Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

An Almond Flour vs. Almond Meal Comparison {& Review of Various Brands}

October 11th, 2013 · 14 Comments · What to Buy

almond flour vs almond meal - what's the best

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.)

Anyway.

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.

Sorry for the spoiler. If you’re curious to see for yourself how they stacked up, read on anyway. Winking smile

The Three Brands of Almond Flour

almond flour vs almond meal (6) (475x356)

almond flour vs almond meal (3) (475x356)

almond flour vs almond meal (4) (475x356)

almond flour vs almond meal (5) (475x356)

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! Sad smile (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:

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almond flour vs almond meal (19) (475x356)

almond flour vs almond meal (20) (475x356)

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

almond flour muffins experiments (6) (475x356)

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:

almond flour muffins (2) (475x356)

almond flour muffins (8) (475x356)

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. Sad smile (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:

almond flour crackers comparison (4) (475x356)

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:

almond flour crackers comparison (5) (475x356)

almond flour crackers comparison (6) (475x356)

almond flour crackers comparison (7) (475x356)

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.

Please share your favorite brand(s) in the comments so this is an even more helpful post.

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Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Honeyville, Amazon, and GNOWFGLINS from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Rachel

    I use Trader Joe’s which is just $3.99/lb. The main reason I use it is that it’s so stinkin’ cheap. I’ve never ever seen anything cheaper. It’s almond meal so it’s coarser, and is not blanched, but it’s worked spectacularly in everything I’ve tried: pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, quick breads, you name it. Sometimes I soak it if it’s something I eat a lot of, but I don’t obsess over it.

    Christy S. Lube Reply:

    Me, too! :D

    Renee P. Reply:

    Rachel, when you do soak it, how do you do it? And then how do you use it once it’s soaked? I love the TJ’s almond meal – it’s what I use for pancakes every Sunday morning. I’m not sure how it would work to soak it and use it.
    I tried Bob’s Red Mill blanched almond meal/flour and I found it so “grainy”, I didn’t really like the texture. I was wondering if there were other brands that were more finely ground and felt more like flour. Thanks for this experiment, Katie!

  • rebekah

    This is great!I’ve always wondered what the difference would be between almond flour and meal, but never wanted to pay the price for flour. I have seen recipes online that day they will only turn out using this or that brand flour and now I know I can try them all without worrying about it. :-) I love CLNF!

  • Christy S. Lube

    If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, their almond meal is $3.99 for a 1-lb bag :)

  • deb

    love nuts.com almond flour….and coconut flour….
    and their raw almonds! good price points, fresh
    product, and super fast delivery.

    we always receive a yummy freebie sample with
    the orders, too!

  • Laura

    I make my own almond flour! It’s super easy and since I have a daughter with Celiac Disease I have to be very careful about cross contamination. When I make it myself I know exactly what’s in it! I just dump 1 lb of blanched, slivered almonds into my food processor and pulse, then stir and repeat until I like the consistency. 1 lb of slivered almonds makes at least 6 cups of almond flour.

  • Karina

    i would like to know if anyone who is very sensitive to rancidity has had success using ground almond products. i am scared of them because i have gotten three-day headaches from rancid nuts. i can eat whole ones that i buy refrigerated and soak or roast myself, but others are dangerous. anyone out there with info?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Karina,
    That’s a really interesting question…I don’t have a clue, but I would start by calling the companies and asking how often they grind and how to tell when a batch was ground, then you’d know at least how long the flour has been at room temperature (or ask if they refrigerate at all) and then you’d have to catch the store right after delivery. Good luck! :) Katie

  • Kristel from Healthy Frugalista

    I was thrilled to see that you used CLNF almond meal in your test as I’ve been using it for years. I have always wondered how almond flour would compare, but I’ve never been willing to pay the price for the flour to see for myself. Thanks so much for doing the comparison.

  • Tammy

    Katie,
    Thanks so much for the review. I purchased some almond flour with my amazon order simply because my Country Life order doesn’t go in until November and I didn’t want to wait that long. But it’s good to know when I do order next month, it will be good choice. Thanks again. :)

  • Leah

    My Costco just started carrying Honeyville… 3 lbs for $17.99. I like it better than the almond meal I get at Natural Grocers for around $4.50/lb…I may try mixing the 2 to lower the cost of the Honeyville, while still getting a smoother texture than the meal alone.

    Melissa Reply:

    Leah, Can I ask what area of the country you live and are you still getting it at Costco?
    I don’t ever recall seeing it at our stores here in AZ. Although….we do have Honeyville Farms store here in Chandler, so that’s pretty convenient too.

  • Allie Zirkle

    I use Trader Joes almond meal. It’s $3.99 per one pound bag. I always sift it as I add it to my mixing bowl I don’t own a sifter, just a simple fine mesh strainer does the trick! What a fun comparison, Katie!

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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