Almond flour and soy flour are two grain-free options that can stand in for wheat flour. Neither contains gluten and both are versatile. They can be used in baked goods like pies and cakes as well as for thickening. Choosing between gluten-free options can be difficult if you are not aware of the differences between them. Consider almond flour and soy flour differences in this SPICEography Showdown.
How does almond flour differ from soy flour?
The most significant difference that you will have to contend with when choosing between almond and soy flour is the flavor. While neither has a particularly strong flavor, they are not flavorless either.
Almond flour has a light almond flavor while soy flour’s flavor is more beany. Another issue is texture. Almond flour is not as fine as soy flour, which is lighter and more powdery. Almond flour also contains more moisture than soy flour. The respective textures of these flours can affect how baked goods turn out.
Nutrition is another area where there are important differences. Almond flour is a nutritious flour and comes with a high protein, vitamin E and fiber content. Even so, soy flour contains vastly more nutrients than almond flour with the exception of vitamin E.
Both of these flours have their downsides in that almond flour contains a significant amount of oxalates, which increase the risk of kidney stones. Soy flour is high in phytic acid, which can reduce your body’s absorption of various nutrients including iron and calcium. It can also have negative effects on thyroid health.
If your recipe calls for one, can you use the other?
Almond flour and soy flour are interchangeable in most recipes. If a recipe calls for wheat flour, you can simply swap in the almond or soy flour for part of the wheat flour without adjusting anything else. If your recipe calls for soy flour only, you may need to make adjustments to the liquids due to almond flour’s higher moisture content.
Similarly, you can use soy flour as a substitute for almond flour in a recipe where almond flour is used by itself but you may need to increase the amount of liquid to make up for soy flour’s relative dryness.
Flavor is another factor in whether you can use these flours as substitutes for each other. While the fact that both are gluten-free makes them safe for people who cannot tolerate gluten, their respective flavors may make them inappropriate for certain recipes.
You may not want to use almond flour in traditional Chinese recipes where the soy flavor is crucial to the dish. While the recipe should still work, it will probably be very different from the traditional version. Similarly, you should not use soy flour for milder-tasting breads and cakes where the soy flavor may dominate the flavor profile.
When should you use almond flour and when should you use soy flour?
Use almond flour when a mild almond flavor will be complementary to your dish. The almond flavor that it brings can work in both savory and sweet preparations but really shines in desserts. Use it to make marzipan. You can also use almond flour as a thickener in some gravies and sauces.
Use soy flour as an ingredient in traditional Chinese or Japanese desserts or in savory dishes from Indonesia and Korea. European and American palates may deem it better suited to savory dishes due to the beany flavor.