Paleo Baking: Almond Flour vs. Coconut Flour

What is Flour?

If you’re new to paleo baking you’ll want to know what types of flours you can use. It’s easier than you think! Flour is simply a term for something ground into powdery form. I’ve been baking with almond flour and coconut flour since 2001. I’ve become an expert along the way and am happy to share my knowledge with you here!

What is Almond Flour?

Almond flour is blanched almonds that are ground, then sifted into fine powdery flour. I adore almond flour. In fact, back in 2009, I wrote the book on almond flour. Yes! An entire book of almond flour recipes called The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. Almond flour has a sweet flavor and rich buttery texture. It’s high-fat, high-protein, and fantastic for gluten-free baking. It’s also wonderful for grain-free paleo baking, and incredible when it comes to making cookies, cakes, scones, and muffins. If breading savory dishes is your thing, almond flour works well for that too. You’ll love my Paleo Chicken Parmesan and Paleo Cod Piccata recipes, which are fantastic for those on a low-carb Ketogenic Diet.

What is the Difference Between Almond Flour and Almond Meal?

Almond flour is different than almond meal. For almond meal, the skin is left on and the almonds have NOT been blanched. Almond meal does not work in my recipes. Nor do certain brands of almond flour. Why? When you use a product that is not finely ground you will get a lumpy, uneven result. Not a beautiful baked good that closely resembles its wheat flour counterpart.

What is Coconut Flour?

Coconut flour, a fantastic flour that yields very fluffy baked goods, is made from ground coconut. Coconut flour is more challenging to work with than almond flour. That’s because coconut flour is an incredibly “dry” flour. Like a sponge, coconut flour sops up loads of moisture.

Baking with coconut flour can be confusing for those accustomed to baking with wheat flour. A small amount of coconut flour provides a high yield of baked goods, relative to wheat flour. For example, my chocolate Paleo Birthday Cake has ½ cup coconut flour and 8 eggs.

As a stand alone flour, coconut flour does not yield crunchy baked goods the way almond flour does. Coconut flour does work incredibly well in cake and muffin recipes. Because many do not consider coconut a nut, coconut flour is a great alternative to almond flour for those with nut allergies. My second book, Gluten-Free Cupcakes, contains dozens of recipes that use coconut flour, almond flour, or a combination of the two. This book is perfect for birthdays and other special occasions.

Paleo Baking: Almond Flour vs. Coconut Flour

When it comes to paleo baking I use blanched almond flour (not almond meal) and coconut flour. Neither of these flours are a direct 1:1 substitute for wheat flour. I’m frequently asked if almond flour and coconut flour can be swapped in my recipes. The answer? It is not possible to substitute almond flour for coconut flour, or coconut flour for almond flour in my recipes.

Unless you are very advanced in paleo baking it is probably best to follow my recipes to the letter. If you want something that works, i.e., a gorgeous finished product, use the recommended brands of ingredients provided below.

Almond Flour and Coconut Flour are Real Food

Baking with paleo flours is great because almond flour and coconut flour are wholesome real foods. I do not use de-fatted flour in my recipes. First, because fat is wholesome and I do not want to eat a product that has the fat removed. Second, because these flours will not work in my recipes.

If you are buying de-fatted almond flour or coconut flour, you are purchasing a very different ingredient than I use in my recipes. It would be like using apple juice in a recipe that calls for apples. They’re both apple products, but can you imagine using apple juice to make apple pie? That won’t work.

Nutrition Facts

Below is a comparison of the macronutrients found in both almond flour and coconut flour. Measurement is 100 grams (approximately 3.5 ounces) or just shy of 1 cup.

  Nutrition Info (100 g)  Fat  Protein  Carbs  Fiber
 Almond Flour1  51g  22g  20g  10g
 Coconut Flour2  9g  19g  65g  39g

As you can see, almond flour is far higher in fat than coconut flour, making it superior for those following a Ketogenic Diet, or a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet. Coconut flour is far higher in carbohydrates than almond flour.

