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What is Oat Flour?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Oat flour is a flour which is made from ground oats. This flour can be used in a wide variety of recipes, although it does carry a caution, as it does not behave like wheat flour, since it contains no gluten. As a result, if oat flour is used alone, baked goods will not rise or hold together; oat flour must be mixed with other flours in baking, whether you are attempting gluten free baking or just wanting to spice up conventional recipes. Most markets carry oat flour, and it can also be made at home if you have a good spice mill or food processor.

Oats are a cereal grain which has been cultivated for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows that people have been eating oats in a variety of recipes for quite a long time, but that oats were especially popular in gruels, made by cooking oats for an extended period of time to soften them. Over time, other uses for oats developed; one of the most well known is oatmeal, a modern form of prehistoric gruels which is widely eaten in many regions of the world. Oats are high in fiber and an assortment of useful dietary minerals, making them an excellent addition to the diet.

To make oat flour, oats are finely ground to create a powder, in the same way that other grains are processed into flour. Typically, whole oats are used, so the resulting flour retains the nutritional value of the oats. Oat flour can be added to an assortment of recipes, replacing part of the flour which the recipe calls for, and it adds a rich, nutty flavor and a dense texture to baked goods. Some people like using it in breads, and it can also be added to baked sweets and muffins for a more chewy texture.

Many people use oat flour in gluten-free baking. It is important to remember that oat flour is often processed in facilities which handle gluten-containing grains, like wheat. As a result, it can be contaminated with gluten, and people who are extremely sensitive to gluten may experience discomfort if they consume products made with the contaminated oat flour. It is a good idea to purchase oat flour which is labeled as gluten free if this is a concern.

Oats can go rancid, and as a result they are usually cooked before processing to make them more shelf stable. In the case of oat flour, it is a good idea to use flour which is as fresh as possible. You can store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, or you can freeze it to extend the shelf life; frozen oat flour is very easy to use, and it will be less likely to go bad if you only use a small amount of oat flour at a time.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon929393 — On Jan 31, 2014

If you use oat flour or any gluten free flour you must check to see if it contains xanthan gum. If it doesn't then you can add that to your recipe when making baked goods with oat flour. Xanthan gum is a binding agent, and helps the dough rise.

By anon352301 — On Oct 21, 2013

I make apple crumble with oat flour and real oats and it is much tastier! I also use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch to thicken the sauce. It's better than my old recipe by far!

By anon323016 — On Mar 02, 2013

I subbed two cups of oat flour (that I made myself with quick oats in the blender) in place of two cups of white flour in my oatmeal CC recipe. I also subbed two cups of brown sugar for the 50/50 white/brown sugar mix the recipe called for. The dough was delicious - as usual, but the baked cookies came out flat with no density.

I don't want to mix any white flour in, but if I did half oat flour and half almond meal, would that yield a better, more stable cookie?

By anon313956 — On Jan 15, 2013

Can quick oats be used to make oat flour?

By anon280635 — On Jul 19, 2012

I am rather confused by the fact that oat flour is gluten-free, considering I am still yet to find any oats of any sort in a supermarket aisle that do not contain gluten. Gluten is added to oats while processing them.

By anon187832 — On Jun 18, 2011

I make oat flour by putting whole rolled oats in the food processor and giving it a couple of minutes on full until the oats are broken down enough to be like a slightly rough flour. Biscuits (cookies) and pastry can be made like normal depending on what biscuits you make. If you try and roll the pastry too thin then it falls apart, but after some trial and error you can make lovely pies and biscuits that are truly gluten free and full of flavor. Gluten free flour I find to be horrible stuff to use and it tastes of uncooked rice mixed with dust. Oat flour, although rather difficult to work with at first, is a perfect replacement to wheat flour.

A quick biscuit recipe if i may.

85g margarine, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, 3 drops vanilla essence, 2/3 cup currants, 1 cup oat flour, 2/3 cup rolled oats.

Cream together margarine and sugar until light, add lightly beaten egg and vanilla essence. Fold in currants and flour. Use a teaspoon at a time and drop into bowl of rolled oats. Roll in a ball to cover the whole with oats and then press as flat as you can on to a baking tray. The biscuits will not rise or spread as the flour won't change during baking like normal. Bake for 20 minutes at 180c. Don't try to remove the biscuits from the tray until cool to stop them falling apart.

Once cool they are like normal crispy biscuits and are very tasty indeed, fairly low in sugar too. The recipe makes about 15 to 20 biscuits depending on how flat you press them and how much you fill the teaspoon. Regards, Paul, Sydney, Australia

By anon158031 — On Mar 05, 2011

My daughter and I made our usual oatmeal chocolate chip cookies but replaced the white flour with oat flour. The cookie was richer in color and taste.

The recipe called for 3 cups of white flour. My daughter mixed with 2 cups at first and found the cookie did spread a little, so she added more oat flour for the next batch. It appeared to be heavier and held its shape better and still tasted delicious. We are sold on the switch. --Diana B

By anon147076 — On Jan 28, 2011

I made some pure oat-flour/oatmeal, with raisins. The cookies don't like to hold shape, like the article says, but they have a wonderful nutty crunch. I just baked the oats for 20 minutes in the oven, and then processed until it looked like whole wheat flour.

By anon119612 — On Oct 18, 2010

Just made a pie crust with oat flour and it is the best complement ever to apples in pie. Wow, I can't believe the difference in taste!

By CourtneyG — On Jul 14, 2010

Oat flour can be found in most health food stores and most of the time, is sold in bulk. While browsing the aisles of the health food store, and after picking up your oat flour, you might be able to find some recipes or other organic foods that could be cooked with that flour! It is always better to be healthy, even if the unhealthy things taste the best!

By hyrax53 — On Jul 13, 2010

The taste of oat flour is nuttier, as the article says. While it is gluten free, it's also just a nice alternative for people who like to try different kinds of flour when they make baked goods. It probably isn't actually better for you than wheat flour, but is definitely healthier than white flour.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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