Do The Brands of Ingredients Matter In Gluten Free Baking

Some days I love gluten free baking and other days I want to cry and never do it again. Just keeping it real for you all. :-)

I have had two major disasters in the last week on tried and true gluten free favorites.

We were having pasta one night for dinner and I wanted a quick something else to go with it, so I decided to make my Brazilian cheese buns. I have made this recipe more times than I can count over the last couple of years and we always love them.

Last week however I ended up with this.



Have you ever had Brazilian cheese flat bread?!

Well, don’t worry if you have not had it, you are not missing out on much. We ate it, but really only because I did not want to throw it out.

What went wrong with my tried and true favorite?

The only thing I can figure out is that I recently switched brands of tapioca flour. That is the only thing in the recipe that I did different, so I am thinking it is most likely the cause.

Now for my light and fluffy gluten free rolls.

I also recently made my light and fluffy gluten free dinner rolls and light and fluffy they were not. I thought I must have messed up the recipe because I have made these rolls about ten times now and we have loved them. So, I made them again and again they were not light and fluffy. The taste was great, but the texture was off.

In the comments on that recipe quite a few of you mentioned that the rolls tasted great, but were dense and not light and fluffy at all when you made them. I felt bad that you all were having issues, but I could not figure out what was going on with the recipe. I had no idea what they were doing for you all until it happened to me.

Now, I am still not sure I know exactly what is going on with these rolls, but I really went over the recipe and what may have caused them to not turn out for me and I have three thoughts on it.

The day they did not turn out well was cold and windy and my house was not as warm as it had been the previous times I had made them. So, rising time and temperature could be part of the issue.

But I think the bigger issue has to do with the ingredients.

I mentioned above that I had bought a different brand of tapioca flour, well now I am wondering if that same tapioca flour messed up this recipe as well. I am thinking that different brands may absorb different amounts of liquid and then change the end result.

I also recently bought a different brand of xanthan gum. Now, I have used this brand before, but not in a long time, so it was a different brand then I had used in the previous batches of the rolls.

So, now I need to experiment some more and see if I can figure out which ingredient, or if both ingredients, messed with the recipe. I am adding a note to the roll recipe with a link to this post, so that readers will now know my thoughts on it. I debated on pulling the recipe altogether, but I know it has turned out for me and for some of you. And the taste is great, so I will just update it for now. And I will keep experiment and let you all know if or what brands work or don’t work.

I have been doing a lot of baking and my cakes, cookies, and muffins have all been turning out fine with these two ingredients that seem to have messed up these two recipes, so I am thinking gluten free breads are just harder in general to deal with. I already knew this, this past week has just been a reminder of that fact.

This brings me back to the sometimes I want to cry and never do it again part of gluten free baking.

Before I went gluten free I loved Bob’s Red Mill flours and King Arthur Flour. They were my favorite flours to use in baking and I could tell a difference in some recipes when I used them over just an off brand of flour, but I never had it totally ruin a recipe. I never noticed as big of a difference in brands like I am noticing in gluten free baking.

The frustrating part for me, and I am guessing for most of you, is the cost of gluten free flours and ingredients. It is expensive to have disasters. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time to figure out what brand of what works better in what recipe.

Now I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have you noticed a big difference in brands when it comes to gluten free flours and ingredients? Do you think it makes a difference? 


Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
Lynn's (Gluten Free) Kitchen Adventures

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  1. thank you for this post – I thought I was going bonkers lately since my baking wasn’t looking anything like the pictures posted! I grind my own rice flour and I’m thinking you are absolutely right in there being differences in absorption reactions. You have given me hope and the courage to “try, try again”.

    • Gluten free baking is a lot of try try again. :-) I shared this so that you all know we all have struggles with gluten free baking. It can be discouraging to have disasters and it is encouraging to know we all have them. I will keep updating as I expirement and try different things on this subject, because I do think it may make a bigger difference than I have realized.

