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How To Measure Flour

Having trouble with getting 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.

Silver spoon spooning flour into a brass measuring cup over a bowl of flour

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 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.

Gold measuring cup full of unleveled flour on a white surface

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.

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

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

Hand pouring flour from a gold measuring cup into a white bowl on a digital scale

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR FOR BAKING

Flour measurements can be one of the biggest variables when it comes to the finished product. 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 if you happen to be watching your waistline.

Hand using a spoon to fluff and stir the flour in a bowl

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 ingredient to the cup that 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.

Hand holding brass measuring cup over a bowl of flour while a spoon adds flour to the cup

So, let’s start with the basics – if you’re going to bake, I strongly recommend picking up a set of dry measuring 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.

Hand holding a brass measuring cup over a bowl of flour while a knife smooths out the top

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.

Hand holding a level measuring cup of flour over a 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.

And if you’re a visual person – like me, take a few seconds to watch this video on measuring flour from King Arthur Flour.

Two leveled gold measuring cups of flour on a marble countertop

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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

Theresa

Thursday 23rd of April 2020

I have an old recipe that calls for 8 hands of flour. 

Jamie

Saturday 16th of May 2020

Thanks so much for stopping by, Theresa! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Happy Baking! -Jamie

Megan Nesbitt

Tuesday 25th of June 2019

I made the “scoop measuring cup inside bag of flour” mistake when attempting to make a pound cake recently.  It turned out not so great, so I’m assuming my flour technique was the cause.  I won’t make the mistake again; however, not sure how I will go about storing my flour from now on.  What do you store it in, so that it: a) fits nicely in the cabinet with all of the other dry goods, b) has a tight seal to keep fresh, and c) most importantly, is roomy enough to allow me to measure it correctly INSIDE/WITHIN the storage container?  Would love your thoughts (and, if you know of a specific item, where I can buy it, would be fantastic!!!!)  Thanks very much!!  I appreciate this article you wrote and for any storage suggestions you have.  :)  :)  Megan N

Jamie

Wednesday 10th of July 2019

Hello! These OXO pop-top containers work great for dry goods like flour: https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-POP-Container/dp/B000UHYB9E/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2CKGZ1W7F1CE3&keywords=oxo+pop+top+storage+containers&qid=1562804692&s=home-garden&sprefix=oxo+pop%2Cgarden%2C151&sr=1-4 Hope this helps! Happy baking. Jamie

Nancy

Sunday 9th of December 2018

I love to make homemade pizza dough but I would like to pre-measure out the flour and put it in plastic bags so I can just grab one instead of having to measure it out each time. Will this cause me any problems in how my dough rises or anything because the flour is compacted in the plastic bags for awhile?

Jamie

Monday 10th of December 2018

Hi Nancy - You should be fine! Just give the flour a little "fluff" with a whisk before you use it. Hope this helps! Happy baking. Jamie

Debbie

Thursday 16th of August 2018

Fluffing flour is that the reason we used a sifter. I remember putting flour in sifter while baking cookies with my mother. Never been a real baker. But this tip has made me to believe the reason my stuff never turns out as goodthe reciepe. I also seen sone pics of recipes people have cooked and it didntvlook like the pic. A matter if simple measurements makes a difference. So i will get me a scale. Thanks we'll see if it makes a difference in my baking.

Jamie

Tuesday 28th of August 2018

Thanks so much for stopping by, Debbie! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Happy Baking and Good Luck! -Jamie

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