Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker

January 17, 2012 in Categories: , by

Print Friendly

Are you new to paleolithic nutrition?  Are you sifting through recipes and trying to find one that you have the ingredients for?  Are you wondering where to buy all these different specialty items?  I’ve tried to make a list of the most commonly used ingredients for paleo baking.  You can find most of these at Whole Foods or other healthfood stores.  My local grocery store carries some of these in their organic food aisle.  But generally, all of these ingredients are cheaper online.

Blanched Almond flour:  This is one of the most important staples of the paleo baker.  Blanched almond flour is very, very finely ground blanched almonds.  It is very difficult to make yourself (processing almonds in a food processor is more likely to make almond butter than almond flour).  Plus, good quality blanched almond flour is difficult to find in stores.  And when you do find it, it’s typically 3-4 times the cost of purchasing it online.  This is definitely a paleo baking staple and one that I highly recommend purchasing online.  My favorite two brands are Honeyville Farms Blanched Almond Flour and JK Gourmet Almond Flour, both of which are available direct from the manufacturer and at  Store your almond flour in the fridge or the freezer for extra shelf life.

Almond Meal:  Almond meal is more coarsely ground than almond flour and is great for breading meat or fish and in some baking where a coarser texture is desired.  Note that in many recipes you can not substitute almond meal for almond flour.  Almond meal can be made from whole raw almonds (like Honeyville Farms Natural Almond Meal Flour) or from blanched almonds (like Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour).  You can also grind your own whole almonds to make almond meal.   Trader Joe’s also has very good almond meal made from whole, raw almonds in their baking aisle.

Coconut flour:  Coconut flour is just as important as almond flour in the paleo baker’s pantry.  It has very different baking properties to blanched almond flour so often paleo baking recipes use a combination of both flour substitutes.  Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour is often available in grocery stores (but typically cheaper online).  I also really like Tropical Traditions Coconut Flour.

Extra virgin Coconut Oil:  Extra virgin coconut oil has a strong coconut aroma and flavor.  This is my preferred oil for baking (since that flavor typically enhances the flavor of whatever your making plus it’s exceedingly healthy) but also for many other cooking applications.  My favorite is Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil  but another great option is Nature’s Way Organic Coconut Oil.

Refined Coconut Oil:  Refined coconut oil has almost no flavor whatsoever.  This is great for cooking applications where the flavor of coconut just doesn’t work.  I suggest Tropical Traditions Refined Coconut Oil  or Spectrum Naturals Organic Refined Coconut Oil.   Trader Joes also carries an inexpensive refined coconut oil.

Palm Shortening:  This is a great substitute for butter in baking and is also my favorite fat for greasing muffin tins and other baking pans.  It really doesn’t have much flavor at all.  In some recipes, it can be used interchangeably with coconut oil (especially muffins and cookies).  I suggest either Tropical Traditions or Spectrum Naturals brands.

Arrowroot Powder/Tapioca Starch:  Arrowroot Starch/Flour and Tapioca Starch/Flour are starches and can be used to thicken sauces and provide a lighter texture to paleo baking.  They behave slightly differently and have different flavors, so both are typically required in your pantry

Ground Flax meal:  Ground flax seed is often included in paleo baking recipes as a binder (it helps holds things together).  You can buy Regular Flaxseed Meal or Golden Flaxseed Meal.  Other than the color that these lend your baking, they are basically interchangeable.

Coconut Milk:  Coconut milk has a strong coconut flavor which works very well in a lot of baking applications as well as curries and soups.  Look for one without guar gum as an ingredient. Most paleo recipes call for Regular Coconut Milk (not light) but Trader Joe’s carries an inexpensive light coconut milk for applications where that will work.

Creamed Coconut:  Creamed coconut is very finely pureed fresh coconut.  It can be mixed with a little water to make something the consistency of crème fraiche or with more water to make coconut milk.  It’s also a useful ingredient for curries and soups.  I like Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate or Let’s Do Organic Creamed Coconut.

Unsweetened Coconut Flakes:  This is one of my favorite snacks right out of the bag.  It’s also a fabulous ingredient for many baking applications, giving both coconut flavor but also texture.  It’s even good in stir-fries and curries!  I recommend Let’s Do Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes or Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Flakes.

Unsweetened Shredded Coconut:  Finely shredded coconut finds its way into many paleo baking recipes and is definitely a pantry staple for the paleo baker.  Again, I like Let’s Do Organic Shredded  Coconut and Tropical Traditions Shredded Coconut.

