Spelt flour has earned its place on the list of top flour choices, as it is packed with flavor, easy to work with, extremely versatile, and uniquely tangy and nutty.
Since spelt flour does contain gluten, it is a perfect alternative to all-purpose flour, as it can form a stable, flexible dough, but it is still considered a healthier choice.
While spelt flour can be used in place of plain all-purpose flour, you may wonder what could be a suitable spelt flour substitute not only in baking but in all cooking applications.
Keep reading to learn more about the best spelt flour substitutes for all your favorite recipes.
The best substitutes for spelt flour
Spelt flour is available in two versions: white spelt flour and whole-grain spelt flour. While white spelt flour is just as versatile and convenient, whole-grain spelt flour is considered to be of the highest quality.
To produce whole-grain spelt flour, the whole spelt grain is processed, and not just the endosperm (which is just the starchy element).
Whole-grain spelt flour has a brownish hue, a denser texture, and it provides much more flavor and aroma than plain, white spelt flour.
When it comes to uses of spelt flour, the options are truly endless, as you can use it in place of all-purpose flour in all your recipes.
Keep in mind that white spelt flour will have a more neutral taste and a very subtle aroma, whereas whole-grain spelt flour is packed with a nutty, toasty flavor.
Since spelt flour is glutinous, you don’t have to combine it with other flour types to get the desired dough structure and volume.
However, when kneading the dough with spelt flour, you don’t want to follow the the-more-you-kneed-the-better rule that applies to plain wheat flour.
With spelt flour, you want to avoid overdoing it when it comes to dough kneading, as the gluten strands in its structure aren’t as resilient and they can break easily.
What this means is that, in case you knead or mix the dough for too long, the bread/any other baked goodie you’re making will have a rather crumbly, tough, dry texture.
Also, keep in mind that you may not be a huge fan of the dominant acidity and nuttiness of the spelt flour (especially whole-grain). If this is the case, feel free to mix it with a more neutral flour to create some balance.
It is also important to mention that spelt flour isn’t as absorbent as plain wheat flour, and the dough may turn out to be a bit more sticky than what you’re used to.
Let’s take a look at some of the best flour options that could replace spelt flour in your kitchen.
1. Einkorn flour
In case you’ve never heard of einkorn, it is the original kind of wheat, before all these hybrids were developed.
This ancient grain is a highly ranked substitute for spelt flour due to its gluten content, as well as numerous culinary applications.
Einkorn flour is a great choice for baking, and there is no need to combine it with other flour kinds to get the desired dough texture. Just like spelt, it has a recognizable nutty, rich flavor and a unique aroma.
With einkorn flour, you get the versatility and convenience of plain wheat flour, combined with a toasty, nutty, warm aroma. It is often used in banana bread, pancakes, as well as all kinds of bread and flatbread.
2. Kamut flour
Kamut wheat is yet another ancient grain that has been gaining a lot of popularity, especially in baking. This spelt flour replacement will add a buttery, nutty, slightly sweet flavor to all your baked goodies.
Kamut flour works very well as a spelt flour alternative in baking – especially for bread and flatbread. It can also be used as a sauce or soup thickener, as well as nutty, aromatic batter for meat, fish, and seafood.
When it comes to both culinary applications and flavor profiles, Kamut flour can replace spelt flour in all your recipes, whether it be baking or cooking.
3. Amaranth flour
Amaranth flour is perhaps the most adequate gluten-free substitute for spelt flour, and it comes from finely ground amaranth seeds.
While it is used as a grain and resembles grain in many aspects, amaranth doesn’t belong to this category. It is, in fact, a species from the pigweed family.
However, being gluten-free, amaranth flour will mostly require the addition of other types of flour to produce an elastic dough that won’t crumble and fall apart once it’s baked.
4. Barley flour
Barley flour, produced from ground whole barley grain, is a very fine, powdery flour that can replace spelt flour both in baking and cooking.
When it comes to baking, it yields the best results when mixed with other types of flour – preferably glutinous kinds.
