What is Coconut Flour? (Plus Uses and Nutritional Facts)

If you're looking for a better flour alternative, then coconut flour is something you would want to consider. Here's everything you need to know about coconut flour, its many uses, and great baking tips.

There are endless options on the market these days for alternative flours. Those who are looking to cut down on their gluten intake, those who are looking for a healthier option than grain flour, or those who are just looking to be a little more adventurous with their baking and cooking, are all growing curious about coconut flour.

Coconuts are amazing — there really isn’t anything they can’t do. Their shells are used for decoration or construction purposes, their water is brimming with electrolytes and other healthy goodies, and coconut meat is used in a plethora of different ways.

We’ve explored coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk and coconut cream, and coconut sugar, but now it’s time to dedicate some time to this amazing low carb, high protein, high fiber, flour alternative: coconut flour.

What is Coconut Flour?

Coconut flour is a naturally gluten-free, and naturally grain-free variety of flour. It’s stuffed with micronutrients: manganese, iron, potassium, selenium, and vitamin B6 just to name a few. How many other flours do you know of that are that nutrient-rich? But more on that later (if you’re eager, skip ahead to the Nutritional Benefits section!)

Many people wonder if using coconut flour is going to make their baked goods taste like coconut, and it will! This is because coconut flour is literally just ground up coconut meat. It is slightly more gritty in texture than wheat flour, but we’re willing to deal with that, considering how healthy it is.

Coconut flour tends to have quite a potent coconut flavor, but who doesn’t want a tropical-themed chocolate brownie?

Gluten free coconut flour

How is Coconut Flour Made?

Coconut flour is quite a respectable and sustainably produced product because it’s actually made from leftovers…

Funnily enough, the idea of coconut flour originated in the Philippines, but it started out as an effort to minimize waste. Coconut milk producers would take mature coconut meat and drain out all of the liquid to produce the coconut milk we know and love.

There was really no sense in getting rid of all of that perfectly good (but moisture-less) coconut pulp, and so the idea came about to dehydrate the leftovers. Once all of the moisture is removed from the shredded coconut, it is then ground up into a very fine powder, so that it can be used as flour.

Isn’t that neat? Coconut flour is just a byproduct of coconut milk! Lucky us.

Coconut shell and a spoon filled with coconut flakes.

How Should You Use Coconut Flour?

Coconut flour is a really wonderful option for people who may be allergic to nut flour, those who don’t really want to intake too much gluten or who may be celiac or those who are just getting tired of grain-based flour and want to get adventurous.

Folks usually tend to stick to coconut flour for a favorite baked good recipe, like a delicious coconut flour pancake. It is said that banana bread is a recipe very compatible with coconut flour, as bananas hold a lot of moisture, and coconut flour needs to be paired with things that have lots of moisture content.

There are some sites that have amazing coconut flour recipe, from a lovely coconut muffin to treats stuffed with chocolate chips and topped with your favorite nut butter, there’s a little something for everyone with this alternative flour option.

Tarts with coconut cream and meringue.

Baking Tips for Using Coconut Flour

Okay, now that we’ve got all of the basic information out of the way, there are few important things to note when it comes to using coconut flour in baking activities.

Coconut flour is EXTREMELY ABSORBENT. Notice all caps were used there to ensure this point hits home. The tiniest amount of coconut flour can actually absorb a wild amount of liquid, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that coconut flour can evenly replace wheat flour because it can’t. It is not a 1:1 substitution.

*If you’re unfamiliar with coconut flour, it is usually best to stick to recipes that are established with coconut flour.

If you’re looking to be a little more adventurous, a good rule of thumb is that for every 1 cup of wheat flour used in a recipe, 1/4 cup of coconut flour will be the appropriate substitution. That is a 1:4 ratio.

Another tip is to use recipes that contain quite a few eggs. The protein found in egg whites provides structure, whereas egg yolks provide the necessary moisture to help balance out the dry coconut flour.

Pro tip: Another way to get more moisture into your coconut flour recipe is to substitute white sugar for maple syrup! The flavors go great together, and it’s an easy-breezy way to ensure your baked good won’t turn out dry.

If you’re a vegan reader, try it out with a flax egg! Here’s a recipe for those: JessicaInTheKitchen.

If you’re still feeling nervous, experiment with other alternative flours a little bit! Rice flour, almond flour, chickpea flour, you name it, collaboration is always possible.

