Flour Hub

Pulse Flours 101

Flour Hub

Canadian Pulse Flours

Versatile, sustainable and packed with nutrients, incorporating Canadian pulse flours into everyday or specialty foods brings more to every bite.

Canadian pulse flours offer loads of benefits to everyday foods. Whether it’s adding nutritional value, lowering the carbon footprint or perfecting the texture of a product, these versatile ingredients can help your products reach new limits.

Canada’s pulse sector has long been at the forefront of plant-based innovation with an established value chain thanks to decades of investment into research, crop production and ingredient processing. The growth opportunity of pulse flours is on the rise, with many companies taking advantage of the versatility of these mighty plants. Explore this hub to learn more about how you can get pulse flours working for you.

What is a pulse?

Pulses are the dry, edible seeds from the legume family including beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils. They are very high in protein and fibre, and low in fat. Pulses are nitrogen-fixing crops that improve the environmental sustainability of cropping systems.

Other foods in the legume family like fresh beans and peas are not considered pulses – the term “pulse” only refers to the dried seed. Soybeans and peanuts are also not considered pulses because they have a much higher fat content.

Pulses come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be consumed in many forms including whole or split, as flours or separated into fractions such as protein, fibre and starch.

Pulse Flour Overview

Types of Pulse Flours

Pulses (peas, lentils chickpeas and beans) can be ground as a whole seed or milled following a process known as dehulling to remove the outer layer (or hull) of the seed. Whole pulse flour will have different properties than its dehulled counterpart, including a high concentration of dietary fibre and higher water binding abilities. Modified pulse flours, known as specialty milled flours, are also available on the market, where treatments are applied pre- or post-milling to specifically alter the nutritional or functional properties of the ingredient, often resulting in the removal of undesirable flavour components to produce a de-flavoured flour. Common flour modifications include roasting, hydrothermal treatments, germination, fermentation, micronization, and more. Another type of flour, known as starch-rich pulse flour, may be derived from pulses using air-classification technology. As the name implies, these flours will have a higher starch and lower protein concentration than whole or dehulled pulse flours which may impart unique functionality.

Pulse Flour Quality

The quality and functionality of pulse flours are impacted by a variety of factors. When sourcing an ingredient, it's important to consider each.

  • Pulse Type and Variety
    Each pulse type is unique with multiple registered varieties that can be grown for a single pulse market class. The individual variety has been found to influence flour composition, flavour profile and performance in foods.
  • Environmental and Agronomic Conditions
    Pulse varieties interact with factors such as the environmental conditions and agronomic practices applied during the growing season and can affect the composition and quality of a flour. The storage conditions of the whole seed prior after harvest may also play an important role in pulse quality through its effects on shelf-life, seed hardness and composition.
  • Processing Conditions
    Milling technology will shatter the pulse seed through the differential application of impact, friction, abrasion, compression and shear forces. For example, if you were to mill the same initial batch of red lentils through different mills, the resulting flour would perform differently regardless of being derived from the same seed. Within any given milling technology, the applied settings will also affect quality through their influence on parameters like the particle size distribution and level of starch damage in the resulting flour. Any modifications applied to produce a specialty milled pulse flour will also result in quality changes.
  • Analytical Methods
    For quality factors such as flour composition and functional attributes, the analytical method that was used to determine an individual attribute can heavily influence the final value based on differences in sampling procedure, accuracy and repeatability. When making sourcing decisions for pulse flours, especially when a key functionality is required, it is important to use a single procedure to test ingredients within the same lab
  • Key Functionality Required
    Different quality characteristics have varying degrees of importance depending on the end-use of the pulse flour. For example, particle size requirements for pulse flours are different for the bakery and meat industries. It is important to talk with your supplier to clearly relay the needs of your organization.

Producing Pulse Flours




Pulse Flour Applications


The addition of pulse flours to conventional and gluten-free baked goods presents an opportunity to boost the nutritional density including higher protein content, protein quality, fibre and vitamins and minerals. Pulse flours are generally blended with other flours at rates of 5-50%, depending on the product at hand. High-quality products are attainable through optimization of the formulation (e.g reduced water requirements, dough conditioners, etc.) and processing conditions (e.g shortening fermentation time, baking at lower temperatures for longer, etc.). Pulse flours are successfully incorporated into a range of products from breads, pitas, cupcakes, tortillas, cookies and more.

Learn more about pulse flours in baked goods.


Pulse flours can produce high-protein, nutrient-dense pasta and noodle products with up to 100% pulse inclusion. A low temperature, long drying time is recommended to produce a texture similar to whole wheat durum semolina products.
[See the impact of incorporating 30% pea flour into spaghetti. Download the case study.]


The water and oil binding ability of pulse flours can reduce cooking losses and increase cook yield in meat and meat alternatives, contributing to the texture, mouthfeel and overall sensory profile of the product. Including just 7% lentil flour in a lean beef burger can increase cook yields by 33%1, meeting consumer demands and improving your bottom line.
Heat-treated lentil flours have been shown to stabilize and maintain the desirable bright red colour of red meats such as burger patties and bologna during refrigerated and frozen storage.
[Learn how chickpea and lentil flour can be incorporated into low-fat burgers. Download the case study.]


The expansive properties of pulse flours make them well suited to creating snacks and breakfast cereals with improved nutritional profiles and a crispy, aerated texture. Pulse flours can replace up to 100% of cereal flours in these extruded products, or blended to improve the nutritional density of conventional products. In addition to increasing protein, fibre, vitamin and mineral content, there is growing evidence to suggest that pulse flours may also improve the glycemic profile of cereal-based food products.
[See how pea flour performs in extruded snacks. Download the case study.]


Pulse flours have been incorporated at rates up to 40% into traditional wheat-based batters and breading systems for fried products. Pulse flours produce superior, golden-brown colour development and a crispier and crunchier coating. Pulse flours have successfully been incorporated in the batter and breading systems of fried chicken thighs, chicken tenders, French fries, fish, onion rings and mozzarella sticks.

Learn more about pulse flours in batters and breading.


  1. Baugreet, S. et al. 2016. Meat Science 122:40-47.