Bran is an excellent ingredient for making a nutritious and delicious meal. Wheat bran is more than just a part of your breakfast cereal; but is a versatile ingredient in numerous sweet or savory dishes. Bran is healthy and rich in fiber.
So, what can you use as a substitute for bran if you run out of bran? There are other substitutes for bran you can use, such as wheat germ, rice bran, flax seeds, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, oat bran, rye flour, almond meal, cream of wheat, chicken flour, quinoa flour.
What Is Bran
Bran, or Miller’s bran, is the complex layers of cereal grain surrounding the endosperm. It is made up of aleurone and pericarp together; it is an essential component of whole grains and is frequently created as a byproduct of milling in refined grains.
It is in cereal grains like rice, maize, wheat, oats, barley, rye, and millet. Bran is not the same as trash, a coarser scaly material surrounding the grain but not forming part of the grain itself, which is indigestible by humans.
However, bran is rich in dietary fiber and essential fatty acids and contains significant amounts of starch, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It also contains phytic acid, an antinutrient that inhibits nutrient absorption.
Also, bran is often used to enrich bread (notably muffins) and breakfast cereals, especially for those wishing to increase their dietary fiber intake. Bran may also be used for pickling.
Best Substitute for Bran
1. Rice Bran
The outer coating of a rice grain is called rice bran, which you can use as a substitute for bran. It is also a byproduct of the rice milling process. In Japan, rice bran is known as Nuka, and it is found to have many uses. Rice bran is widely available in supermarkets and health food stores.
You can add rice bran to raw dishes like cereals and salads for a slightly earthy and nutty flavor. It’s naturally gluten-free, the taste is very mild, and it’s versatile. It is used to make cooking oil and works well in baked goods like biscuits, muffins, and rice bran pilaf.
2. Wheat Germ
Wheat germ is a byproduct of milling wheat to make flour. Wheat germ has a gritty texture and a faint nuttiness. The taste of wheat germ varies depending on how it is prepared. When eaten raw, it has a slightly nutty flavor.
However, its flavor becomes more like cooked cereal grains such as oatmeal or rice once cooked. It has the closest flavor to wheat bran, popularly used in hot or cold cereals for added texture. You can also use wheat germ topping for pies, yogurts, and ice cream or blend it with your smoothie.
Wheat germ is in baked goods or when cooking savory recipes. From coating meatballs to breaded chicken and casseroles to meatloaf, wheat germ adds more richness with a flavor resembling wheat bran, making it a good substitute for bran (wheat bran).
3. Oat Bran
Oat bran is among the best gluten-free substitute for bran you can use. It has a slightly nutty, sweet taste comparable to whole grains, so it can be used without sweeteners if you want to sprinkle it on top of your cereals or mix it into your smoothies.
Oat bran can add a unique hearty texture and pleasing aroma to baked goods like bread, muffins, and cookies. However, if you want to use oat bran for baking bread, mix it with flour, or your bread won’t rise. Additionally, you may use it to create delectable pancakes and waffles.
Also, oat bran has a delicate flavor; thus, it will work with different sweet and savory foods. It pairs well with cottage cheese and yogurt and can be served with fruits.
4. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are the answer if you want a substitute for bran with a different texture to your dishes. Flax seeds are quite appetizing whether you consume them alone or add them to a recipe because of their mildly earthy, nutty, and sweet flavor.
They contain omega-3 fats, good protein, fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals. Flax seed is viral in ancient times and is a highly versatile ingredient. You can find flax seeds in your local supermarket and health shops.
You can add flax seeds to omelets, smoothies, salads, and spreads or sprinkle them on top of yogurt, cereals, or salads for a crunchy texture and sweet taste. Remember not to eat raw or unripe flax seeds, and don’t overeat them.
5. Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour has a brown color and a nuttier flavor than white flour, making it a suitable substitute for bran when baking or cooking. It is also rich in protein, fiber, and other nutrients.
You can use whole wheat flour to produce bread, pancakes, muffins, rolls, savory scones, pizza crust, and bread.
Oatmeal is a versatile ingredient in any recipe that calls for bran. It comprises de-husked, steamed, and flattened oats for quick cooking.
