Teff flour is a type of cereal grain, originating in Africa. It is most often used to make flatbread, and has been utilized in Eritrea and Ethiopia for many thousands of years. In modern days, it has become a popular alternative to wheat flour for those who follow gluten-free diets.
If there is no teff flour available to you and your recipe calls for it, not to worry. There are plenty of replacements for teff flour that are also alternatives to wheat flour. They vary in texture and nutritional profiles, but with all of the options, you’re certain to find one that works for you.
Some of the best and most accessible substitutes for teff flour include: sorghum flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, oat flour, amaranth flour, cornmeal, and coconut flour.
What is Teff Flour?
Teff flour is derived from an ancient grain that is native to North Africa. Teff is the smallest grain known to man, and is comparable to millet in its appearance. The grains are ground into flour, and typically fermented.
It is a staple diet for many Ethiopian people. In the United States, we use gluten (wheat flour) as a binding ingredient for many recipes. Teff flour is essentially the Ethiopian equivalent, though it is gaining popularity worldwide as it is a great gluten-free flour.
Is Teff Flour the Same as Wheat Flour?
Although teff flour and wheat flour can be used for the same purposes, they are not the same thing. For one, teff flour is more friendly towards those who suffer with allergies, and someone with a gluten sensitivity cannot consume wheat flour.
Teff flour can be an easy substitute for wheat flour, because they are made from different grains. When using teff flour instead of wheat flour, it’s best to use about ¼ the amount that you would’ve used for wheat flour.
Why Replace Teff Flour?
Teff flour is an excellent gluten-free alternative for baking. It produces products with the same consistency that wheat flour does, presenting almost no noticeable difference. If anything, teff flour makes food better. Unfortunately, it is not always as widely available as we would hope. The good news is that there are many other types of flour that replicate teff flour’s properties.
What Can You Use Instead of Teff Flour?
1. Sorghum Flour
The consistency and texture of sorghum flour is very similar to that of teff flour. Its appearance is more like that of wheat flour, instead of the pure white color of teff flour. But, when baking, the color of the flour alone is likely the least of your concerns.
Sorghum flour is the best teff replacement for making bread dough. When using it as a replacement, use a bit less of sorghum than you would of teff. One cup of sorghum flour for a little over a cup of teff flour should do the trick.
2. Rice Flour
Rice flour is a type of Asian ingredient, and is much easier to access in the western world than teff flour is. Like teff flour, rice flour is also gluten free. There are multiple varieties of rice flour available, but some of them even replicate the appearance of teff flour.
When using it as a teff flour substitute, use one cup of rice flour per ⅔ cup of teff flour. Rice flour is the best alternative for baking things like brownies or cookies, as it doesn’t replicate the tight bond that gluten does.
3. Tapioca Flour
In its chemical makeup, tapioca flour is more related to whole wheat than it is to teff. But, it bears a striking resemblance to teff flour in both its appearance and properties. Equal parts of tapioca can be used in place of teff, and it’s perfect for bread dough.
4. Buckwheat Flour
Despite its name containing the word “wheat”, buckwheat is not wheat in any way. It is a gluten-free seed, making it a good alternative to teff flour for grains. Most often, buckwheat is used in a mixture along with teff flour.
If you don’t have any teff flour but love it most for its nutritional profile, try using buckwheat flour. Like teff flour, it is full of vitamins as well as minerals such as phosphorus, iron, and calcium.
5. Quinoa Flour
Quinoa is another ancient grain, and quinoa flour has a pretty similar taste to teff flour. In addition, it is high in fiber, protein, and iron, plus a lack of gluten. It is a satisfying alternative for people with gluten sensitivities.
The consistency of quinoa is lighter than that of teff, so you’re more likely to have fluffy results when using quinoa flour. Its taste is more mild, though, so the flavor of your dish won’t be impacted much. To enhance the flavor, try using more sugar and butter than you normally would.
6. Millet Flour
In many cases when making millet flour, wheat starch is combined with millet starch. So, millet flour is often not a viable teff flour substitute for those who cannot consume gluten. However, if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity, it is a tasty flour.
Wheat starch is used in the production of millet flour to enhance its flavor. The taste of millet flour is very similar to that of teff flour, but millet does not have the nutrition that teff is known for. Millet flour is perfect for pastas and cakes.
7. Oat Flour
It’s not recommended to use oat flour on its own, just because it lacks the properties that can bind ingredients together. Mixing it with quinoa or rice flour can give the desired effect that you look for in teff flour, but oat flour isn’t typically the first option for replacements.
8. Amaranth Flour
This teff flour alternative is made from the amaranth plant, making it rich in minerals and vitamins. Its taste is nutty and it can be used in place of teff flour in basically any recipe that calls for it.
The most noticeable difference between teff flour and amaranth flour is their textures. They can be substituted at a one to one ratio, but amaranth flour is not as light as teff flour is. So, your end product might be a little more dense than intended.
9. Coconut Flour
The scent and flavor of coconut flour is so sweet that you won’t need to add any vanilla extract to your recipe. The only possible downside to this is that it will still be noticeable when you mix coconut flour with other ingredients.
When using coconut flour, be sure to thoroughly clean all dishes used as its aroma sticks around for much longer than other flours. It can also be dense in texture, so when using for fluffy recipes like cakes you’ll probably need to mix it with other flours.
Cornmeal is an almost exact replica of teff flour. It is very close in terms of color and texture, and is lighter than the typical wheat flour. If you find that whole grains are too heavy for you, cornmeal is a great substitute for teff flour.
Is Teff Good for Diabetics?
Teff has a low glycemic index. It is one of the foods that is recommended for patients with diabetes to consume, because of this property. People with diabetes should stay away from foods with a high glycemic index.
Is Teff Flour Inflammatory?
It’s easy to think that a carbohydrate product would be inflammatory. Teff flour is quite the opposite, because it is gluten-free it has anti-inflammatory properties. Digestive issues associated with gluten, like gas and bloating, are almost nonexistent when using teff flour.
Does Teff Flour Taste Good?
The flavor of teff flour is light and nutty. It’s a pleasant taste, without being too overwhelming for the other ingredients in your recipe. There are multiple varieties available that have an even milder taste.
Teff flour is a wonderful gluten-free flour. It is anti-inflammatory, and is packed with nutrients. Most importantly, it’s safe and recommended for those with gluten sensitivities to consume. Unfortunately, it can be pretty hard to track down at a store. But, there are plenty of substitutes for teff flour that offer similar flavor and nutritional profiles.