The most important thing to know about stocking your pantry is to take it slow, otherwise you will end up with ingredients that you may never use. You will find that a lot of your regular baking supplies that you already have are gluten free so when you clean out your pantry, double check your labels. Buy a little at a time, starting with items that you know you will use. For example, the first thing I really needed to make to feel “normal” after going gluten free was chocolate chip cookies. I had most of the needed ingredients except for the flour, so I picked up a gf all-purpose flour blend and started experimenting.
When you are first starting out, I highly recommend you pick up several gluten free all-purpose blends. Going gluten free can be overwhelming and intimidating and I am an advocate of keeping things as simple as possible. As you become more familiar with baking gluten free, you can experiment with different types of flour.
The first time I went shopping for gluten free flour, I ended up walking out of the store with nothing but a headache. After years of buying wheat flour without a second thought, I was not prepared for the variety of gluten free flours and I had no idea how to use the different flours.
After going back home and doing some research, I found some all-purpose blends that were available in our local grocery stores. My husband discovered blends that were available online and purchased their smallest package available.
I have had success with the following all-purpose blends. I still keep them stocked in my pantry and use them on a regular basis.
Available in most big chain grocery stores:
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
- King Arthur Flour – Gluten Free Multi-Grain Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour
Be careful when buying King Arthur Flour off the shelf. They also offer a wheat all-purpose flour and the boxes are very similar. Read your labels!
GFJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour
GFJules offers a Starter Pack at a discount which includes several different flour blends along with a “New to Gluten Free” eBook and her “Nearly Normal Cooking” cookbook. I cooked/baked every recipe in her cookbook over the first few months that I was gluten free. It was a life saver for me.
Once you become more comfortable with baking gluten free, you should try and stock a few different flours in your pantry to give you flexibility.
There are many types of gluten free flour. As you become more familiar with baking gluten free, you may want to experiment with individual flours. Usually, you will be blending several different flours together.
- Brown rice flour – has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor and retains the nutritional value of the rice bran.
- Almond flour – made from ground almonds. That being said, it tastes like almonds and is generally higher in calories than the other flours. I use it in addition to an all-purpose flour for my quick breads.
- Tapioca flour – adds structure to gluten free baking and gives baked goods a chewy and crisp texture. I don’t use tapioca flour for thickening gravies or sauces because it becomes slimy. It does however, make fantastic cheesy rolls, a household favorite.
- Potato flour – different from potato starch because it is made from the entire potato and has a definite potato taste. I would not use it for cakes or pastries but have used it successfully for bread and dinner rolls.
- Sorghum flour – high in protein, iron and dietary fiber and has a nice flavor. I use sorghum flour in addition to an all-purpose flour when making breads.
- Oat flour – a good source of protein and has a mild sweet taste
- Buckwheat flour – ground from seeds, is gluten free and is not wheat. It has a strong nutty taste that makes it good to add to all-purpose flour for quick breads. It is also a good source of protein.
- Millet flour – ground from seeds and is high in fiber and protein. It has a mild sweet corn taste. It is good for breads and baked goods.
- Corn Meal – coarse ground corn flour and is a good source of fiber. It is good to use for dusting pans when baking bread. When mixed with other flours for recipes, it give baked goods a mildly sweet corn taste.
- Tapioca Starch – Tapioca Starch and Tapioca Flour are the same thing.
- Potato Starch – Unlike Tapioca Starch and Flour, Potato Flour and Starch are not the same thing. Potato starch is a very fine white powder, similar in texture to corn starch. Recipes will ask for potato starch specifically. It can also be used to thicken anything that will not be boiled such as gravy, custard, pudding and sauces.
- Arrowroot Starch/Flour/Powder – Can be used as a thickener like corn starch. If you are allergic to corn, arrowroot is a good substitute. If you are using it to thicken gravy, stews or soups, you will need to make a slurry. Mix arrowroot powder with a cold liquid and whisk until combined. Add it to your dish at the end of the cooking time, usually right before serving. It can also be used to lighten the texture of baked goods.
- Corn Starch – The thickener that your grandma and mom used, corn starch is used to thicken pies, stews and gravies. Like arrowroot, if corn starch is being added to gravies, stews or soups, it must be added in a slurry. Corn starch is also added to powdered sugar as an anti-caking agent. If you need to avoid corn, you will need to avoid most commercially made powdered sugars. For a recipe for homemade powdered sugar, please see my powdered sugar notes.
Gums add some of the elasticity to baked foods that is missing when you bake gluten free. Gums are expensive, but will last a long time because you use so little in recipes. Buy the smallest container available and store your gum in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Xanthan Gum – this is a corn product. If you are allergic to corn, please do not use this product. I prefer xanthan gum over guar gum, but I am not sensitive to corn.
- Guar Gum – is ground from a seed. Like xanthan gum, it is used in small amounts for thickening, binding and as a volume enhancer.
Check the sugars in your pantry should be the same as before you went gluten free.
- Light or Dark Brown Sugar
- Confectioner’s or Powdered Sugar – If you are allergic to corn, you will need to avoid most commercially made powdered sugars, as corn starch is often added as an anti-caking agent. It is simple to make your own powdered sugar at home. Place granulated sugar into your blender and blend until it becomes a powder, then use a sifter to remove any lumps. The two commercially sugars available without corn starch that I know of are: King Arthur’s “Glazing Sugar” and C&H “Ultra-Fine Bakers Sugar.” C&H is not quite powdered, but very fine crystals. It would still have to be blended to become powder.
- Turbinado (Raw) Sugar – Excellent for topping muffins and pastries for a sweet crunchy topping.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Check your labels! Not all baking powders and baking sodas are gluten free. Make sure you have both in your pantry, a lot of recipes require both.
Cream of Tartar
Used most commonly for meringues and puff pastries such as éclairs, I also use it in my snickerdoodle recipe.
I prefer to use rapid or quick rising yeast. Dry active yeast is perfectly acceptable, just plan for more prep time. To make sure my yeast is fresh, I normally purchase the small packets unless I know that I am going to be baking large quantities.
Psyllium husk is exactly what you think it is, and yes it is supposed to be here. Most people know Psyllium Husk as a fiber supplement but it is invaluable in helping improve the texture of gluten free baked goods. If a recipe calls for psyllium husk, resist the urge to leave it out. The texture of your baked goods will not turn out the same. You can find it in the Health & Beauty section of most grocery stores. Make sure you buy one without flavoring. It can be pricey, but most recipes only require a small amount and you will not have to buy another for a long time.
Nonfat Dry Milk Powder
Nonfat dry milk powder adds a richness and buttery taste to bake goods. Gluten free recipes call for less liquid and butter than traditional recipes. The milk powder not only adds flavor but helps baked goods brown nicely.
What is a kitchen without chocolate?
Baking Chips – as mentioned above, you will need a variety of chips. I always keep semi-sweet chips on hand. Chocolate Dream makes great baking chips, but they contain soy. Enjoy Life makes baking chips that are free from the 8 most common allergens. I am sure that there are other great allergen free baking chips, but these are the two that I am most familiar with.
Natural unsweetened cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate- These should be naturally gluten and dairy free, but read your labels to make check for trace amounts of contaminants.
I prefer the convenience of stick-style shortening when measuring for baking. You can get the large can and scoop and measure. Crisco is always the old standby and is readily available, but contain soy. If you need to avoid soy and dairy, use a product like Earth Balance Natural Shortening.
Spices and Extracts
Vanilla extract- A very common ingredient in baking recipes. It is commonly available in store baking aisles. I prefer using pure vanilla extract. It is a little pricey, but it goes a long way. Again, check your labels.
There are other extracts available from peppermint and almond to coffee and hazelnut. If you have them, check them to make certain that they are gluten free. If you don’t have them, don’t worry. As long as you have vanilla extract, you will fine. You can add to your pantry as you need.
Check any spices that you have in your pantry, some companies use filler in their spices and most fillers contain gluten. Spices also expire, so unless you are going to bake frequently, start with small containers of a few spices and work your way up to purchasing more as you become more comfortable. I use cinnamon in almost everything I bake, so I keep a large container in my pantry. Cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg round out my most used spices. You can bake almost anything with these spices.
- Gluten free all-purpose flour
- Brown Rice Flour
- Almond Flour
- Potato Flour
- Sorghum Flour
- Oat Flour
- Buckwheat Flour
- Millet Flour
- Corn Meal
- Tapioca Starch/Flour
- Potato Starch
- Arrowroot Starch/Flour
- Corn Starch
- Xanthan Gum
- Guar Gum
- Granulated Sugar
- Light Brown Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Turbinado (Raw) Sugar
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Cream of Tartar
- Psyllium Husk
- Nonfat Milk Powder
- Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
- Vegetable Shortening sticks or can
- Vanilla extract