Flour Substitutes For Frying When There’s No Flour

Published Categorized as Journal, Ingredients Tagged

Sure, all-purpose flour is the backbone of many recipes, including many fried foods. But the glorious thing is that you aren’t limited to one flour substitute for frying or baking. In fact, there are many swaps out there that can make whatever you’re cooking up taste even better. That’s fantastic when you’re trying to lighten up on calories or accommodate for a gluten-free family member.

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Whether you want to try frying without flour or are looking for the best substitute for flour, we have several options for you right here. Check them out.

Table of Contents

All-Purpose Flour Substitute For Frying

One of the great things about cooking is that you are never limited to a set of ingredients. Substitutes exist for almost everything. If you are running low on all-purpose flour or are looking for healthier, gluten-free alternatives, there are plenty of choices. Here are five flour substitutes for a delicious fry:

1. Cornstarch/Corn Flour

Many Asian countries fry their proteins with cornstarch. The starch has a pleasant corn flavor that will give your fried food more taste. Also, cornstarch is 100% gluten-free. To use cornstarch, simply mix it with some water and coat your meat or vegetables with it. Be sure to marinate whatever you’re deep frying first.

clear glass bowl on black marble table

2. Rice Flour

Alone, rice flour is a little bland, but it does wonders for fried dishes. Choose brown rice flour or white rice flour for frying chicken and other proteins. These two types can be used interchangeably, though brown rice flour will add a nutty, toasty aroma and flavor to whatever you make. Rice flour is also ideal for ingredients that call for tempura-style frying.

3. Almond Flour

Want to make a Southern fried chicken but ran out of all-purpose flour? Never fear. An amazing substitute that is becoming more common these days is almond flour. Coarser than whole wheat, almond flour is healthy, low-carb, gluten-free, and full of fiber.

Keep in mind that almond flour and ground almonds aren’t the same thing. Almond flour is made with blanched almonds that are ground down until powdery and smooth. You won’t taste much almond, though there will be a distinct nuttiness to the fry.

4. Quinoa Flour

Looking for a versatile flour substitute for frying that is also super healthy? Check out quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Rich in fiber, essential amino acids, and easy enough to make from scratch with toasted quinoa, this flour becomes crisp and airy when fried. Quinoa also has a bit of a tang that complements the flavors of meats.

5. Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour is made of exactly what you think: 100% dried and milled chickpeas. That also means it is fibrous and dense. This is a flour that thickens food, so you can use it for a number of things, including frying, whipping up veggie burgers, sauces, and other savory snacks. You can get a thick batter-fried crust on vegetables, like broccoli, but also make some drool-worthy onion rings, too.

6. Egg and Breadcrumbs

Maybe you want a heartier crust for your fried chicken. Egg and breadcrumbs is commonly used on thicker pork cutlets, fish, and eggplant to give them a rich crust on the outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use this method for chicken and vegetables as well.

The downside to egg and breadcrumbs is that the crust might slough off when you stick it in the oil. This method is best used when you want to air fry or bake your “fried” chicken.

Optionally, you can dunk your meat into the egg first then toss it in a combination of breadcrumbs and cornstarch. Not only will the breadcrumbs stick better to the protein, you also get a less greasy fry.

Morning Bread

7. Baking Powder

Do not confuse this one with baking soda, which is pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder contains cornstarch, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Though it’s used primarily with baked goods, when baking powder coats chicken skin, the skin dries out faster when fried. The end result is crispy, crunchy, and light fried chicken. If you’re trying to shed some calories while still enjoying a nice fried breast or wing, give baking powder a try.

You can also mix baking powder with any of the flour substitutes for frying to get the same crunchiness.

Can You Substitute Cornmeal For Flour When Frying?

Cornmeal is often used by chefs and home cooks to give their fried foods an added crunch. Yes, cornmeal is what makes the breading on fried shrimp and fish so delectable and crispy. When substituting cornmeal for flour, you will want to blend it with another flour substitute, such as almond flour, cornstarch, along with a small dash of baking soda.

Those dry ingredients combined will bake or fry up beautifully. You can also incorporate some spices when blending the dry ingredients.

Frying Chicken Without Flour

What is a healthy substitute for flour when frying chicken, you ask? Chicken, luckily, doesn’t need much dressing up to taste phenomenal. That’s right, you don’t need flour or anything else for chicken when you are frying it. Yes, the crunchy breading does add something special, but it isn’t essential.

If you want to fry chicken without flour, simply leave the skin on. Marinade the meat however you want for about 12 hours. Don’t use a lot of oil when you go to fry it up. The skin will caramelize and come out super crunchy.

Again, you can also lightly dust the skin on your chicken with baking powder or cornstarch (or both) before dropping it into the oil for a deep fry. You will be surprised by how light and crispy the fried chicken comes out.

fried chicken

Final Thoughts

Don’t have flour for frying? No need. You can use baking powder, cornstarch, or a gluten-free alternative as a substitute for flour when frying up chicken, fish, pork, or vegetables. There are many options out there, so don’t worry if your bag of all-purpose flour is all gone. Which flour substitute for frying will you try first?


How can you fry without flour?

Frying without flour is easy. You can use cornstarch or baking powder to do the same job. Both will give your food a lighter, more airy quality when fried. If you want to fry chicken without flour, lightly dust the skin with some baking powder or cornstarch then fry as you would normally. It will taste like heaven.

What can be substituted for flour?

All-purpose flour can be substituted with nearly any other kind of flour, cornstarch, baking powder, breadcrumbs and eggs, or a mixture of alternatives. There are many kinds of alternatives out there that can be substituted 1:1 with regular flour. Depending on your goal, you might opt for savory chickpea flour, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, baking powder, or something else.

Do you need flour to deep fry?

No, you do not need flour to deep fry anything. If you use either cornstarch, baking powder, or a blend of those, you can get incredibly crispy and juicy deep fried food. Flour is commonly used, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary for a delicious fry.

Can I use baking powder instead of flour for fried chicken?

Yes, you can use baking powder (not baking soda) instead of flour for fried chicken. Baking powder is often used as a leavening agent, but when used for frying chicken, it reacts with the oils and dries out the skin faster. The end result is a crispy, crunchy outside and tender inside. Baking powder is often the secret ingredient in many fry mixes out there.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind CooksDream.com, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora


  1. Thank you so much for the info!! I’m a beginner on a diet. I’ve been dying for fried chicken! Gonna use this and pin it!!! Yeah!

  2. Greetings
    I am new at using an air fryer. I wanted to fry chicken wings. They came out nice and crispy with great “lemon pepper “ seasoning. Thanks to you for the tip of using baking powder as a substitute for flour.

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