White Flour Substitutes
Many dogs are allergic to wheat (and corn), but it doesn't mean that they cannot enjoy any homemade dog biscuits! We just have to find an alternative flour and off we go! This page contains a list of flour substitutes (both with gluten and gluten-free) as well as brief information on each flour.
Even if your dog is not allergic to wheat, it is still a good idea to try out and rotate a variety of whole flours that are healthy and nutrient-packed.
If your dog has no problems with gluten, you can use any of the following flour substitutes. However, like some people, some dogs are gluten intolerant. If your dog unfortunately is one of them, always use gluten-free flours.
Gluten-free flours do not yield the elasticity or hold together the way wheat flour does because they are, well, gluten free. Recipes that use gluten-free flours require a little more egg or other binders to be added.
Experiment with different flours and try to find a few that you like to work with, and of course most importantly that your dog enjoys.
Gluten-Free Whole Flours
- Almond Flour: This flour contains protein, healthy fats, and vitamins B complex and E, as well as trace minerals (e.g. manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium). When baking with almond flour, you can use similar quantities to regular flour in your recipe.
- Amaranth Flour: This ancient grain is mildly sweet tasting and is protein rich. Usually best used in combination with other flours. It also pairs well with strong sweeteners like molasses and dark honey.
- Brown Rice Flour: Brown rice is an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin (vitamin B3). It is also rich in fiber and protein. Brown rice flour is similar to all-purpose flour but tends to form a soft dough. Consider combining it with oat flour when using in recipes for easier handling.
- Buckwheat Flour: Despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat (it is actually a fruit seed). It is an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of copper and magnesium. It is high in fiber and has antioxidant properties. It is good for the heart as well. It has a strong flavor and can be substituted for an equal amount of wheat flour.
- Chickpea Flour: This flour substitute is high in digestible fiber and has a lower glycemic index. Use 10-15% less chickpea flour when substituting for whole-wheat flour.
- Coconut Flour: Coconut flour is fiber rich and highly absorbent. If you add it to a recipe blend, you may need to add more fat or liquid. Stir it in and let it sit to see how it behaves. A good rule of thumb is to use one quarter of the amount of what you would have used if you were using wheat flour.
- Oat Flour: Oat flour is gluten-free if certified on the label as such. Oat flour is easy to handle and results in a tender cookie.
- Quinoa Flour: This nutrient-packed flour contains a complete protein: one that provides all of the essential amino acids. For best results, use this flour in conjunction with other flours.
How About Tapioca Flour?
You may have come across some recipes on the Internet that suggest using tapioca flour for dog biscuits because tapioca flour is "gluten-free".
Just because a flour is gluten-free, however, does not automatically make it healthy. Tapioca flour is not as nutritious as the other flour substitutes listed above.
Tapioca contains mainly carbohydrates, and is low in protein, fat (contains no Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids), and other nutrients such as minerals and vitamins.
More importantly, if your dog is diabetic, DO NOT use tapioca flour since this flour has a high glycemic index.
For the above reasons, I do not recommend using tapioca flour for baking healthy dog treats.
White Flour Substitutes with Gluten
The following flours contain gluten, so they are easier to work with when making biscuits:
- Barley Flour: Barley is high in fiber, and the flour is slightly sweeter than wheat flour. It can be substituted for an equal amount of wheat flour.
- Rye Flour: Rye is an excellent source of manganese and fiber. It also contains a good amount of magnesium. It is good for the heart and the high fiber content makes it low glycemic. However, rye dough is sticky and rather difficult to handle. Consider combining rye with another flour.
- Spelt Flour: Spelt flour has a slightly sweet, nutty taste and bakes up lighter and softer than whole-wheat flour, but it's still fiber-rich. It absorbs liquids more readily than wheat flour, so use up to 25% less liquid.
When using white flour substitutes that are gluten-free, extra binder is usually needed. While eggs are commonly used as a binder, there are other binders that work very well too. For example:
- Flax Seed Meal: Use one tablespoon of ground flax meal with 3 tablespoons of water for each egg called for in a recipe. Combine the flax meal with the water and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds can also be used as a gel for gluten-free baking. Mix one tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Use this gel-like mixture as a binder (It substitutes one egg).
- Banana: Mashed banana can be a good binder for dog biscuits as well. Use half a ripe banana (mashed) plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder for each egg.
- Applesauce: Unsweetened 100% applesauce is another nutritious flour binder. Use 3 tablespoons of applesauce plus 1 teaspoon baking powder for each egg.
- Nut and Seed Butters: Unsweetened butters (e.g. almond butter, sunflower seed butter) are another binder choice. Use one-quarter to one-third cup nut butter for each egg.
- Pumpkin Puree: Unsweetened 100% pumpkin puree can act as a binder although not as well as banana or applesauce. To substitute 1 egg, add 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin.