Whether you want to bake perfect macaroons or need a gluten free flour, then almond flour is the perfect choice! Lower in carbs than wheat flour, almond flour is also high fiber and high protein which also makes it great for paleo, low-carb, keto and other diets.In this article we review some of the best almond flour currently available. We also consider the nutrition of almond flour, how almonds may help promote better health and we take a look at the side effects from excessive almond consumption and consider whether we need to worry about the risk of almond poisoning!
Anthony’s culinary blanched almond flour is our non-GMO and certified gluten free best pick of the almond flours.
Wellbee’s super fine almond flour is our certified gluten free and kosher almond flour budget pick.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Almond Flours
1. Anthony's Almond Flour Blanched Culinary Grade
Suitable for fine pastries and macaroons, Anthony’s culinary blanched almond flour has been batch tested and certified as gluten free. Coming as a 5 lbs. resealable pack, this flour is also free from any preservatives and is made from Californian steam pasteurized almonds, which means the skins are removed through a steam process.This almond flour is non-GMO, but not organic, although the manufacturer does produce organic almond flour in some pack sizes. A small number of bakers have experienced problems when baking macaroons with this and the bag does not always reseal properly after use, so you may need to put it into a separate container to keep it fresh.
2. Wellbee’s Super Fine Almond Flour
Made from blanched almonds, Wellbee’s super fine almond flour is certified as gluten free and kosher. This is a non-GMO flour which has been made from steam pasteurized almonds. This comes as a 2 lbs. resealable bag, although a number of buyers have experienced damage to the bag on arrival, or in some cases found that the bag has not been sealed properly by the manufacturer. Some bakers also consider that this is not a super fine flour compared with other finely ground almond flours.
3. Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour
The 1 lb. bag of Bob’s Red Mill super-fine almond flour has been manufactured in a gluten free facility and is tested as gluten free. This flour does not contain any additives or other ingredients and is made with blanched almonds. It may have a shorter ‘use by’ date than other almond flours and there can be some confusion as to whether this is an almond flour or an almond meal -meaning it may not be as finely ground as expected.
4. Nature’s Eats Blanched Almond Flour
The super fine Nature’s Eats blanched almond flour is naturally gluten free but not certified. It is however Star-K kosher certified. There can be a risk of receiving older or rancid flour even though it may still be in date. Some buyers have also received batches which are moist rather than dry, increasing the risk of flour bug infestation. There can also be a risk of packaging being damaged and this may not be as fine a flour as expected.
5. Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour
Coming as an ultra-fine grind, the 3 lbs. Pack of Honeyville blanched almond flour is certified as being gluten free. Californian almonds are skinned and milled to the finest texture possible, making them ideal for finer baked goods such as macaroons. This flour can have a shorter ‘use by’ date than expected and this is neither organically sourced or labelled as free from GMO almonds. The packaging can also be less than robust.
6. Almond Flour by Pastry
The Gourmet Imports fine almond flour is produced in the US with blanched almonds. It is advised that this 1 lb. bag is stored in the refrigerator and it is not resealable once it has been opened. Although this flour is used in some professional kitchens, some bakers consider that although a fine ground flour, it is not fine enough for making macaroons.
7. Healthworks Blanched Almond Flour
Made from almonds sourced from small sustainable farms in the US, the Healthworks blanched almond flour comes in a resealable bag. Some consider this is not super fine flour which means it can be suitable for some baked goods but may not be as good for macaroons or other fine pastries. Although this 2 lbs. almond flour does come in a resealable bag, you may struggle to reseal it after use. This is not certified as being gluten free and it is processed in a facility which also processes tree nuts.
8. Blue Diamond Finely Sifted Almond Flour
The finely sifted Blue Diamond almond flour is certified gluten free. Made from blanched almonds, this flour is also non-GMO. There can a risk of damage to the packaging on this flour and some consider that it is not as fine as other flours, although some bakers have been very successful making macaroons with it.
9. Sincerely Nuts Blanched Almond Flour
The 1 lb. bag of Sincerely Nuts blanched almond flour is made from Californian almonds. Although naturally gluten free, this almond flour has been packaged in a facility which also packages peanuts, soy, milk products and tree nuts, so may not be suitable for all diets. It is however kosher certified.This is also advertised as a flour meal, which will make it too coarse for some recipes such as macaroons. It may also have a grainier texture than finer ground almond flours.
