How to Use Bean Flours

I broach this topic knowing three things:

1. Most Americans would shudder at the idea  of eating beans on a regular basis and thus, do not know how to cook beans.

2. Beans have a bad reputation and are oft involved in third-grade humor.

3. Beans can taste really good and are really good for us.

In my mind, the third fact outweighs the first two so I will proceed.

If you’d like to learn more about different gluten free flours and which gluten free flour mix is best for you, make sure to read my ebook, The Gluten Free Survival Guide. Several chapters are devoted to gluten free cooking, and you’ll get all of your questions answered there.

Three Ways to Use Bean Flours:

Just a guess, but I bet there’s not much demand for bean flours outside of the gluten free community.  Unfortunately, that also means that there is not a tremendous amount of information on the internet about how to use bean flours.  I’ve spent a few hours wandering the web and have compiled this information for your reference and mine. I haven’t tested all of these ideas; this is just a jumping off point. A place to start experimenting.  If you’ve been cooking and baking with bean flours, please feel free to share your knowledge in the comments!

  • Baking: Use up to 25% bean flour in you gluten free flour mix to add protein, fiber, and iron. I just checked some of the flours that I have in the refrigerator and for each 1/4 c. serving garbanzo/fava flour has 3.5 g more protein and 4 g. more fiber than sorghum flour. The garbanzo/fava flour also provides 10% of the RDA for iron, while the sorghum flour provides 0%.
  • Thickener: Use bean flour to thicken or cream soups and stews. This is a great way to reduce the fat content of creamy soups. White bean flour has a neutral taste and a creamy flavor that could replace some of the heavy cream in vegetable soups. You can also use bean flour to make white sauce, as long as you use a mild-flavored flour.
  • Dip or Filling: Reconstitute the bean flours to make creamy dips and fillings for other recipes. I have used a white bean puree for a dairy-free lasagna filling, and I’ve seen many recipes around the blogosphere for black bean dip and bean purees that look divine.

Some Suggested Uses: To get you started, here are a few thoughts on  how you might use some of these bean flours

  • Black Bean Flour: Use as part of your baking mix for chocolate cakes and brownies; try adding a small amount to bread recipes to get that dark whole-wheat look; the Bob’s Red Mill site has recipes for a black bean dip and black bean tortillas
  • Fava Four: I haven’t been able to find any recipes that use fava flour by itself, but it is commonly used in gluten free flour mixes along with other bean and grain flours.
  • Garbanzo Flour:Garbanzo beans are also known as besan, gram, chana, and chickpeas. Garbanzo flour is frequently used in Indian and Southern European cuisines and does not have to be combined with other flours (although it can). Try a French socca, and Indian Besan Puda, or a Sicilian panelle.
  • Garfava Flour: A mixture of garbanzo and fava flour, garfava flour frequently appears in gluten free baking mixes. I often substitute it for the soy flour in my all-purpose mix.  (The light bean flour in the Bette Hagman cookbooks is garfava flour)
  • Green Pea Flour: Add reconstituted grean pea flour to guacamole to lower the fat content and add extra nutriens; use as part of your baking mix for chocolate cakes and brownies; use to thicken soups and stews.
  • Soy Flour: Soy flour is one of my favorite flours for baking mainly because it is so inexpensive.
  • White Bean Flour: The mild-flavor of white beans makes this flour ideal for sauces and gravies. It can also be used to thicken soups.  Add herbs and spices to reconstituted white bean flour for a flavorful white bean puree.

Beans Are Good For You:

Beans are a great source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, and many other essential nutrients. Since our family eats a vegetarian and gluten free diet, I use bean flours in my all purpose flour mix to add an additional source of iron to our diet. However, not every bean provides the same mix of nutrients. If you have particular dietary concerns, check out the nutritional information below to see which bean flour best meets your needs.  (The serving size for this data is 1/4 cup.)

  • Black Bean Flour: 120 calories, 0 g fat, 22 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar, 8 g protein
  • Fava Four: 110 calories, 0.5 g fat, 19 g carbohydrates, 8 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g protein
  • Garbanzo Flour :110 calories, 2 g fat, 5 g sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar, 6 g protein
  • Garfava Flour: 110 calories, 1.5 g fat, 5 g sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar, 6 g protein
  • Green Pea Flour: 50 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g sodium, 9 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar, 4 g protein
  • Soy Flour: 120calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0g sodium, 8 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein
  • White Bean Flour: 110 calories, 0 g fat, 20 g carbohydrates, 8 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar, 7 g protein


Comments

  1. Last week I made a loaf of bread using garfava flour for the reasons stated above. I used 2/3 of a cup (out of 4 cups) and it was way too much bean flour for me. I tolerated it fine and it tasted fine, but there was that whole “I am the girl that cooks with bean flour” thing that just killed it for me. LOL I think I am going to try backing it off a little and adding more flavorings. I really like the texture of bean flour vs brown rice flour. Anyway, amusing post and it captured beautifully what I felt last week! :)

  2. I’m a big fan of using bean flours (I’ve never really understood that common gf-complaint of things tasting “beany”) and adding beans to about everything. They’re a great inexpensive protein! I’ll have to try using white bean puree for a gfcf lasagne, great idea!

