You’ve done your research on gluten. You suspect that it isn’t making your body feel so hot, or maybe you’re just curious to find out how changing your diet will affect your life. There are many reasons to go gluten free—and there are now many resources out there to help you make the transition easier and more delicious.  

Even gluten-free baking is totally doable, as long as you have a basic understanding of the best ingredients and techniques for maximizing texture and flavor. Whether you’re asking yourself What is gluten free baking mix? or Is baking soda gluten free?, this guide has you covered.

Before you know it, you’ll be whipping up cakes, pastries, and cookies just as satisfying as the ones you enjoyed in your pre-gluten-free life! 

chocolate cake
Can you believe this cake is gluten free?

The Best Gluten-Free Baking Tips

There are plenty of recipes available to help you make specific gluten-free dishes (like this gluten-free cake recipe, for one), so let’s talk more generally about the world of gluten-free baking and the questions that come up most often. 

Gluten-Free Ingredients to Have on Hand

If you’re interested in getting into gluten-free baking, there are a few ingredients you should start stocking. Having these products on hand will make it easier to jump into a gluten-free recipe the next time you’re hit with a craving. 

  • Pick up a few gluten-free flours to experiment with. Which gluten-free flour is best for baking? It depends! Some recipes will call for specific types of gluten-free flours, and you’ll also likely develop a personal preference, since each flour has a slightly different taste and texture. You have several flour options to choose from:
    • Almond
    • Buckwheat
    • Sorghum
    • Teff
    • Arrowroot
    • Brown rice
    • Oat
    • Corn
    • Chickpea
    • Coconut
    • Tapioca
    • Cassava
    • Tigernut
  • Several food manufacturers also produce a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix, which you can find at most grocery stores. This makes for an easy substitution in many traditional baking recipes. 
  • Xanthan gum is required for most gluten-free baking recipes. It’s actually not a gum, but a powder, and it’s used to replace the elasticity that usually comes from gluten in baked goods. 
  • Baking soda and baking powder are heavy hitters in gluten-free recipes, just as they are in traditional recipes. Baking soda is always gluten free, but baking powder can be a little trickier, since the formula differs from one manufacturer to the next. Many brands of baking powder do use gluten-free starch, but if you’re concerned, look for a product that’s labeled gluten-free baking powder.

If you want to skip all of these individual ingredients, you can also find gluten-free baking mixes. What is gluten-free baking mix? It’s a combination of dry ingredients that usually just need a few liquid ingredients before hitting the oven. There are gluten-free baking mixes available for cookies, cakes and more. 

Start on Your Gluten Free Journey

First Steps in Becoming Gluten Free 

Common Substitutes to Make a Recipe Gluten-Free 

For anyone living a gluten-free life, conventional flours are the biggest culprit in standard baking recipes. That’s where gluten-free flours come in handy—and those gluten-free all-purpose flour mixes make substitutions especially easy.

If you come across “beer” in an ingredient list, you can use seltzer water instead to achieve the same carbonating effect. 

When Your Dessert Isn’t Moist 

Gluten-free baked goods are often criticized for being a little dry. There are a few things you can try to add moisture to your gluten-free baking.

  • Look for recipes that include pureed fruit, sour cream, or yogurt. If you have other dietary restrictions, this could prove challenging, but it’s a good place to start. 
  • Swap out some of the white sugar called for in the recipe with brown sugar, which has more moisture.
  • You can also substitute honey or agave for sugar for additional moisture (though you may want to consider cutting down on the other liquid ingredients you’re using so your final product isn’t too moist). 
  • Add an extra egg or a little bit more oil, if that works with your dietary needs. 

How to Make Recipes Gluten Free and Vegan

Now that you know the basics of gluten-free substitutions in baking, there are a few vegan substitutions you can use too: 

  • Use coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Use almond milk or coconut milk instead of dairy milk. 
  • Use nondairy milk with a bit of lemon juice instead of buttermilk. 
  • Use applesauce, banana, or flax seeds mixed with water instead of eggs.

Baking Times

Generally speaking, gluten-free baked goods require a little more time in the oven than their glutinous counterparts. Since gluten-free recipes tend to call for more liquid than we’re used to in other recipes, it’s important to build in the extra baking time to avoid a gummy, wet texture. 

Don’t be surprised if a gluten-free baking recipe directs you to bake for what seems like a long time. Some recipes will even suggest that you bake beyond the time that a toothpick inserted into the middle of the baked good comes out clean. When in doubt, let it stay in the oven for a bit longer. 

Gluten-free baked goods will often look underdone even when they’re fully cooked, so decide when to remove them from the oven based on the timer, rather than visual cues. 

A Few More (Random) Secrets to Gluten-Free Baking Success 

  • Letting your gluten-free batter sit for an additional 30 minutes before baking it can help it become thicker and less sticky. It also helps take away the gritty texture that comes with many gluten-free dishes. 
  • Don’t hold back when it’s time to mix! In traditional baking, you’ve probably been warned not to overmix, but the opposite is true in gluten-free baking. Mixing gluten-free batters for longer than you’re used to can give your finished product a better structure and rise. 

Learn More About Vegan Baking Too! 

The Science of Easy Vegan Baking

Written by:

Alli Hoff Kosik