The New Gluten-Free Flour That Has Everyone Talking

If you're one of the 3.1 million Americans who eats gluten-free (per Forbes), you know that you'll have to pass on that supermarket sheet cake at your niece's birthday party — but cakes certainly are not off-limits, and neither are waffles, bread, pasta, or cookies. That's because alternatives to wheat flour abound, including everything from almond flour to coconut flour to more unusual options, like tigernut flour and cricket flour

But did you know that one of the hottest new gluten-free flours out there actually comes from one of the most ordinary food staples you'll find in the supermarket? We're talking about banana flour.

Health enthusiasts are going bananas over this new option — which is also dairy-free and vegan — because it contains all of the nutrients you'll find in a regular banana, like fiber and protein. "It's also a great source of potassium, which is important for heart and muscle health," registered dietitian Mia Syn told MindBodyGreen, adding that despite the natural sweetness of this fruit, you don't have to worry about blood sugar spikes because of its low glycemic index.

What's in banana flour?

Manufacturing banana flour is pretty simple, according to brands that produce this hot new baking ingredient. "The way we make our banana flour is by gathering the bananas when they're still green and then slow cooking them before [the flour is] finally milled," Riaz Surt, founder of Hearthy Foods, told Well + Good. Hearthy Foods' flour sells for about $19 for a 16-ounce container on Amazon and can also be found at Whole Foods and other natural and organic health food stores. 

If you're wondering whether you can make banana flour at home, you can — but you'll either need the time and patience to chop your green bananas up into chunks and lay them out in the sunshine, covered in muslin, to properly dry them, or you'll need to own a fruit dehydrator, according to food blogger Raising Strong Happy Kids. Once those bananas are dried and hard, you can grind them into a fine flour using a blender. 

When substituting banana flour in baking, a good ratio is 3/4 cup of banana flour per 1 cup of wheat flour, according to Food Network. Banana flour can be a bit dense — so skip it if you want a more delicate, light texture. But when it comes to banana bread, you can't go wrong with a recipe that uses banana flour!