6 Great Substitutes for Spelt Flour
Did you know that spelt is one of the oldest known grains in the world!? It is certainly one of the first ways wheat was ever used in the mass production of bread. Today, spelt is a little less known and is most popular in health-food stores.
Spelt is a unique grain because it is entirely water soluble. Spelt kernels actually dissolve in your mouth in a few short seconds. This means that spelt is super digestible and is a great option for anyone who loves bread but has adverse reactions to wheat-based grains. However, it is not suitable for anyone with celiac disease because it does come from wheat.
Spelt is technically a healthy food—healthier than many other flours. It contains the entire grain including the germ and bran, and therefore is high in fiber and protein, along with being high in carbohydrates. It is sometimes called dinkel wheat or hulled wheat and is more popular in Western Europe than anywhere else. It is very popular in baked goods, especially whole wheat breads, and is commonly combined with other ancient grains.
Spelt tastes different from most flours and has an intensely mineral flavor. It can also be slightly acidic and even a bit salty. One journalist called it, “the flavor of running through a dusty field,” which may not sound that appetizing, but just wait until you have a thick slab of spelt bread in front of you, freshly baked and slathered with butter.
Unlike some of the grains listed here, spelt is actually quite mild in flavor and not at all nutty, so if that is what you are after, we’ve provided a lot of great suggestions.
We think it’s worthwhile giving spelt a try, but if you can’t access it, here is a list of six great alternatives to spelt flour.
1. Cornmeal or Corn Flour
Cornmeal can be used in most recipes where spelt flour is needed, but it does tend to be more coarse. It often has a slightly sweet, light corn-like flavor but is considered quite mild, like spelt.
Cornmeal is also gluten-free and plant-based so it can be enjoyed by anyone who can eat corn, and since spelt flour contains wheat, this makes it a good alternative.
For certain bread recipes where you need a finely ground flour, we recommend giving corn flour a try. It also has a mild flavor but will suffice in place of spelt in many recipes. Cornflour does tend to be yellow in color and spelt is slightly brown and grainy, so the result will be slightly different.
2. All-purpose Flour or Whole Wheat Flour
All-purpose flour is very similar to spelt flour! Spelt flour has the added benefits of more fiber and protein because, during manufacturing, the hull, germ, and bran are not removed (as with all-purpose flour) but instead blended in. The result is a slightly gritty, nutty, nutrient dense flour that is slightly brown in color.
Some people prefer baked goods and breads made with spelt flour for the flavor, but if you cannot tell the subtle difference, then it is worthwhile using it for the added nutrition! Use all-purpose four in a 1:1 ratio to spelt in any recipe, anytime. Both can be found in pretty much any grocery store for a reasonable price!
All-purpose flour is probably the closest substitute on this list, but many people don’t like to use it because it is stripped of all the nutritional qualities of whole wheat or spelt flour, which is something to consider depending on your needs.
3. Oat Bran
Oats are an excellent source of protein and fiber and help keep you full for a long time. It is also known for helping to regulate blood sugar, and unlike most grains, they actually have more minerals and vitamins than carbohydrates.
They are also considered gluten-free and have a distinct flavor that people who love oats really enjoy.
When oats are gently ground, they are called oat bran, and this flour-like substance can be used in place of spelt flour and works like a dream! Oat bran has a grittier texture and will result in a chewy baked good. It pairs particularly well with fruit-based baked goods.
Keep in mind that it needs to be kept in the fridge so that it doesn’t spoil, because of the natural oils released when the oats are cracked.
4. Kamut flour
Spelt and kamut are fairly similar ancient grains. They both come from wheat and contain gluten. They both have an excellent nutrition profile and rich flavor that is sometimes described as nutty. Kamut is most similar to durum wheat (the kind used to make semolina) and is sometimes described as having a ‘buttery’ taste.
It works well in breads, especially when mixed with other grains, but in reality, you can use kamut flour 1:1 in any spelt-based recipe and achieve very similar results. Kamut flour-based products will have a sharper, nuttier flavor so if this isn’t what you’re going for, you may want to go with a different flour from this list.
5. Farro Flour
Farro differs from spelt in taste, size, shape, and texture… but very subtly. These grains are quite similar and their flours act similarly in most applications. Farro has a slightly nutty flavor and is a long, oval, golden grain. Spelt is more round and short and results in a more tender, less nutty baked good.
Farro is slightly darker and may be harder to find than spelt, but if you can find it, it is highly recommended as it is delicious and super nutrient dense.
It is also gluten-free and can be used to add protein to any of your baked goods. Farro might be more difficult to find, so if you’re in immediate need of a spelt substitute, we recommend all-purpose or corn flour.
6. Barley Flour
Barley and spelt are very, very similar. Their grains in raw form are almost indistinguishable, and both are hearty, protein dense grains that make robust flour and tasty baked goods. Barley is much higher in gluten and will result in a thick, pasty liquid if mixed with water.
Spelt, on the other hand, will completely dissolve in water without much change. For these reasons, these flours do of course act differently, but they make a fine substitute for each other if needed. Barley flour’s flavor is quite intense, so if you’re looking for something more mild, you may want to go with a kamut or wheat flour.
Spelt flour is one of the oldest grains and it’s still around for good reason! One taste of spelt bread and you’ll see why—its signature salty, mineral-like flavor is unique and wonderful! Spelt is also known for being very nutritious (more so than regular flour at least!) and works well in breads, loaves, cookies, and more.
The only downside to spelt flour is that it should be stored in the fridge if it’s not going to be used right away, to keep it from going rancid. Also, it can have a slightly gritty color and brownish hue, which may not be desirable in all recipes. But otherwise, spelt is the perfect grain for you to start baking with today!