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Whole grains comparison chart: What’s the best grain for you?

Making the switch from all-purpose wheat flour to an ancient grain can be tricky. Use our simple chart to see what grain works best for what you're trying to make.

Whether you’re new to whole grains or wanting to try something new, sometimes getting a “5,000-foot view” of your grain options can help you see through the noise of recipes, product options, and the confusion of what type of grain is best for your application.

In order for me to wrap my mind around whole grains, I needed to understand it’s gluten content, where each grain shines, and even what I could use as a substation if I needed an alternative for a recipe. I made it for myself so I wanted to share it with you!

I hope you find this chart helpful!

GrainAmount of glutenFlavor profileBest UsesConversion to all-purpose flourBest flour to combine withBest substitution for a recipeTips
AmaranthGluten-freeNutty, earthy, slightly sweetOatmeal, thickening agent, yummy side dishNot suitableRice flour, quinoa flourBuckwheat flourAmaranth has a sticky texture when cooked; use in combination with other flours for baking
BarleyLowNutty, chewySoups, stews, pilafs, salads, and as a rice substitute1:1Whole wheat flour, rye flourFarro or quinoaPearl barley cooks faster than hulled barley, adjust cooking times accordingly
BuckwheatGluten-freeEarthy, nuttyPancakes, soba noodles, oatmeal, baked goodsNot suitableRice flour, oat flourWhole wheat flourDespite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is gluten-free
Bulgur wheatLowNutty, chewySalads, pilafs, stuffing, in Middle Eastern dishes1:1Quinoa, couscousCouscous or quinoaBulgur wheat is just precooked Durum wheat and requires only soaking to use in recipes
CornGluten-freeSweet, slightly nuttyPolenta, tortillas, cornbread, and in baked goods1:1Rice flour, almond flourCornmealStore cornmeal in the refrigerator or freezer to extend its shelf life
Durum wheatHighRich, nuttyPasta, couscous, bread, and pizza dough1:1Semolina flourWhole wheat flourDurum wheat gives pasta its signature chewy texture
EinkornLowEarthy, nuttyBreads, muffins, cookies, and as a rice substitute1:1Spelt flour, whole wheat flourEmmer wheatEinkorn flour can be denser so sift it before use in baking; Know that it will not rise as high as wheat and will be much stickier; Needs extra time to absorb liquids
Emmer (Farro)LowChewy, nuttySalads, risotto, soups, side dish1:1Barley flour, quinoa flourBarley or spelt flourEmmer is a hulled wheat, which means it retains more nutrients compared to pearled wheat
FreekehLowSmoky, nuttyPilafs, salads, soups, stews1:1Farro flour, quinoa flourFarro or bulgur wheatFreekeh is made from green wheat that has been roasted and cracked
KamutModerateButtery, nuttyBreads, muffins, cookies, rice substitute1:1Spelt flour, whole wheat flourDurum wheatKamut is an ancient relative of modern durum wheat; It will not rise as high as wheat
MilletGluten-freeMild, slightly nuttyOatmeal, pilafs, baked goodsNot suitableSorghum flour, rice flourCornmealMillet flour adds a delicate, crumbly texture to baked goods
OatsGluten-free (cross-reactivity possible)Nutty, creamyOatmeal, granola, cookies, flour substitute1:1Whole wheat flour, almond flourSorghum or spelt flourLook for certified gluten-free oats if you have Celiac Disease to avoid cross-contamination
QuinoaGluten-freeNutty, slightly bitterSalads, pilafs, rice substituteNot suitableBuckwheat flour, millet flourBulgur wheatQuinoa is a complete protein source and a suitable option for gluten-free diets
Red wheatHighNutty, heartyBreads, rolls, other hearty baked goods1:1Whole wheat flour, rye flourWhite wheat or Einkorn (but it will not rise as much)Red wheat flour is often used for whole wheat baking
RiceGluten-freeNeutral, versatileSide dish, sushi, in desserts1:1Tapioca flour, potato starchRisotto or quinoaRice flour is a great thickener for sauces and gravies; it’s also a good option for dusting bannetons (proofing baskets)
RyeModerateEarthy, tangyBreads, crackers, in combination with wheat flour1:1Whole wheat flour, spelt flourWhole wheat flourRye flour has less gluten than wheat flour, resulting in a denser texture in baked goods; Use to help a struggling sourdough starter
SorghumGluten-freeMild, slightly sweetBaked goods, oatmeal, flour substitute1:1Millet flour, rice flourMillet or rice flourSorghum flour is a good gluten-free alternative for baking
SpeltLow to ModerateNutty, slightly sweetBreads, muffins, cookies, rice substitute1:1Kamut flour, whole wheat flourEinkornSpelt is an ancient wheat with a slightly lower gluten content
TeffGluten-freeEarthy, nuttyInjera (Ethiopian flatbread), oatmeal, baked goodsNot suitableBrown rice flour, buckwheat flourAmaranth or quinoaTeff flour is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine, especially for making injera
TriticaleModerate to HighNutty, heartyBreads, rolls, in combination with wheat flour1:1Whole wheat flour, rye flourWhole wheat flourTriticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye, offering unique baking characteristics
White wheatModerateMilder and sweeter than red wheatPastries, breads, rolls, other baked goods1:1Whole wheat flour, spelt flourRed wheat or Einkorn if baking cookies, moist breads, and pastriesWhite wheat flour has a lighter color and flavor compared to red wheat flour
Please note that “gluten-free” indicates grains that are naturally gluten-free, while grains with “low,” “moderate,” or “high” gluten contain varying amounts of gluten. Additionally, the best uses and flour substitutions are general recommendations, and you may need to experiment based on your preferences and dietary needs. Always consider any allergies or sensitivities when using alternative flours.