So, to reiterate all of that juicy information:

  • substituting wheat flour with coconut flour is a 1:4 ratio
  • use more egg in coconut recipes for added moisture
  • use additional liquid if your mixture seems dry
  • pair coconut flour with your favorite other alternative flour

Fresh coconut filled with balls of candies.

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Coconut Flour?

It’s understandable that folks question whether or not alternative flours are actually a healthier option. So many times in the past have we been excited about a sugar-free option only to find that that sugar has been replaced with something much worse.

But that is not at all the case with coconut flour. Within ever 1/4 cup (or 30 grams) of coconut flour, you will find:

  • 120 calories
  • 18 grams of carbs
  • 6 grams of sugar
  • 10 grams of fiber (which is 40% of your recommended daily intake)
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 4 grams of healthy fat
  • 20% of your recommended daily intake of iron

Now for those of you who may not know exactly why these things are beneficial, let’s break it down for ya. Coconuts are responsible for all of these goodies, and so any product derived from coconut that isn’t heavily processed will contain the same nutrients.

Fiber

We like fiber because it helps regulate the body’s blood sugar levels by slowing down the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream. Not only that, fiber adds (how do I put this politely) bulk to excrement (how was that?) which helps it pass with no issues through our digestive tract.

Fiber also helps produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAS). Some examples of these are acetate, butyrate, and propionate. Why do we like these? Because these are highly soluble and fermentable fibers that help out with a healthy gut biome. Who doesn’t want that?

Nutrients

Moving away from dietary fiber and into some other lovely goodies — coconut flour is packed with nutrients like potassium, phosphorous, selenium, vitamin B6, and manganese. Simply incorporating coconut flour in your diet pretty much takes away the need to take any of these supplements in pill form.

Fatty Acids

Ever heard of a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT)? This is a different kind of fatty acid than the SCFA, but just as helpful. This fatty acid is like a nifty little messenger that wants to go straight to the liver to be used as energy, instead of lingering around unwanted areas and eventually being stored as fat. This means that coconut flour increases energy and isn’t stored as fat.

Glycemic Index

If you’re curious about where coconut flour stands on the glycemic index, it has an impressively low score of 51. For reference, regular flour has a score of 69, so coconut flour will result in less of a spike in blood sugar than white flour will.

So it’s truly up to you as to whether or not coconut flour is a healthier option for you, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say!

Source: Healthline

A pile of coconuts

Is Coconut Flour the Better Alternative Flour?

Almond flour, chickpea flour, hazelnut flour, rice flour, amaranth flour. These are all great alternatives to wheat flour. But how does coconut flour stand up to these popular options?

All of the above-mentioned options are far higher in nutrients than regular white flour. But when it comes to specific nutrients, coconut flour has 3 times the amount of fiber than any other type of flour.

Organic coconut flour is also the option that has the lowest fat content (even though the fat it does contain are the most healthy fats) and the lowest in carbs. Coconut flour has more protein and more micronutrients than any other alternative. So if you’re looking for a tree nut-free, and gluten-free flour option, coconut flour may just be the winner.

A bowl and scoop filled with coconut flour.

How Do You Store Coconut Flour?

The main thing to note about coconut flour is that it should stay away from moisture. Remember in the Baking Tips section how we discussed that coconut flour is EXTREMELY ABSORBENT? If moisture gets into your stock of coconut flour, there’s a good chance that it will clump and become an undesirable texture.

Coconut flour should not be stored the same way as regular flour. Store unopened coconut flour in a dry and dark place until it is ready to use. Once the bag has been opened, it’s a better option to store it in the fridge, as it has the potential to go stale (all it is is dried organic coconuts, after all). Once it is opened and in the fridge, it should remain usable for 1-2 years.

But I’m sure you’ll use it up much quicker than that, with all of your inventive bread, muffin, and coconut flour pancake baking recipes.

Coconut yogurt served in coconut shells with banana chips, pomegranate and chia seeds.

FAQ

Can I substitute almond flour for coconut flour?

It is important to note that coconut flour is not interchangeable with any other type of flour. It is a particularly absorbent kind of flour, and will drastically alter a recipe. The appropriate ratio for almond flour to coconut flour is 3:1 (for every cup you use of coconut flour, use 3 cups of almond flour).

How many carbs are in coconut flour?

For every 30 grams of coconut flour, it will contain 18 grams of carbs.

How many calories are in coconut flour?

For every 30 grams of coconut flour, it will contain 120 calories.