Using gluten-free types of flour on their own tends to produce crumbly baked goods that won’t be as compact, and they will often lack moisture and flavor.
Therefore, if you’re using barley flour in baking, it is best to combine up to 25% of this flour with some other kind of glutinous flour.
Other than that, barley flour performs just fine when used as a dry batter or thickening agent.
5. Rice flour
Rice flour is one of the preferred baking flours, as it has a very fine, soft texture, so it’s quite easy to mix it with other ingredients. It also produces a soft, smooth dough that is super easy to mold.
This substitution for spelt flour is yet another gluten-free option that is suitable for baking and sauce and soup thickening, but it can also be used as a dry batter, just like spelt flour.
Rice flour is extremely popular in Japanese cuisine, due to its smooth texture, as well as the heartiness and softness it adds to cakes, cookies, and treats such as mochi.
You’ll also find that rice flour is quite neutral when it comes to both flavor and aroma, so it can be added to both your sweet and savory recipes without altering their flavor profile.
6. Emmer flour
Emmer flour may not be as popular as spelt flour, but it is a product that can replace spelt flour in your kitchen.
Since it is a glutinous flour, emmer (also known as Pharaoh’s wheat) flour can produce a very solid, compact dough on its own, whether you’re making pancakes, cookies, muffins, or bread.
However, keep in mind that the gluten content of the emmer flour isn’t the same as spelt flour. Therefore, the bread or other baked goodie it produces will be more on the dense side.
It is recommended to avoid kneading emmer flour dough too much, as the gluten network isn’t as stable and the dough may start breaking up if you mix it for too long.
7. Oat flour
Oat flour is a very convenient solution since you can easily make it at home! All that is required is your favorite brand of rolled oats, and a food processor or a blender that is powerful enough to make a smooth flour.
When it comes to flavor, oat flour is one of the best spelt flour substitutes, as it has a distinctive nutty, toasty flavor with a hint of sweetness.
Another important fact about oat flour is that it retains much more moisture than other types of flour as it is highly absorbent.
What this means is that your baked goods will never turn out dry, as the moisture will be locked in the dough.
8. Quinoa flour
Quinoa, being a pseudo-grain, is a gluten-free spelt flour alternative that acts like a grain, but doesn’t belong to this category.
It can, however, replace spelt flour in all your dishes, as it can be used as a thickening agent or dry batter. Quinoa flour is also a great choice for baking, as it is smooth, powdery, and easy to work with.
It will provide the nuttiness and sweetness you’re used to in spelt flour, but since it contains no gluten, you may need to mix it with other flour types to get that stretchy, flexible dough.
Try replacing spelt flour with protein-packed quinoa flour in your waffles, pancakes (both sweet and savory), brownies, as well as gluten-free pizza dough.
9. Buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour is yet another gluten-free spelt flour substitute that offers a very distinctive flavor and aroma.
Contrary to all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour and similar alternatives can transform not only the texture, but the flavor profile of the dish – especially baked goodies.
Just like quinoa, buckwheat isn’t cereal, but it has all the important properties you’d want in one. It is a common choice for Japanese Soba noodles, as well as crepes and pancakes.
Since it contains no gluten, it can replace up to 40% of the plain wheat flour in your favorite dough recipes – which is not to say you can’t use it on its own.
Baking with buckwheat flour only, however, will mostly produce a tougher dough that will result in a crumbly texture after baking.
10. Teff flour
Teff flour comes from a lovegrass crop that, just like many spelt flour alternatives we’ve mentioned, shares many properties with grains.
That being said, teff flour is a very convenient replacement for spelt flour as it has a very fine texture, and a slightly nutty flavor spelt flour is famous for.
Teff flour is traditionally used in Ethiopian flatbread recipes, but you can also include it in muffins, pancakes, and all kinds of cookies.
Its unique earthiness and subtly sweet flavor position it high on the gluten-free flour list.