  2. OK, me too…..I’ve been getting my potato starch and tapioca starch from a local bulk foods store so I’m thinking you’re on to something with this different brand thing. I’m going back to the roll recipe in a few days and will see if I can get somewhere with less of each. That absorption issue makes sense so this is worth pursuing! I’ll let you know the results of my fiddlings!

    • Please let me know what you find out. This is a subject I had not thought about much until these recent disasters and I really do think it might make a big difference in gluten free bread type recipes. So, I would love to know if you have thoughts on it.

  3. Karin Goodman says:

    Thank you for your “honest” post. All your recipes have turned out great, but when I tried the Gluten Free Rolls they were exactly how you just described them. They tasted good, but were not light and fluffy. Now I know to keep trying.

    • I never really thought about how much difference brands could make until I had these two diasters. I will be curious what other readers say about brands making a difference. And now I wonder how much it messes with other recipes I have tried for breads, cinnamon rolls, etc. It is making me rethink some of my gluten free bread making that is for sure.

  4. Boy thanks I don’t do much baking because most things I make flop. That is in Gluten free baking. Now I know or have a good idea why. I live in a small town and what the stores carry is hit and miss. Getting better so we have hope.

    • I am not sure how much difference this makes in all recipes, but in these two I think it has. Gluten free baking is much more challenging and this is an expample of why. I share stories like this to keep it real because everyone who cooks gluten free has disasters and it is easy to get discouraged. I like to share my struggles so that you all know we all have them when it comes to gluten free baking.

  5. calvin eaton says:

    Yes…I thought this was just my dilemma Lynn. The brand absolutely does matter, not only in GF baking but all baking….other variables like temperature , oven, the type of pan you use etc…. can most definitely change the texture or turnout of a GF baked good….I created a GF banana bread recipe that I have to bake as 6″ mini loaf pans…it just isn’t quite as good as a whole loaf and once I tried to make it as muffins using the recipe I created …and it didn’t rise in the muffin tins much to my chagrin…my point is that when it comes to GF , swopping flours, ingredients, brands, etc,… can significantly change the taste, flavor, rise and quality of a baked good…sometimes baking is an exact science….like chemistry you win some and lose some and as devastating to the ego as those loses are…I love every minute of it…especially when I create something that works

  6. I tried your Brazilian cheese buns last night after finding it in this post and the dough was very dry and thick instead of wet and sticky like you posted in your linked recipe. They puffed up and tasted OK (but I did let them bake a little too long b/c I forgot to get them out of the oven). The dough was so dry I ended adding 1 tsp of water and that helped some, I could/should have added more but didn’t want to totally waste the batch. I used Bob’s Red Mill tapioca flour: is that the brand you usually use or something different? I believe if I had used a little less flour it would have made a difference.

    • That is one of the brands I have used in the past that seemed to work in the recipe. I think you are right though, to maybe start with less and add more if needed. It is easier to add more tapioca flour than it is more water. More water tends to mess with the recipe more. I plan to go back and play with the recipe more, maybe trying several different brands and see which one/s give the best result.

  7. Hi,
    I am making your dinner rolls for the first time tonight–they are rising right now and waiting to be baked. I noticed my dough was extremely dry–like play doh. I added just shy of 1/2 cup of warmed milk to try to get the dough workable. Hopefully they won’t turn out like lead balloons! I did substitute guar gum for the xanthan since I was out. I hope they turn out since like you said, the cost of the flours are so expensive that I hate wasting anything.

    • I would love to hear how they turn out for you. I have never done much with guar gum, so I am curious how/if it will work in this recipe.

  8. I have just found your site and am glad for the GF recipes! I too am a baker, and am totally lost in the GF world! We have only been doing this a couple of months though…. I was curious about the potato starch I see in some of your recipes. I am concerned that my younger son is having issues eating either tapioca or potato starch. I have not figured out which yet, but need to elminate one and use the other as we work our way through this. It seems in most things they appear together… Do you think that you can use one or the other in a recipe, or is it a lost cause (so to speak 😉 ) without using both?

