Low Carb Basics: Baking with Coconut Flour


Baking With Coconut Flour

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cake

It’s taken me a long time to get around to writing this how-to post on baking with coconut flour, in part because these non-recipes posts are an exceptional amount of work and in part because baking with coconut flour isn’t quite as much my expertise as baking with almond flour is.  There is also a great deal to be said about coconut flour, and I wanted to be as thorough as possible.  It’s a very useful low carb and gluten-free ingredient, but it’s a strange beast that behaves in strange ways.  I once said that if you attempt to treat it like wheat flour, it will taunt you out of pure spite.  Let it be said that I the answers here are from my own experiences working with coconut flour.  There are many other talented recipe writers who have made some amazing coconut flour creations and you should certainly seek out their advice where you can.  The more the merrier when it comes to coconut flour baking tips, I say!  Enjoy!

What is Coconut Flour and why should I care?

Coconut flour is actually the by-product of coconut milk production.  After the coconut milk has been extracted, the leftover coconut meat is dried at low temps for a long period of time and then finely ground.  It is a very fine, powdery that resembles wheat flour in appearance, although it smells distinctly of coconut. Perhaps its most distinctive characteristic is the rather astonishing way it soaks up moisture and liquids, and in this it differs from most other flours, gluten-free or otherwise.  It’s like a sponge in powder form, taking in a remarkable amount of eggs, oil and other wet ingredients, and still staying as thick as porridge until it finally reaches saturation. On the other hand, too much liquid, and you’ll end up with a soggy baked good that won’t cook through.  It’s a fine balance.

Baking with coconut flour isn’t quite as unforgiving as it sounds, though.  It does take some getting used to and a willingness to experiment a little.  As always, begin with tried and true recipes from people with experience, and then as you get a feel for it, you can begin to branch out on your own.

How to bake with coconut flour

Lemon Ricotta Bundt Cakes

What are the nutritional benefits of coconut flour?
It is extremely high fiber and low carb (2/3 of the carbs are dietary fiber so they can be subtracted from the total).  I keep reading that it’s also high in protein, but upon a little investigation, I find that it’s not really when compared with nut flours.  And since you tend to use much less of it per recipe, I wouldn’t qualify it as a significant source of protein at all.  It’s also not particularly high in fat, compared to nut flours like almond flour  This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but it does make a difference when baking with it.

What ratio can I use to replace regular flour with coconut flour?

I wish there was a simple answer here, but there is no strict ratio for taking a conventional recipe and recreating it with coconut flour. For example, a typical quick bread recipe takes 2 cups of flour, 1 or 2 eggs, 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil or butter, and anywhere between 1/4 to 1 cup of other liquids like milk or juice.  Depending on the recipe writer, I’ve seen coconut flour breads take anywhere from 3/4 to 1 & 1/2 cups coconut flour, 6 eggs to 12 eggs, 1/3 to 1 cup of oil and no other liquids at all.  And when I create a coconut flour recipe, I almost always try to add in some sort of additional protein (usually whey, but you could use hemp, soy or egg powder protein) to make up for the lack of gluten.  I find this helps make a lighter, less dense end product. Confused yet?  Yeah, me too.

But don’t despair.  I’ve found that one of the best ways to create a coconut flour recipe that embodies the characteristics of a beloved family favourite without the gluten is to actually search for a similar coconut flour recipe and then make changes to the flavourings, spices and seasonings to suit your needs.  There are a lot of talented people out there doing some innovative things with coconut flour, and it’s a trend that I think is going to continue.  You can likely find what you need somewhere on the vast internet.

Baking with Coconut Flour

Thai Coconut Bread Pudding

How about subbing coconut flour into almond flour or other nut flour recipes? 

Again, I’d say that there’s no simple ratio, but it is a little easier since they are both gluten free to start with and thus need some of the same considerations when baking.  If I were to rework one of my own almond flour recipes, I would do about 1/3 cup coconut flour for every cup of almond flour.  Then I’d probably triple the eggs, and keep the liquids and additional protein about the same.  If my batter seemed too thick, I’d add some additional liquid, one tablespoon at a time until the consistency seemed right.  If my batter was too thin, I’d add more coconut flour, one tablespoon at a time.

