When you find yourself needing a spelt flour substitute, you'll be happy to know that the options are plentiful. It's easy to substitute spelt flour in a way that works for all recipes, taste buds, and budgets. So, whether you have gluten sensitivity or you've simply run out, these substitutes for spelt flour will get you back to baking in no time.
What is spelt flour?
Spelt flour is made from whole-grain spelt. Spelt, also called Dinkel or hulled wheat, is a subspecies of wheat. It's an ancient grain trending upward in popularity due to so many wonderful reasons.
There are two types of spelt flour, white and whole grain. While both have a distinct nutty flavor, you'll find that whole grain spelt is similar to whole wheat flour, and white spelt flour is more similar to all-purpose flour.
How is spelt flour different from regular flour?
Spelt flour and regular all-purpose flour can be used similarly but have many key differences. Although they are both kinds of wheat, they have distinctly different flavors and textures.
Differences between spelt flour and all-purpose flour
Texture- The texture is more coarse than all-purpose flour and has a nutty and sweet flavor. All-purpose flour is plain in taste. Both types of flour rely on salt and fat for most of their flavoring.
Gluten and protein- Spelt flour is not gluten-free. It has a different type of gluten than modern wheat, which breaks down more quickly when exposed to water. This type has proven to be good for digestion in some individuals.
Spelt flour has more protein and gluten than all-purpose flour, which means it can be very easy to overwork your dough. As with all recipes, it's important to mix only until just combined for the best results.
Does spelt flour taste different?
Much like whole wheat flour, spelt flour may take some getting used to but the overall benefits are worth the switch. Spelt works really well alongside other mild-tasting flour because it balances the nutty flavor.
If you're transitioning to whole-grain spelt flour from all-purpose flour, it's best to go slowly. Start replacing a small portion in recipes and allow your palate to adjust. Then, increase the amount.
My spelt pie crust gives options for 100% spelt flour and a blend using all-purpose flour if you’re just starting out.
Delicious Spelt Flour recipes:
Best Spelt Flour Substitutes
When you're considering the best substitutes for spelt, keep in mind the flavor and texture you hope to achieve. Some of these will have a different texture or require you to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe.
Product availability and price are also factors to consider if you live in an area with fewer options. The good news is that you can find these products in bulk or purchase them online for savings.
1. Whole Wheat Flour
Wheat flour will give you a nutty flavor and a similar texture to spelt flour. Red whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour can be substituted easily. They won't need any significant adjustments to your recipe and still give you an earthy, delicious taste.
How to use it:
Substitute whole wheat flour for spelt flour at a 1:1 ratio. This works best in recipes such as pancakes, cupcakes, and soft baked goods. It’s also a good option for making pasta, cinnamon rolls, and bread. When using whole wheat flour in place of spelt, you may need to adjust with a small amount of extra water to reach the ideal consistency.
2. Einkorn flour
Einkorn is considered one of the earliest types of wheat. It's an ancient grain that can be ground into flour and used in several recipes. This primitive wheat has more protein and a lower amount of starch than modern wheat.
It's easier to digest than spelt and has a different gluten structure. The only downside is that it can be harder to find in stores locally, so you may have to purchase it online. As a spelt substitute, Einkorn works best in soft baked goods that form batters, such as pancakes, cornbread, and banana bread.
How to use it:
Substitute einkorn flour for spelt flour at a 1:1 ratio. The main difference is that you'll need to adjust the liquid in your recipe because einkorn is less absorbent than spelt. Start by using ¼-1/3 of the amount of water and add slowly until the desired consistency.
3. Kamut flour
Kamut is a popular ancient grain that has a lot to offer in the world of baking. It’s a wheat grain and contains gluten. With a buttery, nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness, kamut flour adds a lot of flavor to baked goods.
This alternative works best with recipes that don't require a tall rise because it may achieve different results than spelt. However, It is a great option for tortillas, pound cake, pasta, and muffins.
How to use it:
Substitute kamut flour for spelt flour at a 1:1 ratio. Kamut is more absorbent than spelt and may require additional liquid added to your recipe. As a substitute for spelt flour, Kamut flour works best in pasta, flatbreads, muffins, and recipes that don't rely on it for firm texture.
4. Rye flour
Rye flour can be a good substitute for spelt though it does have a more robust flavor. It's made from ground rye berries. There are three varieties; light, medium, and dark. The darkest also referred to as pumpernickel, is delicious in these Cheddar Scones. The distinction depends on the amount of bran and germ each contains, with the darkest containing the most rye kernel.
Rye flour has a very earthy taste with a slightly naturally sweet malty flavor. It can also taste slightly sour, especially when used in sourdough. Rye is not gluten-free but does have lower amounts than wheat.
How to use it:
To substitute rye flour for spelt flour, substitute 1 ½ cups of rye for every 1 cup of spelt flour. You may need to use more liquid because rye is more absorbent than spelt.
Rye, as a spelt flour alternative, works well in many baked goods and even yeasted bread. The biggest consideration is how its distinct taste may affect your recipe. For sweet goods, rye flour works well paired with other bold flavors, such as chocolate in my Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe or my Rye Shortbread Cookies with orange zest.
5. All-purpose flour
All-purpose flour is made from a mix of hard and soft wheat. It's a standard in kitchens across the world because of its extremely mild flavor and versatility. It has fewer benefits to offer than many others on this list, but it remains an excellent substitute for spelt flour due to its texture and adaptability to recipes.
How to use it:
Substitute all-purpose flour for spelt flour at a 1:1 ratio. This replacement works best in just about any recipe. If your dough or batter seems too dry, you can always begin by adding a tablespoon more liquid and adjusting from there. Plain flour will not give you the nutty flavor that einkorn or kamut offers, but it will give your recipe a good texture.
Gluten-Free Spelt flour Substitute Considerations
Gluten-free spelt flour substitutes can differ a lot from alternatives with gluten. When using a gluten-free spelt flour substitute, keep in mind you may need to use additional binders such as xanthan gum or agar agar to achieve the perfect texture.
6. Amaranth flour
Amaranth flour is made by grinding the amaranth plant. This gluten-free spelt alternative can be used in baking but also in sauces that require a roux for thickening.
This alternative has a distinct texture and works best when used with other types of flour in recipes where spelt isn't the star of the show. Amaranth flour for a spelt flour substitute works best for thickening sauces, pancakes, flatbreads and wraps.
How to use it:
To substitute amaranth flour for spelt flour, use a 1:1 ratio. If you're using amaranth as a smaller part of a recipe with another flour, replace the amount of spelt by using ¼ of the amount. For example, if you need ¼ cup of spelt flour, use 1 tablespoon of amaranth flour and adjust slowly as needed.
7. Rice flour
Rice flour is made from ground rice. It can be made from either brown or white rice. Brown rice flour can give baked goods a nutty taste which is more similar to spelt than the plain taste of rice flour.
Rice flour is a budget-friendly option and can be found by itself or as a part of a blend. It can be used to thicken soups and stews, for cakes, and even for gluten-free noodles.
How to use it:
Rice flour is much denser than spelt flour, so you'll need to begin by using ½-2/3 of the amount and adjusting as needed. For example, 1 cup of spelt flour to ⅓ cup of rice flour. This works best in recipes that don't rely solely on flour for structure and should be avoided as a substitute in yeasted recipes.