Nuts:  I buy most nuts whole and raw (and unsalted of course!).  Nuts have a very long shelf life, which means you can take advantage of bulk discounts.  The nuts most commonly used in paleo baking recipes are Whole Almonds, Pecan Halves, Walnuts Halves, and Macadamia Nuts. In addition, Hazelnuts (Filberts), Pistachios, Cashews, and Brazil Nuts are also nice to have around.  I  also suggest having Raw Sliced Almonds (also fairly inexpensive at Costco and Trader Joe’s) in addition to whole almonds in your pantry.

Seeds:  It can be a bit tricky to some seeds in a raw, unsalted form.  The most commonly used seeds are Pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), Sunflower Seeds, Brown Sesame Seeds, Black Sesame Seeds, and Whole Flax Seeds.

Dried Fruit:  Dried fruit is a great way to sweeten baking without adding sugars.  I am especially fond of Medjool Dates but also like to keep Dried Apricots, Raisins, Dried Cranberries, and banana chips (either sweetened or unsweetened) on hand at all time.

Almond Butter:  Natural Almond Butter is not only the peanut butter substitute for the paleo baker, but finds its way into many baking recipes as a butter substitute as well.  Stir the oil into it when you first open the jar, then store in the fridge.  Costco and Trader Joe’s also carry inexpensive almond butter.   I also encourage you to experiment with other nut butters.

Chocolate:  Chocolate is one of those ingredients where label reading is necessary.  Often even semi-sweet chocolate will contain some milk ingredients and some cheaper brands can even contain gluten ingredients.  I recommend Baker’s chocolate, both Unsweetened and Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Squares, although it does contain some soy lecitin (most people tolerate this reasonably well).  I really like Enjoy Life brand Semi Sweet Chocolate Mega Chuncks and Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, which are dairy, gluten and even soy free!  It’s also good to have a Raw or Natural (non-alkalized) Cocoa Powder in the pantry.   

Honey and Sugar:  There are many recipes out there that use sugar substitutes, but I prefer to use real sugar in my recipes to avoid fructose overload or the hormonal effects of non-glucose sweeteners.   Raw honey is best found at your local farmer’s market, but can also be purchased online.  For a nice, unprocessed sugar, try Tropical Traditions Organic Whole Cane Sugar. For an amazing, unprocessed dark brown sugar, try  Dark Muscovado Sugar.

Leavening and Spices:   These are maybe the easiest ingredients to find in your local grocery store.  I do not use any baking powder in my recipes (it contains corn starch).   Instead I use Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar.  Even if you are avoiding Salt, it is often required for leavening ingredients to work in baking.  My most commonly used spices for baking are:  Allspice, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, Ground Ginger, Nutmeg, Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Bean, Lemon Juice, and Cayenne

Don’t be intimidated by this long list.  You don’t need to buy everything all at once.  And you might want to buy a smaller quantity (even it’s more expensive) at your local grocery or healthfood store to try some recipes out before you commit to larger quantities.  I’ve tried to find the best prices for the quality (and lowest shipping costs) for all my direct links above, but it’s always good to shop around!


i just had to look at my baking powder ingredients! i believed you but i had to see for myself. :/ im not a huge baker but it bugs me that i thought it was alright. you find little bumps in the road. geeezz! just when you think you know, you learn something new. thanks for your input of pantry items. 🙂

This was a very helpful list! The only thing I was a bit confused on was the Almond meal vs. Almond Flour. The Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour is listed as both, am I missing something?

The difference between meal and flour is how finely ground it is, but many of the companies label as meal/flour. Bob’s Red Mill is much courser than Honeyville or JK Gourmet, so I use it as a meal (for breading meat, mostly) instead of a flour (it gives a courser texture to baking and doesn’t absorb liquid as well). I hope this helps!

It does thank you! Now since this post I’ve transitioned my entire pantry to your above suggestions for what we should have. The issue I’m finding is finding larger quanities of Almond Flour without paying so much money any suggestions? Thank you for your feedback and help too!

I buy the 25 pound box of almond flour from Honeyville(yep, big up front expense, cheapest per pound), usually waiting until there is a good coupon (10% is pretty common), and then separate it out into 8-10 big ziplock bags and put all but one of them in the freezer. One box lasts me 9-10 months. They also have 5 pound bags, which might be easier (especially if you can get a coupon). I noticed that amazon has free shipping on their flour right now. I hope this helps!

