White Rice Flour vs Brown Rice Flour

Brown rice flour is made from whole grain rice while white rice flour is made from ground white rice, which contains no bran (the bran is stripped from the rice in order to make white rice).  Therefore, the nutritional value is decreased in white rice flour:

  • Protein – 1 cup white rice flour = 9.4 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 11.42 grams
  • Carbs – 1 cup white rice flour = 126.6 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 120.8 grams
  • Fiber – 1 cup white rice flour = 3.8 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 7.3 grams
  • Folate (a water-soluble B vitamin) - 1 cup white rice flour = 5 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 25 grams
  • Calories – 1 cup white rice flour = 578 calories/1 cup brown rice flour = 574 calories

In addition, brown rice flour has a better flavour – nutty and slightly sweet, which makes it a better option for baking sweets such as cookies and cakes.  White rice flour is tasteless.  In terms of texture, brown rice flour will often result in a slightly heavier product versus white rice flour.

Like other whole grain flours, brown rice flour can go rancid quite quickly because of the natural fats and oils in the grain.  You can determine if flour is rancid by smelling it – if it smells sour, it is time to throw it out.  To improve the shelf life of brown rice flour, store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  In addition, purchase small amounts of the flour so you can use it all up before it goes bad.  Brown rice flour will typically last for 4 – 5 months in the fridge or up to one year in the freezer.  I suggest labelling the expiry date of the flour on the storage container to serve as a reminder.  White rice flour, on the other hand, will last indefinitely if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry location.

I typically limit the amount of rice flour I use in baking, as the taste can be quite gritty.  Combined with other gluten free flours, such as sorghum flour or tapioca starch, this gritty taste can be minimized.  I suggest not using more than 25% of rice flour, white or brown, in comparison to other flours in your baking.  In order to increase the nutritional value in your baking, choose brown rice flour.  However, if you find that your baked goods are coming out a bit heavier than desired (which is a common issue with gluten free baking), you may want to switch over to white rice flour instead.

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8 thoughts on “White Rice Flour vs Brown Rice Flour

  1. Thanks for the details! I knew brown rice flour was more nutritious, but what I really needed to know (& other places didn’t say) was if it was OK to sub white for brown. Now I know & I learned a great deal about the use & storage of both flours – thanks so much!

  2. Thanks for the information!! I’m just trying to bake with gluten-free flours etc.
    and have made a few flops…..it’s great to have Katie’s Kitchen to turn to when in need of an explanation. I’m very grateful….thanks!

  3. I have what I believe to be sweet brown rice..My pie crust recipe calls for sweet rice: (2tbsp) of sweet rice flour and 1 C. +2tbsp of brown rice flour mix. (mix is listed as brown rice, potato startch and tapioca flour. So if what I have is sweet brown rice, can I just leave out the white and not worry about it? There are sooo many pie crust recipes, all with just a hint of a difference, one with millet…do you know why the millet would be called for since I dont have ii?
    Of course, I am a PIE LADY with a reputation for top notch crust..I truly want to create the closest-to-real crust I can find, Anyone know of THE ONE?

    • Hi Cynthia! Thanks for your comments. Although, I have never been very good at making pie crusts, you have inspired me to find the perfect pie crust recipe. Gluten free baking requires the use of a variety of gluten free flours in order to produce a great tasting end result. If you use only rice flour, for example, the baking will turn out very gritty. It’s important to lighten gluten free flour mixes with the use of starches – potato, arrowroot, tapioca are all great examples. The ratio of flours is also very important and you should use no more than 25% – 30% of one type of flour in your baking. Each gluten free flour has different characteristics and different end results. For example, millet flour has a sweet and light taste, a crumbly texture and produces light, dry, delicate baked goods and a crust that is thin and buttery smooth. This flour would probably be a good option in a gluten free pie crust recipe but would probably be a poor choice for a moist chocolate cake. It’s important to keep xanthan gum or guar gum on hand when you are baking, which helps to bind your gluten free baked goods together and minimize the amount of flakiness and cracks.

      Finally, it seems like most baked goods have a perscribed ratio of flour to fat to liquid. I have only tried adhering to this ratio with pancakes, but I was able to get great results (http://katieskitchen1.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/pancake-experiment-part-1/). This ratio makes it easy to transform a recipe into a gluten free alternative. For pie crusts, the ratio seems to be 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, 1 part liquid. So with that in mind, I will start on my journey to creating a gluten free pie crust recipe and hope that I can provide you with a no fail recipe in the near future!

      • Thank you so much Katie!! That really cleared things up for me, I was sooo confused. I knew it was some sort of science and indeed, my kitchen looks like a science experiment! I never purchased the millet, which is what sounds like is missing. Hope you can get it to turn out good, you must make sure that it tastes good too, the pie crust being the crowning glory! :) :). Can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with. In the meantime, my orders are steadily coming in for GF Pie, so I must keep trying. Take Care. Thanks Again

  4. I’ve found that white rice flour gives me the perfect texture I need for making southern style biscuits but they always smell like a wet cat… the taste is great as if I’d used bleached wheat flour but the smell is pretty off-putting. The flour isn’t rancid, it just has a naturally weird smell to it compared to other grains…. and once the wet ingredients are mixed in, the smell is accentuated. Once baked, the smell of a wet cat fills the house. My flour mixture consists of about half of it, and I’m trying to experiment to work it out of the recipe and find some other mixtures to give me the same texture and taste.. but with a pleasant non-yeasty bread smell. I’ll have to try other brand names of white rice flour, Bob’s Red Mill is what I’ve been using.

    I’m just starting to use brown rice flour, and it’s much more difficult to get the light n fluffy texture; it’s much more dense than I anticipated and often makes for a good crumbly cornbread type texture… it needs a higher ratio of starch to even it out I suppose. The smell of using brown rice flour is good; smells like what it should smell like.

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