Looking for a flaxseed substitute? Explore our guide to find the best alternatives such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, and psyllium husk. Learn how to make substitutions for similar results in a variety of recipes.
The versatile little seed is a great pantry staple. But if it's not on hand how do you choose a flaxseed substitute?
We've explored five of the best alternatives and how and when to use them!
What is flaxseed?
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is the seed of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). It is a tiny, oval-shaped seed that is typically brown or golden in color. The tiny seed has been cultivated for thousands of years and has been used for various purposes.
The mighty gluten-free seed is highly nutritious and is considered a functional food due to its potential health benefits and healthy fats. It can be consumed whole or ground (milled), and it is commonly used as a food ingredient and a dietary supplement.
Flaxseed oil, which is extracted from the seeds, is also available and is often used as a nutritional supplement or as an ingredient in various savory dishes and dessert recipes.
There are primarily two types: brown and golden.
Brown - Brown, also known as common flaxseed, is the most widely available and commonly consumed variety. It has a dark brown color and a slightly nutty flavor.
Golden - The golden flaxseed, also referred to as yellow, is similar to the brown variety in terms of nutritional composition but has a lighter golden or yellowish color. Golden flaxseeds have a milder flavor compared to brown types.
Both the whole and ground forms of flax are used commonly in gluten-free and vegan baking.
Whole - Whole flaxseed can be added to smoothies, sprinkled over cereals, or baked in granola, on yogurt, or on salads. Used as an ingredient in quick breads, or mixed into other dishes to enhance their nutritional value and add a mild nutty flavor.
Ground - Also known as flax seed meal, the ground seeds can be easily incorporated into various foods and beverages without affecting their taste or texture. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed can be mixed with three tablespoons of water to use as an excellent substitute for regular eggs and as a binder in gluten-free baking.
The tiny seed is versatile and can be incorporated into your diet in various ways. Here are some common uses:
- Dietary supplement
- Cooking and baking (for texture, flavor, thickening agent, as a binder, and vegan egg substitute)
- Toppings and seasonings
What is a good substitute for flaxseed?
These flax seed substitutes help achieve similar results whether you are looking to replace it in the binding process, its nutritional content, or texture and crunch.
1. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are one of the best substitutes for flaxseed due to their similar nutritional benefits. Like flaxseeds, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have a high fiber content, and antioxidants. They have a mild, nutty flavor.
Ground chia seeds are an excellent flax meal substitute as a thickening agent, a vegan egg replacement, and added to baked goods. Whole chia seeds work well in smoothies, puddings, oatmeal, and baked goods.
To substitute whole or ground, use a 1:1 ratio. To sub a chia egg for a flax egg, mix 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens.
2. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are another nutritious substitute. They are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals.
Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be used in smoothies, baked goods, or sprinkled on top of salads and yogurt. It is important to note, they don't have the same gelling properties, so they are not recommended as a thickening agent.
To substitute, start by replacing whole flax with hemp seeds in small amounts and gradually adjust to achieve the desired texture and taste. Since they should not be used as a thickening substitute, the amount used can come down to personal preference.
3. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds have a milder taste and a different nutrient profile compared to flax. They have a mild, nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Sunflower seeds are larger and harder, so they may not provide the same texture in certain recipes.
They can be used in a variety of recipes, such as salads, granola, oatmeal, and smoothies, and as a topping for bread, muffins, or yogurt.
If the texture of flaxseeds is essential to the recipe (like in some baking recipes), you can try grinding the sunflower seeds to a finer consistency to mimic the texture of ground flaxseeds. Do note that sunflower seeds will not work as a binder.
To substitute whole or ground, use a 1:1 ratio.
4. Psyllium husk
Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber commonly used as a natural laxative. It can be bought in whole psyllium husks form or as a powder.
It can also be a flax seed alternative when used as a thickening agent and is a great egg substitute in baking. It's important to note that psyllium husk absorbs more liquid than flax seeds, so adjustments may be needed in recipes. It should not be used as a textural garnish or mix-in.
To substitute, start with a 1:1 ratio when substituting psyllium husk. This is true for psyllium husk powder as well. Be advised that you may need to adjust the liquid as the powder can be very absorbent.
5. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds can be a suitable substitute for whole flax when used as a topping, garnish, or mix-in ingredient.
They provide a nutty flavor and a slight crunch, enhancing the texture and taste of various dishes.
However, sesame seeds do not have the same nutritional profile or gelling properties, so they may not be suitable for all applications.
To substitute, start by replacing with sesame seeds in small amounts and gradually adjust the quantities and other ingredients as needed. Since they should not be used as a thickening or binding agent, the amount will ultimately come down to personal preference.
Flaxseed is not a grain. It is the seed of the flax plant.
Yes, flaxseed is keto-friendly due to its low net carb content and high nutritional value, making it suitable for a ketogenic diet.
To make ground flaxseed, use a coffee grinder or blender to grind small batches of whole seed until you achieve a powdery consistency. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve freshness.
In conclusion, when it comes to finding a flaxseed replacement in recipes, there are several options available. While no single substitute perfectly replicates the texture and flavor in place of flaxseed, there are some great options.