Sarah, have you ever baked with Sunflower Flour? I cannot eat Almonds and they seem to be the big thing lately – all of the non-grain recipes I am finding have Almond Flour or Meal. My local Health food store has a healthy supply of Sunflower flour but I don’t know how dense it is or what I can substitute it for.

I have just started playing with ground pepitas as a flour substitute (just grinding myself in the food processor). So far, I’m using it as I would almond flour. I’ve also ordered some sweet potato flour that I intend to play with. I haven’t used sunflower flour, but I would start with subbing 1:1 with almond flour (which I usually use slightly less than wheat flour if I’m starting from a “traditional” recipe). Be warned that sunflower seeds can turn dark green when baked with baking soda! It’s harmless, though. 🙂 I hope this helps!

Hello! This may be on your site, but I can’t find it – are Maple Syrup and Honey allowed for AIP? Thanks! What a great resource! 🙂

Thank you! My husband just discovered Paleo, and I just discovered I have thyroid issues along with a huge family history of all kinds of autoimmune problems. I’ve been feeling batty and overwhelmed for the last few days trying to get it all straight!!

[…] 1.    Mix the ingredients in a bowl (still mix the ground flax seed with the wet ingredients and let sit for 2 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients).  It would be helpful if your ingredients were room temperature or slightly warmer. 2.    Let rise in a warm corner of your kitchen for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  3.    Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.  Spread out the top evenly. 4.    Let rise another 45 minutes (toward the end of that time, preheat your oven to 375F). 5.    Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Do you need help finding any ingredients?  Check out  Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker. […]

[…] 1.    Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease a 9”x13” baking pan with coconut oil. 2.    Mix ground flax seed with water and let sit for 3-4 minutes. 3.    Pulse pepitas in a food processor a couple of times to break up to the size of sunflower seeds. 4.    Add coconut oil, almond butter, honey and vanilla to flax goop and mix well. 5.    Add almond flour and baking soda and stir to combine. 6.    Add slivered almonds, shredded coconut, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chocolate chips or dried fruit.  Stir to combine. 7.    Spoon batter into prepared baking pan.  Spread out and flatten well with your hand or the back of a spatula. 8.    Bake for 22-23 minutes, until golden brown.  They will puff up slightly while baking, so immediately after removing from the oven, flatten the bars with the back of a spatula (or something else heat resistant and flat). 9.    Let cool completely in pan before cutting into bars (I actually like to refrigerate before cutting).  Cut into bars (I usually get 18-20) and wrap individual bars in plastic wrap for easy travel (optional).  I prefer to store these in the refrigerator. Do you need help finding any ingredients?  Check out  Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker. […]

This might be a tall order to ask aobut but how do you even go about changing a “normal recipe into paleo? I have found so many favorite yummy recipes but feel overwhlemed at the thought of converting….if you can’t tell im a newbie. lol

hello and thank you for all your work posted here!! i wanted to make the chocolate cookies but I can´t really understand what the cream of tartar stands for.. i live in portugal and i’ve never seen that here… is it possible to make it myself? if not, is there any replacement for that ingrediente? thank you so much

Okay, so I just looked up portugese translations of cream of tartar and came up with three. Do any of these sound familiar? nata de tártaro, cremor de tártaro or bitartaro de potássio

thank you so much for your fast answer.. I’ve also looked for translations, and a few days later I saw a recipe on TV that asked for the same ingredient, and they’ve also translated as creme de tártaro (which was the translation I got), but the problem is I can’t find it in the supermarket

so, i just looked in the internet with the names you gave me and with that i found a site with the information of “where to buy”… thank you so much for your help

Thanks for the list. Are you familiar with the discussion (argument) concerning types of cinnamon? I just became aware that apparently all cinnamons are not alike. One–Cassia–apparently has undesirable qualities (contains coumarin), but the other, Ceylon, does not. About 6 months ago I discovered Saigon Cinnamon, which I love–it has the most wonderful, sweet flavor, but apparently it is of the Cassia family. I was checking out your organic cinnamon and there is come question about whether it’s Ceylon or Cassia. Can you shed some light on this? Does it truly matter? (Because I really like my Saigon Cinnamon!). Thanks!

I have both in my house. The ground I use is Cassia (the coumarin is really only an issue if a) you have a blood clotting disorder, or b) if you’re consuming it by the spoonful) and I have sticks of Ceylon. They do taste a little different (I think the Ceylon is milder), but I don’t notice any difference in my health with either.

