Is Flour Vegan? The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Plant-Based Flour

While most flour is vegan, there are some things to keep in mind.

Is flour vegan photo illustration

Treehugger / Joshua Seong

Flour is the staff of life, and there are so many varieties at our fingertips. But are all those types vegan?

While most flour is vegan because it is definitionally ground-up plants, there are still some sneaky exceptions to keep in mind as you peruse labels in the grocery store. Here, we discuss everything you need to know to ensure your flour choice is vegan.

Why Flour Is Usually Vegan

In its 30,000 year history, flour has been made by grinding grains or roots of various plants until it reaches a powder consistency. The processes and uses have changed over time—from pestles and mortars to flour mills and home flour milling appliances.

What remains the same is that flour is used for numerous kitchen projects—baking breads, thickening sauces, creating crusts, and so on. And fortunately, the vast majority of flours on the market are vegan.

When Is Flour Not Vegan?

There are two fairly uncommon (but still worth noting) situations in which flour is not vegan. First, there are some niche flours made from bone marrow, honey, and other animal products, but they are often labeled and easy to identify. Cricket flour, for example, sometimes has a cricket picture on the bag, as well as other labels like dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO—but you won't find the word "vegan" anywhere.

The other scenario is when animal elements such as bone char (charred animal bones) are used for bleaching or refining flour as some manufactures do with sugar. However, manufacturers of white flour often make it a point to label their packages to reflect that they do not use animal products in their processing.

Types of Vegan Flour

There is a world of flavor and texture to discover in your local market's flour section. While this list is not exhaustive, these flours are some of the more common types that you might consider using in your next recipe.

  • White or Refined Flour: This wheat flour is made without the bran and the germ of the plant. It works in a variety of bread and dessert recipes and can be used to thicken soups and sauces.
  • Whole Wheat Flour: This is a higher-protein flour than the common all-purpose flour, and also includes the bran and germ in its processing.
  • Semolina Flour: It is made from durum wheat with the germ and bran of the plant intact. This imparts a consistency ideal for couscous and homemade pasta recipes as well as heavy breads and crusts for savory dishes.
  • Rice Flour: Made from either ground white or brown rice, rice flour is naturally gluten-free and can be used to make pizza crust and bread.
  • Oat Flour: Made from dry oats, this is an excellent swap for all-purpose flour if your goal is to bake gluten-free pastries and cakes.
  • Corn Flour: Commonly used throughout the world, corn flour is found in many Latin American recipes. Heavier varieties are referred to as “cornmeal” while the finer grind is called “masa harina.”
  • Buckwheat Flour: Found in Japanese soba noodles and specialty breads, buckwheat flour is made from ground buckwheat related to rhubarb and sorrel. Since it is naturally gluten-free, it can be found as an ingredient for gluten-free flour blends.
  • Chickpea, Garbanzo Bean, or Besan Flour: This flour is used in many Indian recipes such as flatbread and savory pancakes. Its rich and savory flavor makes it ideal for breads that will be served with strong or spicy dishes.
  • Konjac Flour: Konjac is a plant from Asia. Its flour is commonly found in Japanese noodles, breads, and cakes as well as used as a thickener for sauces and soups.
  • Malted Barley Flour: Made from hulled, malted barley, this flour creates a darker color and heavier flavor in recipes.
  • Coconut Flour
  • Quinoa Flour
  • Almond Flour
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is flour generally safe for vegans?

    Yes. All flours are essentially plants crushed into a powder form that can be used to bake and cook a variety of foods.

  • What types of flour are vegan?

    The vast majority of flours are vegan, from white to oat and everything in between. Still, it pays to read your labels carefully and look out for bone marrow, bone char, cricket flour, and any other animal products.