Is flour vegan? Does it contain any animal products? We've documented the vegan-status of almost any type of flour you can imagine...
But if you're in a hurry, here's the low-down:
The short answer is yes, flour is vegan and you don't have to worry about it.
Before you read the rest of the article, I wanted to make you aware of something:
Most people who go vegan don't succeed and go back to eating animal products.
The main reason for this is lack of education - not because the lifestyle itself.
If you're new on your vegan journey and want to make sure you succeed in the long term, we highly recommend checking out this Vegan Starter Kit.
Click the link above to check it out or keep reading for the full guide.
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What Is Flour?
When people think of flour, wheat flour often comes to mind. Wheat flour—as the name implies—is made from grinding the wheat plant into a powder.
When a flour is labeled "whole wheat," this just implies that the whole grain of the plant was kept intact before grinding.
Really, flour can be created from so many different types of starchy and fatty plant foods. Alternatives to wheat flour, such as oat flour and almond flour, have their own unique flavor profiles and applications.
Side Note: Trying to figure out how to go vegan in a healthy and sustainable way?
Check out this vegan starter kit
Sometimes alternative flours are easier to make at home than to buy because they aren't locally available or produced in mass quantities. Yes, you can make your own oat flour simply by grinding up a given grain, legume or not.
Is Flour Vegan?
The answer is that flour is vegan 99.9 percent of the time. We’ve gone through multiple types of flour and brands to give you the most precise answer possible.
Sometimes the ingredient statements of flours can get confusing. This is because flour is fortified with certain vitamins and minerals in accordance with food and beverage laws created in the mid-1900s.
The trouble lies in the names of the vitamins and minerals that fortify these flours. They tend to have names that don't sound familiar, and naturally, vegans are going to balk at them.
For new vegans, every ingredient may look like it has the potential for harming animals, but you can rest assured that flour (with very few exceptions, as we'll detail below) is vegan.Want to learn how to shop as a vegan? Our printable grocery list can help
1. White Flour
- What It Is: "White flour," or refined flour, is a term used to describe a flour of the cereal grain called wheat. It's prepared without the bran and the germ of the plant. The upside is its versatility, but the potential downside is that it's stripped of many of its original nutrients.
- How It’s Used: There aren't many places you won't find white flour if flour is being used. That goes for breads, cookies, cakes, noodles, tortillas and anywhere thickeners may be present, including sauces and soups.
- So Is White Flour Vegan? Yes! Like sugar, white flour has come under fire for suspected bone char in its processing, but from our research, there hasn't been evidence to support this. As it stands right now, white flour is on the safe list.
2. Almond Flour
- What It Is: Almond flour is simply almonds that are crushed and made into flour. The almonds are first blanched to remove the skins and then ground into a powdery form.
- How It’s Used: You’ll usually find almond flour in gluten-free baking or to make certain baked goods that have a higher fat content.
- So Is Almond Flour Vegan? Yup. There are no animal products found in almond flour, which is especially great for gluten-free vegans (though it's so common that you've probably eaten it before without even knowing it).
3. Whole Wheat Flour
- What It Is: Also called wholemeal flour, this is a higher-protein flour than all-purpose flour. Like white flour, it's made from ground wheat, but it doesn't have the bran and germ removed. You can think of it like this: Whole wheat flour uses the whole plant grain.
- How It’s Used: Typically, whole wheat flour is used in place of white flour to make a product more nutritious. Leaving all parts of the grain equates to higher vitamin and mineral content.
- So Is Whole Wheat Flour Vegan? Totally. Just watch out for honey wheat breads.
4. Enriched Unbleached Flour
- What It Is: Flours called "enriched" are made with added vitamins and minerals to pump up their nutritional value. Conventional ones are B vitamins, iron and folic acid. "Unbleached" means that it hasn't been processed with bleaching agents to make it whiter.
- How It’s Used: Enriched unbleached flour can be bought in the grocery store and used just like white flour, but it's frequently favored in ready-made products like cereals, cookies and breads.
- So Is Enriched Unbleached Flour Vegan? Yes. While it's true that added vitamins are sometimes not plant-sourced, enriched flour generally doesn't have added animal-sourced nutrients. In short, don't sweat this one.
5. Enriched Bleached Flour
- What It Is: We know what enriched means now, but what happens when a flour is bleached? It's whitened with chemicals like benzoyl peroxide or chlorine gas. As a result, some people steer clear of bleached flour.
- How It’s Used: This flour can be used in any ready-made products like other lighter flours, so check your ingredient labels if you're curious.
- So Is Enriched Unbleached Flour Vegan? Yes. Like enriched unbleached flour, this one passes muster.
6. Self-Rising Flour
- What It Is: Self-rising flour is flour enhanced with baking powder and salt to help baked items rise better. Generally, these are white flours.
- How It’s Used: This flour may be used in breads, muffins, pizza crusts and baked goods you want to be soft and airy.