But here’s where experience and gut instinct come into play.  The “right” consistency for any gluten-free batter is very different than that of conventional recipes.  It is typically much thicker and needs to be spread into the pan, not poured.  Once again, the more you bake with these low carb, gluten-free ingredients, the more you will get used to this and be able to tell what the right consistency is.

Baking with Coconut Flour

Browned Butter Cacao Nib Cookies

Gettin’ Eggy With It – do coconut flour recipes REALLY need all those eggs?

The most common complaint about coconut flour recipes are that they take a great many eggs.  And they really do.  I know I was startled when I first started to bake with it, and wondered if all the eggs were really necessary.  But eggs, or egg replacers, really are important in coconut flour baking.  This is due in part to the remarkable absorbancy of coconut flour, but eggs also give it structure in the absence of gluten.  It seems to require more structure than other low carb or gluten-free flours, so foregoing the eggs or egg replacers, or significantly cutting back on them, is not recommended.

I personally do not find the end product to be either eggy-tasting or rubbery in texture, although I know some people object to them on these grounds.  If you are vegan or allergic to eggs, you should be able to use things like flax seed meal and water to replace the eggs.

As a little experiment, I tried making some coconut flour bread by significantly cutting back on the eggs.  I put in only 4 where the original recipe took 12.  I made up the liquid and protein by adding Greek yogurt and some additional liquids.  The end result was very tasty, but really really soft.  Even after being toasted, trying to spread it with butter was virtually impossible.  It was not a recipe I could share here on All Day I Dream About Food.


Light and Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes

I don’t like the taste of coconut…can I still use coconut flour?

Coconut flour has a strong coconut scent and some baked goods can taste very coconutty, if they don’t have other strong flavours to compete with it.  I find that chocolate and cocoa powder are good additions to help mask the coconut taste for cakes and cupcakes.  And a little garlic or onion powder does a great job for savoury items, making the coconut virtually indistinguishable.  Play up certain other flavours with herbs, spices and flavourings, and I think you will find you can still enjoy the end result.

Alternatively, if you do like the taste of coconut, you can play that up as well and have some great fun by adding coconut oil and/or coconut milk to the recipe.

Baking with Coconut Flour

Chocolate Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

Do different brands vary in terms of weight and how absorbent they are?

I have used three brands of coconut flour, Aloha Nu, Tropical Traditions and Bob’s Red Mill and I have liked them all equally well.  But I suspect that yes, different brands may vary some in overall density and absorption.  I doubt very much, however, that they will differ so much that you can’t correct the batter of the recipe to accommodate these differences.  Again, if it’s too thin, you thicken it slightly with more coconut flour.  If it’s too thick, you thin it out a bit.

What is the best use of coconut flour?

I am sure that this differs very much person to person, baker to baker.  I personally love coconut flour for things like pancakes and waffles.  If you are new to coconut flour baking, that’s a good place to start because the batters can easily be corrected if that first pancake doesn’t turn out very well.  From there, once you have a feel for coconut flour, I think you can graduate to muffins, quick breads and cakes.  And one of the most famous coconut flour recipes out there are the cheesy drop biscuits (google them, you will find a zillion recipes).  They’re easy and quick too!

I also really like using coconut flour for the filler in meatloaf and meat balls.  But you need to be sure to increase the liquids (broth) by about double, to make the coconut flour swell and help bind the finished product.  I’ve never used coconut flour as a thickener for soups or sauces, but I know other people have had success with it.

The one area where I haven’t had any success is using it as a breading for chicken or fish.  It’s so absorbent, it clumps up like crazy and won’t fry properly.

Feta Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

Feta Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

When should I combine it with other gluten-free flours, like nut flour?

The answer to this really should be…whenever you feel like it!  You will have to adjust the recipe accordingly, if you’re going to try take an almond flour recipe and replace some of it with coconut flour.  But I find that a bit of coconut flour is also useful in some almond flour recipes.  I often use a few tablespoons to 1/4 cup of coconut flour for bread recipes, as it seems to make them stiffer and slightly drier, and so more bread-like.  I also use a few tablespoons when making a crumb-type crust, as it helps absorb the oils and the end result is more crumbly.

Where is the best place to purchase coconut flour?

