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Can I Substitute All Purpose Flour with Coconut Flour?

Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is a gluten free flour made from powdered dried coconut. The flour is popular for gluten free and low-carb baking, since it is low in carbohydrates and very high in fiber, and it is becoming more widely available at markets. Many gluten free “flours” – such as almond flour/meal – are easy to work with because they can be substituted for part of the flour in a standard recipe. Coconut flour is a little bit trickier to work with and, to be blunt about it, it cannot be substituted for all purpose flour in a regular recipe without making significant changes to that recipe.

Coconut flour is exceptionally absorbent and needs many times the amount of liquid found in a standard recipe. Coconut flour recipes also typically use far more eggs than equivalent standard recipes. A muffin recipe that uses coconut flour as a base might use 5-6 eggs (compared to 1-2 eggs, in a “standard” muffin recipe) and include at least twice as much liquid (by volume) as coconut flour. Baked goods made with coconut flour will have a slight coconut flavor to them and typically have a texture that is denser and more crumbly than one made with all purpose flour.

So, if you find yourself with a bag of coconut flour and want to incorporate it into your baking, you may want to start with working small amounts – 10% or so – of coconut flour into standard recipes to get a feel for how it changes your batter, then plan to experiment a little bit on subsequent batches until you get the results you want. Alternatively, you could also simply start with a recipe that is intended for use with coconut flour to streamline the process.

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4 Comments
  • Jeff @ Cheese-burger.net
    July 25, 2014

    I haven’t tried coconut flour. But looking at its health benefits got me thinking. I’ll try to incorporate it in my baking and see how it turns out.

  • Sev @ Layla Cafe
    March 15, 2015

    Yes you can. I usually substitute all purpose flour with coconut flour when i bake cakes for my kids. I learned it from my co-chief cook.

  • Paige
    February 9, 2017

    Can I substitute coconut flour for pastry flour? I have pastry flour I want to use up because I’m not sure how long it stays good. Also, I have all-purpose, almond, and bread flour, so I can make any combination of these flours if it would help, I just don’t want to have to go out and buy MORE types of flour.

    Thank you!

  • Nicole
    February 9, 2017

    Hi Paige,

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but coconut flour cannot easily be substituted by or replaced with other flours. A recipe specifically calls for coconut flour will need significantly more liquid and eggs than a recipe that uses wheat flour. A recipe cannot be converted easily.

    Fortunately, pastry flour should stay good for months, if not years, if stored in a cool dry place and you should have no trouble using it up with other recipes. It can easily be substituted into cake recipes that call for all purpose flour. Pastry flour is between all purpose and cake flour when it comes to protein content. That means that you can sub it into a cake recipe that calls for all purpose flour without changing any ratios and end up with a slightly more tender, fluffy cake.

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