Can I make pasta using coconut flour?

Using coconut flour alone will result in a rather strangely textured and flavored pasta. When people are using alternative flours to make pasta, they usually use a combination of flours.

Coconut flour alone would taste too strongly of coconut, and it absorbs far too much moisture for the dough to actually stick together. Pasta is one of those recipes where there is just a better alternative to use than coconut flour. Coconut flour is better used in baking recipes!

Where can I buy organic coconut flour?

Can coconut flour be used to make bread?

Due to the texture and flavor, coconut flour is usually used to make loaves and side bread rather than prominent bread like sourdough. Apparently making bread is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of baking with coconut flour. The Coconut Mama has a great recipe for bread made with coconut flour!

How long does coconut flour last?

If your bag of coconut flour is sealed, it can stay in a dark and dry pantry indefinitely. Once the bag has been opened, it should be kept in the fridge. Once in the fridge, it can last for up to two years before getting stale!

What is coconut flour made of?

Coconut flour is simply ground up and dehydrated coconut pulp. It’s a nifty byproduct of coconut milk!

Can I make coconut flour from shredded coconut?

You can certainly try it. Since coconut flour is simply dehydrated and ground coconut meat, it’s very possible to make it at home from shredded coconut. All you will need is to ensure the shredded coconut is completely free of moisture, and that you have a very powerful food processor.

Can coconut flour be used as a thickening agent?

Coconut flour is very thick and absorbent and is completely sufficient to use as a thickening agent. Something to keep in mind, however, is that it does sport a rather potent coconut flavor, so ensure that not too much is used as a thickening agent and that it is paired with other powerful flavors.

Is coconut flour keto?

Coconut flour is actually one of the most ideal options for folks on a keto diet, as it is low in carbs and high in fiber.

What does coconut flour taste like?

Coconut flour tastes mildly like coconut! That is due to the fact that it is produced from squeezed coconut pulp, which is then dehydrated and ground up until a flour-like consistency is achieved. Subsequently, coconut flavor will inevitably be present in the coconut flour product.

Can you replace wheat flour with coconut flour?

A good rule of thumb for substituting wheat flour with coconut flour is 1:4. This means for every cup of wheat flour that is required, only 1/4 cup of coconut flour should be used. This is because coconut flour is very absorbent and will yield a dry and crumbly baked good if it isn’t measured out in the proper ratio.

Is coconut flour prebiotic?

Coconuts themselves contain prebiotics, and so any other product derived from coconut fruit will contain a fractured amount of prebiotics as well. Of course, depending on how processed the product is, and how much of the nutrients can survive the processing.

Does coconut flour make things taste like coconut?

Yes, it does. Since coconut flour is made from the meat of a coconut, it will inevitably taste like coconut fruit.

Is coconut flour good to bake with?

Coconut flour is a very absorbent flour alternative, and so if it isn’t properly measured, or not a sufficient amount of moisture is added to a recipe, it can yield a very dry and crumbly baked good.

However, there are some recipes that are created with coconut flour in mind. It all depends on the recipe you’re using, and whether or not it can handle a drier four option.

Is coconut flour anti-inflammatory?

Coconuts themselves contain anti-inflammatory nutrients, and so any coconut-derived product will also contain a fractured amount of those nutrients. This is dependent on how heavily processed the product is, but most organic coconut products will have a significant amount of nutrients that remain.

Is coconut flour gluten-free?

Coconut flour is a completely naturally gluten-free flour alternative.

Can coconut flour go bad?

Coconut flour does not go bad, but it has the chance of going stale if it isn’t properly stored. Once a bag of coconut flour, is opened, it should be kept in the fridge to prevent it from going stale.

Can coconut flour be eaten raw?

Absolutely! In some cases, people actually use coconut flour as a kind of protein powder to add to their morning smoothie. However, eating a spoonful of coconut flour probably won’t be particularly enjoyable.

Will coconut flour rise with yeast?

Sometimes yeast alone is not sufficient enough to help coconut flour rise. If that is the case, don’t be afraid to add a tiny bit of baking soda and vinegar to encourage a chemical reaction. Coconut flour is not the ideal option of flour when using yeast, but there are ways to make it work.

Is it possible to make homemade coconut flour?

It most certainly is! Simply ensure that you have a way of properly dehydrating your shredded coconut (or fresh, mature coconut meat will work too) and that you have a powerful food processor that is capable of achieving a very fine, flour-like texture.

Scroll to Top