Lovers of Thai and Korean foods will be very familiar with the demand for rice flour in many of their favorite recipes.
Truthfully, almost any Asian cuisine will occasionally ask you to have some rice flour on hand. Rice flour is also a staple of gluten-free cooking of all varieties.
The problem is that, while rice flour is becoming more common in regular grocery stores, it’s often overpriced.
Plus, it never feels good to buy a pound or more of flour when you only need a few tablespoons for a recipe.
Making rice flour in a blender is a fairly simple process, but I’m going to focus on some alternatives in this guide. Even if you’ve made rice flour in a blender before, it’s worth knowing some other options so you have some versatility in the kitchen and greater control over how much rice flour you make.
I’ll also talk about some of the benefits of making your own rice flour, as well as some general tips to help you turn out the best product possible.
What's in this Guide?
What Are The Benefits of Making Your Own Rice Flour?
Like most other foods, one of the key benefits of making your own rice flour is that you have a lot more control. You know what goes into your rice flour, and can avoid adding preservatives and unhealthy fillers. It also means having more control over the texture of the rice flour.
You can choose what types of rice you use (and that can make a huge difference as I’ll discuss later). You’ll also have a lot more control over how much you make.
If your kitchen and pantry are already pretty full, it’s easier to keep the more versatile ingredient, rice, and make the specialty ingredient, rice flour, on demand. If you’re already an accomplished baker, you probably keep several varieties of flour on hand anyway. Making your own rice flour gives you one less ingredient you need to keep and store.
Some types of rice flour also have a relatively short shelf-life. The grains last longer on their own, so making your own reduces the chance that you’ll end up throwing out unused and expired flour.
Rice can also add lots of different nutrients to your diet, especially if you don’t tend to eat multiple types of grain. However, it’s worth paying attention to the type of rice you use, since different varieties are very nutritionally distinct.
Rice flour is also a useful alternative for people who need to maintain a gluten-free diet. It’s not a stand-alone substitute for wheat flour. But, combined with other gluten free flours and plant starches, you can create a good gluten-free baking alternative.
Not to mention that having rice flour gets you one step closer to mimicking your favorite Pad Thai at home.
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What You Need To Know About Making Your Own Rice Flour
The first thing you really need to know is that the type of rice you use really matters when it comes to making your own rice flour.
Like most things, the less processing your rice receives before turning it into flour, the more nutritionally complete it’s likely to be. One way to get rice that is less processed is to look for rice varieties that are labeled.
In other words, avoid packaging that says ‘white rice’ and instead purchase long-grain rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, and other named varieties.
You should also know that brown rice is more nutrient-dense than white rice in general. But, each type has different health benefits, and there are good reasons to make and use both. Brown rice has more protein and fiber, and therefore also has a lower glycemic index than white rice.
The nutrition contained in your rice is the nutrition you’ll get out of your flour. So it’s worth considering which varieties are best for you and your family.
One important note for families that are adopting rice flour because it’s gluten-free: ‘glutinous’ rice flour doesn’t contain gluten. Glutinous rice flour is also sometimes called sweet rice flour (and isn’t any sweeter than regular rice flour), and is made from short-grain rice. The same type of rice that’s often used in sushi and sticky-rice recipes.
To avoid confusion, I’m going to use sweet rice flour for this variety. Sweet rice flour is a good option for things like noodles that need a slightly clingier texture. But, if you’re making rice flour, unless your recipe specifically calls for sweet rice flour you should avoid using more than 40% of this type.
The texture of the flour is very different, and may not work as well for some cooking.
Supplies You’ll Need To Make Rice Flour Without a Blender
Even though you won’t be using a blender, you’ll still need some basic tools to make rice flour. You might not need all of these tools, and each method will only use a couple of them.
The Basics – You’ll need these for any method of making rice flour:
- Measuring cups
- two bowls
- A fine sieve
- Your preferred rice (at least 1 cup)
- A sink
- A cookie sheet or other baking pan
You’ll also need at least one of these:
- Mortar and pestle
- A food processor
- A coffee grinder
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What Are The Different Ways to Make Rice Flour?
The most common way to make rice flour at home is the one I’m not really talking about in this article, using a blender. Don’t worry though, this YouTube video has you covered if you want to make rice flour with a blender.
The process is pretty simple, and you’ll still want to do all the same prep work I talk about in this article.
The other options for making rice flour are also pretty simple. There’s the old-fashioned option, with a mortar and pestle or a grindstone, or more modern options with a food processor, a coffee grinder, or a specialty grain grinder.
How To Make Rice Flour Without a Blender (5-Step Guide)
For these steps, you’ll do the same prep work regardless of what tool you use to grind your rice into flour. I’ll talk about the different options for grinding once you’re at that point.
- Gather and Measure All Your Supplies
- Wash the Rice
- Soak the Rice
- Grind the Rice into Flour
- Store your Rice Flour
Step 1: Gather and Measure All Your Supplies
The first thing is to make sure you have enough space and have everything you need. Grab your rice (at least one cup), two bowls, and the other supplies I’ve already mentioned. You should also grab whatever container you want to store the rice flour in if you’re making more than you need immediately.
Part of the reason this step is important is to make sure you have enough space. The last thing you want is to bump something and send your freshly made rice flour all over the kitchen.
Step 2: Wash the Rice
The next step is to wash your rice. Put the rice in your sieve or a colander and wash with running water until the water stops looking cloudy and runs clear or mostly clear.