10. NOW Foods, Almond Flour with Essential Fatty Acids
The NON-GMO Project Verified NOW raw almond flour is naturally gluten free and made from unblanched almonds which means it naturally contains flecks of almond skin. This also means that some bakers will consider this is more of an almond meal than a flour which can make it unsuitable for some recipes. It can also have a grittier texture and stronger almond taste than other flours. Although non-GMO, this is not an organic flour.
Things to Consider Before Buying Almond Flour
California actually produces around 80% of the global almond supply. The almond trees bloom in spring and as few are self-pollinating, they rely on bees to pollinate. Many almond orchards have bee keepers ready to temporarily install honey bee hives in the orchards during this critical pollination window. There are over 30 varieties of almonds and orchards often grow a variety of species to give different harvesting windows.
Between March and June, almond kernels mature, and the shell hardens around the kernel (nut). The shell and kernel are protected by an outer hull. As the weather warms up, green almonds are sometimes harvested for culinary use, otherwise, the hulls are left to split open.
When the hulls split, they expose the shell of the almond allowing this, and the kernel to dry out. Once the hull turns yellow and is completely split open, the almonds are ready to harvest. This is usually done by the trees being mechanically shaken. The hulls fall to the ground and are left to air dry before being swept into rows and picked up by machinery.
Almonds are mechanically sorted, and the waste shells and hulls sent for use as livestock bedding and dairy feed, respectively. The almonds are sized and stored under controlled conditions before being shipped out to be packaged and sold as almonds or undergo further processing.
The Difference Between Almond Flour and Almond Meal
Almond flour is usually made from sweet blanched almonds which have had their skins removed and then been finely ground. Almond meal is made with almonds which are usually ground coarser than flour. Almond meal can be either unblanched, which means it will contain brown flecks from the ground almond skins, or blanched – the skins have been removed, usually through a steam pasteurization process.
Meal often makes a better flour substitute for coatings such as bread crumbs and it can be used for some breads, brownies, tortillas, cookies or pancakes. It really depends on your recipe as to whether you use almond meal or almond flour. If the recipe is for a lighter food such as cake or macaroons, then almond flour should be used to give a lighter texture, but if your recipe is not as strict on texture, and it can have a ‘rustic’ finish, then you can use meal.
It is always worth checking that an almond flour you want to buy is actually a flour – some manufacturers do not always clearly distinguish between meal and flour with their processing.
Using Almond Flour in Cooking and Baking
Most recipes will allow you to simply swap wheat flour for almond flour – just use the same amount of almond flour as you would wheat flour. Because almond flour does not contain gluten, cakes baked with almond flour tend to be denser and flatter, so it is always worth taking this into account when considering recipes.
Almond flour will give more of a grainy texture to foods and its almond taste also means it may not be suitable for all recipes.
Using a mix of almond flour and wheat flour can be one way to add some rise to certain baked goods; using just 25% almond flour in the recipe will not significantly alter the finished texture. Eggs also help to add structure to baking; many recipes using almond flour will include eggs.
Almond Flour Versus Coconut Flour
The main advantage that coconut flour has over almond flour is that it is nut free. Although coconut is listed as a tree nut by the FDA, it is in fact a seed and people with tree nut allergies are often able to eat coconuts safely. Unlike almond flour which has to replace wheat at a ratio of 1:1, a recipe using coconut flour needs less.
Coconut flour contains less fat, yet more carbs that almond flour and overall has fewer calories. Coconut flour does lack some of the vitamins and minerals that almond flour contains, and it also has more phytic acid which can stop the body absorbing some key minerals.
Coconut flour can also be quite difficult to bake with as it absorbs liquid easily which can leave you with dry and crumbly baked goods.
Both almond and coconut flour are high fiber and high protein.
Storing Almond Flour
As almond flour is minimally processed and naturally has a higher fat content, you should try to avoid buying it in bulk unless you will be using it up quickly. It should be stored in a cool dry and dark place to help prevent the fats from turning rancid. It should also be stored in an air tight container which will also prevent it from absorbing odors from other foods.
Once opened, it is best stored in the freezer or refrigerator as this will keep it fresh and also, as like wheat flours and other dried goods it can be prone to flour bug infestations, chilled storage will prevent this.
Even if you freeze your flour, it should still be kept in an air tight container as otherwise moisture will be drawn in to the flour from the colder air in the freezer or refrigerator. It can also be worth doing a test store in the freezer, just to make sure the batch retains its quality on thawing. You can then freeze the rest of the bag. When you come to use it, just let it sit and warm up to room temperature before using as this will help reduce clumping.