Like most of my low carb specialty ingredients, I find it cheapest and easiest to buy coconut flour online at sites like Amazon or Netrition.  But more and more grocery stores are starting to carry it in their gluten-free section, so be on the lookout.  I think as gluten-free gains in popularity, you will see it in more and more stores.

Low Carb Panini Bread

Brie, Ham and Green Apple Panini

How do I store my opened bag of coconut flour?

Because it likes to absorb moisture like crazy, I like to keep my coconut flour at room temperature, wrapped tightly to keep any moisture out.  I don’t keep it in the fridge or the freezer because these environments tend to have even more moisture than regular air.  Wherever you choose to store yours, make sure it’s airtight.

I hope that helps to answer some of your most basic questions about baking with coconut flour.  It may seem daunting at first, but after working with it, I think you will find that it’s not as tricky or as unforgiving as it sounds.  Coconut flour is definitely an ingredient worth adding to your repertoire.  If you have a question you don’t see answered here, don’t hesitate to let me know.  I can’t say I will know the answer myself, but I may be able to suggest some resources to help you.

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    • Judith says

      I’m new to gluten free, ran across a recipe for cookies in Organic Gardening
      that used coconut flour. The article actually was featuring honey production and
      cooking with honey. I baked them this morning. Delicious. They were fragile however,
      perhaps needed another egg or two…

  1. Kerry Carr says

    I was wondering if you have any experience baking with plantain flour? I have a bag of the flour but I am having a hard time finding recipes or ways to use it.



    • Carolyn says

      Wow, I’ve never even heard of it. But plantains are pretty starchy so not really something I could eat. Being starchy, I imagine you could use it similarly to bean flour or potato flour though.

  2. Vanessa says

    I know that oat fiber performs very similarly to coconut flour. What are the differences between the two? Or are they pretty interchangeable?

    • Carolyn says

      They are similar when in the bag, but I wouldn’t use them completely interchangeably. For one, coconut flour tastes way better than oat fiber. I’d only ever add oat fiber to a recipe in combination with other things, never on it’s own. The other thing is that coconut flour is still much more absorbant than oat fiber. I’d use about 1/3 less coconut flour than oat fiber.

    • Carolyn says

      I would have linked to our google + video except that a) I don’t know how and b) the video and audio on my end was atrocious! I am getting a new webcam and I hope that fixes those issues!

  3. says

    Hi! I have lost over 80lbs with low carb and this post is very helpful. I am a professional pastry chef and have not played much with coconut flour. I just omitted baked goods from my diet the last year. I am looking forward to trying coconut flour baked goods now that I can introduce more carbs into my diet. Thanks for the great post.

    • Carolyn says

      As a pastry chef, I think you will find it really strange at first, but as you get used to it, I bet you will come up with some amazing creations!

    • Georgiana says

      Congratulations on the loss of the 80 lbs.!!!!! Several of my family members also keep the carbs very low and I too do also. I am interested in experimenting with the coconut flour and would be interested to hear from others doing the same thing.

  4. says

    I’ve yet to enter the realm of coconut or actually any nut flours, though I do have a package of recently purchased almond flour in my pantry. I watched part of your coconut video, and you all have so much info. Not sure I’m ready for it yet but I’m keeping this post handy for when I am!!
    Your photos btw are beautiful!

  5. says

    Great article Carolyn. I have a bag of coconut flour in the fridge (will have to take it out in the morning, now that I know better) but have been a little intimidated by it, ruining a couple of recipes.
    Next time I’ll have to add some more eggs, thanks for the tips!

  6. amanda says

    Great post! Nuts.com has an excellent coconut flour, as well as almond and peanut and flax and chia and so much others stuff. They have become my one stop shop for that stuff

  7. says

    I love using coconut flour but it’s been hit or miss for me. Sometimes it’s perfect, other times (like the last time I tried using it in muffins) the results are way too dense. This is a very helpful post!

  8. says

    Excellent article on coconut flour pertaining to low carb and grain free baking, Carolyn! Grain free baking is indeed an entirely different animal and even more challenging than gluten free baking (with grain flours). Best tip for newbies was your suggestion to start with something like pancakes so the batter can be adjusted without the entire batch of batter being tossed and to use tried and true (well tested) recipes. Bravo! P.S. You are so right. Non recipe posts (such as tutorials, etc.) with all the research, writing and editing takes a significant amount of time.

