This year calls for extra batches of brownies, maple bars, pies, tarts and your go-to gingerbread cookies. It’s also the year to diversify your baking game so that everyone in your holiday huddle can enjoy a taste of the good stuff, and so you can be ready when you feel like putting your own twist on a classic.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to use alternative flours and sweeteners to adapt your baking repertoire for every mood and occasion. We’ve also shared our favorite products that you can grab at your local Whole Foods Market store. Let’s get to cookin’.
Pro baking tip: You can swap most of these products into your favorite recipes with a 1-to-1 ratio — but not all of them. “When using alternative flours, you’ll get the best results if you follow a recipe that’s specifically created for them,” says Allison Thomas, Senior Editor (and resident food expert). To ensure the most delicious treats, we’ve included recipes with ingredients that fit this category.
"Almond flour is a great starting point for anyone who wants to try gluten-free baking,” says Thomas. Made from ground almonds, this grain-free flour lends moist texture and rich flavor to sweet and savory recipes like cookies and pancakes. Want to give it a try? Try these Almond Flour Cut-Out Cookies
Our pick: 365 by Whole Foods Market Almond Flour
Made from dehydrated, finely ground coconut meat, coconut flour is gluten-free. Because it’s highly absorbent, you won’t need to use much of it — and it’s best to stick with recipes specifically designed with coconut flour in mind. Try it in: Coconut Flour Cut-Out Cookies
Sugar-Free Baking Chips
With none of the sugar and all of the chocolatey satisfaction, sugar-free baking chips are an ideal 1-to-1 substitute for standard chocolate chips in classics like chocolate chip cookies or chocolate chip banana bread. You can also melt them to create a delicious, decorative chocolate coating for any baked good. Put them to work in this recipe for Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies.
Erythritol Sugar Substitute
With 0 calories as compared to granulated sugar, erythritol is a feel-good option for your sweet treats. Heads-up: Erythritol doesn’t taste quite as sweet as sugar, so you’ll need to use a little more of it to get the same sweetness. It’s also best to eat anything baked with erythritol on the day of baking for maximum freshness.
Also called raw sugar, turbinado sugar is that crunchy hero shining on top of the muffins and scones from your favorite café. When used in baking, it can replace white sugar at a 1-to-1 ratio and will lend a slight molasses flavor to whatever your baking project might be (we’re looking at you, pumpkin bread).
This ancient grain is bursting with protein — with a light texture and sweet, nutty flavor that lends itself deliciously to your baking goals. Because spelt is more water-soluble than regular wheat, it's best to use a little less water or liquid in your recipe. Speaking of, we’re in love with this one for Blueberry Spelt Muffins.
Our pick: Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flour
Made from rolled oats ground into a fine powder, this is one alt flour that’s best used in combination with other standard flours. We recommend replacing about 20% of the flour in a recipe with oat flour. This flour lends moisture and mild flavor to your breads, muffins, cookies, cakes, crusts, granola, fruit crisps and scones.
Our pick: Arrowhead Mills Oat Flour