What Is Sorghum Flour?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Sorghum flour

Pamela_d_mcadams / Getty Images

Sorghum flour is a gluten-free flour with a mild, sweet flavor and smooth texture. It's commonly used to make gluten free cakes, breads and other baked goods, sometimes on its own but more often combined with other gluten-free flours. 

Fast Facts

  • 100 percent gluten-free
  • Mild flavor and smooth texture
  • Good for cakes, breads, cookies and more
  • Often combined with other flours

What Is Sorghum Flour?

Sorghum is a cereal grain, and the variety used for making flour is usually Sorghum bicolor, also referred to as jowar flour. When processed into a flour, sorghum flour has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and smooth texture that makes it suitable for making brownies, cookies, muffins, waffles and all kinds of other baked goods.

Sorghum flour's texture and density make it comparable to all-purpose wheat flour. One interesting property is that it helps to bind moisture into the dough or batter as well as promoting the formation of CO2 bubbles when making bread.  

Sorghum flour is beige in color with a soft, somewhat clumpy consistency, but it combines well when whisked in with other flours. In addition to baked goods, it happens to work well as a breading for fried items, producing a flavorful, crispy coating.

How to Cook With Sorghum Flour

One thing to know about sorghum flour is that it can impart a sour flavor to your baked goods, along with a dry mouth feel, if it's used to make up more than 25 to 30 percent of your overall flour mixture. That means that most bakers don't use sorghum flour on its own but rather in combination with other ingredients, such as sweet rice flour, millet flour and potato starch. Many gluten-free bakers like to use sorghum flour as a substitute for oat flour, since it has a comparable texture and protein content.  

Because sorghum flour is gluten free, doughs made from sorghum flour need some sort of binder to hold it together. Xanthan gum, a food starch produced from the fermentation of sucrose and glucose, is a common choice. Around one-half teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of sorghum flour is sufficient for cookies and cakes, while for making breads you'd need to add a full teaspoon per cup of flour. Egg whites, unflavored gelatin, cornstarch and guar gum are also popular binders for cooks working with sorghum flour.

With that said, sorghum flour is frequently used as one component of gluten-free baking mixes which already have all the necessary binders mixed in. 

When mixing sorghum flour in with other flours to make an all-purpose blend, it's important to whisk until you no longer see the individual colors of the various flours. Sorghum flour is beige, and millet flour is yellow while potato starch and rice flour are usually white. So when these are properly mixed, you shouldn't be able to see any individual colors but rather one uniform blend of all the various shades. 

Sorghum flour
Pamela_d_mcadams / Getty Images
Sorghum bread
Arundhati Rathe / Getty Images
Sorghum flour
Arundhati Rathe / Getty Images

What Does It Taste Like?

Sorghum flour isn't eaten on its own, and foods prepared from it derive their flavor from the other ingredients, the yeast, sugar, salt, fats and so on, that it's combined with, as well as from the caramelization of starches that takes place when the dough or batter is cooked. If you were to taste the flour by itself, it would taste bland, dry and powdery.

Sorghum Flour Substitute

Since different gluten-free flours have different properties, it's not always easy to simply substitute one for another. Because of their higher protein content, flours like buckwheat flour and quinoa flour, for instance, are heavier, and produce a denser product with less rise. On the other hand, oat flour and brown rice flour are medium-weight flours that would make good substitutes for sorghum flour. 

Sorghum Flour Recipes

Here are a few gluten-free recipes that use sorghum flour. 

Where to Buy Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour can be found a many of the larger supermarket chains, usually in the health food or alternative baking aisles. If you see a product called sweet white sorghum flour, that's what you want (even though the product itself isn't sweetened). Or it might just be called sorghum flour. You can also buy it online.

Storage

Sorghum flour can be stored in a cool, dry place, like a pantry, for 3 to 4 months, as long as the package is kept tightly closed. You can also store it in the fridge, in a vapor-proof bag, if your climate is warm and humid.