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How To Measure Flour

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Having trouble with getting your baked goods to turn out correctly? Sometimes the solution is simpler than you think! Learn how to measure flour correctly to avoid some basic baking errors.

Glass canister of flour set on a marble countertop.

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As a food blogger, I try to provide my readers with great recipes that have been tested thoroughly in my kitchen.

However, sometimes a recipe that worked well for me turns out a little less than perfect for a friend or reader.

Whenever my friends ask me why something didn’t turn out right – whether it’s my favorite chocolate chip cookies, the best chocolate cake, or homemade Bisquick, typically the first question I ask is, “How did you measure the flour?”

For years I thought dipping the measuring cup directly into the flour sack was an accurate means of measurement. However, when I started to teach myself how to bake – I realized this method can be pretty inaccurate.

Bowl filled with flour on a marble countertop, surrounded by baked goods.

WHY YOUR MEASURING METHOD MATTERS

I decided to conduct a little kitchen experiment and measure a cup of all-purpose flour two ways.

Here were the results:

  • Scooping a measuring cup into the flour and leveling: 6 oz in weight
  • Spooning the flour into a measuring cup and leveling: 4.25 oz in weight

Pretty big difference, right? Especially when it comes to baking. Because just a couple extra ounces of flour can really change the texture of a baked good.

Flour being spooned into a glass bowl set on a kitchen scale.

The important thing to remember is that, much like brown sugar, flour packs. Scooping the ingredient with your measuring instrument will cause packing. 

Packed flour can add up quickly!

If you have a recipe with 3 cups of flour, and you scoop using your measuring cup, you could end up with 18 ounces of flour, when in reality you should have 12.75 ounces of flour.

That’s nearly an extra 3/4 cup of flour in your recipe!

That can dramatically change the results you get from a finished baked good.

1 cup of flour in a glass bowl being weighed on a food scale. The scale shows 4.25 ounces.

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR FOR BAKING

Flour measurements can be one of the biggest variables when it comes to the finished product in baking. Weighing ingredients is by far the most accurate, but not a common practice here in the U.S.

If you’re an Alton Brown fan – like I am – you know from Good Eats that this is pretty much the only way he measures dry ingredients.

A digital scale can come in handy and is useful for more than just measuring your sugar and flour.

I use mine a lot to weigh small packages for click and ship labels via USPS, and they are also great for figuring out correct portions of meat and other items when needed.

Hand spooning flour into a measuring cup held over a bowl of flour.

HOW DO I MEASURE FLOUR WITHOUT A SCALE?

If you don’t own a scale, when it comes to dry ingredients, you’re more than likely using a measuring cup.

Many people use measuring cups with perfect results. But remember that they can be incredibly inaccurate depending upon the method of adding the flour to the cup that you use.

What measuring cups should you use?

Although I grew up using both liquid and dry measuring cups, I’ve come to realize through blogging that a lot of people don’t own both types of cups and some don’t know that two types of measuring cups exist.

So, let’s start with the basics – if you’re going to bake, I strongly recommend picking up a set of dry measuring cups as well as at least one liquid measuring cup.

Both can be found in pretty much any store including places like Target, Amazon, the grocery store and even the dollar store.

Make sure you use the dry measuring cups for measuring flour, sugar, and other dry ingredients. Save the liquid measuring cup for milk, water, and other liquid ingredients.

Hand using a knife to level off the top of a measuring cup of flour over a bowl.

How to get an accurate flour measurement with a measuring cup

Here’s how to get a pretty accurate measurement without the use of a scale:

  1. Use a spoon to fluff up the flour within the container.
  2. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup.
  3. Use a knife or other straight edged utensil to level the flour across the measuring cup. I have a plastic straight edge that I keep in my flour bin at all times for just this purpose.

And that’s it! Now you know how to measure flour the right way so your baked goods are as perfect as possible.

Leveled measuring cup of flour held over a glass bowl of flour.

