Sweet, spiced, and everything nice.

By Kaitlyn Yarborough
July 01, 2020
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Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez

To put it mildly, the mesquite tree doesn’t have a stellar reputation. In the Texas Hill Country, it’s generally regarded as a pest, a weed—one with two-inch-long spiky thorns that might consider being used as toothpicks in their spare time. You know, when they’re not tormenting innocent passersby. In fact, so hated was the tree that Texans started chopping it up into wood chips for smoking really good barbecue. Take that, pest! 

But like the worst of us, the mesquite tree has at least one redeeming quality, and it’s nestled right up next to those dagger-like thorns: the beans. Looking similar to long string bean pods, mesquite beans must’ve known that their parent is held in not-so-nice esteem, because when scraped and milled down into a flour of sorts, they’re as warm and sweet as a Southern granny. It smells of hazelnut, cinnamon, cream, and molasses; and it adds the most unusually unique spiced flavor to any baked good—and we’re downright twitterpated in love. 

A handful of Southern bakers like Austin-based Sandeep Gyawali—who has since started the Texas Mesquite Movement to educate and promote using mesquite in the food industry—have learned to hone the best parts of the pestering mesquite tree, turning the beans into a gluten-free (perk!) superfood (another perk!) flour that can then be baked into delicious creations like mesquite sourdough bread, chocolate mesquite cookies, and even mesquite pancakes. Often mixed with wheat or white flour to temper the intense flavor and get enough gluten in the recipe to help breads and pastries rise, mesquite flour might be an heirloom Southern ingredient that people have long overlooked, but we’re happy to report it’s slowly becoming quite the baking trend. 

So if you’re looking to celebrate deep-rooted Southern culture with every bite, try to bake something with mesquite flour. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, you can shop 100% pure mesquite flour on Amazon here

When you smell the warm, spiced aroma coming out of the oven, you’ll know you made the right choice. Tip: Mix with all-purpose or whole-wheat flour (about two parts regular flour, one part mesquite flour) to ensure you still get a fluffy texture in any baked good recipe. To get you started, these chocolate chip mesquite cookies look every ounce of amazing. 

Not a baker? Mesquite flour is great when used in dry rubs for smoking or grilling meats, as well.