Ever feel like blogs (and maybe the whole Internet) are fueled by sponsorships, advertisements, and paid reviews?
[insert image of strategically placed real food product here.]
(Just kidding on that. You won’t see suspicious angles on a can of Coke here at KS like you might in a blockbuster movie.)
I am going to start this post by saying that I get a lot of product review samples. Ridiculous amounts of packing peanuts and bubble wrap are sent to my house, causing no little stress on my green consciousness as I try to figure out how not to throw it all away.
But I try really hard to keep my integrity, my voice, and my darn-tootin’ loud personal opinion, even when I do accept compensation for posts. I also try not to have sponsored reviews (although sometimes if I already love a product, I’ll approach a company for a sponsorship for a topic I already want to write about).
This almond flour review/comparison is of three brands: Honeyville Grain (got a freebie, have bought some of my own, and that link is an affiliate program that pays a percentage commission if you shop there starting here – really common in the blog worrld, but I only use them if I would recommend that product anyway), Just Almonds (got a review sample as part of a box when we worked together over a year ago), and Country Life Natural Foods (a local delivery co-op sort of thing; purchased my own, only).
The only link I’ll make money from is the Honeyville link…and I’m going to ruin the ending right now: I rate CLNF the best because even though it’s the coarsest grind, it all worked out totally acceptably in my baking and costs more than 25% less. Cost is a huge factor that I won’t forget in reviewing products for you all; I know budgets are often tight.
Another great option is to head to Thrive Market – it’s like Costco (membership) and Whole Foods (tons of options!) put together. They offer Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal for $8.45 per pound as of this writing. PLUS you can get 15% off your first order (no coupon needed) and get a free 30-day trial which doesn’t even start until you place your first order. You don’t have anything to lose by browsing their site and then getting fun products straight to your door.
Sorry for the spoiler. If you’re curious to see for yourself how they stacked up, read on anyway.
The Three Brands of Almond Flour
How Much Does it Cost?
Honeyville’s almond flour runs around $40 for 5 pounds both at Honeyville Grain and Amazon (both aff. links), and Country Life’s almond meal is a much coarser grind, you can see it in the photos, but it’s only $28.75 for 5 pounds (and was only about $22 in just the last year). Learn the terminology below…
Just Almonds is only slightly higher at about $30.95 for 5 pounds ($8.19/lb. without bulk discount). I figured if Country Life’s product make good muffins and crackers, it would get my vote hands down, especially because I probably purchased it at the $22 price when I was going this testing! (At Amazon, Honeyville is nearly the best price – many are over $10/pound, even almond meal that is not blanched, except for this one which currently rings in at $37.99 for 5 pounds (but we see how quickly those numbers change; Honeyville was also $29.99 in very recent memory).
Why didn’t I buy more almond flour and test EVERYTHING I could get my hands on? I guess because I’m mostly just a normal person, and all that almond flour filling my freezer was already pushing the limits of being practical. I couldn’t buy something just to let it go to waste, so I used what I had and figured 3 tests would be a really interesting experiment. Feel free to chime in if you’ve tried other brands, please! (For example, I just saw one at Nuts.com that is a decent price for a 5-lb. bag…)
A few more closeups:
Can you see the difference?
Almond Flour Terminology
Here is where comparing gets tricky.
- Blanched: The almond skins (the brown parts) have been removed, which means that the phytates aren’t an issue, and you don’t have to soak the nuts (or flour) for easiest digestibility.
- Almond flour :: Typically quite a fine grind, almost always blanched (skins removed), but best to read descriptions to make sure or look for “blanched” almond flour.
- Almond meal :: Often made with whole almonds, unblanched, so the product will be darker, and also often coarsely ground…but lots of variance here. Sometimes “meal” only means “more coarsely ground,” like Country Life’s “blanched almond meal.”
