While I love baking with almond meal, it can be expensive and hard to find. So here the best simple almond meal substitutes. Perfect for saving money and making your baked goods lunch-box friendly so they still taste great.
What is almond meal?
It’s just finely ground almonds. The texture resembles really fine breadcrumbs. In some places it’s also called almond meal.
It can be made from blanched almonds with the skins removed. Which is the best option if you’re following a low-lectin diet.
‘Natural’ almond flour is made from almonds with the skins still on so has a speckled appearance and slightly higher fiber content.
Almonds provide a natural source of protein, dietary fiber, minerals like magnesium and vitamin E which contains antioxidants. It has a high fat content around 55%.
The Best Simple Almond Meal Substitutes
1. Grind your own almonds
If you have a decent food processor or blender, it’s easy to make your own almond meal / almond flour by grinding whole almonds into a powder.
Depending on how powerful your machine is the texture may be slightly more grainy than commercial almond meal. But in most cases it won’t be a problem (and may even be nicer).
This is the closet match in flavors but unfortunately not suitable for people with a nut allergy.
2. Ground Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are similar to almond meal nutritionally in that they’re gluten-free and low carb but have the added advantage of being nut-free so OK for school lunchboxes.
Plus they’re significantly less expensive than nuts!
The flavour of sunflower seed flour is a little more ‘seedy’ or healthy than almond meal but in most baked goods like cookies you won’t notice.
For some reason sunflower meal tends to be higher moisture than almond meal, so prepared for an increase in cooking time.
I use a coffee grinder to grind my sunflower seeds freshly. But a food processor will work.
Pumpkin seed meal or pumpkin seed flour is another option.
3. Other ground nuts
The second most common nut ‘flour’ is hazelnut flour. I’ve also purchased walnut flour. Nut flour can also be made from cashews.
These nut-flours are very similar to almond flour from a textural perspective. While the flavour is different depending on the nut all nut flours provide some nutty flavor. So tread carefully if using these to substitute.
Feel free to use your food processor to make your own fresh nut meals like cashew flour.
4. Regular Flour
If you’re looking for the cheapest option for a nut-free substitute in almond flour recipes, it’s hard to go past good old wheat flour or white flour. Although it does have the pesky gluten problem.
All purpose flour won’t work in things like meatballs but it’s a good option for cakes and other sweets.
You can just replace almond flour with regular flour 1:1 by weight. But I find adding 20% less flour gives the best and most consistent results.
For example if a recipes calls for 120g (4.2oz) almond flour I would substitute 100g (3.5oz) all-purpose (plain) flour.
5. Gluten-Free Flour
Commercial gluten-free flours will work in a similar manner to regular what flour mentioned above. While you can substitute with a 1:1 ratio, I find the best results for gluten-free baking are to slightly decrease the weight of GF flour. So in a recipe calling for 3 oz almond flour I would use 2.4 oz gluten-free flour.
6. Fresh Bread Crumbs
Just remove the crusts and process your bread until you get fine crumbs.
For cakes and other sweet baked goods the significantly lower fat in bread crumbs may cause dryness. So only substitute if you’re a confident baker.
Not a good option for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
7. Rolled Oats
You can make oat flour to use as almond meal substitutes by grinding rolled oats in your food processor. The texture is similar to almond meal but the flavour will be slightly ‘oaty’ but I quite like it! Especially in muffins.
Oats have the added advantage of more soluble fiber and nut-free, so fine for allergies and school lunches. But not suitable for those avoiding grains.
Oats are significantly lower in fat than almonds so you may need to add some extra butter / oil to make up for it.
Depending on who you talk to, oats aren’t necessarily gluten-free. So if you are avoiding gluten, I wouldn’t risk it. Unless you know you can tolerate oats.
8. Cassava Flour
This gluten-free and nut free flour is made from ground cassava root. It’s also great for people avoiding grains. But not good for keto or low-carb diets.
Cassava is less than 1% fat compared with almond flour being 55% fat. This means your baked goods are likely to be much dryer if you do a 1:1 substitution. So be prepared to add a little more oil or butter.
Tapioca flour is a similar situation.
9. Rice Flour
While this wouldn’t be my preference because of the slightly grainy gritty texture, if the only flour you have in the house is rice flour you can try it out. As with the other grain based flours rice flour is significantly lower in fat so be prepared to compensate with a little extra oil or butter.
Potato starch is another option I personally wouldn’t use due to the higher carbohydrate content.
10. Ground Flax Seeds (Linseeds)
I love ground flaxseed also called flaxseed flour because they’re packed with protein, good fats and fiber and are very low carb and gluten-free and grain-free. They give baked goods a beautiful light texture not to mention more nutrition. I wouldn’t use them as a replacement in a 1:1 ratio though because flax will absorb a lot of moisture so can cause things to have a much thicker consistency.
I use a coffee grinder to grind my flax freshly because they are susceptible to rancidity. If you’re buying pre-ground keep in the fridge.
11. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is low carb and gluten-free but is completely different from almond meal in its ability to absorb water. So you will need a recipe specifically designed for coconut flour that includes a higher proportion of liquids like eggs or milk or water. Try coconut pancakes, or these paleo brownies.
What’s the difference between almond meal and almond flour?
Same delicious ground nuts with a different name. Although in some places almond flour can be more finely ground than almond meal – in Australia they’re the same thing.
What is the difference between almond meal and all-purpose flour?
The main difference is that almond flour is much higher in fat (around 55% fat) compared to all purpose flour being 2.5% fat. This means almond flour gives a moister richer texture to baked goods.
The other key difference is the protein content. While almonds are around 20% protein wheat based flours fall into the 10% protein range (although this can be higher in bread flours). All-purpose flours contain a specific protein called gluten which has a springy texture which is important in bread making. For cakes and muffins too much gluten can cause an unpleasant tough chewy texture.
I actually prefer the moister less springy texture of cakes made with almond flour.
And I should mention the starches. Almond meal is significantly lower in carbohydrate so perfect for diabetics.
The best way to store almond meal
I keep mine in a glass jar in the pantry. But it will last longer if stored in the fridge or freezer.
Can almond meal replace bread crumbs?
Absolutely! Almond meal is my go-to replacement for bread crumbs because I prefer a low carb approach.
So how much almond meal for bread crumbs? I use a 1:1 ratio by volume. So 1 cup almond meal for 1 cup bread crumbs.
Can almond meal be used in pie crusts?
Absolutely! My favourite pie crust is to sprinkle almond meal over the base of a springform pan and then top with my filling. Like this Super Simple Egg & Bacon Pie.
Is there a trick to baking with almond meal?
Because of the higher fat content and lower protein the trick to baking with almond meal is to be prepared for the baking time to be slightly longer than when using regular flour. One of the things I love about almond meal baked goods is that they have a longer shelf life because they aren’t prone to staleing in the way wheat based baked goods are.
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
- The Best Low Carb Bread Substitutes
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!