  9. says

    Carolyn, this is a spot on article covering the basics of coconut flour. As one who manipulates traditional wheat flour most days, I’m quite intrigued by this variety and it compels me to get working with it. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and practice with this medium. From the looks of things, you’ve been doing some happy baking!

  10. Michelle L says

    I am sure that these “how to” posts take a lot of your time but I for one appreciate them. I have cooked with coconut flour and almond flour for probably 5 years now, ever since I was diagnosed with Type 2 but I still learn something from your posts. And I love, love your recipes! I only wish I had time to experiment and I thank you for taking time to do so and then write about it.

  11. Gage says

    Hi Carolyn, I am so glad that found your article – it is excellent. I wondered if you could share some thoughts- This evening I made the cheese biscuits using coconut flour for the first time. I used the following ingredients: ¼c coconut oil, 1/3c coconut flour, 1/8c almond flour, 4 eggs, 1/4 tsp each – sicilian spices, salt, onion power, and baking powder and 1/2c cheddar cheese. Everything blended nicely, the biscuits were the perfect texture, and they tasted surprisingly yummy.. except… the overwhelming flavor of coconut! Might you have any suggestions for modifications to this recipe? Any feedback would be much appreciated!
    Thanks! Gage

    • Carolyn says

      Hi there. I am going to guess that the additional flavour of coconut was not from the coconut flour but from the coconut oil. I’ve always used butter when I made those biscuits. The recipe I had was from eHow, but I can no longer seem to find it (usually now I just wing it on my own). I really didn’t find that they tasted like coconut at all. I’d say try a different oil and up the onion powder to 1/2 tsp.

      • Gage says

        Thanks so much Carolyn! I truly appreciate your taking the time to respond. I figured it was the oil. Butter it will be! Gage

  12. Jean B. says

    A belated thanks for this terrific information, Carolyn. I have been too intimidated to try baking with coconut flour. It seems so tricky. Now I feel as armed as I ever will be before I strike out into this territory. (BTW, I am always referring to you as “the low-carb baking guru”….

    • Carolyn says

      It can be tricky but you have to try it a few times and then you feel more comfortable with it! Thanks, Jean.

  13. Catherine H. says

    I made this cake for my daughter’s first birthday today (I kept the nuts out of her piece). It turned out beautifully, although you’re right that only the hazelnut cream really had any hazelnut flavor. Mice had gotten into my coconut flour, so I substituted oat flour for what I lacked and used only 7 eggs. Since I maintained the 3/4 cup milk (probably too much liquid for a non-coconut flour batter), I was a little worried that the drippy batter would be a problem, but it baked up just fine. Next time I may add more cocoa powder for extra chocolate flavor. The hazelnut cream is the best part of this cake, and inspired my best batch of nutella ever.

  14. says

    I have two huge bags of coconut flour that I keep putting off using because I hate to waste it with experimenting. Thanks for this!

  15. says

    I have got coconut flour sitting in my pantry waiting for me to hurry up an start practicing with it, thank you for this post, it will come so handy!!!

  16. looseal says

    I’ve been looking for a post that explains the difference between coconut flour and nut flour. And the way each work in cooking.

  17. Virginia Finlay says

    I have just begun to try different flours and gluten free options. I bake for friends and wanted to try a cake with coconut flour. I had read that it is a better option than almond flour. This cake will be my first attempt. Thanks for the info”.

  18. KLO says

    So any luck with cookies and coconut flour? I’ve tried, but they run to the edge of the baking sheet. I end up putting them in a 9 x 9 and making bar cookies. Any help? thanks

    • Carolyn says

      Oooh, bar cookies is a great idea. I’ve had no luck with really good cookies with coconut flour, I find it too dense. Cakes, it’s great!

  19. Patti Pierce says

    Dear Carolyn,
    Is it possible to use some coconut flour in a regular white bread recipe? Going to try to start using coconut flour in some of my recipes. So coconut flour makes GF baked products drier and denser?
    Thanks for such a great, informative post.

