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Reader Tip: Make Gluten-Free Flour Using Your Coffee Grinder

Michelle from The Willing Cook emailed in the following tip:

When my husband tested positive for a wheat allergy a few years, I thought about trying the pre-packaged flours, but couldn’t come to terms with the price. We decided to start experimenting with making our own wheat-free flours. Instead of investing in an actual grain mill, we had a small coffee bean grinder that we thought might work well for grinding up whole grains.

We first tried old-fashioned oats ground in our coffee grinder as a substitute for wheat flour in a dessert recipe. We were amazed at how well the substitution worked and how delicious the outcome was!

Next, we tried grinding white rice for breading on fish. The flavor and crispiness were great!

We have since ground brown rice, chickpeas, tapioca pearls, blanched almonds and even Rice Chex! An old dusty coffee bean grinder and a little experimenting opened a whole new world for our frugal allergy family.

While the coffee bean grinder has worked well for us, one of the drawbacks is that the grinder we use is only a 1/2 cup size. If you need a large quantity of flour, it’s a little time-consuming to only be able to grind a half cup at a time. Also, if you use the coffee bean grinder for coffee beans, as well, you’ll want to make sure that you clean it really well when switching between grinding coffee beans and grinding flour.

The savings in grinding your own flours versus purchasing them pre-ground are significant:

  • Old Fashioned Oats purchased at Aldi and ground yourself are around 47 to 80% less expensive than purchasing pre-packaged Oat Flour from Amazon.
  • Rice purchased at Aldi and ground yourself is around 50% less expensive than purchasing pre-packaged Rice Flour from Amazon.
  • Whole Chickpeas purchased at an Asian Grocer and ground yourself are around 90% less expensive than purchasing them pre-ground from Amazon.

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  • Carrie says:

    Just like Little House on the Prairie — grinding the wheat in the coffee grinder!

  • Jena says:

    Careful grinding oatmeal/ rolled oats in grinders- make sure you read your instruction manual. My nutrimill will grind whole oat groats, but says specifically NOT to grind any kind of rolled oats or oatmeal. Definitely saves money- but don’t ruin your grinders!

    • Nancy says:

      You can make oat flour in the blender!

      I just posted how this morning…

      Recipes using oat flour (hot fudge cake) to come later this week.

      • A note to all who are dealing with gluten issues, many of you know that you need to be careful w/ oats due to cross contamination with wheat. There can be quite a bit of gluten in oats.

        We use a supplier for our oats that are not designated as being gluten free, but they used to test their oats regularly and the presence of gluten was so small that they were almost able to be approved for gluten-free certification.

        Also, the oats that you purchase rolled will work differently than buying whole or steel cut oats and grinding them in a grinder. Rolled oats and quick oats are processes already w/ steam. They will behave differently in recipes.

      • Kristine says:

        I grind oats in my blender, too.

  • Cheri says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ll have to think about this. I buy the prepackaged flours for my daughter, who eats gluten-free. I make 95 percent of her food from scratch.

    • Cheri,

      I would recommend a grain grinder so you can do a large volume of flour at a time. I, like you, make almost everything from scratch. You will find your savings w/ a grain grinder will pay for the machine in a very short amount of time.

  • Angelica says:

    I was just thinking what to do with our coffee bean grinder since we stopped using it. Thanks you for the great idea!

  • Colleen says:

    Thanks for a great idea. Be careful using oats with a wheat allergy (as I am GF also) as oats run the risk of cross contamination and often people on a GF diet need to eat GF oats also. Just wanted to share, but thank you again for a terrific idea. I am shocked at the high prices of packaged flours so I love the idea of using a coffee grinder.

  • Lisa Suit says:

    Thank you for posting this, I have been going without home baking for the past two months since I found out I am gluten intolerant because I can’t afford the flours at the store, this is a fantastic idea that hadn’t even occurred to me!

  • Lynda says:

    Caution with the oats – the problem with oats is not that they contain gluten but that they are so frequently cross-contaminated with wheat. Maybe the Aldi’s are certified gluten-free but if they are not, a celiac can get reeaally sick. : (

    • Jen says:

      Other ways to have GF flour cheap is to blend it yourself. Buying individual flours from an Asian grocery reduces the costs tremendously. I have found rice flours (not gritty because they are ground so finely), tapioca flour, cornstarch and potato starch. You can also buy larger quantities of GF flour components for mixing your own flour blend on Amazon or I can make a GF flour blend for under $2/lb, where it costs at least $5/lb to get a good GF flour blend.

  • Coffee Dude says:

    What a great Idea on another way to use as coffee grinder. I will share this with my readers.

  • Theresa says:

    Regular oats almost always contain gluten from cross contamination due to how they are grown and processed. Only certified gluten free oats can be considered truly gluten free.

  • Jennifer says:

    Remember, wheat free does not mean gluten free!