  3. Thanks for this entry. You are right on the money that there’s not much info on the various flours availible to us… every little bit of info helps me and other Celiacs perfect our Rocket Science like baking. ;)

  4. @Natalie: I used to hate garfava flour but now I don’t really mind it. I’m not sure if my taste has changed or if I’ve just improved my recipes in general =) Or maybe now that we eat a vegetarian diet we’re just more comfortable with the idea of consuming beans.

  5. I used garbanzo bean flour all the time for “regular” bread using the following recipe. The texture is so much better than breads with lots of rice flours.

    http://www.celiac.com/articles/909/1/Celiac-Light-Bread-Gluten-Free/Page1.html

  6. i LOVE beans.
    never used bean flour, though.
    this will definitely help if i ever try it!

  7. These comments are all so positive! I can’t believe I haven’t gotten any grief for suggesting that you put black bean flour in chocolate cake =)

  8. Mary Frances- I think you got it right- sometimes the taste of a flour takes some getting used to for some people- I am not done trying it out!

  9. Do you make your own bean flours? If not, where can you buy them?

  10. @rhoni: I buy Bob’s Red Mill bean flour. Sometimes I get it at our local grocery store, sometimes at Whole Foods, sometimes through Amazon (in bulk) and sometimes through the Bob’s Red Mill website.

  11. I can’t tolerate garbanzo beans, so I sub white bean flour for garbanzo. One benefit is that it really seems to reduce the “beany” aftertaste that is often associated with the bean flour – like Bette Hagman’s – mixtures.
    (It’s a big bummer that I can’t have garbanzo beans anymore, I LOVE them.)

  12. @tr3n1ty: I’ll have to try the white bean flour soon. I love garbanzos but am not crazy about how the flour tastes, especially in raw cookie dough. What’s the point of making chocolate chip cookies if you can’t eat the dough?

  13. I am interested in using bean flours to add more iron to my teenage daughter’s diet. She suffers from a bit of anemia. I see impressive iron content in the bean flours. But does anyone know how much the baking or cooking process affects the iron content?

  14. @Judy Shoe: I’ve never read anything about iron content decreasing when foods are cooked, and a quick Google search didn’t turn up any relevant information. Good luck to your daughter on getting her iron levels back up. Gluten Free Mommy has a great article about beating anemia that you might find interesting.

  15. Thanks, Mary Frances for that helpful reply! In the Gluten Free Mommy article they suggested a liquid iron supplement which I have never considered before, but liquids generally have better absorption. So that was a good idea I may also look at.

  16. I saw a recipe for white bean flour bread to increase protein content and could hardly wait to try it, so I am in the process of baking my first loaf. So far the smell of the dough is a turn off I am hoping the taste is better. any suggestions about “hiding” it better in bread so others can’t tell its there?

  17. @Jenn: I’ve found that most gluten free batters do not taste great raw, but are usually fine once they are baked. If you can still taste it in the bread, then start gradually decreasing the bean flour and increasing the grain flours in your next batches.

  18. The loaf of bread dough that didn’t “smell good”, tasted excellent!! I am now baking my 6th batch of bread with white bean flour (I am using 1/3 bean flour to reg flour). So far my husband, parents, in-laws and a handful of nephews and neices couldn’t even tell they were eating “bean bread”. I am looking forward to trying white bean flour in soup as a thickener. Mary thanks for the website and ideas.

  19. Thanks for all the great ideas for bean flours. I am always looking for new ideas. We started eating more beans to help with my mom’s diabetes. There are so many things you can do!

    I had bought a few of the available flours (I recommend barryfarms.com), but found it more cost effective to mill my own flours. I have a cast iron hand cranked mill, but they also have electric ones. Now I can make whatever kind of bean flour I want in just the amount I need.

  20. I have tried cooking with garbazo bean flour and it comes out tasting pretty awful. I am wondering if it is the brand I am using that might be the issue, other ingredients I need to include with it or if it just my cooking. I buy garbanzo bean cookies at a local ethnic grocery store and they are very yummy. In fact, some of my non-gluten sensitive co-workers are addicted to them.
    So, is it the flour brand, is it something that I need to add to the recipe to offset the taste, or is it just my cooking? I’d appreciate any thoughts on the matter!