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Patti,

      Coconut flour is funny stuff. It attracts and absorbs moisture, so it doesn’t make things drier per se, but it can make them denser. I am sure you could use it in white bread, but I wouldn’t use too much at first. Try 1/2 cup at most.

  20. Earl says

    So glad to find your post. I,ve been using C flour in a pound cake recipe made with almond flour that I,ve had a pretty good results with. I just sub one for one on the flour and add water at the end to get the ‘pouring consisity’ that I need to get it out of the mixing bowl and into the glass pie pan I use to bake it in. It is a bit more dense then the almond flour pound cake but I love the taste and it’s not grainy like some other recipes I,ve tried. This recipe calls for 6 1/2 oz of flour and only 5 eggs. Since I,m not a cook, just a recipe follower would you recommend changing the ratio of eggs to flour. Or adding some other liquid to even out the thickest of the batter.

    • Carolyn says

      Hi…I am not sure I follow you here. You’ve taken an almond flour pound cake recipe and used coconut flour instead at a one-to-one ratio?

  21. Janet Hoover says

    Has anyone had any luck replacing eggs in using coconut flour? I would love to find a recipe for low carb pancakes that are gluten, and egg free. I tried making almond flour pancakes using flaxseed/water to replace eggs but was a disaster. Thought maybe coconut flour would work better?

  22. Sam says

    Funny! My favorite way to use coconut flour is breading chicken and fish! I’ve never had a problem with it. My boyfriend loves it :D.

  23. Aubrey B says


    I am wondering about using gelatin as an egg replacement in coconut flour recipes. I am trying to figure out if this would be suitable. I don’t like using so many eggs all at once! What do you think? yea or nea? Thank you!!

  24. Alisa says

    Hey Carolyn – I was looking at your drop biscuit recipe (going on the menu tonight!) and saw a comment from another reader about Coconut Secret brand, which is what I’ve always used. Do you have a brand that you stick to for better results? Thanks much!

    • Carolyn says

      I almost always use Bob’s Red Mill. But you can adjust for any brand. If you find your biscuit dough too wet, quickly whisk in another tbsp or so of coconut flour. If it’s too thick, add a tbsp or two more liquid. The dough should be thickish and sticky, but not impossible to drop from a spoon. Does that help?

  25. Kathy says

    I just wanted to jump in here with a trick I found when baking with coconut flour. When using the many eggs required, I separate them and mix the yolks in with the other wet ingredients and the flour. I add small amounts of hot water to the mix until the batter has the consistency I’m looking for (doesn’t take much). Then I whip the egg whites and fold them in. The whipped whites give the bread a lightness that is often missing from gluten-free baked goods. I have a recipe for coconut flour lemon sponge cake that works a treat!

    By the way, if I’m using cocoa, I use small amounts of hot coffee rather than water.

  26. says

    Thanks for a very useful post – I bought a few kilos of coconut flour at my wholefoods store and most of my previous attempts at baking with it had been a bit frustrating. Good to know I need to massively bump up the egg quota – I wonder whether a chia gel would work here too, to keep the number of eggs down. I did make an excellent chocolate cake where I pretty much just subbed plain flour for coconut, and somehow that one just worked perfectly!

  27. Cari says

    Hi –

    I make apple-egg streusel muffins with coconut flour and they always turn out hollow inside. Any suggestions on how to prevent this?


  28. Shaun says

    I’ve cooked/baked with soy flour before and it sounds like coconut flour may be similar (in that they both need exorbitant amounts of liquid in the recipes). Have you worked with soy flour, and would you say they’re comparable? I’m just trying to get an idea before I dive into the coconut flour world…

    • Carolyn says

      I have used soy flour a bit before but it’s not the same as coconut. Coconut flour requires a lot of eggs to give it structure…too much liquid and it will be soggy. So it’s a balance with eggs and liquids.

  29. Meghan says

    To bread and fry with coconut flour, it is easier if you mix an egg with almond milk or other milk. I don’t have exact measurements. Then, just dip your meat in the liquid mixture and then roll gently in the coconut flour. It doesn’t seem to clump up on me when I do that.

