What Is Rice Flour? Is It Gluten Free?

Rice flour is a staple ingredient in Japan, India, and Southeast Asia. Also known as rice powder, it’s made by wet or dry milling white or brown rice. The flour uses damaged or broken grains as the raw materials, which may otherwise not have a viable use.

Rice flour shouldn’t be confused with rice starch which is a completely different product. Flour is made by milling the rice while starch steeps the rice in alkaline and requires multiple stages of purification.

What is rice flour used for?

Rice flour is a versatile ingredient that is light and delicate. It is excellent for gluten free baking, which is why you’ll find it in most of the Well and Good range.

Pancakes, cookies, cakes, and rice noodles are all possible with rice flour. It’s also great used in batters when frying as the exterior gets a nice crunchy texture. When your next stew or soup needs thickening, a slurry made from rice flour will work well. 

Keep in mind that rice flour isn’t perfect and it often works best in combination with other ingredients. For example, we often combine it with potato starch and tapioca starch to lighten the mix. A stabilizer like xanthan gum is also used to replicate gluten’s elasticity. It provides structure to baked goods as well as holding in moisture and binding the ingredients. 

Other flours that partner well with rice flour are buckwheat, quinoa, coconut, and almond flour.

What are the health benefits of rice flour?

  • Gluten free: A useful wheat flour replacement for Coeliacs and those on a gluten free diet.
  • Source of fiber: Contains soluble fibre which keeps you fuller longer and offers a range of health benefits.
  • High in calcium: Rice flour contains useful levels of calcium which is ideal for maintaining bone health.
Gluten free bundt cake made using rice flour.

What’s the difference between white and brown rice flour?

White rice flour is made from rice that has had the bran removed while brown rice is made by grinding whole grain rice.

Of the two, brown rice flour is the healthiest option but it won’t always work in baking applications. It is heavier which means it isn’t as suitable for airy cakes and cupcakes. White rice flour is also milder in flavor, meaning it won’t overwhelm other ingredients in a recipe.  

 White Rice FlourBrown Rice Flour

Always read labels

If you can’t eat gluten then be sure to check the label to ensure the rice flour hasn’t been manufactured in a factory that also processes wheat. Wheat flour tends to find its way into places it shouldn’t be as cross-contamination is always possible.

All Well and Good products are made in a facility that is free from gluten, nuts, dairy, and other major allergens.

Advantages of rice flour

  • Mild taste works well in many baked good recipes.
  • A plentiful ingredient that’s readily available in stores.
  • Versatile flour that works well in sweet and savoury foods.
  • Doesn’t add any funky flavour to recipes.
  • It inhibits liquid separation so it’s great as a thickening agent in foods that will be frozen or refrigerated.

Disadvantages of rice flour

  • Some rice flour isn’t as smooth in texture as regular wheat flour.
  • It doesn’t absorb liquid well which means in many recipes it needs to be paired with another flour variety.

Summing up

If you need to cut gluten out of your diet then a useful gluten free flour replacement is rice flour. It’s a popular staple that we use in many of our baking mixes. 

While no gluten free flour is perfect for every recipe, you’ll find that rice flour is one of the best for versatility. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to add some additional ingredients to make the recipe work. 

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