Low Carb Substitutions and Conversions

Whether you’re living the keto lifestyle, doing paleo, or just trying a low carb diet, one of the more challenging things about cutting down on carbs is learning how to cook and bake with alternative everything! Seriously, new flours, new sweeteners, new binders and emulsifiers, and new milk!? It’s a game changer, and I’m personally quite tired of searching the net for accurate substitution guides, so I’m creating this page partially for myself, but sharing it with all of you too!

The Substitutions listed below are middle of the road estimates. For example, to substitute one cup of all purpose flour for coconut flour, you would need between 1/4 cup to a 1/2 cup of coconut flour depending on the other ingredients, so it is listed here as a 1/3 cup substitution. You might have to tweak things a little as you work through your recipes.

Not all substitutes are created equal, and neither are all recipes. Cooking is chemistry, and every combination, and order of combinations in a recipe makes a difference. So, just because substituting almond flour worked in one recipe doesn’t mean it will work for another. This is especially true of the binding agents; ingredients like chia seeds, xanthan gum or gelatin won’t work the same in every recipe. Trial and error is often the only way to go until you become experienced with how each ingredient reacts with water, oil, heat, and a plethora of other variables.

Substitutions for All Purpose Flour

  1. Non-grain flours do not contain natural binding agents like gluten, and while this isn’t important for some recipes, there are those situations where it simply won’t work without the appropriate binding agent. So don’t forget to add a binding agent after figuring your flour substitution, especially if you’re baking breads, cakes, or cookies.
  2. You will also want to increase your leavening agents by about 25% when using alternative flours: this would be ingredients like baking powder or baking soda (if a recipe you’re converting to grain free flour calls for 1 tsp baking soda, then use 1 1/4 tsp).
  3. You might also need to lower your oven temp by a little bit, about 10 to 25 F, as grain free flours do brown more easily. This is a trial and error area.
  • Almond Flour: 1:1 substitution (for 1 cup all purpose flour, substitute 1 Cup of almond flour).
  • Coconut Flour: 1:0.33 Substitution (for 1 cup all purpose flour, substitute 1/3 Cup of coconut flour) Egg white is considered to be the best binding agent for coconut flour, for every 1/3 cup (or every cup of flour replaced) whip one egg white and then fold this in. Coconut flour is very slow to absorb moisture, so be sure to allow set time when using coconut flour in a recipe (if recipe calls for a leavening agent, add after set time, not before) .
  • Hemp Flour or Protein Powder : 1:1 substitution (for 1 cup all purpose flour, substitute 1 Cup of Hemp) It is not recommended to use hemp flour or protein powder by itself, but rather to substitute with other flour combinations: i.e. if a recipe calls for one cup flour, consider using 1/2 cup Hemp Powder with 1/2 cup almond flour, or 1/2 cup Hemp Powder with 1/2 cup cocoa powder for chocolate desserts.

Substitutions for Binding Agents in Flour Replaced

  • Agar Agar: 3/4 tsp per cup of flour replaced. More for breads and pizza doughs, less for cakes, cookies, and muffins.
  • Chia Seeds: 3/4 tsp per cup of flour replaced. More for breads and pizza doughs, less for cakes, cookies, and muffins. As egg replacer– Chia-Egg: 1 Tbsp chia seeds to 3 Tbsp water and let set for several minutes.
  • Egg Whites: 1 egg white per cup of flour replaced. Whole egg can be used to add richness and moisture. It might be necessary in certain situations to whip the whites and fold them in.
  • Flax Meal: 3/4 tsp per cup of flour replaced. More for breads and pizza doughs, less for cakes, cookies, and muffins. As egg replacer– Flax egg: 1 Tbsp flax meal and 2.5 Tbsp water, mix and let thicken for 5 min.
  • Gelatin: 3/4 tsp per cup of flour replaced. More for breads and pizza doughs, less for cakes, cookies, and muffins.
  • Guar Gum: 1 tsp per cup of flour replaced. More for breads and pizza doughs, less for cakes, cookies, and muffins. Cannot be used with acidic foods.
  • Nut Butters: 5 Tbsp per cup of flour replaced. Can also be used as an egg replacer, at 5 Tbsp for an egg.
  • Xanthan Gum: 3/4 tsp per cup of flour replaced. More for breads and pizza doughs, less for cakes, cookies, and muffins.

Substitutions for Sugar (sweeteners)

  • Allulose: 1:1 substitution for sugar, but only 70% the sweetness of sugar.
  • Erythritol: 1:1 substitution for sugar, but only 70% the sweetness of sugar.
  • Monk Fruit Extract: 2/3 tsp replaces 1 cup of sugar, with 150-200 times the sweetness of sugar.
  • Monk Fruit Granulated: 1:1 substitution for sugar, usually blended with erythritol and a sweetness comparable to sugar.
  • Stevia: 2 tsp replaces 1 cup of sugar.
  • Sucralose: 48 drops replaces 1 cup of sugar.

Milks

For Milk: All non-dairy milks are a 1:1 substitution for milk, but they don’t all lend the same flavor, texture, or consistency in recipes. The low carb options are unsweetened varieties of Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Macadamia Milk, Flax Milk, Cashew Milk, and Hemp Milk (some people include soy milk in this list, but keep in mind it has more than double the carbs of some of these other options).

For Buttermilk: Add 1 Tbsp of acid such as lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar to every cup of nondairy milk and let react for 10 minutes.

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