You’ve probably noticed a big difference in the variety of offerings within the health section or baking aisle of your supermarket in the last decade. And more recently, you’ll spot the difference everywhere from the freezers to the grab-and-go snack section. According to market insight company Grand View Research, the $5.9 billion gluten-free market is expected to double in value by 2030.
One of the newest additions to the category is sweet potato flour. Ahead, learn more about this recently launched baking staple, including sweet potato flour nutrition, how to use it and who might want to consider adding it to their carts.
What Is Sweet Potato Flour?
Nearly as versatile as cauliflower, sweet potatoes can now be found on shelves transformed into tortilla chips, crackers, french fries, mashes, soups, vegetable noodles, gnocchi, rice … and now, flour.
Scientists just developed a novel way to turn sweet potatoes into flour, and a few companies already have their products available commercially.
“Sweet potato flour is created by taking raw sweet potatoes, washing, peeling and slicing them, followed by drying at a specific temperature and grinding to produce the final flour product,” says Mary Stewart, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and the founder of Cultivate Nutrition in Dallas.
Compared to fresh sweet potatoes, sweet potato flour has a longer shelf life, and it may be easier to incorporate into other and more foods, adds Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, a Miami-based board-certified sports dietitian.
Its subtly sweet flavor can play nicely in a variety of sweet and savory recipes, but due to sweet potato flour’s low protein content, you may need to add xanthan gum (or another stabilizer) and subtract some water content to provide the structure required to score. success with certain baking recipes. (This is similar to other gluten-free flours, and is why many cup-for-cup gluten-free flours, including the one we love by King Arthur Baking Company, feature xanthan gum and cellulose gum—to mimic the texture of all -purpose flour.)
Since it’s so new to the market and involves quite a few steps to produce, “sweet potato flour does come at a premium. You could pay two to four times as much money for the sweet potato flour compared to other healthy flours on the market, ” Stewart says. “This is something to take into consideration as you weigh the costs and benefits for your specific health needs.”
For reference, a 1-pound bag of sweet potato flour is currently going for about $7 to $13; about on par with a 3-pound bag of measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend and twice to three times as much as a 5-pound bag of all-purpose flour.
Sweet Potato Flour Nutrition
Nutrition information varies slightly by the company that manufactures the sweet potato flour, but here’s the details for a ¼-cup serving of Zocalo Gourmet sweet potato flour:
- 120 calories
- 3 g protein
- 0 g fat
- 27 g carbs
- 8 g sugar
- 4 g fiber
- 47mg sodium
For reference, here’s the stats for a ¼-cup serving of all-purpose flour, per the USDA:
- 110 calories
- 3 g protein
- 0 g fat
- 23 g carbs
- 1 gram of sugar
- 1 g fiber
- 0mg sodium
Is Sweet Potato Flour Healthy?
There’s no one set definition of “healthy,” but it’s helpful to note that compared to all-purpose flour, sweet potato flour has slightly more sodium, carbs and calories. That said, the dietitians we spoke to noted several factors about the benefits of incorporating some sweet potato flour into your diet.
It’s a good source of fiber.
According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should try to consume 25 grams or more of fiber daily, and men should aim for 31 grams or more. Since sweet potatoes have more fiber than wheat, sweet potato flour has triple the fiber of all-purpose flour (4 grams versus 1 gram in a ¼-cup serving).
ICYMI, “Fiber is a powerful nutrient to consume daily to support our digestion, gut health, weight maintenance and prevent conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” Stewart says. (Those are just a few of the many health benefits of eating more fiber.)
It might have less of an impact on your blood sugar than all-purpose flour.
Some of the 27 grams of carbs in ¼ cup of sweet potato flour come by way of resistant starch, Stewart says, which is a type of prebiotic fiber: “Resistant starch is beneficial for its ability to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut and shows a beneficial reduction in insulin response.”
This special kind of fermentable fiber is especially good at slowing down the rise in blood sugar and absorption rate after eating, so you may notice less of an energy spike (then crash) after eating recipes made with sweet potato flour compared to all-purpose flour .
It delivers a dose of vitamin A.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta carotene, which our body converts into vitamin A. (Sweet potatoes rank second, just after beef liver, on the list of top food sources of vitamin A, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.)
So it stands for the reason that sweet potato flour is a strong source as well; Zocalo Gourmet reports that ¼ cup provides 240% of this micronutrient that plays an important role in immune function and eye health.
It’s naturally sweet.
Just like the root vegetable it’s made from, sweet potato flour lends a little natural sweetness to whatever recipe you add it to. As a result, “you may be able to use less sugar in recipes when using sweet potato flour, which can support your overall health and help keep your blood sugar in check,” according to Ehsani.
It’s a good gluten-free alternative.
“Sweet potato flour can be enjoyed by anyone, but anyone who has celiac disease or is gluten-free may particularly enjoy being able to try out sweet potato flour as a new substitute for regular flour,” Ehsani says. “The only group that needs to steer clear is anyone who has an allergy to sweet potatoes.”
Tips for Using Sweet Potato Flour
Those who have researched cooking and baking with sweet potato flour report that you’ll have the best results if you substitute about 10% to 25% of all-purpose flour with sweet potato flour. For savory uses, try sweet potato flour in homemade pasta recipes, to thicken pan sauces or as breading for chicken, pork or fish. On the sweet side, since sweet potato flour is fairly low in protein, it can help lend a soft texture to cakes, pancakes, brownies, biscuits and some cookie recipes.
“Sweet potato flour is starchy and does not contain gluten, which can result in a dense, heavy product,” explains Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, a Warrenton, Virginia-based registered dietitian who helps women stop dieting and find confidence with food. “Considering the fact that gluten is the ‘glue’ that holds bread together and allows it to develop an airy crumb, and we know sweet potato flour does not have the same ratio of gluten, it’s possible that baked goods made with sweet potato flour will not rise in the same way. While this could be a baking disaster for some recipes, it could be an advantage for others.”
Although you might not get the same outcome, taste or texture if you try to use a lot of sweet potato in place of regular flour in some recipes, for certain baked goods, you may be able to get away with using a higher proportion of sweet potato flour than 25%, Ehsani says.
For baking recipes that need more structure, “you may need to adjust the recipe and add more leavening agents, thickeners or liquids,” Stewart says.
Since sweet potato flours are fairly new to the market, we expect that more recipes will be on the horizon soon showing exactly how to use them—and how much to use—for certain dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sweet Potato Flour
What is sweet potato flour used for?
Sweet potato flour is made from peeled, sliced, dried and ground sweet potatoes, and can be used as a gluten-free flour alternative in sweet and savory recipes.
Is sweet potato flour high in carbs?
Sweet potato flour falls somewhere in the middle of flour carb levels (27 grams per ¼-cup serving); it has slightly more carbs than all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, but less than brown rice flour and potato flour.
Can I use sweet potato flour instead of all-purpose flour?
Yes, but be aware that this will rarely be a straight one-for-one swap. You will have the best results if you replace no more than 25% of the all-purpose flour called for in a recipe with sweet potato flour.
The Bottom Line
Sweet potato flour can offer several health benefits, including more vitamin A, fiber and resistant starch than all-purpose flour. And for those who need gluten-free flour substitutes and prefer them to be nut- and seed-free, it’s a fantastic new option.
“Sweet potato flour is a great alternative for folks who need to be gluten-free, or have other food restrictions,” says Thomason, but she cautions not to assume it has magical powers. “It’s not necessarily healthier just because it’s the new kid on the block.”