Gluten-free is everywhere right now—in conversations, on the news, and on menus. Over three million people across the United States follow a gluten-free diet, and whether restaurants are catering specifically to the gluten-free lifestyle or are just making accommodations, the gluten-free movement has made an impact on the restaurant industry.

In the beginning, chefs used gluten-free flours as a substitute for wheat flour as a way to serve their gluten-free customers. Recently we’ve seen a shift. We’re seeing chefs explore things like coconut flour or buckwheat flour—they’re embracing gluten-free flours, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Chefs have discovered how good these “substitutes” are in their own right—each enhancing dishes with their unique flavor and texture.

These are some of our favorite gluten-free flours, and the different ways that they shine.*

Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat flour is made by grinding the seeds of the buckwheat plant. Despite its name, it is not related to wheat; rather, it’s related to sorrel and rhubarb. Buckwheat has a strong, slightly sour and nutty flavor and can range from light to dark in color.

Try buckwheat flour in:

  • Crêpes. Buckwheat crêpes are a staple in France. The filling is up to you.
  • Waffles. Perfect with real maple syrup and fruit. Try this recipe.
  • Noodles. Soba noodles are just the beginning.
  • Buckwheat porridge. Use buckwheat groats for a nuttier version of oatmeal. This is how you do it.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is ground from dried, defatted coconut meat. Not only is it high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, coconut flour also has a slightly sweet, coconut flavor. Because coconut flour is more absorbent than other flours, it can be used as a thickener, but be sure to add extra liquid when baking to avoid dry, crumbly baked goods.

Try coconut flour in:

  • Fried food. Coconut flour makes a great coating for fried shrimp or chicken.
  • Curries or soups. To make a slurry, whisk 1 part coconut flour with 1 part cold water and stir into a simmering hot liquid.
  • Almost flourless chocolate cakes. Chocolate and coconut are made for each other. When the recipe calls for just a little bit of flour, reach for the coconut flour.

Chickpea Flour (also called Gram Flour or Besan)

Chickpea flour is made of finely milled chickpeas. Because of its stickier texture when added to liquids, it makes a great binder. It’s nutty, subtly sweet, and probably the most versatile of all of the gluten-free flours.

Try chickpea flour in:

  • Fritters. Meat and veggie fritters hold together better when you use chickpea flour.
  • Flatbreads. Chickpea flatbreads are perfect with Indian curries or as an antipasto. Try this recipe.
  • French chickpea flatbread called socca.
  • Meatballs. Recipes for vegan meatballs with chickpea abound, but try substituting chickpea flour for regular flour in traditional meatballs.

*Note: Because these flours aren’t flour in the traditional sense, they shouldn’t be swapped out 1:1 with regular flour. Do your research to find the right ratios.

Read more about what’s coming up in the culinary world with the latest in FDR Food & Beverage Trends!