I have read that Bob’s Red Mills clean their manufacturing lines with cornmeal before processing GF flours, which is a big concern for corn allergies. Have you heard about this before?

I do not believe Honeyville Almond flour is presoaked. I believe the flax products that Sarah mentions in this post are also not presoaked. —- Tamar, Sarah’s assistant

Thanks for the list of staples. I have been enjoying making my own almond and coconut milks, as well as butters and flours. If you use the pulp from making the milk, and dehydrate it very good, you can make fine flours with a coffee grinder or other such machine. Its a great money saver.

Please help, did you show a recipe for a salad made of grated beets, cabbage, kale with a sunflower dressing a few days ago. Maybe a guest post. I use a kindle so sometimes have a hard time going back to find things. Bought the ingredients now what to do. Believe it was a detox salad. Thank you!!

As someone with an allergy to tree nuts, are there other flours that I could use that would also be considered paleo? Thanks!

Dear Paleo Mom:

I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I have not made the full plunge to go completely paleo with my diet but have gone gluten free for about 9 months and have drastically reduced my sugar intake. I just got the results back from an Alletess IgG food sensitivity test.
I have two questions:
1) Would you recommend going paleo or autoimmune paleo for someone such as myself?

2) One of the foods on the list that came back as a Class 3 were almonds. Does this mean I shouldn’t even use almond flour?

Interestingly I have been eating a lot of almonds and almond butter since going gluten free.

Your input would very much be appreciated.

Thank you

Yes, a positive test result indicates that food should be avoided in all forms. I do recommend the autoimmune protocol for all autoimmune patients, although if you need to take the transition slowly, going paleo first is fine. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Is almond flour or almond milk okay for the AIP diet? I thought we were to avoid nuts?… Also wondering where black beans fall into the spectrum of dos and don’ts… I love to bake black bean brownies, although I usually integrate chia seeds and coconut milk in them, I know now that chia seeds are not okay. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

I think this list is more “regular” paleo than it is AIP. To my understanding, you cannot have any almond (nut) products and black beans (legume) are out when following AIP. I’ve been happy using coconut milk and actually quite prefer it to almond milk. Still experimenting with coconut/tapioca flours…

I love the paleo approach books and am trying to stick to the AIP for MS. but I am having difficulty planning meals for myself, husband, and five children. One of which has nut allergies. what is the best substitute for almond flour in paleo baking?

Hi Paleo Mom!

Most baking call for egg. However, I am unable to tolerate egg. I found recipe that use gelatin as egg sub. It is a healthy option?

Are there substitutes for all the coconut items? I just downloaded the bundle and my daughter and I are going paleo on the 1st; but I am a hyper-sensitive nd absolutely cannot stand the flavor of coconut in any way – here is how bad it is – years ago when I could still eat normal food (I have been GF due to Celiac for ten years now) Keebler made wonderful “Soft Batch” chocolate chip cookies. I loved them. Then one day they tasted different – horribly of coconut. I looked at the ingredients of the last package vs. the new, the only difference was “Palm Kernel Oil” – and that was enough to put me off those cookies forever. Some types of GF foods make my tongue itch; others just don’t taste good at all to me. I also can’t stand any type of allium – you know, onions, garlic, scallions, etc. or pepper. Not even plain black table pepper.

Hello! Thanks for the great info! I absolutely worship your blog, podcast and books – they are my go-to reference and learning materials for sure and I just love them all!! Not sure if you’re still answering questions on this thread but thought it was worth a try! 🙂 I’m in need of some good quality arrowroot flour and tapioca starch, and I’m trying to be as diligent as possible with avoiding inflammatory or non-tolerated foods on AIP, especially nuts and soy, as I really don’t react well to them at all. The only arrowroot flour and tapioca starch I can find at any health food or grocery stores, or even online, however, is the Bob’s Red Mill brand. I notice you link to this brand as well. My only concern about this brand is that it is processed in a facility that also processes nuts and soy – so I worry about cross-contamination. I have quite the leaky gut issue going on right now so I really don’t want to expose myself to anything like that at all if I can avoid it. Wondering what your thoughts are – is it worth the worry? Could possible trace amounts impact my healing or trigger a reaction? Do you know of any other brands that would be processed in nut- and/or soy-free facilities? Thank you so much in advance for your help!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *