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What Is the Best Wheat Germ Substitute?


Wheat germ is a common ingredient in baking and is vegan. For this reason, it is a go-to ingredient for many cooks. Yet, wheat germ is not easy to find and is not gluten-free; this might lead you to look for a wheat germ substitute.

Whatever your reason is, we have plenty of substitutes on our list below. You’ll surely find something that will work well on your recipe. Read on.

wooden bowl filled with wheat germ seeds

An Overview of Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is an integral part of the wheat kernel. It houses its reproductive system and is responsible for new wheat sprouts. The germ and bran are removed in the process of making refined wheat flour. To explain it simply, wheat germ is the by-product of refining wheat.

It is known for its crunch, so it is commonly used as a topping for cereals. Some people also enjoy them as an addition to their yogurt and smoothies. Wheat germ is also a popular ingredient in pancakes and muffins. They are also used as a binder in some meatball recipes. 

You can add wheat germ to savory recipes like casseroles, soups, and porridge. They can also be used to coat fried foods like chicken and fish. And, of course, wheat germ is also used in baking bread.

Wheat Germ Nutrition Facts

Wheat germ is full of vitamins and nutrients. It is even considered the healthiest part of the plant. For starters, it has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This makes it a good addition to your diet.

Wheat germ is a good source of fiber and Vitamin E. It also has magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. The germ packs B vitamins and protein too. On top of these, it offers folic acid and thiamin.

Beware, though, that wheat germ also has oxalic acid. That said, excess consumption is not recommended.

Why Replace Wheat Germ

There are several reasons why you’ll need a wheat germ substitute. First, wheat germ is not gluten-free. People with celiac disease should use an alternative.

Wheat is also a common allergen, so those with allergies should not have traces of it in their diet.

Similarly, people maintaining a low-carb diet are better off with a wheat germ swap. This is because wheat germ has lots of carbohydrates.

Lastly, wheat germ is not always available in local grocery stores. It is not accessible; you’ll have to go to large retailers to find it or order it online. You’ll have better luck finding it in health food stores.

Best Substitutes for Wheat Germ

Here are the top 9 wheat germ substitutes:

1. Oat Bran.

Oat bran is the outer part of the oat groat. It is removed from the oat grain to make the oats you see in stores. Like wheat germ, oat bran is also rich in vitamins and nutrients.

You’ll have an equally nutritious ingredient when using this swap.

Oat bran can be used in baking and making granola recipes. It also has a bit of a crunch, so you will not miss the texture of wheat germ that much. Lastly, oat bran is naturally gluten-free. So, if you are sensitive to gluten, this is the best wheat germ substitute.

2. Rice Bran.

Another gluten-free substitute for wheat germ is rice bran. This bran is from the rice plant’s outer grain, like oat bran. It is also removed from the rice grain during the milling process.

Rice bran works as an alternative to wheat germ because it has a similar texture. This makes it perfect for cookies and bread recipes.

The downside of using a rice plant’s outer grain is that it doesn’t offer the same dark color as wheat germ. That said, you’ll end up with a lighter dish. You can fix this easily by adding a bit of honey, molasses, or a similar dark sweetener.

3. Wheat Bran.

Wheat bran is yet another alternative to wheat germ you can use. Along with wheat germ, wheat bran is removed when wheat is processed. They come from the same plant, so you are sure that the flavor will not be any different.

Wheat bran can replace wheat germ in pancakes, smoothies, and casseroles. But wheat bran is less flavorful than wheat germ. You might have to adjust other ingredients in your recipe to compensate for the loss of flavor.

Since this is a wheat product, those allergic to wheat are better off with other ingredients on this list. Plus, like wheat germ, it has gluten. This makes it a no-no for people with gluten intolerance.

4. Ground Flaxseeds (or Flax Meal).

Flax seeds are your best bet if you want a healthier alternative to wheat germ. They contain less fat than wheat germ and pack many more nutrients. Yet, in its raw form, its texture is quite different. For this reason, grinding them to make a flax meal is better to achieve a similar consistency. Flax seeds are also gluten-free and keto-friendly. So, they can be used even by people with special diets.