Since we are all biochemical individuals, you’ll need to decide which flour is better for you. Although my blog offers loads of healthy dessert recipes, I rarely eat baked goods these days. I focus on consuming animal protein, fat, and green vegetables. While I don’t calculate the macro-nutrient ratios of everything I eat, I know that many people need to do so. So I now provide nutrition information for the recipes my latest book, Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry. You can find that here!

Using Paleo Baked Goods to Transition Away from SAD

Paleo baking is fabulous if you are transitioning from the SAD (Standard American Diet) to a paleo diet. Eating baked goods made from real food, without artificial coloring, flavoring, and white sugar is a step in the right direction.

Eating as few sweets as possible is the healthiest choice for most of us, especially those of us with weight issues or autoimmune conditions. Added sweeteners, even those that are natural such as honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar, can lead to weight gain and inflammation, so they are best avoided.

However, switching from the SAD to a keto-paleo diet, or LCHF diet is a lifestyle change that takes time. During my transition, I enjoyed having grain-free baked goods. Switching from starchy flours like wheat, and rice, to eating paleo baked goods made with almond flour and coconut flour, greatly improved my health. When making dietary changes, it’s best to make transitions on your own time table. Choose an eating plan that is satisfying. Stick to it in the long run, rather than just a few weeks here or there.

On that note, I don’t believe in dieting, I believe in choosing a way to eat and adhering to it. I’ve been eating completely grain-free since 2001 (no rice, corn, potatoes, millet, quinoa, or other grain-like seeds). That choice works for me, given the health issues that I deal with. I feel great eating this way. That’s huge motivation for me! You’ll need to find a way of eating that works for you. It helps to figure out what motivates you in your overall goals for healing.

Recommended Brands of Almond Flour and Coconut Flour

If you are familiar with my blog and books, you know there are certain brands of almond flour and coconut flour that work in my recipes, and others that don’t. It’s not that I play favorites, I figured this all out via trial and error and chats with my readers years ago.

Unfortunately, because almond flour and coconut flour are both relatively new ingredients on the mass market, there is a lot of variability when it comes to product quality and composition. Below are the brands that work in my recipes.

Almond Flour

Almond Flour

   

Coconut Flour

coconut flour

   

Bob’s Red Mill, Let’s Do Organic, and Coconut Secret flours do not work in my recipes.

Paleo Baking

If you want to dive into the world of paleo baking, almond flour and coconut flour are my favorite ingredients. They’re highly nutritious, easy to use, and result in fantastic paleo baked goods and treats! I can digest these grain-free flours far more easily than wheat flour, or starchy gluten-free flours such as rice flour, buckwheat flour, teff flour, or tapioca flour.

Since I went grain-free in 2001, my goal has been to turn all of my favorite childhood recipes into grain-free classics. I did this for my son who was then a toddler and newly diagnosed with celiac. He followed a strict grain-free diet for several years which helped heal his gut.

If you’re looking for recipes using either of these flours, be sure to check out my almond flour recipes as well as my coconut flour recipes. If you are nut-free, take a look at my nut-free recipes. I hope you enjoy baking with these fantastic flours as much as I have for the last 16 years!


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paleo cooking from elana's pantryGluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook


Such a wonderful post. I have been a reader since around 2008 and I love every post and every recipe that you create for us. Thanks again for all that you do!

Comments

95 responses to “Paleo Baking: Almond Flour vs. Coconut Flour”

  1. Hi Elana,

    Thanks for your insight in information with this post. I’m wondering about the fibre content affecting the total CHO count though, such that in the end:

    Almond flour: 10g CHO
    Coconut flour: 26g CHO

    Still quite high in comparison.

  2. Hi Elana,

    I am a Crohn’s Patient on the SCD diet. At this moment I do NOT digest almond flour well and coconut is a trigger. Would you be able to provide an SCD legal Substitute? I was thinking cashew flour but wanted to see if your experience could bring something else to the table!

    Thank You!

  3. Just trying to understand when you would choose to bake with almond flour vs coconut and vice versa. Seems they both work well for baked goods, just need to adjust the eggs and liquids for coconut. Do you have any rules for when and why you’d use one over the other?

