Flour Substitutions to Save You in a Pinch

Flour Substitutions to Save You in a Pinch

M.C. Millman

Saving money in the kitchen often means sacrificing flavor, texture, or time - but not with these easy and budget-friendly do-it-yourself flour substitution tips. 

Ingredient substitutions can be as simple as understanding what is in the product you are buying. Once that detail is out of the way, figuring out how to make the ingredient yourself can save money and storage space. 

While there is something to be said for convenience, if you consistently use a specific ingredient that you can easily make yourself in large batches to save time, try challenging yourself to make it instead.


As a bonus, many kinds of flour can be made using a base of all-purpose flour. This means you can buy a big bag in bulk and adjust it accordingly to fit your recipe. Read on to understand more. 

Bread Flour

There are many different kinds of flour, but bread flour contains a higher protein content than average all-purpose flour. The protein comes from gluten (which has come to sound like a bad word, but it's just the protein found in certain grains). Using flour with more gluten in your bread or challah recipe will produce a light, stretchy texture with more chewiness. 

To make your own bread flour, use 1 ½ teaspoons of vital wheat gluten for every 1 cup of flour called for in a recipe. The best way to do this is to measure 1 ½ teaspoons of vital wheat gluten into your 1 cup measuring cup and top off the rest of the cup with all-purpose flour. This way, you keep the dry ingredients consistent in the recipe.

Vital wheat gluten should be in the flour section near other specialty flours. It may seem pricey at first glance, but a single bag of vital wheat gluten can turn all-purpose flour into many batches of bread flour. 

Cake Flour

Some recipes for baked items may call for cake flour because it is lighter than traditional flour. Cake flour contains less protein and is lighter than regular flour. On average, one cup of cake flour weighs 4 ounces per cup compared to one cup of all-purpose flour, which weighs 4.5 ounces per cup.

Lighten up your all-purpose flour and transform it into cake flour by replacing two tablespoons of all-purpose flour with cornstarch for each cup of pastry flour called for in the recipe. 

A more precise recipe for one cup of cake flour is 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons of all-purpose flour and two tablespoons corn starch. 

Self-Rising Flour

Self-rising flour is generally used in Southern recipes and is made using lower protein flour than all-purpose flour, along with added baking powder and salt. 

To best replicate self-rising flour in recipes, King Arther Baking recommends replacing each cup of self-rising flour with 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, and ½ tsp salt. 

Keep in mind that because all-purpose flour is higher in protein than standard self-rising flour, your recipe may need a bit more liquid, and the results may be somewhat less tender. 

Gluten-Free One-to-One Blend

A gluten-free flour blend will require buying ingredients you likely don't have in your pantry, but it will make many batches and save you from paying the high price for premade gluten-free flour mixes. 

While checking out the ingredient lists on packaged gluten-free flour mixes, the ingredients vary, but you'll notice they are generally made of rice flour and some kind of starch. These ingredients are relatively cheap - especially compared to the high price of premade gluten-free flour blends. 

There are a variety of recipes, but here is one that works great from the Minimalist Baker (

The recipe calls for 1 ½ cups brown rice flour, ½ cup potato starch, 1/4 cup white rice flour, and 1/4 cup tapioca flour. 

Oat Flour

While oat flour is not a traditional flour, many new recipes use this whole grain powerhouse in baking or other dishes. You can buy oat flour, but what's the need for another package in your pantry when you can blend it easily yourself?

Oats are a very soft grain compared with many others and, therefore, easy to blend. You don't need any fancy tools or expensive high-powered blenders. You can make small batches as needed in a coffee grinder or if you use it often, make a bigger batch with a food processor or blender. 

Knowing how easy it is to make small batches of specialty flour by just keeping the few key ingredients around rather than loading up your pantry with a separate bag of each makes a lot of sense. And if convenience is the issue - make bigger batches for the same investment of time and enjoy the savings.

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