to Bake with Coconut Flour: Tips & Tricks for Using this Gluten-free Flour

Have you heard about the benefits of baking with coconut flour? As the interest in grain-free diets continues to rise, many cooks are looking to coconut flour for their baking.  Baking with coconut flour presents unique challenges as coconut flour does not perform the same as grain-based flours in baking; that is, baking with coconut flour requires special techniques before it will yield good results.  So print this post out and pin it to your fridge – so that if you decide to try your hand at baking with coconut flour your well-equipped to work with this unique, but deeply nutritive alternative to wheat.

What is coconut flour and how is it used for baking?

Coconut flour is a soft flour produced from dried coconut meat.  It is a natural byproduct of coconut milk production.   Just as you can make homemade coconut milk,  you can also make coconut flour in your own kitchen if you were so inclined.  To save time and effort, I typically purchase my coconut flour in bulk online (see sources).

When coconut milk is pressed from coconut meat, bits of solid coconut meat are leftover and this coconut meat that is leftover after the production of coconut milk is then dried at a low temperature and ground until it produces a soft, fine powder which is then suitable for baking.  Popular among those adhering to grain-restrictive diets such as paleo diets, the GAPS or SCD diet or any grain-free diet, coconut flour can offer a gluten-free and protein-rich alternative to traditional grain-based flours.

Benefits of Baking with Coconut Flour

  • Coconut flour is rich in protein, fiber and fat which makes it exceptionally filling.
  • Coconut flour is also a good source of lauric acid, a saturated fat thought to support the immune system and the thyroid.  Like most healthy fats, lauric acid also promotes good skin health.
  • Coconut flour is an exceptionally good source of manganese which helps you to better utilize many nutrients including choline and biotin (found in eggs), vitamin C and thiamin.  Manganese also supports bone health, nervous system function, thyroid health and helps to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.
  • Coconut flour is not grain-based, and, as such does not present many of the issues that accompany grains.  Coconut flour is gluten-free and, while it does contain food phytate, the mineral-binding effects of phytates in coconut are virtual nonexistent so coconut flour does not need to be soaked (read more about soaking coconut flour).

Baking with Coconut Flour: What you need to know

  • In baking, you cannot substitute coconut flour for wheat or other grain-based flours at a 1:1 ratio.  They are not equivalent.
  • Coconut flour is extraordinarily absorbent and very little coconut flour is needed to successfully produce a recipe.  In baked goods, you generally want to substitute 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup coconut flour for 1 cup grain-based flour.  You will also need to increase the number of eggs.  In general for every one cup of coconut flour you use, you will need to use six beaten eggs in your recipe in addition to approximately one cup liquid such as coconut milk.  When baking with coconut, it is best to use established recipes rather than waste considerable expense and time with experimentation.
  • If you are frying or sauteing and need to dredge meats or vegetables, you can use coconut flour in an amount that is equivalent to wheat flour.
  • Coconut flour is clumpy.  To produce a fine-textured result, the coconut flour must be thoroughly beaten with the other ingredients in your recipe.
  • Coconut flour is dense and can also be dry.  Every flour has its peculiar characteristics and baked goods made with coconut flour tend to be dense and dry.  To reduce dryness, make sure you’re using plenty of eggs and you can also add cooked, pureed or mashed fruit or vegetables to your baked goods to increase the moisture.

Nourished Kitchen Guide to Grain-free BakingCoconut Flour Recipes & Cookbooks

Where to Buy Coconut Flour

You can find coconut flour at most well-stocked health food stores, but it tends to be expensive for a small amount. You can typically save money when purchasing  organic coconut flour in bulk online.

Do you have tips for baking with coconut flour?

Don’t be quiet!  If you have tips for baking with coconut flour or favorite recipes to share, join the conversation by leaving a comment.