  21. I’ve had very good luck by pre-toasting my garbanzo or garfava bean flours in a 300 degree oven just until that raw bean taste disappears. Then I let it cool and use it in recipes. Can’t even taste that beany after flavor!

  22. Hello, I am looking for a tortilla recipe that uses bean flour,does anyone have one??? Thanks

  23. I like the articles on the site. Thanks for posting them.

    I have a suggestion when it comes to bean flour (and rice, too, for that matter). Take some hints from Asian cooking (bread isn’t the only choice). They make great noodles from both beans and rice. In fact, I thought the bean noodles were rice noodles when I first saw them (I haven’t tried them yet, but they look great). I think they call them flour stick noodles (with bean flour, though—be sure not to get the wheat flour stick). I’m not sure what they call rice noodles.

    I would love to see some recipes for home-made noodles with rice, bean and other gluten-free flours.

    I wonder if you can make nice noodles with a bean and rice flours mixed (to get a complete protein and all). That would be cool.

    Asian stores often have some gluten-free things at lower prices than traditional stores, due to how often they actually do use them in their cultures (whether or not they end up mixing something with gluten in the recipe).

  24. Ah, I just found the official English names for the noodles I meant in my last comment:
    • Cellophane noodles (made with mung beans and/or other things that aren’t grains and thus probably don’t have gluten in them)
    • Rice vermicelli (rice noodles / rice sticks)

    There are Wikipedia articles for them.

  25. How do you make white bean flour?
    Can I get a bag of white dry navy beans and grind them in a coffey mill? Does this work?
    I would like to bake “italian peasant bread” and modify it’s glycemic index, but not change its taste or texture.
    Has anyone tried this? I would appreciate any guidance.
    Thanks

  26. I don’t think a coffee mill will work, but I could be wrong.

    I’d recommend getting something like a L’Equip Vitalmill. I have a WonderMill, myself—it works fine, and is great for beans, but it won’t grind amaranth like the Vitalmill will.

  27. Regarding bean flour. I attended a short class where this concept was introduced and I was intrigued. I used my coffee grinder (I don’t drink coffee but I use it to grind nuts, grains like flax, steel cut oats even wheat). I was able to grind red kidney beans in to a fine flour. I cooked it on the stove like a hot cereal, added salt and butter and it was palatable for me. I think Pinto beans might taste even better. Anyway, I just wanted to add my idea to grind beans in a coffee grinder. Its great for small batches, and is inexpensive. Great web site!

  28. So are bean flours the raw beans ground, or do they need to be soaked, cooked, and dried, and then ground? And if they are the raw bean, do they absorb a lot of water when cooking with them? I am wanting to grind up garbanzo beans and add them to breads etc, to add protein and fiber, but am wondering if I need to cook them first.
    Thanks! Great info here!

  29. Bean flour is ground up, dried beans. They don’t need to be soaked, unless you’re making refried beans or something. Yes, they will thicken immensely when you cook with them. In fact, they thicken so much that you can made a substance kind of like tofu by this means. I would do this more if I had a higher tolerance for beans. You can cut it up into strips after it solidifies, and season and fry it like meat or something. I don’t recommend this bean stuff for deserts, though, as it has a stronger flavor than tofu (and I don’t recommend it unseasoned or unfried, either, unless you find a good way to do it).

  30. I don’t know if they need to be soaked before they’re dried, but however dry beans usually are, I guess.

  31. Gabrielle says:

    Hello. I just happened upon this site looking for information about using bean flours. Thanks for the comments. About how to make your own, I saw a demonstration on grinding rice and dried beans in a Vita-Mix blender. I have one and am going to try it. There are two containers – one dry – for grinding grains, etc. and one wet – for other blender processes. I only have the wet, but have been told I can use it for grinding as long as I use no more than 2 cups at a time. Hope this helps.

  32. Andrea Kennedy says:

    I have had great success using equal parts brown rice flour and great northern bean flour as a mix to replace all purpose flour in pancakes. Wow! So fluffy and yummy. I grind my own grains in my Nutrimill. We’ve eaten beans for years and I know how dirty they are. The first time I ground the beans I patted them with a damp paper towel and then dried them with a dry paper towel. The next time, I washed, soaked and then dehydrated them in food dehydrator. Then I ground them. They actually smelled beanier than ever, but I couldn’t taste a beany taste at all in the finished product. But I am wondering about digestibility. My mom complained of bad heartburn after eating some pumpkin bread I made with 1/2 spelt and 1/2 bean flour. Has anyone experienced digestive problems from using bean flours?

  33. I would use bean flour all the time (I even have a Wondermill), but yeah, beans and bean flour give me some issues. I mean, they’re not huge issues, but enough to where I don’t eat them all the time (I might still once in a while, though).