    • Jessica, I think coconut flour works really well for cakes and muffins. Almond flour works equally well for those items and makes incredible cookies too! I prefer almond flour overall because of its higher fat content and also because it is lower in carbs than coconut flour :-)

    • If you had a recipe for a cake using mostly almond flour and just a little coconut flour (1/3 cup), what could you do to replace the coconut flour? My husband is allergic to coconut .

  4. I am enjoying your site very much. Thank you for the great information! I’m wondering if it possible to make an angelfood cake with almond and coconut flour that is keto friendly? Thanks for your time.

  5. Thank you so much for this informative article! I have been trying to bake with almond flour but all my baked goods have the consistency of baked sand. The bag says extra fine almond flour, but I have obviously been doing something wrong. I can’t wait to try your recipes!

  6. Just found out I can’t eat nuts anymore – inflammatory reaction. (Also gluten, dairy & soy intolerant) so wondering if coconut flour can be sub’d for almond flour? I read that you said they cannot be swapped and I’m wondering why not and what do you use instead of almond flour? Thank you

  7. Hello Elana, I am a real newbie at this! My boyfriend wants to try Keto for the weight loss. I am more focused on health benefits and healthy lifestyle. That’s why your article stuck out to me while researching. I noticed that you stated Bob’s Red Mill flours do not work in your recipe’s. I am curious as to why? The most challenging thing for me seems to be the expense of buying these products on a limited budget. Also the supermarkets are very limited, But I do see an array of Bob’s Red mill products in most.
    Thanks for your time, Theresa

    • Theresa, thanks for you comment! So many readers reported poor results when using Bob’s Red Mill that I had to try it myself. Unfortunately when I did, it did not work. I link to all of the products that I use in the ingredients portion of my recipes, and I buy the majority of ingredients online because they are far less expensive that way, which I think you’ll like :-)

  8. Elana, When I recently switched to no grains I bought both coconut flour (and oil) and almond flour.
    And then made coconut muffins with your recipe and had a very negative reaction to the coconut.
    Later I tried something with the coconut aminos and again, my stomach reacted. I read online that
    few people are allergic to coconut and in fact, have been unable to find mention anywhere of people
    who react negatively to coconut. Already my diet feels so limited and it is hard to understand why this
    very paleo and SCD friendly food would cause me problems. I had thought of it as a lifesaver in the
    transition diet phase and very disappointed that it won’t work for my diet. Any experience or information about/with people who can’t eat coconut and why this might be?

    • Annie, I’m sorry to hear that and happy to help. Sometimes things can get a bit worse before they get better. My first question to you is, are you sleeping well at night, and how many hours? That’s when the body heals everything. If you’re not you will be more reactive to a variety of “healthy” foods. Second, how it your gut? You may want to check out this post:

      https://elanaspantry.com/how-i-healed-my-gut/

      I hope you’ll keep me posted on your progress!
      Elana

      • I just started cooking with coconut and almond flour from red Mill Paleo flour and I make muffins and I find that I have been gaining weight. I have a muffin and a cup of coffee in the morning. Is this flour now make you gain weight ? it does seems logical with the coconut and almond. Nancy

        • Nancy, I’ve been grain-free and baking with these flours since 2001 and have not had an issue with gaining weight :-)

      • Elena,
        All your recipes state not to use almond meal, all I have on hand is almond meal can it still be used in your recipes and still come out right?

        • Sue, thanks for your comment! If you go to the 3rd paragraph of this post, I answer your question in bold text :-)

    • There is ALOT of fiber in coconut flour, start slow. It could give a little nausea and lots of bathroom time, if you start whole hog. Coconut oil also is used as a laxitive, you may have overdid it to start.

  9. Elena, do you have any information on almond flour as far as oxalate content goes? I frequently have kidney stones and have had to eliminate almonds, spinach, sweet potato and other high oxalate foods from my diet. I wonder if almond flour has the same high oxalate content or if its characteristics change any?

    • Lisa, thanks for your comment! I haven’t looked into that as I haven’t had any issues with almond flour :-)

  10. Hi Elana
    Costco sells the SunBlest almond flour. Do you know if this will work in your recipes?
    Thank you
    Diane

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