Rice Flour vs Wheat Flour, Which is the Best Choice and Why

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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Rice Flour vs Wheat Flour

Do you love to bake as much as I do? Well, this post is for us bakers! We will discover which is better between rice flour vs wheat flour in terms of health and baking options.

On the Flour!

Baking – the art of turning flour into a delicious food. However, in making delectable baked goods, baking itself is actually just half of the story. Choosing the right flour for the right task is just as important.

As a baking essential, flour is very important as it is the ingredient that lends structure and form to the baked product. Hence, your choice of flour largely determines your success on your desired baking outcome.

Today there are more choices than ever when it comes to baking with flour. Two of the most popular choices are rice flour and wheat flour.

Basically, these two types of flour only have a few little differences in the taste and quality of the outcome and in many ways they perform the same when it comes to cooking. So, how do you determine which among the two will work best for you?

What are their main differences? Let’s find out in this post.

What is Rice Flour?

rice grain flour

Rice flour is a type of flour which is made from finely milled rice, either white rice or brown rice. It is rich in essential nutrients and is completely gluten-free.

Rice flour is widely available among Asian markets and is amazingly so versatile that it can be used in a variety of culinary dishes.

Rice flour is often used as a thickening agent in making soups, stews, sauces and gravies. Its delicately grainy texture is excellent for shortbread and is a good substitute for baking cakes, whole grain breads, muffins and biscuits.

It also does wonders in cooking fried foods as a coating or breading which adds a springy flavor to the food. Many other dishes are made from rice flour which includes rice noodles, dumplings, pasta and the well-loved Japanese dessert mochi.

What is Wheat Flour?

What is Wheat Flour

Wheat is a type of flour made from ground wheat. Generally, there are two main varieties of wheat flour which is categorized based on the amount of gluten content, the soft and the hard.
Soft or weak low-protein wheat flour has lower gluten content while hard or strong high-protein wheat flour contains higher gluten content.

Wheat flour’s natural base protein is gluten. And because it has a large amount of gluten it makes an excellent ingredient for baking breads.

As the most common flour used in baking, wheat flour is great for waffles, bundt cake, pitas, and buns.

Rice Flour vs Wheat Flour

Rice flour and wheat flour can be used interchangeably for a variety of baked products. Oftentimes, rice flour is used as a substitute for wheat flour which has long been considered as a baking essential.

Though the two have a few similar characteristics, rice flour and wheat flour are different in several aspects. Wheat flour has high gluten content while rice flour is completely gluten-free.

They also vary in nutritional contents and texture.
Rice flour has a more granular and coarse texture compared to the wheat flour.

Wheat flour gives better elasticity which makes it suitable for making breads unlike rice flour. And, in terms of taste, rice flour has a neutral flavor while wheat flour has a mild sweet taste.

Nutritional Value

Nutritional Value

When it comes to deciding which flour to use in cooking, some people settle their choice based on nutritional value.

Rice flour and wheat flour varies significantly when we talk about their nutritional contents.

1. Carbohydrates and Calories

Rice flour has a slightly higher calories and carbohydrates content compared to wheat flour. Rice flour also has higher glycemic index compared to wheat flour.

If you are diabetic, whole wheat flour will be a better option for you, rather than rice flour which may make your blood sugar level spike.

2. Protein Content

Wheat flour has higher protein content at 16 grams per cup while rice flour only has 9 grams per cup.

3. Gluten Content

Rice flour is beneficial for those who are suffering from gluten intolerance and Celiac disease because it does not contain gluten. On the other hand, wheat flour contains a significant amount of gluten.

4. Fiber Content

Wheat flour contains more fiber than rice flour. Whole wheat flour has 4 grams of fiber per ¼ cup serving while brown rice flour only has 2 grams.

5. Vitamins

Both rice and wheat flour is a good source of thiamine, niacin and riboflavin. Each of them also contains small trace of Vitamin E. However, wheat flour is a better source of folic acid compared to rice flour.

Folic acid is essential for pregnant women as it is known to help prevent neural tube defects. On the other hand, rice flour is also found to be a good source of choline which may help in maintaining a healthy liver.

6. Phytonutrients

Whole wheat flour provides more phytonutrients called lignans compared to rice flour. Foods that contain higher lignan contents may help lower the risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Lignans also act as antioxidants and help in increasing estrogen levels which is beneficial to ease out menopausal symptoms for women.

Rice flour and wheat flour both contain varying amounts of essential nutrients. However, wheat flour is considerably a better source for certain vitamins and minerals such as folate and protein when compared to rice flour.

Still, rice flour provides more benefits for those who have gluten-intolerance, for infants who are usually more sensitive to wheat products and for those who are trying to lose weight.

Which is Really The Best Choice?

Rice and wheat flour have a number of profile similarities with just a few differences. In many cases, they can be interchanged for most cooking and baking purposes.

The taste and quality of the output may slightly vary, but all in all rice and wheat flour perform almost the same.

When deciding which among the two to use, I would suggest you consider the following:

  • Your Cooking or Baking needs
    Do you want to bake yeast bread or quick bread? Rice flour has no gluten so it won’t make your dough rise so, you would have to use wheat flour.

  • Your Nutritional or Diet Requirements
    Are you allergic to gluten? Are you trying to lose some weight? Then rice flour may be a better option for you. Or, if you are diabetic you might want to consider using whole wheat flour instead.

  • The Type of Result You Want to Achieve
    Would you like a thinner batter for your loaf of bread? Then, rice flour should work for you. Do you prefer fluffy bread with the right dough elasticity? Wheat flour is just about what you will need.

Watch this video for sweet and yummy rice flour cake!

Bake it Good

So, if you are still wondering which is the better option between rice flour and wheat flour, you might want to assess their similarities and differences first. Determine what your cooking or baking needs are and don’t forget to consider the health benefits of each product.

You may also want to consider substitution of a portion of your ingredients to increase the nutritional value of your food without completely sacrificing the taste and quality of your finished product.

How’s that for a brilliant idea? How does that sound to you?

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