Fresh almond flour has a nutty and fresh aroma, pale beige or cream color and loose consistency. When it has gone off, its aroma will change as well as its color. Almond flour is usually safe to use after its ‘use by’ date as long as it has been stored properly and you check it before using. If in doubt – throw it out.
Almond Flour Nutrition
Almond flour contains less carbs than wheat flour but is higher in fat. Although almond flour can be suitable for various diets such as gluten free, paleo, keto or low-carb, it is worth knowing that to make one cup of almond flour, it takes around 90 almonds. This means it can be extremely easy to have too high an intake of almonds when using almond flour.
In a quarter cup serving of almond flour, there is around 150 calories. There is also:
The quarter cup serving also contains calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorous and 35% of our recommended daily intake of vitamin E. It is this vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant to help prevent damage from free radicals in the body. There are also higher levels of omega 6 in almond flour than other flours.
How Almond Flour May Promote Better Health
Higher intakes of vitamin E have been linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also linked with lower rates of heart disease, and those who consume more almonds have been shown to have decreased LDL cholesterol levels. These is a chance that other diet or lifestyle factors could cause this decrease though, rather than it just being from eating almonds.
A magnesium deficiency is linked with high blood pressure and as almonds are a rich magnesium source, they may help reduce magnesium deficiencies. Magnesium also plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels – as many as 38% of type 2 diabetics may have a deficiency of magnesium and by correcting this deficiency it may help reduce blood sugar levels and also increase insulin functions.
Almond flour has a low glycemic index (GI) which means it releases sugar slowly into the blood over time, rather than causing a spike and then crash in blood sugar levels after a meal.
Gluten Free Diets
Almond flour is naturally gluten free which makes it ideal for gluten and wheat free baking. Some almond flours may be processed in facilities which have processed flours that contain gluten though, so if you do have a gluten allergy, you should check that the almond flour has been batch tested/certified gluten free before you buy.
The FDA requirement for a product to be certified gluten free is that it must contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten, which means of course that a certified gluten free product can still contain up to 19.99 ppm of gluten. Some manufacturers will test for gluten levels at a lower level than the FDA requirement.
For those with mild gluten intolerances, these trace amounts of gluten will rarely cause any issues, but for those individuals who are highly sensitive to gluten, this small quantity of gluten can still cause some adverse effects.
Almond Poisoning and Side Effects
If you always eat sweet almond products sourced from reputable retailers, then the risk of almond poisoning is very unlikely. Almonds do contain cyanide – around 25.2 milligrams per kg of almonds, but to eat the minimum lethal dose you would need to eat around 50 oz of sweet almonds in a day.
Bitter or lethal almonds contain much more cyanide than sweet almonds and although these are not sold in the US, there has been an instance of imported almonds containing bitter almonds. A voluntary recall took place and no illnesses were reported.
Bitter almonds do grow in the US, but on a different tree to sweet almonds. As they do taste bitter, it is highly unlikely that they would be eaten raw from the tree. Bitter almonds do lose their toxicity when they are cooked though and they are used in Europe and elsewhere in baked goods, almond extracts, liqueurs and other products. However, selling unrefined nuts is banned in the US and bitter almond oils are required to be ‘free from prussic acid (cyanide)’ by the FDA.
This means that if you always buy flour made from US grown almonds, the chance of almond poisoning remains highly unlikely.
The manganese content in almonds means that consuming a high quantity of almonds can interact with some drugs such as antacids, laxatives, antipsychotics, blood pressure drugs and some antibiotics. You may want to check with a medical professional before consuming almond flour if you are on any medications.
As they are also higher in vitamin E, when eaten as part of a high vitamin E diet (such as from whole grains, spinach and eggs), almonds can actually cause headaches, blurred vision, lethargy, gas and diarrhea.
Almonds are also higher fiber food which means there is a risk of digestive upset from the increased fiber intake. Drinking water alongside almond products will help the body better handle the higher fiber content.
Almond flour is the ideal choice for those who must avoid wheat or gluten in their diets as well as for those of us who follow low-carb or other diets. Although almond flour can be more difficult to bake with than wheat flour and it can take time to become familiar with it, it is suitable for a wide variety of recipes, not least French macaroons.If you are new to almond flour, or even if you have been using it for many years, we hope you have found this article on almond flour interesting and whether you are gluten intolerant, paleo or just enjoy the flavor, we trust you now feel confident in choosing the best almond flour for your baked goods.