This food technology fact sheet provides information to bakers and food scientists on using ground flaxseed (both brown and golden flaxseed) in existing or newly formulated baked products. Baking trials were conducted at the Northern Crops Institute on a variety of baked products. Food technologists address many of the issues of the questions that bakers may encounter when using flaxseed for the first time.

Flaxseed Nutritional Facts

  • Flaxseed contains 40-45% oil, 55% of which is alpha  i.e.  linolenic acid (ALA)1, 2.
  • One ounce (28.4 g) of flaxseed contains more than 5 grams of alpha linoleic acid.
  • Flaxseed is, by far, the best known source of plant lignans (one group of phytoestrogens)
  • Flaxseed contains 28% dietary fiber.
  • One ounce of flaxseed provides 32% of USDA's reference Daily Intake (RDI) of fiber.
  • Flaxseed has high levels of essential nutrients, such as folic acid, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Contact AmeriFlax for more information on the nutritional benefits of flaxseed.

General Baking Information:

  • Flaxseed can be added to baked products as a whole seed, imparting a healthy appearance and increased texture quality. However, flaxseed must be ground (milled) prior to consumption to obtain the potential health benefits from the Omega-3 fatty acids and lignans. See section entitled "Practical Storage of Ground (Milled) Flaxseed".
  • Flaxseed is high in mucilage (gums) that can increase the water absorption properties of the dough, which can impact mixing time and dough handling characteristics. The American Institute of Baking recommends additional formula water at a rate of 75% of the added ground flaxseed by weight2. However, baking tests at the NCI show that additional water requirements are product and formula specific. Bakers will need to optimize water addition levels for individual formulas.
  • For most baked products, moderate to high inclusion levels of ground flaxseed allow for the reduction or removal of shortening or other added oils.
  • Shorter mixing times are required for certain products.
  • In bread products, flaxseed addition can increase fermentation and proof times. Yeast levels can be increased to compensate for this increase.
  • Oven temperatures may need to be decreased slightly to prevent excessive browning.
  • Baking with flaxseed does not reduce the quality or availability of the nutritional components of flaxseed according to published research3.


Specific Product Information: This page contains practical tips for including flaxseed in various baked products from actual trials at the Northern Crops Institute. Ground flaxseed was added on a "Baker's Percent" basis, with the flour portion comprising 100% of the formula and all other ingredients are added as a percentage of the flour portion. The amount of flaxseed in the dough or batter is also listed on a true or 100% basis; however, keep in mind that baking liberates much of the water added to a formula. See flaxseed recipes for copies of the following formulas.

Bagels: 25% Ground Flaxseed (13% on a 100% basis)

  • Mixing time was not impacted with the addition of flaxseed.
  • The oils in flaxseed allowed for the removal of shortening.
  • Dough extensibility increased with flaxseed addition, for easier working of the dough.
  • With any bagel formula, proof time is critical. The addition of 25% ground flaxseed increased proof time six minutes in NCI tests.
  • Flaxseed bagels had softer texture than non-flaxseed bagels and had good flavor.

Bran Muffin: 26 & 42% Ground Flaxseed (6.7 and 10% on a 100% basis)

  • Flaxseed addition allowed oil in the formula to be reduced by 40%.
  • Flaxseed addition required additional applesauce to retain the same batter viscosity.
  • Flaxseed muffins were found to have good flavor and good texture after three days.
  • An increase in the amount of honey helped retain moisture in the muffin.

Cracked Wheat Hoagie: 15 and 20% Ground Flaxseed (5.9 and 7.7% on a 100% basis)

  • Oil was removed from the formula with the addition of ground flaxseed, resulting in improved texture.
  • Only a small amount of water was added to the formula with the addition of flaxseed.
  • Dough mixing was unaffected by flaxseed addition.
  • The dough was found to be more extensible, but had no impact on handling or molding.
  • Oven temperature was reduced to control browning.
  • Both the 15% and 20% loaves had good flavor and texture for three days at room temp.
  • Flaxseed contributed good flavor to the bread, not covering the whole-wheat flavor.

Oatmeal Bread: 20 and 25% Ground Flaxseed (6.4 and 10.2% on a 100% basis)

  • Additional water was required to optimize dough-handling properties.
  • Shortening was removed from the formula, but this did not affect dough handling or texture characteristics.
  • Bread containing flaxseed required 15 minutes longer fermentation than non-flaxseed bread.
  • Oven temperature was reduced to control browning.
  • Flaxseed increased loaf diameter and reduced loaf height and volume.
  • The bread with flaxseed provided excellent flavor, and did not mask the wheat and oat flavors.
  • Texture and flavor were found to be excellent for the three days of evaluation.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: 25% Ground Flaxseed (6.1% on a 100% basis)

  • Unlike the other baked products tested, shortening was not reduced with the addition of flaxseed into the formula.
  • Even though flaxseed is high in oil, it imparted a dryer feel to the cookie dough.
  • Cookies with flaxseed had increased height (were thicker) compared to 0% flaxseed formula, even with the increased oil due to the flaxseed incorporation.


Practical Storage of Ground (Milled) Flaxseed: Dr. Dennis Wiesenborn, Professor with North Dakota State University, Ag and Biosystems Engineering and Cereal and Food Sciences Departments.

It is often desirable to grind flaxseed before use, because this makes it easier to incorporate the seed into bread and other products. Also, grinding increases the availability of the flaxseed nutrients to be utilized by the body compared to intact flaxseed. Ground and unground flaxseed may be purchased from health foods stores and many supermarkets. Flaxseed is easily ground using an inexpensive coffee grinder or blender, and good quality, unground flaxseed can have a shelf life of several years if stored in a cool, dry location away from bright light.

Grinding flaxseed accelerates the oxidation process that causes the oil to become rancid. Ground flaxseed should be stored in an airtight container away from light. Storage in a freezer or refrigerator is ideal, but a cool cupboard will suffice. Under optimal conditions, good quality, ground flaxseed should keep for six months or more. If flaxseed does become rancid, it is a flavor or palatability issue, not a food safety concern. Fresh, toasted flaxseed has a distinctly pleasant aroma and flavor, yet heat can heat damage sensitive oil components and accelerate rancidity.


  1. USDA Nutrient Data.
  2. American Institute of Baking, Technical Bulletin, Volume XVII, Issue 4, April 1995
  3. Cunnane, S.C., et. al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1995; 61:62-68

This report was prepared by:Northern Crops Institute
Bolley Drive - NDSU
Fargo ND, 58105


26 & 42% Ground Flaxseed (6.7 and 10% on a 100% basis) 15 and 20% Ground Flaxseed (5.9 and 7.7% on a 100% basis) 20 and 25% Ground Flaxseed (6.4 and 10.2% on a 100% basis) 25% Ground Flaxseed (6.1% on a 100% basis)


26 & 42% Ground Flaxseed (6.7 and 10% on a 100% basis) 15 and 20% Ground Flaxseed (5.9 and 7.7% on a 100% basis) 20 and 25% Ground Flaxseed (6.4 and 10.2% on a 100% basis) 25% Ground Flaxseed (6.1% on a 100% basis)