Stir the rice gently while you rinse. Just your hand is fine, or whatever utensil is most convenient. Stirring helps make rinsing more effective, and will make it more obvious when the water starts to turn clear.
Rinsing your rice does two things. It removes any debris that might be mixed in with your rice. Have you ever noticed a hard piece of sand or dirt in your cooked rice? Chances are that is exactly what that was. A thorough rinse reduces the chances of dirt and sand in your rice.
Rinsing also reduces the starchy buildup on your rice that can make it clumpy. Rinsing it before you turn the rice into flour helps prevent some of that buildup so that the flour doesn’t get clumpy in storage. It also helps improve the cooked texture of the rice flour.
Expect it to take a few minutes to completely rinse your rice. The more rice, the longer you should rinse.
Step 3: Soak the Rice
Some people skip this step, but I think it’s important to get the full nutritional value out of your rice. Soaking the rice reduces phytic acid in the rice. Phytic acid is a nutrient that is valuable in small quantities, and problematic in larger ones since it can bind to beneficial minerals and prevent your body from absorbing them properly.
For rice flour you can just soak the rice in room-temperature water. If you want a more effective soak, add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice, vinegar, or another naturally acidic food.
It’s worth noting that whatever acid you use to soak your rice will also change the flavor of your rice (and rice flour). Avoid acids you don’t like. An acidic soak can also increase the nutty flavors that naturally occur in some rice.
You should leave the rice soaking for at least 30 minutes. But you can also set up the rice to soak overnight for a more thorough soak. However long you soak the rice, the next step is drying the rice.
It seems counterintuitive, but the soak is to help develop the nutrient profile, not to change the texture of the rice. If you try to turn wet rice into flour, you’re more likely to get a paste that turns into a crumbly mess.
So, before you grind, you need to let the rice dry out again. It generally takes at least an hour to dry out your rice. It may take longer depending on how much rice you’re using, and how long you soaked it.
You can dry the rice in the same bowl after draining the water, but it’s faster to spread it out on a baking pan or other flat surface. Make sure the rice is dry to the touch before you process it into flour.
Paper towels can help lift a small amount of moisture out of the rice, but you shouldn’t leave them in with the rice since they’ll dry out more slowly.
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Step 4: Grind the Rice into Flour
The next step is where the magic happens. Once you have your rice prepped and completely dry, you can start grinding it into flour.
This is where the tool you’ve chosen changes how you finish up. We’ll start with the most basic (and time consuming) option, the mortar and pestle.
A mortar and pestle is good for grinding a small amount of rice into flour, or for killing a lot of time. This is an ancient method of processing spices and grains into powders, but you’ll probably only be able to pound a few tablespoons of rice into a very coarse flour.
Start by pounding the rice into smaller pieces, and then start a more grinding circular motion to process the grains down into a flour. Keep going until you’re happy with the texture.
You can add a small amount of rice as you go, to increase how much flour you get. But every time you add more, it will take longer to process the rice into flour.
That’s the most difficult option. The next two are much simpler. Food processors and coffee grinders are basically just as good as blenders for creating rice flour. A coffee grinder is even preferable if you need less than a cup of flour at a time.
You’ll be surprised how many recipes call for a very small amount of rice flour.
A coffee grinder is suitable for a couple tablespoons of rice at a time. It will take longer to grind a larger total, but you have a ton of control over how fine the grinder makes the flour.
If you’re making multiple batches of flour, keep an eye on your grinder. It can start to heat up, which is bad for both the grinder and the flour.
If your grinder gets warm to the touch while you make the flour, give it a few minutes to cool off before continuing.
The same process applies to your food processor, but since food processors come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, you might be able to turn more rice into flour at once. However, since food processors aren’t designed for grinding a hard substance into flour, you’ll have a little less control over how fine you can get the rice, and it might take longer to get the desired texture.
The last tool I want to discuss is a specialty grain grinder. Most people aren’t going to have one of these in their kitchen, but if you’re really committed to making your own flour, you may want to invest in this tool.
Grinders are designed to turn a relatively large amount of grain into flour without heating up, and with a lot of control over the texture of the final flour. Check to make sure your grinder is clean, and then power it up and slowly add rice. You’ll need a bowl for the rice and a separate bowl for the finished flour.
Depending on the grinder, you may have the option of several different settings for different textures.
Step 5: Store your Rice Flour
Once your rice is ground into flour, you should have some plan for how you’re going to store it. If you only make enough rice flour for your immediate needs you don’t need to store it. But, if you are making more, you should plan a relatively airtight container.
I don’t recommend using a ziplock bag or similar, even though they are convenient. That’s because it’s easy for ziplock bags to fall and open, or to get punctured and leak. Instead, glass or plastic storage bins and jars are a better option. Make sure everything is clearly labeled before you put your new rice flour away.
If you make multiple kinds of rice flour, ie. brown, sweet, and basmati, you should also label the type so that you can replicate your results.
My Final Thoughts on Making Rice Flour
Making rice flour is a great way to save money while still creating a ton of special foods from Japanese mochi dough to baking gluten-free cookies. It’s even great for savory dishes like rice noodles, and is an important addition to many kimchi recipes.
Making your own gives you more control, and is a good way to save money since specialty rice flour can be a little expensive.
The whole process is pretty simple, but it can be time-consuming, so make sure you have plenty of time. You don’t want to rush making rice flour since it’s easy to spill, or to start grinding before the rice is completely dry when you’re in a rush.
But once you start experimenting with rice flour, I’m sure you’ll discover a ton of useful and delicious things you can make with it.