  30. Lynsey Rost says

    I was wondering if you suggest refrigerating homemade coconut flour as well as store bought? I’ve read several places that it should be refrigerated but I’ve never seen store bought say it must be. Thanks!

    • Carolyn says

      I go through mine quickly so I don’t worry about refrigerating it, although I do refrigerate my almond flour. But yes, I probably would for homemade.

  31. says

    I appreciate this thorough and informative write-up, Carolyn. My father is diabetic and has recently gone through three major surgeries, two of which are diabetes related. I’m working closely with him to get his A1c levels down below 6 over the next 3 months. I’ve spent this week making portion-controlled freezer meals for him for lunch and dinner (all low cal, low fat, low carb, low sodium), enough to last him for two meals a day for the next 3 weeks and then I’ll make a new batch of meals. I’m also making healthy low-carb snacks for him between meals. I’ve been using grains with low GI as well as low glycemic loads (quinoa, barley, millet, etc) in place of traditional rice, pasta and potatoes. Now that I have his lunches and dinners figured out, I’m trying to to figure out breakfast. Egg/veggie/meat casseroles, that kind of thing. In searching for other options, like super low carb pancakes using coconut flour, I came across this post. From the research I’ve done, of all the low carb flours (including nut flours) it looks like coconut flour is the best option for someone following a strict low glycemic load diet. I just ordered some and look forward to experimenting with it. Will be trying some of your recipes, thanks!

    • Carolyn says

      Glad you found it helpful, Kimberly. Coconut flour can be really useful…just don’t ever try to treat it like regular flour! :)

  32. says

    I am so glad I found this article! I am a long time baker but brand new to cooking with healthier flours. This is so helpful! Thank you for taking the time to write this!

  33. says

    Hey Carolyn. My son is deathly allergic to eggs so I am trying to figure out options for baking with coconut flour for him. Any ideas? The one recipe I am interested in trying is an oreo cake with a not too thick coconut crust. I would love a list of options if you have ideas. Thanks!!!

    • Carolyn says

      When it comes to coconut flour, going egg-free isn’t an area I’ve explored at all. Some readers have tried my coconut flour pancakes with flax or chia eggs and it hasn’t worked out at all. Sorry, Adrienne! :(

  34. Heather says

    In search of cookie recipes using coconut flour. Have you used the flour for any and have they worked out?

  35. says

    I too am diabetic and have misbehaved (diet-wise) for far too long. This is one of the most informative and readable articles about coconut flour that I’ve found. Thank you! You have a new follower! 😉

  36. Wendy says

    Great articel! I haven’t tried baking with coconut flour but am doing some reading before I try it. I have a question, you mentioned for vegans one can substitute the eggs for flax seed meal and water. Have you tried using all three? The eggs, flax seed meal and water? If so how did it turn out? If not do you think it could work well?

  37. says

    I am surprised that you had difficulty battering chicken with coconut flour! I have found that drying my chicken off, flattening it, running pieces through egg, and then removing the excess egg, works wonders. I then pan fry in almond oil that goes roughly halfway up the chicken, flipping partway through. (I don’t own a deep fryer!)

    Add some seasoning to the coconut flour, and this has by far become my favorite way to make fried chicken!

  38. Tanya says

    Hi, I am looking to recreate a chocolate chip cookie recipe that has 1 cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 cup almond flour. I want to replace coconut flour for the all purpose. How can I go about that? I’m thinking 1/4 cup coconut flour and 1/2 cup almond flour. Is that accurate. I’m new to baking with healthier flours so I would really appreciate your response. (Just to note, the liquids to the original recipe is 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 egg whites. I’m thinking 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup coconut oil and either 2 whole eggs or 3 egg whites.) Please correct me if I’m wrong. Looking forward to your response. Thanks again!

    • Carolyn says

      Sounds pretty good so far. You may find you need even one more egg for this recipe, because coconut flour soaks up eggs so much. In fact, I’d assume you will need at least one more.

      • Tanya says

        The recipe calls for 1 tsp baking powder. Should I increase to 2 tsp or no need for that? Unless I sub it for 1 tsp of baking soda. Thanks so much for your help!

        • Carolyn says

          Are they supposed to be cookies that are kind of puffy? If so, I would increase the leavening agent. If you want them flatter, I wouldn’t bother.


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