Not all gluten free flours are created equal. In fact, a lot of them are not good at all, especially for frying foods. Many gluten free flours leave a gummy, soggy texture when they are used for frying. I tested several different gluten free flours and found the very best one for making delicious fried foods.
King Arthur gluten free flour is the best for breading and frying, because it doesn’t have xanthan gum added. Most gf flour blends contain xanthan gum, which leaves a gummy or soggy texture when fried. King Arthur’s gluten free flour browns perfectly and actually tastes good, unlike some nut flours.
Why Avoid Xanthan Gum in Fried Gluten Free Food?
While extra stretchiness is great in baked goods like bread or pizza crust, it’s not good in foods that you want to fry in hot oil. When fried, flours that have xanthan gum added to them can turn into a gooey, soggy mess.
Xanthan Gum is used in gluten free flour to give baked goods a bit of a stretchiness instead of being crumbly and dry. Regular flour contains gluten, which is a protein in wheat that is stretchy. Because there is no gluten in gluten free flour, xanthan gum is typically added so that muffins and cakes aren’t so crumbly that they fall apart.
That’s why my top pick for gluten free flour is King Arthur. There isn’t any xanthan gum added to the flour, so you can add some for recipes that call for it, or omit it for recipes that don’t. Plus, it’s fairly cheap as far as gluten free flour goes if you order online, especially compared to Bob’s Red Mill which comes in a smaller bag for more money.
If you don’t have an option to use King Arthur or you have to use a gluten free flour you have on hand, my second choice would be Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour. It still has xanthan gum added, but you can add a little bit of corn meal or panko breadcrumbs to the flour to help it stay crunchy and not get so soggy.
Can I Use Nut Flours for Fried Gluten Free Foods?
Some types of nut flours work really well to create gluten free fried foods too, especially almond flour and coconut flour. Sometimes nut flours have a distinct taste that carries over into the final fried food, which can be good or bad. Almond flour is great for crusting fish, like almond crusted grouper, or you can use ground up nuts for pecan crusted trout, because the flavor of the toasted nuts pairs well with the flavor of the fish. Those dishes are usually created in a saute pan with a small amount of oil, using a shallow fry method.
The downside to using nut flours is that the flavor of the flour doesn’t always work well with the flavor of the item being fried. For example, if I wanted to recreate a Bloomin’ Onion like they have at Outback Steakhouse (which I’ve done with King Arthur flour and it was amazing), I wouldn’t love the sweet coconut flour flavor when it was paired with the onion.
Nut flours also don’t work as well when they are used to coat deep fried foods. The nut flours don’t seem to stick to the food as well, and I usually end up with a big pile of flour that falls off once it hits the hot oil. For shallow pan frying, nut flours can work well as long as you watch them closely so they don’t burn. Burned nut flour has a rancid taste that I definitely don’t recommend!
King Arthur is a clear winner to me when it comes to deep frying or shallow pan frying. It has a very similar flavor to traditional wheat flour, and it browns nicely. This makes the final product look and taste closer to the fried foods you would be eating if you used regular flour.
King Arthur flour also sticks to the food well, and you can even double bread items by dipping them in the flour, then an egg wash, then back into the flour, without losing all of the coating like you would with almond or coconut flour.
How do you fry foods using gluten free flour?
There are a couple of really important steps to remember when frying food using gluten free flour.
- Season your flour mixture well. I use salt, pepper, onion powder, and chili powder to taste for almost every gluten free fried dish I make, unless it’s a fried dessert.
- Consider using a binder to help the batter stick. Dipping your whatever you are frying in an egg before rolling it in flour is ideal. If you can’t use eggs, you could also dip it in water or milk. If you are using a fine flour, you may be able to get a thin coating of flour to stick even without a binding ingredient.
- Make sure your oil is hot before you add the battered food. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the batter will just absorb the oil and you will have soggy fried food.
Bonus Tip: for extra crunch, you can double bread your fried foods by coating your food in flour, then dipping it into the egg, then coating it in flour again. You can also use gluten free panko style breadcrumbs or rice chex cereal as that final coating to make it extra crispy.
Once you’ve mastered the art of breading items with gluten free flour, you can make an endless variety of gluten free fried foods that taste just like you used to love. Some of our favorite items we’ve made at home are:
Gluten free fried Oreos
Gluten free mozzarella sticks
Gluten free Bloomin’ onion copycat
Gluten free fried chicken
Gluten free fried fish
Gluten free fried shrimp or calamari
Gluten free fried pickles
Gluten free hushpuppies with honey butter