  9. I have had the Brazilian cheese bun issue, and read somewhere (can’t recall where!) that different brands cause different results. So if my dough is wet/sticky, I add in more tapioca flour, sometimes a lot.

    • Thanks for sharing that you have had the same issue. I have not had time to experiment any more with the recipe, but plan to after the holiday to find out what brands work best.

  10. Danielle says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m fairly new to gluten free (and dairy free, legume free, nightshade free) and I’ve had far too many doorstops and hockey pucks. I’m a cupcake baker and I’m not used to failing this much!! Is it wrong I was happy to hear you say you have flubs as well?! At any rate, I happen to live in Oregon about 15 miles from Bobs Red Mill. I love the prices of being able to go in and scoop out of their bulk bins so my actual question is, if everything I buy is from Bobs will that work? I know some people like rice flour from Asian stores, online only nut flours, etc so have you had good luck using Bobs products without fail? Today’s to do list (besides rolls) is tiny batches of cupcakes with various blends to get it just right. Any info for this newbie would be awesome!!!

    • First of all you live in one of my favorite places, OR. :-) I grew up about an hour west of Portland and I miss it. So beautiful in the Pacific Northwest. As far as Bob’s Red Mill, they are my favorite gluten free products and if I lived where you are that is probably all I would use, especially since you can buy most things in bulk making it cheaper. Even now I use mainly Bob’s products and order from amazon and a food co-op what I cannot get in stores here. I will say that I am not a fan of their mixes that contain bean flours, my family does not like the taste of the bean flours, so I do avoid those. As far as flubs and disasters I find they are just going to happen with gluten free baking. Gluten free baking changes the science behind the recipe, add in dairy free and other things and it changes it even more. The first year or so of gluten free baking for me was rough, but the more I figured things out and what worked with what, the easier it got. Now, I still have occasional disasters, but I have more successes now then misses. Just know that others understand what it is like and keep at it. It does get easier. I hope that helps.

  11. I’m new to the GF world too. I would like to start baking again, but I am lost as to what/how much to buy. Would you consider doing a post about “essentials” for the GF kitchen? What types of flours, starches etc we need to get started? I am totally confused as to what to buy first!!

  12. Brands to matter, I agree. So far Bob’s is the best I’ve come across. Still being a “noob” to GF baking myself I have come across the rising issues. I noticed people in another area of your blog mentioning it. I also noticed they live in Florida. (I do as well). To help with rising use your bread machine. I have been making my doughs, then transfering the dough into my bread machine without the paddle in. I use the dough cycle on mine. It keeps the temp regulated and helps a lot with the rising. When the cycle is done I just transfer dough into whatever I am cooking it in, then set the oven. The dough has a last rise period before baking, and comes out pretty good. Will use that rise method with your rolls and let you know how it comes out :)

  13. Is there a replacement for the potato starch as I am allergic to potatoes

    thanks for sharing and caring

  14. I have been saying this for years, even before I started eating gluten free. I would give someone my recipe for something their husband had raved over, and they would call me later and say, I made your (whatever) and it was awful. Are you sure you gave me the right ingredients? When I questioned them, I would ask if they used X brand of crackers, or X brand of butter, or whatever else I had specified in the recipe. They ALWAYS said no. Well, if I give someone a recipe and designate a specific brand ingredient, if they use something else, it is NOT my recipe, and it will not ever come out tasting the same way as what I made. This is true no matter what it is.

  15. Wanda Hagman says:

    I have tried this recipe twice and the first time tasted better but did not have the light and fluffiness you mentioned.
    But as I read your letter about others having this problem, you mentioned tapioca flour, but the recipe called for tapioca starch. I am also wondering if it needs more liquid???

    • tapioca starch and flour are the same thing. Some brands call it starch, some flour. I think it is the ingredients, but I am still working on tweaking it to be sure. Most of the time they turn out great, but I have also had them not work. I just have not tracked it down to what it is yet.

