Soy flour has a long history in China but has recently garnered attention in the west due to its stunning nutritional profile and the fact that it is gluten-free. One issue with soy flour is that depending on where you live, it may not always be easy to find. In addition, you may have concerns about consuming large amounts of soy. If availability or potential health issues are a concern for you or if you have simply run out of it unexpectedly, try one of soy flour substitutes below.
Your best bet: Chickpea flour
Chickpea flour is made by grinding a legume, just like soy flour. It has some of the same properties including a pale yellow appearance. Chickpea flour has been a popular flour option in India and parts of Europe for many years. It is used in besan chilla, which are chickpea pancakes from India.
Chickpea flour is also used for panisse, a French chickpea fritter. Both soy and chickpea flours also have a beany flavor. If you are replacing a portion of the wheat flour in a recipe with one of them, you should replace only about 25-30 percent of the wheat flour. Whether you are using soy flour or chickpea flour, this formula should give you a similar result as a recipe that uses wheat flour alone. Like soy flour, chickpea flour is gluten-free, which means that you can consume it safely if you suffer from celiac disease.
In addition to providing a flavor and appearance like that of soy flour, chickpea flour is similar in that it is nutritious. While it does not have as many nutrients as soy flour, it is still loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber. Both flours are full of proteins that make them effective for binding purposes.
When using chickpea flour as a substitute for soy flour, add about 10 percent more than the recipe requires.
A decent second choice: Almond flour
Almond flour comes from a nut rather than a legume but will still provide much of what you want from a gluten-free flour. It is made from blanched almonds and is rich in fiber and protein, just like soy flour. It also provides vitamin E, which is lacking in soy flour.
Most importantly for some people will be the fact that it does not have soy flour’s beany flavor. Instead, almond flour has a light nutty flavor that may work better in some dishes than the mild bitterness from some forms of soy flour. Almond flour results in baked goods that are more crumbly than those made with soy flour so you may need to use extra eggs to ensure proper binding.
Note that almonds contain more moisture than soybeans so you will need to compensate by reducing moisture elsewhere in the recipe. Because of how dense it is, you will want to use slightly less almond flour when replacing soy flour. If the recipe requires one cup of soy flour, use one cup less a tablespoon.
In a pinch: Quinoa flour
Quinoa is an ancient grain that shares much in common with soybeans including a high protein content. Quinoa actually has all of the essential amino acids and is thus a complete protein. In addition, it is rich in multiple nutrients that are also found in soy flour. Fiber and folate are among these essential compounds. Quinoa does have a nuttiness that can help its flavor to work as a replacement for the bean flavor of soy flour.
Use quinoa flour as a 1:1 substitute for soy flour.
Peanuts are legumes that can be made into flour, just like soy flour. Like soy flour, peanut flour is protein-rich and gluten-free.