How are they different and can you substitute one for the other in recipes?

By Peggy Kieran
August 27, 2020
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almonds, almond flour, and almond meal on table
Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

Whether you bake gluten-free or not, chances are you've come across a recipe that calls for almond flour or a recipe that requires almond meal. Do you know what makes these two ingredients so similar but also so different? Here, we explain how almond meal and almond flour are made and when to use each in your cooking.

What Is Almond Meal?

Made from ground almonds, almond meal has the texture of a coarse flour or meal (think cornmeal). It's often available natural or blanched, the difference being that blanched almond meal is made from almonds with the skins removed before grinding so that it's one uniform, creamy color, whereas natural almond meal is made from whole almonds with the skin intact and appears creamy with speckles due to the presence of bits of almond skin. Natural almond meal has slightly more vitamin E than blanched because of the additional almond fiber.

What Is Almond Flour, and What Makes It Different Than Almond Meal?

Flour has a finer grind than meal, so almond flour is made from almonds that have been more finely ground than those used in almond meal. It's also made exclusively from peeled or blanched almonds, which means it has a uniform color. Still, it's coarser than conventional wheat flour, and this is because if almonds are ground too much they become almond butter. It's also important to note that different manufacturers use the terms differently and some sell "almond meal flour" rather than just calling the product "almond flour."

Can You Swap One for the Other in Recipes?

The short answer is yes—almond meal and almond flour are interchangeable in recipes but the finer flour works better for airy sponge cakes or macarons.

How to Use Almond Meal and Almond Flour

Use them as you would any other nut flour. Neither contains gluten so almond meal and almond flour can be used in gluten-free recipes but should only be used in recipes that call for almond meal or flour rather than as a one-for-one replacement for wheat flour. Both almond meal and flour can also be used to coat chicken, fish, and other proteins or as protein-packed addition to a smoothie.

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