11. Millet flour
Millet flour can be used in place of spelt flour if your focus is on that sweet yet nutty flavor and an aroma that will fill up the entire kitchen when you’re baking.
This spelt flour substitute is often added to dishes (both baked and cooked) due to its vibrant white color. Millet flour can be used both as dry batter and thickener, but it is often added to baked dishes, as well.
However, since it has no gluten that would help in creating a stable, elastic dough, many people choose to use millet flour in combination with wheat flour to get the best dough structure possible.
12. Soy flour
Soy flour is an excellent choice when it comes to replacing spelt flour – especially in bread, flatbread, cookies, and pasta.
Since it is produced from roasted soybeans, this flour offers a strong toasty, nutty, savory flavor that can elevate any dish.
It can also serve as a thickener in dishes such as soups, sauces, dips, and gravy. You can also use it as aromatic and flavorful batter for seafood, fish, and veggies.
When used in baked goodies, soy flour provides that softness and moisture that prevent cookies, bread, or muffins from going stale after only a few hours.
However, keep in mind that you may want to shorten the baking time when using soy flour, as it tends to brown very quickly.
Given its toasty aroma, if the dish burns, the flavor may go from nutty to bitter and quite off-putting in a matter of minutes.
13. Sorghum flour
Sorghum flour comes from ground whole-wheat sorghum. As opposed to other flours that exclude certain crop elements, this kind of flavor offers a wide array of flavors and a much more dominant aroma.
Sorghum flour has been used in culinary applications for centuries, and not only as a thickener in cooked dishes such as soups and sauces – but in alcoholic beverages, as well.
It has a very warm aroma and a distinctive toasty, nutty flavor that resembles spelt flour. However, when it comes to baking, it is best used in combination with glutinous flour.
14. Coconut flour
When it comes to replacing spelt flour in desserts, there is hardly a better choice than coconut flour. It is highly aromatic, sweet, and perfect for all your dessert recipes, including muffins, cookies, pancakes, and filling.
Coconut flour is produced from dehydrated, dried coconut meat, and it provides a beautiful milky, mild aroma. However, many people choose to use it in savory dishes as well, as it can create a very unique contrast of flavors.
Keep in mind that coconut flour can absorb much more liquid than the majority of flour types we’ve mentioned, so you may need to use a bit more water or milk to achieve the desired consistency.
The fact that it is highly absorbent also means that coconut flour will provide that soft texture we all appreciate in baked dishes, and prevent the dough from drying while baking.
15. Wheat flour
When it comes to replacing any kind of flour in your recipes, spelt flour included, you simply cannot go wrong with plain wheat flour.
It is certainly the most versatile and convenient option there is, whether you’re making pizza crust, bread, flatbread, or pancakes. It works just as well in savory and sweet recipes, but its role in cooking isn’t limited to just baking.
Given its neutral flavor profile, it is used as a thickener in pretty much any dish you can imagine, and it is also the most common batter choice.
Wheat flour is the ultimate go-to option if you’re in a rush and don’t feel like experimenting with new products, especially when making dough.
How to choose a spelt flour substitute
Since spelt flour is a glutinous flour, you can rely on it when it comes to kneading a flexible, elastic dough.
That being said, if you’re not too fond of the idea of creating a combination of flours, the best options for replacing spelt flour in baking would be einkorn flour, Kamut flour, emmer flour, or wheat flour.
Gluten-free options, on the other hand, may have to be combined with other products in baking. While their baking properties may not be as prominent, they’re often added to baked goods due to their flavor, aroma, and texture.
Amaranth flour, barley flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, millet flour, soy flour, and sorghum flour may not be as suitable for baking as spelt flour, but they add a nutty, toasty note to all dishes.
Coconut flour, rice flour, and teff flour are more on the neutral side as they’re not as toasty, but rather sweet. However, they offer a powdery, smooth texture that allows for seamless blending in both baking and cooking.
All of the spelt flour substitutes we’ve discussed can be a pretty convenient solution, depending on your recipe and personal preferences.