So, you’re converting to a vegan and gluten-free diet and began going through healthy recipes to kickstart your healthier life. Congratulations! One of the more common ingredients you’ll find is sorghum flour, a versatile ingredient with a myriad of health benefits and nutrients! Since we discovered sorghum flour, we couldn’t get enough of it and started bragging to our friends about how our delicious sweets are gluten-free!
However, if this is the first time you’ve ever heard of sorghum, you most likely won’t come across it in your local supermarket, either. If that’s the case, you can always use a sorghum flour substitute like xanthan gum, buckwheat flour, coconut flour, rice flour, and even potato starch. These alternatives offer similar flavor, texture, and benefits as sorghum flour, with a few differences.
We’ve got other alternatives we listed down below, so continue reading!
What’s Sorghum Flour?
We also call sorghum flour jowar or Indian millet, coming from sorghum, a grass plant native to Africa. This flour has a light, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor with high amounts of nutrients, a reason why we stock up on this for baking or to add to savory recipes. Some people describe the taste as non-assertive vanilla with a soft texture. (*)
Sorghum flour is well-known for its presence in jowar roti, a popular Indian flatbread. You can also find it featured in many other sweet and savory recipes in various cooking applications, from baking to frying.
Fun fact: Sorghum flour comes from sorghum, is considered a superfood, and is the 5th largest produced cereal grain worldwide. Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain from Africa and Australasia, with its roots traced back 5,000 years. It's still underrated in European and Western countries, but we see it taking the world by storm!
Unfortunately, some people may not be able to use sorghum, whether it’s due to a lack of accessibility or from being allergic to the ingredient. Whatever the case, you can always use a sorghum flour substitute, like:
The Best Sorghum Flour Substitute
1. Almond Flour (#1 Editor Choice)
We consider almond flour the best sorghum flour substitute for various reasons, even if they don’t taste exactly like each other!
Almond flour functions like sorghum flour, a versatile ingredient you can use to bake just about anything. It’s vegan-friendly, and you can use it for making cakes, cookies, and pancakes, among other baked goods and sweets that call for sorghum flour. They both have a similar consistency as well.
As for almond flour’s health benefits, it’s rich in magnesium, antioxidants, and vitamin E. It’s also relatively low in calories and carbohydrates, perfect if you’re watching your diet! When using almond flour as a sorghum flour substitute, you can use an equal 1:1 ratio.
2. Oat Flour
Like almond flour, oat and sorghum flour don’t taste the same. They also don’t have the same consistencies, as oat flour is flakier. Even then, it still works as a fair substitute for sorghum flour.
You can take advantage of oat flour’s mildly nutty flavors for most recipes, especially in baked goods and sweets. You can bake cakes and brownies or sprinkle a bit of oat flour over your yogurt or porridge.
Furthermore, oat flour comes with a host of health benefits as it contains vitamin B12 and riboflavin. It can also help regulate blood sugar levels and improve heart health.
3. Buckwheat Flour
One might presume that buckwheat flour contains wheat, but surprisingly, this ingredient has no relation to wheat whatsoever. It isn’t even a grain, nor does it belong to the grass family.
That said, we can consume buckwheat seeds like cereal, and it works excellently as a sorghum flour substitute because of its nutty, earthy taste working in most recipes. Besides that, buckwheat flour is gluten-free and with many nutrients, like sorghum flour.
Because it’s gluten-free, we recommend adding a binding agent when baking. But if you don’t have any issues with gluten, feel free to combine equal amounts of buckwheat flour and wheat flour for better results.
4. Teff Flour
Teff flour is another popular substitute for sorghum flour as it’s gluten-free and nutritious.
Teff flour comes from teff grain, which is rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. While teff flour is traditionally used in injera, an Ethiopian flatbread, it will work in any other cuisine calling for sorghum flour.
Note that teff flour will partially dissolve when exposed to heat, resulting in a spongy quality in baked goods. That’s a good thing in specific recipes!
Moreover, that characteristic has teff flour work excellently as a binding agent. You can combine teff flour with other gluten-free flours to bind dough properly. That’s why it works well in pizza crust, cookies, muffins, pancakes, and other bread.
5. Rice Flour
Rice flour is a common sorghum flour substitute made of rice granules, coming in either white or brown. We’re unsure if rice flour is gluten-free or not, as some studies suggest otherwise. But what we do know is that rice flour has a lower glycemic index than others. (*)
Since rice flour is light-colored and flavorless, you can use it as a sorghum flour substitute with success.
6. Quinoa Flour
Quinoa flour is actually relatively new to the mainstream market but worth mentioning. If you happen to have it, now’s the time to try using it in your recipes.
We appreciate how nutrient-dense this ingredient is, high in fiber and protein without gluten, like regular quinoa. With its high protein content, quinoa flour allows the dough to stretch without any gluten proteins. It’s perfect for making bread and pasta.
The only downfall is the flavor. Some people say that quinoa flour tastes slightly bitter, though many won’t notice it at all. If you’re sensitive to bitter flavors, we recommend using sweeteners or flavoring extracts.
7. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour comes from fresh coconut flesh, a nut-based and gluten-free flour with a ton of nutrients. However, it does have a different consistency compared to sorghum flour. Like other nut-based flours, coconut flour has texture without your expected smooth, powdery substance.
Besides that, you can expect a strong coconut flavor, which we actually love! As long as you don’t mind the slightly different texture and love the coconut taste, you will like using this as a substitute.
8. Soy Flour
Soy flour is a high-protein flour that helps counter any lack of gluten-forming proteins. Since it contains soy, it’s high in protein so that you can whip up bread without any gluten. Moreover, soy flour includes a significant amount of nutrients and has a similar beige color to sorghum flour.
The only difference is the slightly earthy taste, either barely noticeable or well-appreciated.
9. Tapioca Flour
Tapioca flour comes from cassava roots, a nutritious, gluten-free ingredient rich in carbs, vitamins, and minerals. It has lower levels of fat, cholesterol, and protein than sorghum. Moreover, it’s slightly sweet and nutty, working well for recipes like batters, pancakes, or cookies.
Tapioca flour and tapioca starches are one and the same product, so we don’t recommend using this to replace sorghum flour if you need large quantities. It can result in dense and even rubbery food.
10. Arrowroot Powder
Arrowroot powder comes from the roots of Maranta arundinaceae, a tropical plant. It’s naturally free from gluten, fat, cholesterol, and wheat, suitable for those with Celiac disease or specific allergies and intolerances.
Since arrowroot powder has a light color, it’s excellent for lightly-colored recipes, working well in cakes, and muffins, among other batter-based recipes. Since it contains a lot of starch, it functions as an excellent thickening agent for soups, stews, and sauces.
11. Amaranth Flour
We recommend amaranth flour as a sorghum flour substitute if you’re in a pinch! It’s gluten-free, nutritionally dense, and with a mild flavor. Since it’s gluten-free, you’ll need to mix amaranth flour with a binding agent, and it can work well in sauces or gravies as a thickener.
However, amaranth flour browns quicker than other flours, so you’ll need to carefully check your dish as you bake, managing the oven and temperature. If the brown appearance doesn’t concern you, then amaranth flour makes a fine sorghum flour alternative.
12. Xanthan Gum
Don’t use xanthan gum on its own, though! We recommend mixing it with gluten-free flours to improve the batter’s elasticity without any gluten. We recommend this for baked goods as it adds volume to your bread, brownies, cookies, cakes, and the like.
You can also use guar gum, which works the same way as xanthan gum.
13. Potato Flour (An Inexpensive Alternative)
Are you surprised to see potato flour on our list? It’s not hard to explain why it deserves a spot. It’s gluten-free and cheaper than other wheat flour, though it contains a high amount of starch, which can alter your baked goods’ final texture.
We only recommend using this as a thickening agent or when you need sorghum in small quantities.
14. Cornstarch (Substitute in a Pitch)
Cornstarch can work if you can’t have flour or are in a pinch. You most likely have this ingredient in your pantry already!
You can use cornstarch to thicken liquids, dress salads, and the like. Since it has a neutral flavor profile and no aroma, you won’t even notice the cornstarch. It’s gluten-free with a low glycemic index, though it may increase one’s blood sugar.
Because of its high starch content, only use a small amount of it and mix it with another type of flour.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have more questions regarding sorghum flour, we answer a few of them below:
1. What are the health benefits sorghum flour offers?
Sorghum flour is a great source of fiber and antioxidants, helping fight heart disease and inflammation. It also has a low glycemic index, so your body digests it slowly, balancing out blood sugars better.
Moreover, sorghum flour is high in protein, which doesn’t only help us reach our daily protein needs but gives a soft, tender crumb in baked goods!
2. What can you use sorghum flour in?
Thanks to its smooth texture, light flavors, and nutrients, we can use sorghum flour in innumerable sweet and savory recipes. From baking bread to cakes, pastries, or pasta, this highly nutritious flour is as versatile as it is tasty!
Use sorghum flour for breakfast porridge, thicken stews, cookies, bread, or even produce beer!
3. How do you cook with sorghum flour?
One thing we can say we slightly dislike with sorghum flour is the sour flavor it sometimes has, along with that dry mouthfeel. However, that only happens if you use over 25% sorghum flour in your overall mixture.
Because of that, we recommend using sorghum flour with other ingredients like potato starch, millet flour, or rice flour. It’s also essential to combine a cup of sorghum flour with ½ to 1 teaspoon of binding agents like xanthan gum. Other binding agents include guar gum, unflavored gelatin, or egg whites.
Wrapping It Up
While sorghum flour may not sound as well-known, there are quite a few alternatives you can use if you run out or have allergies. You won’t need to omit sorghum flour in your recipe or skip making it, as you can easily find these replacements in local supermarkets or online stores.
Did you find the optimum sorghum flour substitute from our list? If so, continue learning more about what other food substitutions you can use for future recipes here.