- Certified gluten free :: You know if this is a key issue for you or not. Certified gluten free is just what it sounds like – there’s not going to be any cross-contamination with wheat/gluten whatsoever, which is something that is pretty common in the grains/legumes business. If you’re a celiac or very sensitive to gluten, you might need more expensive almond flour to get certified GF.
Almond Flour Comparison Test: Muffins
I’ll admit I haven’t done a ton with almond flour, mostly because compared to coconut flour, which I reviewed the other day, almond flour seems expensive because you use so much more per recipe. (I’ve recently nailed a grain-free almond flour tortilla, but I still don’t go through a bag very quickly.)
I made muffins with the same recipe, an apple muffin from GNOWFGLINS eCourse as part of a thank you gift. It’s a pretty basic recipe, 3 c. almond flour, 4 eggs, some sweetener, melted butter or coconut oil, spices, leavening, and 1 cup shredded coconut.
The muffins are delicious, but that last item threw me off – I ran out in the middle of testing! I used up what I had after the first batch (Honeyville), so I used coconut flakes (longer and thicker) in the second two (CLNF and Just Almonds).
The resulting muffins look very similar – is this because the Just Almonds is ground less finely, more like the meal than the Honeyville flour, or because the shredded coconut acts differently? I feel like I can see a texture difference in the Just Almonds, like a ground meal. What did you think in the pictures above? I knew I’d figure out more about their differences in behavior with crackers, so I just went with it and kept making muffins…
To complete the recipe, I added one small apple for each dozen and did use walnuts. I baked them all between 21-22.5 minutes, even though a good scientist would have baked them exactly the same, even if they didn’t act “done.” A good scientist might not be in her own kitchen making snacks her family actually needs. Meh.
Here is the result:
My 8yo said the Honeyville was more “smooth,” which is an apt description that I think you can even see in the pictures. The muffins made with both the CL “meal” and the Just Almonds brand look more “mealy,” but they really tasted great and had a fine mouthfeel all around.
My husband said the Country Life was more solid, and that was a good thing – like it didn’t fall apart in his mouth as readily as Honeyville. On the Just Almonds he couldn’t get past the overbaked-ness, so my mistake for baking a minute and a half more. (Bad scientist! Distracted Mommy!)
The bottom line: all 3 work fine for muffins; and I would choose the least expensive if asked to purchase them myself. (But I do like the Honeyville texture the best.)
Almond Flour Comparison Test: Crackers
I used another GNOWFGLINS recipe for the grain-free crackers, very simple and basic. I’d made them before and knew what to expect. My hypothesis was that the fine grind of Honeyville was vital to the crackers’ success, that they would be crumbly (and annoying!) with almond meal.
I was pleasantly wrong:
Honeyville seemed crispier to my husband, and he decided he liked Just Almonds the best, but only because he thought he had to choose one. Ultimately all the crackers were very similar.
None are falling apart like I expected with almond meal…so it wins again. Honeyville is probably slightly smoother, but it really doesn’t matter because each cracker is slightly different based on bake time, place on baking sheet, thickness exactly, etc.
Here’s a closer look at texture:
The Conclusion and How to Buy and Store Almond Flour
My choice is Country Life Natural Foods, but I know that stinks for those of you who don’t live in the Midwest where they deliver.
If Honeyville looks like the best (or only) way to actually have almond flour get to your home, I’m impressed by the sheer number of 5-star ratings on Amazon. It’s a great product from a great company; I just mourn the prices raising (but it’s happening everywhere).
If you’re shopping for almond flour locally, be sure to get blanched almond flour, since leaving the skins on means you should soak the nuts or flour to reduce the phytic acid. (That’s called crispy nuts, by the way.)
Always store almond flour in the freezer, since cracking any nuts opens it up to rancidity and the flour won’t stay good at room temp very long.
Try to find a trusted source if you don’t have CLNF nearby, and it really is worth testing an “almond meal” as long as it’s blanched, and not too hard to do.
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Honeyville, Amazon, Thrive Market and GNOWFGLINS from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.