It has a light flavor of nuts and a coarse texture, making it an excellent substitute for bran in baked goods by bringing out the crunchiness in baked goods such as bread, muffins, cookies, and biscuits. You can also mix them with smoothies for a dense and rich texture.
However, oatmeal can also be enjoyed as a porridge or breakfast cereal. Serve your oatmeal with fresh or dried fruits and nuts, add it to a baked casserole or stew, or add it to your eggs and prepare a rich dip of oatmeal and tamari.
As the name implies, cornmeal is from ground corn. You can get it in coarse or fine texture. If you want to add some crunchiness to your recipes, you can substitute coarse cornmeal for bran or use the fine one if you want richness and texture.
Cornmeal is sweet with a buttery texture; you can use it to make cornbread, cookies, or muffins. It can also be a thickener for savory dishes, soups, chilies, stews, casseroles, or baked dishes.
8. Rye Flour
Rye flour has low gluten compared to other bran substitutes. It is slightly nutty with a sourness and malt; it adds a unique flavor to any recipe. Using rye flour as a substitute for bran in baking will change the look and taste of your bread and other baked goods.
Also, rye flour will add a unique taste and aroma to your rye bread, sourdough bread, gingerbread, fruitcakes, pancakes, and scones. It is also used in making pasta, soups, and sauces.
9. Almond Meal
Almond meal is a bran substitute that contains ground sweet almonds, which can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It also has a different flavor, suitable for people looking for taste and flavor alternatives.
However, Almond meal is made from blanched or unbalanced almonds, which gives it a rich consistency. It can be included in numerous dishes to provide a more depth texture. Almond meals can be used in cookies, salads, cereals, pancakes, macarons, or yogurt to elevate your food!
However, almond meals can also be used in savory dishes such as tasty breading, adding the required crunch with a sweet and nutty flavor. You can also make bread, savory scones, cheese muffins, or mix it with your meatloaf.
10. Cream of Wheat
This wheat-based porridge is made from semolina, which you must with milk or water, creating something similar to oatmeal or grits. We only recommend using this for yogurts and smoothies or consuming it alone.
Alternatively, you can use dry cereals as a substitute for wheat bran. You most likely have cereals already, so why not try it as a topping for baked goods, yogurt, or smoothies?
It’s not the best to incorporate in batters or baked goods, as it can ruin the dish’s flavor, consistency, and texture. Dry cereal contains other ingredients like flour, sugar, and other additives, so you won’t like its results in cooking.
11. Quinoa Flour
Quinoa flour is relatively easy to find with a low fiber content, and it can be incorporated into most recipes like pancakes.
If you want a gluten-free substitute for bran which you will use for pancakes that don’t crumble and still taste delicious, then quinoa flour is the answer! The taste is quite earthy and nutty.
12. Chickpea Flour
The last on our list is chickpea flour. However, this substitute is not as fibrous as our other options. It is fiber and protein, which is great for vegans/vegetarians. Also, it has a robust, nutty flavor, so maybe it is best to avoid it if that’s not your thing.
How to Choose A Bran Substitute
Just because you don’t like one bran doesn’t mean you can’t execute and enjoy the recipe of your choice because there are many alternatives you can try. Each choice has a distinctive flavor and can be used with a certain dish.
Firstly, good taste: wheat germ provides a similar taste and aroma to wheat bran, which can be used in several sweet and savory dishes. By sprinkling it on your ice cream or yogurt, you may even consume it uncooked.
Secondly, it is suitable for desserts: You can use oat bran or rice bran for wheat bran if you prefer a different option that gives a little sweet flavor. They work for sweet and savory recipes and taste exceptional if you make pancakes or muffins.
Thirdly, unique texture: oatmeal adds richness to your baked dishes but has a bland flavor. Another well-liked option is cornmeal, which gives both savory and sweet recipes a buttery texture and a mildly sweet flavor that complements a variety of foods.
Lastly, best flavor alternative: if you want to enjoy a more robust nutty flavor in your recipes, you can use whole wheat flour, almond butter, or flax seeds to replace wheat bran. Use rye flour to bake muffins and bread for a nutty, malty, and slightly tangy flavor.
Whether you need a healthy alternative for bran or want to try another option for various reasons, whatever the case may be, you can try any of the substitutes listed above and know the one you prefer.