- So Is Self-Rising Flour Vegan? The answer is yes. Just as white flour is vegan, so is self-rising flour. Baking powder is just a chemical leavening ingredient, so there are no animal products added here.
7. Gluten-Free Flour
- What It Is: This is a type of flour that doesn't contain the protein gluten, which people with celiac disease and sensitivities cannot tolerate. It's frequently made with one or more of the following ingredients: nuts, gluten-free grains, coconuts and starchy vegetables.
- How It’s Used: Any foods marked "gluten-free" or "wheat-free" could potentially have gluten-free flour in their ingredient lists.
- So Is Gluten-Free Flour Vegan? It should be. Theoretically, gluten-free flour should be plant-based. Now, gluten-free flour mixes for products like quick breads and desserts may be a different story. In any case, check the ingredients on the bag to keep an eye out for eggs and dairy, should they ever arise (though they really shouldn't with regular gluten-free flour).
8. All-Purpose Flour
- What It Is: Sometimes referred to as plain flour, all-purpose flour (white in color) is medium-high in gluten and can be either bleached or unbleached.
- How It’s Used: As the name implies, all-purpose flour can be used for just about any purpose. You can bake with it or use it as a thickener in soups and sauces.
- So Is All-Purpose Flour Vegan? It sure is. And since it's so adaptable, it's highly recommended in any vegan kitchen.
9. Bleached Flour
- What It Is: This is just like enriched bleached flour minus the nutrient enhancement. So it's refined flour that has been modified with a bleaching agent to whiten it.
- How It’s Used: Because bleached flour makes softer, lighter baked goods than unbleached flour, it's usually recommended for pastries and pie crusts.
- So Is Bleached Flour Vegan? Yes. There's nothing added to bleached flour derived from animal products or byproducts.
10. Malted Barley Flour
- What It Is: Malted barley flour comes from hulled, malted barley. The malting process allows the barley to germinate a little (not fully), creating a darker color in breads as well as a heavier flavor.
- How It’s Used: You'll see this flour in breads, crackers and bakery products with rich, bready flavors. If you have some at home, you can mix it with whole wheat flour or use it as a thickener in sauces.
- So Is Malted Barley Flour Vegan? Yes. As far as we know, malted barley flour is totally vegan.
11. Tapioca Flour
- What It Is: Do you know tapioca pearls? Tapioca flour (a.k.a. cassava flour) is a related product. Like the pearls, it's prepared from cassava (manioc, yuca, yucca or Brazilian arrowroot), a tuber native to Brazil.
- How It’s Used: You'll find it in gluten-free flour blends. In South America and Asia, it's traditionally used in different types of breads and cakes.
- So Is Tapioca Flour Vegan? Yes. It's nothing more than the dried and ground cassava plant (treated to remove naturally occurring toxins), and it makes a wonderful gluten-free baking ingredient or thickener.
12. Semolina Flour
- What It Is: Made from durum wheat, semolina flour has a coarser texture than wheat flour as it's produced from parts of the wheat plant that have been removed to make wheat flour. These include the germ and bran of the plant.
- How It’s Used: Semolina flour's consistency makes it ideal for couscous and homemade pasta as well as breads and savory crusts with a denser, more varied texture.
- So Is Semolina Vegan? Absolutely. It's as vegan as whole wheat flour.
13. Baking Flour
- What It Is: "Baking flour" is a term used to identify types of flour that you would bake with. Some examples are King Arthur all-purpose flour, self-rising flour and cake flour.
- How It’s Used: Different baking flours are best for different foods, partly because they feature varying amounts of gluten that will affect the texture. If you're baking a crumbly cake, go with low-gluten cake flour. But if you're making a dense, chewy bread, the best choice is high-gluten bread flour.
- So Is Baking Flour Vegan? We'd assume so. There's no reason to suspect that it isn't vegan if it's simply all-purpose flour, bread flour, etc.
14. Rice Flour
- What It Is: Here's another gluten-free flour. It's made from ground rice and can be produced from either white or brown rice.
- How It’s Used: This is one of the top flours in gluten-free mixes. Whether you're buying a gluten-free vegan baking mix or a gluten-free muffin, there's a good chance it has rice flour in it.
- So Is Rice Flour Vegan? Yep, it's vegan. It's just rice, so feel free to add it to your shopping list if you're so inclined. Just know that it's best blended with other flours and binders for better outcomes in your baking.
- What It Is: Corn flour, or maize flour, is commonly used throughout the world. It's made from corn, and the coarser varieties are typically called "cornmeal" while the finer products are called "masa harina." Quick note: It's not the same as cornstarch, which is made from the endosperm rather than the whole corn kernel.
- How It’s Used: Masa harina can be used for the tortillas and tamales of Mexico and throughout the Americas as well as (vegan) Salvadoran pupuasas. Cornmeal can be used in things like breads and muffins and as a dusting underneath pizza to keep it from sticking to the pan.
- So Is Corn Flour Vegan? Yes. It's a plant-based grain product just like regular flour.