You can use ground flax seeds to replace wheat germ when baking non-gluten bread. It can be used in any other baking recipe too. Though, it is not as sweet as wheat germ. You may need to adjust the sweeteners in your recipe when using a flax meal.

5. Ground Sesame or Sunflower Seeds.

Grinding seeds like sesame and sunflower yield a similar texture to wheat germ. Aside from that, these seeds also are full of nutrients. These characteristics make them excellent alternatives to wheat germ. This is especially true when used as a topping for yogurt and pancakes.

You must remember that sunflower seeds contain more fat than wheat germ. Its oil content can affect the texture of your baked goods.

To use these seeds, grind them until they reach a consistency like wheat germ. Do not over-grind, as you might end up with a paste.

6. Wheat Flour.

Wheat flour is also a great wheat germ substitute. After all, it is made from wheat, too. That said, there will be no change in flavor, so your recipes will taste the same.

The significant difference comes in the texture. Because of this, you need to sift wheat flour at least twice before using it. This adds more time to your cooking process. After filtering, you can use wheat flour to coat fried foods in place of wheat germ. It can also be added to muffin recipes and other baked goods.

7. Whole Wheat Flour and Honey.

Whole wheat flour is a variety of flour that uses whole grains of wheat. It has the germ itself, so the nutrients you get from the germ will also be there.

Yet, it is not as sweet as wheat germ. This is where honey comes into play. It lends a darker color to the flour and gives more sweetness. This way, the combination mimics the flavor of wheat germ better.

They can replace wheat germ in cake-like recipes. You can use them in baked goods that usually combine all-purpose flour and wheat germ. Sifting is still necessary, though. So expect your recipe to take longer.

8. Bread Crumbs.

Wheat germ is used to coat fried foods for a crunchier texture. When used this way, you can use bread crumbs in their place. Bread crumbs can replace wheat germ in meatball recipes.

Yet, you should avoid using bread crumbs in baking recipes. It may affect the consistency of your baked goods and cause them to fail. When it comes to nutrition, bread crumbs may come up lacking. But they are accessible and easy to make at home. So when time is of the essence, it can be your best option.

9. Almond Meal.

Almond meal is made of almonds with a coarser grind than almond flour. Like wheat germ, almond flour is also nutritious, and you won’t be short on benefits with this swap. Plus, it is also gluten-free. Use it in baking recipes, like muffins and cookies.

Because of the texture, you are going to need less of it in recipes. Some people also have almond allergies, so you should use this cautiously.

What Is the Best Substitute for Wheat Germ in Baking?

Most baking recipes include wheat germ as an ingredient. If you want to replace it, the best substitute for wheat germ in baking is a flax meal. Its texture mimics the wheat germ closely, so using it won’t affect your baked good’s texture.

Flax meal is also gluten-free. So, people with dietary restrictions can use this wheat germ substitute in baking.

Plus, flax meal is not as sweet as wheat germ, so it gives you enough room to alter your recipe’s sweeteners. This is really beneficial if you are watching your sugar intake.

Wheat Germ in Recipes

Wheat germ is a versatile ingredient, so it is not surprising that many recipes call for it.

Here are some uses of wheat germ in recipes:

Use it as an Ingredient

  • Bread loaves
  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Pancakes
  • Casseroles
  • Stews
  • Porridge
  • Granola bars
  • Dog treats
  • Meatballs
  • Soups
  • Meat-free burger patties
  • Protein shakes

Try it as Fried Food Coating

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Meat Cutlets

Add it as Topping

  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies
  • Pancakes
  • Overnight Oats

Conclusion

If your recipe calls for wheat germ and you’re allergic to wheat, there’s no need to worry. Our list above will give you plenty of choices regarding what you can substitute for wheat germ. 

Top gluten-free substitutes for wheat germ include almond meals and flax meals. Bread crumbs can also work in a pinch for certain recipes. Our list above will surely help whenever you need a wheat germ substitute!

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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