Almond flour or meal is a healthy alternative to use in gluten-free or Paleo cooking and baking. Learn the benefits of this nut-based ingredient so you can add texture, flavor, and nutrition into various recipes.
Almond flour and other nut flours (also known as nut meals) are made from the cake that remains after oils are pressed from nuts, adding a rich flavor to baked goods and providing a base for breading fish and meat. It’s an excellent product to have handy for anyone who is soy-free, gluten-free, on the Paleo diet, or following Whole30.
The popularity of almond flour has skyrocketed, primarily imparting a sweet, buttery flavor with a lighter color to seamlessly incorporate into baked goods, if made from slivered or blanched almonds. The flour carries a fat content that adds depth, flavor and richness to the final product, no matter if it’s savory or sweet. Keep reading for more about how it’s made, nutritional benefits and use in the kitchen.
Almond Meal vs. Almond Flour
The distinction is that almond flour is commonly created with blanched sweet almonds with the skin removed. It’s then ground to a fine powder that can be used more seamlessly in baking. It’s the star in French macarons, and it’s better for cakes, quick bread, and cookies that you want a cleaner appearance.
Almond meal, on the other hand, can have the skin on for a more “natural” appearance with brown speckles. It tends to be more coarse in texture. It’s best used for more rustic baked goods like quick bread, cookies, tarts, pancakes, crumb toppings, and crusts for fish or chicken.
Depending on the brand almond “flour” and “meal” are the same, so make sure to check the label and take a peek at the appearance before you purchase. It’s also possible to make your own almond flour or meal in a food processor or blender, but be careful not to over-process and make almond butter!
Almond Flour health benefits
Health-wise, almond flour is a good bang for your buck and the ideal alternative for a gluten-free diet. This flour is high in protein (21% by weight), manganese, vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, low in carbohydrates, and contains fiber. However, there is a potential risk for those with allergies, so make sure you consider this when serving anything to someone who may be allergic to nuts.
According to the USDA Nutrient Database, in 1/4 cup serving of almond flour, there are:
- 150 calories
- 6 grams of protein
- 11 grams of fat
- 6 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 1 gram of sugar
- 60 mg of calcium
- 2 mg of iron
Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour
If you’re at all familiar with cooking with nut flours, I’m sure you’ve heard the jokes. Most of which revolve around baked goods coming out closer to bricks than they do to anything edible. With a little bit of know-how and a decent amount of finesse, you can be cooking alternative baked goods with almond flour that have enticing qualities of their own or so perfectly mimic the real thing. You’ll be shocked.
Since these flours are gluten-free, it’s harder to get baked goods to rise while using it as a 100% replacement for wheat flour. Some bakers advise using them as part of a flour mix, to add flavor and texture.
- Using only almond flour alone can cause products to be dense due to the proteins and oils. Typically a combination of 25% replacement of wheat flour with almond flour does not significantly affect the texture, arrowroot powder/flour which is a starch helps to lighten the baked good, plus coconut flour helps soak up moisture and provide structure.
- For those who are going to be baking solely with nut flour, eggs are going to be heavily relied on to add structure to the baked good, and you’ll notice many recipes reflect that.
- You’ll also want to make sure you use a finely ground type of flour as possible–sometimes, mealier or coarser varieties won’t hold their shape.
- It has also been said that nut oils aren’t heat stable–this would be true in oil form, but it has also been found that polyunsaturated fats are more heat stable when part of the whole food, as it is in a ground product.
- Cookies, cobblers, bread, pancakes, waffles, tortillas, brownies, muffins, and crusts are all fair game with this flour.
The ground flour or meal can be used as a breading/coating for seafood like shrimp and fish, chicken, or vegetables. Just dip in egg first to help the flour stick and then pan-fry in oil. The ground nuts can also be used as a fragrant and crunchy topping or used as bread crumbs for casseroles, mac & cheese, or vegetables.
Storage for nut flours is critical to avoid rancidity–the refrigerator or freezer in a tightly sealed container should do the trick.
Almond flour recipes
Popular on Amazon
Here are a few of the most popular Almond Flour products listed on Amazon.com
- Nature’s Eats Blanched Almond Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour
- Wellbee’s Super Fine Almond Flour
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you!