What’s nutty, crunchy, ever-so-slightly sweet, naturally gluten-free and packed with nutrients? Almond flour is what. The grain-free flour is versatile and easy to use in your own kitchen, but it can also be kind of expensive to buy at the store. (Womp, womp.) That’s what we’re here for. Whether you’re looking to make a gluten-free substitution in a recipe, or just curious about what the heck you can do with the stuff, we’re breaking down exactly how to make almond flour at home, plus why you should bother in the first place.
First of all, what is almond flour? Is it the same as almond meal?
It turns out, almond flour isn’t really flour at all. It’s just a popular ingredient substitute for wheat flour, hence the name. Almond flour is made by grinding whole blanched almonds (aka almonds that have been quickly boiled in water to remove their skins) into a fine powder. The powder is then sifted to ensure it’s free of any clumps or large pieces of almond and has a consistent, even texture.
Almond flour and almond meal are similar, but they’re not *technically* the same. Almond meal is made by processing (or grinding) raw, unsalted almonds with their skins on, while almond flour is made by processing blanched almonds—aka almonds with their skins removed. For the most part, they can be used interchangeably (and will sometimes be labeled interchangeably, too), although almond meal usually has a coarser texture than almond flour. Then there’s also superfine almond flour, which is, you guessed it, ground to an extra-fine texture. If you’re confused, don’t worry. As long as the ingredient list says “almonds” and nothing else, they’re all the same ingredient in varying degrees of texture.
And is almond flour better for you than regular wheat flour?
Let’s talk nutritional labels: Compared to regular, all-purpose flour, almond flour is lower in carbohydrates, has a lower glycemic index and packs in the same nutritional benefits that almonds do. This means it’s a good source of vitamin E (an antioxidant that might ward off cancer), magnesium (which might lower blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels), not to mention calcium, manganese, protein, fiber and healthy fats. Almond flour has been found to improve skin health and hair and nail growth. Don’t forget, it’s also naturally gluten-free, as well as Paleo, keto and Whole30 diet-friendly. Some studies, such as this one, even suggest that almonds (and therefore almond flour) might reduce cholesterol levels and fight inflammation.
There are 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar and 1 gram of fiber in a two tablespoon serving of almond flour, compared to 55 calories, 0 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein, 0 grams of sugar and 0 grams of fiber in a two tablespoon serving of all-purpose flour. So while, yes, almond flour does have more calories per serving, it’s because there’s a greater amount of fat (and it also has more of the good stuff going for it).
Can I use almond flour just like regular flour?
Unfortunately, not really. Because wheat flour contains gluten (the protein that gives structure to things like bread, cookies and cakes), almond flour won’t always work in a recipe—especially when flour is one of the main ingredients. When it comes to baking, your best bet is to find recipes that were made with almond flour in mind. But if only a small amount of flour is called for in a recipe, you might be able to make the swap without running into any problems. For example, if a recipe calls for just one or two tablespoons of flour, you can most likely use almond flour instead. You can use almond flour to replace the bread crumbs in meatloaf or meatballs; to add a nutty flavor and hearty texture to pancakes, waffles and muffins; as a breading for homemade chicken nuggets and fish…the list goes on.
So why should I use almond flour in my cooking?
Aside from being full of those aforementioned nutrients, almond flour is a good option for celiac-friendly baking and cooking because it’s naturally gluten-free. From a culinary standpoint, almond flour offers a different texture and flavor than wheat flour: It’s nutty, slightly sweet and a little bit crunchy.
Is it cheaper to make almond flour than it is to buy it pre-made?
You mean you’re going to make us do math? Just kidding, friends. We’ll crunch the numbers for you.
Let’s say you buy a 6-ounce bag of blanched, slivered almonds for $4.69 at the grocery store. That’s about 1⅓ cups and, FYI, one cup of blanched almonds will yield about 1¼ cups almond flour…so this bag would yield about 1⅔ cups of almond flour. That means your homemade almond flour would cost about $2.83 per cup. Whew.
On the other hand, a 16-ounce bag of Bob’s Red Mill almond flour will cost you $12.69 and yield about 4 cups of almond flour. That’s $3.18 per cup.
So according to our calculations, that’s great news! It actually is cheaper to make almond flour at home than it is to buy a bag of the pre-made stuff. Of course, keep in mind that this all depends on the price of almonds in your part of the world—we’re working with New York City prices in this example. To get the most bang for your buck, we recommend buying your almonds in bulk, as it’s usually cheaper (or you can keep your eyes peeled for sales and markdowns).
So, without further ado, we present you our recipe for making almond flour at home.
Here’s exactly how to make almond flour at home:
Lucky for you, it’s pretty simple to whip up a fresh batch of almond flour at home. All you’ll need is a food processor with a blade attachment (or alternatively, a blender), a spatula and a cup of blanched almonds. You can use any type of almonds—whole, sliced or slivered—as long as they’re already blanched, but starting with sliced or slivered will be less work in the long run.
1. In the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment, place one cup of almonds.
2. Pulse the almonds in one-second increments for about a minute, stopping every ten seconds or so to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This will ensure that the almonds are ground evenly, and that the almond flour doesn’t turn into almond butter (which is delicious, but not really what we’re going for here). Your almond flour will keep for up to one year if stored in a well-sealed container in a cool, dark place (or even longer in the freezer).
Voilà: In about a minute’s time, you’ll have a homemade batch of gluten-free almond flour ready to use at your leisure. If you’re not sure where to start, might we suggest starting with this edible chocolate chip cookie dough or these bite-size almond raspberry spoon cakes? If you’re in the mood for a classic, there’s always Sarah Copeland’s chocolate chip cookie for modern times, and if you’re craving breakfast, these gluten-free almond flour pancakes. And don’t forget caramel almond cake—OK, OK, you get the idea.