16. Coconut Flour
- What It Is: Coconut flour is a heavy, high-fiber flour from ground coconut meat. As a gluten-free flour, it's not as popular as rice flour, but it has a substantial fan base.
- How It’s Used: Any baked good can contain coconut flour. Perhaps the most regular uses of this flour are reserved for cakes and breads as well as lower-carb foods.
- So Is Coconut Flour Vegan? Yes. As it's simply coconut meat, you can buy coconut flour with confidence.
17. Gold Medal Flour
- What It Is: Gold Medal is a brand that makes everyday flours like all-purpose and whole wheat flours. It's easy to find in your average grocery store.
- How It’s Used: Any Gold medal flour should be used in accordance with the recipes that match it, i.e., bread flour for bread, self-rising flour for airy baked goods, etc.
- So Is Gold Medal Flour Vegan? Like standard flours, yes. Gold Medal doesn't appear to make any non-vegan flours.
18. Sorghum Flour
- What It Is: In India, this is known as jowar. It comes from the sorghum plant, a cereal grain that's gluten-free.
- How It’s Used: Sorghum flour can replace glutinous flours in any baked item. Like rice flour, it usually needs a binding ingredient like xanthan gum, a substance generated from sugars that have undergone a bacterial fermentation process.
- So Is Sorghum Flour Vegan? Yes, 100 percent. Try sorghum flour if you're trying to vary the gluten-free flours in your diet.
- What It Is: Great Value is a Walmart brand that makes flour as well as quite a large number of varied food products.
- How It’s Used: Approach Great Value flours the same way you'd approach Gold Medal flours and buy the kind that's meant for the exact type of recipe you want to follow.
- So Is Great Value Flour Vegan? We'd say so. We have not found anything to suggest that Great Value flours aren't vegan.
20. Konjac Flour
- What It Is: Konjac is a plant from Asia officially called Amorphophallus konjac. The flour of this plant is ground from the starch-rich corms.
- How It’s Used: Konjac flour is in noodles like shirataki noodles, breads and cakes. It can also be a thickener for liquids.
- So Is Konjac Flour Vegan? It is! This flour is all plant material and all vegan.
21. Cake Flour
- What It Is: A type of white flour, cake flour is often bleached. It's very similar to all-purpose flour, only it has a low gluten content.
- How It’s Used: With its minimal protein profile, cake flour is perfect for...well, cakes! Whether you're making a vegan birthday cake or cupcakes, you'll get moist, crumbly results.
- So Is Cake Flour Vegan? Yes. It's one of your many everyday baking flours.
22. Chickpea Flour
- What It Is: This flour goes by many names: chickpea flour, garbanzo bean flour, besan and gram flour. Its source is that favorite vegan pulse, the chickpea.
- How It’s Used: Flatbreads and savory (or sweet) pancakes are good places to start with chickpea flour. It has a deep, somewhat beany flavor, which makes it great for rich meals with robust ingredients.
- So Is Chickpea Flour Vegan? Most definitely. Try vegan socca, a seasoned flatbread made with chickpea flour and enjoyed as a delicious appetizer or street food in France.
23. Buckwheat Flour
- What It Is: Buckwheat flour is made from ground buckwheat, a plant related to rhubarb and sorrel. There's no actual wheat in it whatsoever.
- How It’s Used: Have you ever heard of buckwheat pancakes? Besides fabulous, hearty pancakes, buckwheat flour is popular in noodles like Japanese soba noodles. As it's naturally gluten-free, it's also found in gluten-free flour blends.
- So Is Buckwheat Flour Vegan? Yes it is. Add a smidge to your wheat-based recipes.
Related Article: How to Freeze Rhubarb
24. Oat Flour
- What It Is: Made from dry oats, oat flour is one of the easiest kinds to make at home. Simply throw them in a food processor and let it run until the oats are fine and powdery.
- How It’s Used: Oat flour is excellent in gluten-free pastries and cakes (if the oats are certified gluten-free). It can be added to breads, cookies and any baked good you'd make with all-purpose flour.
- So Is Oat Flour Vegan? Yes. Oat flour is as vegan as the oats it comes from.
25. Cricket Flour
- What It Is: Now this one is extremely unconventional, to say the least. It's made from crushed crickets. Yup.
- How It’s Used: Cricket "flour" is one of the reasons vegans have to be careful about protein supplements and energy bars as they can have this ingredient in them.
- So Is Cricket Flour Vegan? NO WAY. It's a little unfair that it's even called a flour as it's ground bugs. Nevertheless, this is how it's marketed, but at least it's aptly named.
The vast majority of flours are vegan. Obviously, cricket flour is not, but it's neither super common nor an ingredient you'll be looking to buy, anyway. The type of flour you do buy should be suited to its purpose. That is, bread flour makes the best breads while cake flour is ideal for cakes. Even if you aren't gluten-free, you can use naturally gluten-free flours like chickpea flour and coconut flour in all sorts of scrumptious vegan recipes, so explore all the options!