Rice flour is a fine flour made from ground rice. It is completely gluten free, including even “glutinous rice flour,” which is made from sweet rice and is a staple for making Japanese treats like mochi. Rice flour can be used in a wide variety of culinary uses and is a very popular base for noodles in many Asian cuisines. It can also be used as a thickener in sauces, as a breading for fried dishes and as the base for various baked goods. It is available in white, which is made from polished white rice, and in brown, which is made from whole grain brown rice. Both types of flour work just about the same way in a recipe, but have slightly different flavors and colorings. Brown rice flour can take longer to cook when it is in noodle form, for instance, as brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice.
Rice flour is very commonly used in gluten free baked goods to give them structure and substance, but it is also a popular addition for non gluten free baked goods because of its unique and slightly sandy texture. For instance, a small amount of white rice flour in a buttery shortbread recipe can make that shortbread extra tender and crumbly, with a melt-in-your-mouth feeling. It can also add a heartiness to a yeast bread recipe when a small amount is added, since it contains no gluten and will compact a bread dough somewhat, so it can be found in some dense, whole grain breads.