    I do have some pretty bad issues if I mix celery salt with bean flour; it cleans me out for several hours. Well, at least I think that was the combination.

  34. Christina says:

    I love using pinto bean flour to make instant re-fried beans. My coffee grinder (never had a coffee bean in it!) whips 1/2C of flour in no time, and I saute a little chopped garlic with some cumin, and add the bean flour with some water – and stir it into a lovely consistency in about a minute and a half. Ok, now I know whats for breakfast tomorrow!

  35. Chrissie Sheldon says:

    On the subject of bean flour; I have bought a quantity of ‘bean’ flour which is white and in its raw state has a fresh, ‘green’ smell and green been taste, but unfortunately the package doesn’t say what sort of beans it is made from! I figured for gluten free it didn’t really matter anyway. I have used both gram (garbanzo) flour and soya flour and am very aware of their colours and flavours, so I know my new flour is neither of those. I made a loaf with some of it which gave the bread a very distinct ‘fried’ smell. It wasn’t unpleasant; just unusual.
    From my description, I’m wondering whether anyone would know what this particular flour might be and the best way to use it in bread, cakes etc.
    Thanks for any help.

  36. I would appreciate knowing which white beans have the mildest taste.

    Thank you,
    Sue

  37. you say to use 25% bean flour in your flour mixes.Is that in addition to the other ingredients,or in place of?

  38. Do you know if there is anyway to make a low carb or lower carb bread using gluten free, bean products? Does yeast or other leavening agents work with bean flours kinda in a sourdough type of environment by any chance?

  39. Dr. Oz featured a brownie recipe using a can of black beans. I tried them, with the GF adaptation. They turned out moist and really no one guessed the surprize ingredient.
    Recipe below:
    1 15 oz. can of black beans drained and rinsed.
    1/2 cup agave
    1/2 cup egg whites
    1/2 cup GF flour mixture+ 1/4 t. salt and 1/4t. baking soda
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    1 t. baking powder
    6 T. chocolate chips.

    Process all ingredients in the food processor except the choc. chips. Add the chips and pour into an oiled 8×8 square pan. Bake 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees.

  40. Wow, I’ve been blissfully using bean flours since before I even knew I was gluten intolerant. (Look up farinata for a delicious appetizer.) Now I learn that people can actually taste the beans. I think it’s in your minds, people. :-)

    When I first learned that my constant digestive distress was caused by gluten, I was in a panic. My favorite foods were breads and pasta. How would I make my morning tuna fish sandwich? How would I make my homemade ravioli? So I bought an armload of gluten free flours and went to work. Man, cooking without gluten sure is non-intuitive. Xanthan gum? Tapioca flour? What in the world? I quickly learned that gluten free yeast breads are not a good substitute for wheat based. Sorry, maybe someone out there makes one, but I haven’t tried it yet. My wife is vegetarian and I have learned that it’s not a good idea to substitute fake meats in meat-based dishes. You just feel cheated. So I decided not to try and produce yeast-raised gluten free foods. (I may re-think that after reading some of these comments.)

    Then I thought about flat breads. Flat breads are a part of nearly every cuisine in the world and are made from an amazing array of flours. Now I can fry a quick flat bread, put a bit of tuna salad (try making it with wasabi, chili, garlic, ginger, cilantro and lots of chopped onions!) and some sprouts on it and just roll it up. I think I might actually like this better than my old tuna on wheat bread sandwiches.

    So what does this have to do with bean flours? I use half corn flour and half Bob’s gluten free baking flour which is mostly garbanzo and fava based. Here’s the recipe if anyone else cares to try it.

    1 cup corn flour
    1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all purpose GF baking mix
    1 rounded tablespoon of tapica flour (optional)
    1 or 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal (optional, but very healthy)
    about a teaspoon of salt
    2 eggs
    Milk (I use unsweetened soy milk.)

    Mix the dry ingredients, add the egg and a splash of milk to get started, then keep adding and stirring in milk until it is pourable. Pour onto a hot griddle or large frying pan, turn when the first side is brown, etc. Very simple. I sometimes also make this with 1/3 corn, 1/3 Bob’s GF mix and 1/3 experimental flours, but sometimes they don’t hold together as well as you might like. Don’t try it with almond meal! (What a mess.) I’m thinking of trying the green pea flour. Green roll-ups might be quite a trip!

    –FatBear

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I used White Bean Flour to thicken and make a bit of a gravy. I’m guessing everyone doesn’t have white bean flour hanging out in their kitchen cupboards, though. The mild-flavor of white beans makes this flour ideal for sauces and gravies. It can also be used to thicken soups.  Add herbs and spices to reconstituted white bean flour for a flavorful white bean puree. [/source] [...]