  • Jen says:

    Trader Joes has 16 oz bags of Almond Meal (flour) for 3.99. Thats the lowest price I’ve seen anywhere. Their bags of raw almonds are like 4.49 for 16 oz so it ends up being cheaper to buy it already made than to make yourself.

  • Linda says:

    I’ve been doing this for the last 20 years, alternating between food processor, blender, and coffee grinder. I make peanut butter this way, too. But my question to you: do you grind dry or cooked chick peas? I want to try dry to use as a flour, but all the recipes I’ve seen say to mash cooked. LMK what you do, and how you use it, please. Thanks.

  • This is a great idea. I am gluten intolerant and have to use all gluten free flours. I never thought about grinding my own. I do get a lot of them from the bulk bins at whole foods and natural grocers.
    Thanks for the great tip!

    • Jennifer says:

      Be careful about the bulk bins. At many places, scoops can be used on multiple bins. For example, someone could use the scoop on wheat flour, and then you get cross contaminated if you scoop rice flour.

  • Hi. I’m Michelle (the “tipper”). My husband only has a wheat allergy (not severe), so we don’t worry too much about the wheat/oat cross-contamination. But for celiacs or severe wheat allergies, you definitely have to buy gluten-free oats. I have used Trader Joe’s almond meal and have been pleased with it, but for people who don’t have access to TJ’s, grinding your own blanched almonds is a great alternative. As for the chickpeas, I grind them dry, not cooked, and have been very pleased with the outcome (we have used them in pancakes). There are some recipes on my website where I have used all homemade (w/ coffee grinder) wheat-free flours.

  • Amy W says:

    Thanks for sharing this.
    We are just starting to experiment with wheat free for my son.
    I need all the help I can get!

  • Kim L says:

    I am a fan of The Willing Cook and love her ideas with this. My son has severe peanut and egg allergies. We use rice flour (mixed with water in small amounts) as a replacement for eggs in baked goods. This is a great way to save costs and get only what we need rather than a large amount of overpriced rice flour. Thanks Michelle!!

    • Thanks, Kim, for your support! I haven’t tried the rice mixed with water for an egg substitute. I’ve tried numerous things over the years, and I have found EnerG egg replacer to be my favorite. While a little pricey up front (I only buy when on sale), it lasts a long time! I’ll have to try your suggestion though.

  • Kristen says:

    Yes – You definitely want to be careful about stating that you can create “gluten free” flours as oats are never gluten free. I see that the tipper has to follow a wheat free diet which is definitely different, but the title of the blog post states gluten free and then mentions oats which might confuse people! I am only aware of two places in the country where GF oats are grown (and one can only be purchased via the internet)…..just wanted to clarify so that any other celiac don’t read this and get sick!

    • Kristen, You are certainly right about oats. However, you are able to grind your own gluten-free flours that are not oats as given in the other examples (rice, chickpeas, almonds, etc). Of course, if you are celiac, you know to only purchase gluten-free oats (and then you can make flour out of those oats). This is merely an example of what you can do with a small and less expensive kitchen appliance when trying to budget for food allergies or celiac.

  • Jana says:

    My daughter was on a very restrictive diet the first year of her life and I nursed so I had to get very creative with grains. While not gluten-free, I interchange flours regularly to limit my dependence on wheat and have found success with amaranth, millet and quinoa “flour” made in the spice grinder.

  • alicia says:

    Can you grind actual wheat in a coffee grinder. I have been looking into wheat grinders but they are pricey!!! Maybe a less expensive coffee grinder would work. Has anyone done this?

  • Gabby says:

    I love this idea…I would have never thought of it. I do have one question…do you use dried chick peas in the grinder (I’m new to this concept)? I don’t bake a lot but would like to try some alternatives to wheat flour for small batches of stuff like the chicken breading.

    Thanks for the idea!!

    • Gabby,
      I have used dried chick peas in the grinder, but our favorite breading for chicken or fish (and even veggies) is ground white rice (you can probably use brown rice too). We grind up the rice, then add the spices into the grinder (like garlic, paprika, salt, pepper) and give them a quick grind with the rice. We rinse off the meat, then roll it into the ground rice (we do not dip in egg b/c of an egg allergy), then fry them in a pan. If you’re allowed, it is also really good to add Parmesan cheese to the mixture. Glad you like the idea and hope you enjoy the results!

  • Jane says:

    I too use my coffee grinder for grinding my grains and almonds. Makes sense (cents) to grind almonds (sliced or slivered) rather than paying $11 for a 2 lb bag of almond meal. Works well too. Yes, I have to clean the grinder, but that is okay too. Ready for the next use. 🙂 Great idea!!

  • Aryn says:

    If you’re grinding in small amounts, then this won’t be an issue, but most rice, bean, and legume flours should be refrigerated if ground in large quantities. They have a higher protein content and may go rancid faster. I actually keep my TJ’s almond meal in the freezer.

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