COMMONLY USED WEIGHT MEASUREMENTS

Here are some helpful common volumetric measurements and their weight equivalents for quick reference.

All measurements are in ounces by weight, not fluid ounces.

FLOURS

  • all-purpose flour: 1 cup weighs 4.25 ounces
  • cake flour: 1 cup weighs 4 ounces
  • bread flour: 1 cup weighs 4.25 ounces

SUGARS

  • granulated white sugar: 1 cup weighs 7 ounces
  • confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar); unsifted: 1 cup weighs 4 ounces
  • light or dark brown sugar; packed: 1 cup weighs 7.5 ounces

BUTTER

  • butter: 1 cup weighs 8 ounces

I also definitely recommend printing out a copy of this Ingredient Weight Chart from King Arthur Flour. I laminated mine because I am kind of a messy baker. The list hangs from the side of my fridge, and I can honestly say it is one of my most used kitchen resources.

Leveled measuring cup of flour set on a marble countertop in front of a canister of flour.

MORE HELPFUL KITCHEN TIPS

Whether you’re a beginner baker or a veteran in the kitchen, there are a few kitchen substitutes and tips that are helpful to keep in mind.

Whip up this simple buttermilk substitute to use in any baking recipe calling for buttermilk. 

This brown sugar substitute is also a handy trick to keep in mind in case you find yourself out of brown sugar while in the middle of baking.

It’s also handy to know how to soften butter and how to soften cream cheese quickly! I always forget to set mine out, so I use these tricks all of the time. 

Flour being spooned into a metal measuring cup over a bowl of flour.

How to Measure Flour

Having trouble with getting your baked goods to turn out correctly? Sometimes the solution is simpler than you think! Learn how to measure flour correctly to avoid some basic baking errors.
4.67 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • All-purpose flour

Instructions

  • Use a spoon to fluff up the flour within the container.
  • Use a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup.
  • Use a knife or other straight-edged utensil to level the flour across the measuring cup. I have a plastic straight edge that I keep in my flour bin at all times for just this purpose.
The default measuring system on My Baking Addiction is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided as a courtesy; please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
Card may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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Candace Bywater

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

This is not how I was taught in my college cooking class. They taught us to scoop in as you do but then use a knife pointed down into the cup and make an X. Then use the straight edge and level it.

Jamie

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

I have never heard of making an X with the knife! Thanks for stopping by – -Jamie

Silvia

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Thanks for the post and love your site! I agree that measuring is key to successful baking. I started using a scale a few years ago....here are some things I discovered even there....a cup of all purpose flour, even in grams varies in measure from a recipe to another. Not sure why...!!! Sometimes varies by a lot...drives me nuts. Next up is not all scales are made the same. I have 3....the first was given to me. Was originally used in a post office but one did grams in even numbers....so you had to guess when needing add numbers. Next one I bought a "good" one from a reputable company and it would vary (I did some testing...putting an item on and off and it would give me wide variances). The company sent me a second and the variances are less but still not enough for me to be confident. So I'm contemplating yet another......I guess all I can say is when it comes to measuring ingredients "may the odds be ever in your favour". LOL!!!! Happy baking!

Jamie

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

"May the odds be ever in your favor" gave me a good laugh this morning! Thanks for stopping by, Silvia! Happy baking – Jamie

Laurel

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Did you notice on KA Ingredient Weight Chart that it lists 3 different measurements for instant yeast but none for active yeast?

Jamie

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

I hadn't noticed that! How odd. Thanks for stopping by, Laurel! Happy baking – Jamie

Grace Villanueva

Friday 17th of September 2021

Thank you so much

Sunita

Thursday 11th of June 2020

Hi.. Love your receipts and the way you explain...!

How much a cake should raise in height with one cup all purpose flour in a ten inch pan

Jamie

Sunday 14th of June 2020

Hello! It will really depend on the recipe, as different cake recipes rise different amounts due to the leavening and general proportions, baking temperature, etc. Happy baking! Jamie

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