  16. Have you tried baking gluten free things in a convection oven? I know that a lot of times when you bake traditional things in a convection oven, the moving air really puffs them up. It could do the same thing for gluten free baked goods. I’m in the process of doing some repairs on my kitchen so I can’t do any cooking, but when I get done I will buy a counter top convection oven so that I don’t have to heat up my whole kitchen with my full size convection oven just for small batches of baked goods.

    • I have a convection oven and love it for meats and things like oven potatoes, but have had mixed results with baking in it. For some baked goods type things I think it works great and for others I don’t think it works as well.

  17. I was looking at Gluten Free on a Shoestring last night and she uses a lot of tapioca flour in her recipes. I noticed a note in her recipes that said she stands behind tapioca flour from only 2 sources: Authentic Foods (found it on Amazon) and – she said not to expect good results from other brands, which are inferior quality. So I just ordered the Authentic Foods tapioca flour and plan to use that in my bread recipes. I wonder if it will make a difference in yours? I’m going to try your light and fluffy dinner rolls with it – they look so delicious! :)

  18. Bobbi Scott says:

    Hi, Lynn-
    I’ve got to say, this is a fascinating discussion! I think we can ALL say we’ve had a disaster or two with gluten-free baking. Isn’t it odd that flours and starches from different sources seem to give different results. I’ve had decent luck with Authentic Foods and Bob’s Red Mill. Most of the time. I’ve got to throw my two cents in about something that might be a big factor. WEATHER. I’ve been baking since I was ten years old, and I’m still at it at sixty-three! I’ve baked with wheat flour (until my diagnosis with gastritis and “numerous” polyps in my small intestine, added to pretty much a lifetime of ulcerative colitis and thirty years of MS) and all kinds of non-wheat flours. Although there are some differences between different brands, such as finer or coarser grinds, moisture content and age of the flour, the weather seems to have almost as much of an effect on the outcome as the flour we use.

    I can’t begin to tell you how many cakes and loaves of bread I’e had come out wrong-read flat or soggy or both-on a rainy or humid day. This is one of the factors that has been true no matter where I’ve lived, from Northern New England to Mid-Tennessee. If you’ve ever made home-made mayonnaise, you know not to even attempt to make it on a humid day or if a storm is coming. It just won’t set up.

    Also, consider how many feet above sea-level you are. The higher up you are, the less leavening you need,..I’m putting up my website in a week or two and I’ll try to make some sense out of it for all of us!! In the meantime, just remember this: Don’t over beat your eggs and/or egg whites. Stiff but not dry quickly turns to stiff and too dry. Also, unless you live over 3,000ft. above sea level, you really don’t need to change the amount or proportions of baking powder and soda to other ingredients. Well, maybe at 2900ft. you could!!

    Well I’m gonna get off my soapbox now and go on out to the kitchen to make a loaf of that wonderful looking bread!

  19. Was looking for a make ahead GF dinner toll recipe and came across your post. I know it is a few years after the fact, but it may help someone. I also do a lot of GF baking and the brand of flour does matter, because each brand has a different grind and will hold moisture and measure out differently. My blog post about GF baking might help explain why GF baking is so tricky and hard to get consistent results:

  20. I made your recipe for GF rolls, and they were indeed light and fluffy. They were, however, a bit salty. Do you know if the full teaspoon called for in the recipe is really necessary? I know there is chemistry involved in the leavening, so I’m afraid to tamper with it. The texture is so lovely, but I’d love to decrease the salt just a bit.

    • I am glad that you enjoyed the gluten free rolls. You are right that there is a science to baking, especially gluten free. But I do think you could probably cut back on the salt a little and be fine. I would start by decreasing it to 3/4 teaspoons and see if you like it better. I think 1/2 teaspoon might be cutting it too much. I hope that helps.

  21. Lynn your comments are well taken. I’m with you the ingredients are very expensive. But you never said what ingredients you bought that gave you a great loaf of bread .i need to know what ingredients the brand names you used. Then I will get these ingredients and bake a loaf of bread. Thank you sincerely Barbara

  22. I want to make the bread rolls for Easter dinner, but do not have time to experiment. What brands of flours and starches do you recommend for them?

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