Crazy for Crust

How to Measure Flour

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Knowing how to measure flour seems like it should be obvious, but it’s not. Learn how to measure flour the right way so your recipes come out perfect every time!

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cup of flour

I get comments on my dessert posts every day. Most comments are good, but some say that the recipe didn’t turn out. Whenever I get those comments I try to troubleshoot with the commenter because I want them to be able to enjoy the recipe as much as I did.

The recipe that gets a ton of comments? Any of my snowball recipes. Those are a delicate cookie and until I posted the first one a few years ago, I had no idea that so many people didn’t know how to measure flour correctly.

If you’re making cookies and the batter ends up too crumbly and dry, chances are it’s because you aren’t measuring your flour correctly. You might be packing your flour (accidentally or unknowingly) and using too much, which results in a crumbly cookie dough.

How to measure flour without a scale

Ask yourself: are you SCOOPING or SPOONING your flour into the measuring cup?

cup of flour

If you’re scooping the flour, you might be using too much!

  1. First you should fluff up the flour. If you haven’t used it a lot or it’s a new package, the flour is probably packed into the container. Use a fork to stir and fluff the flour.
  2. SPOON the flour into the measuring cup. (Make sure you’re using a measuring cup for dry ingredients.)
  3. Scrape off any excess flour with a straight edge, like the back of a knife.

The rule of thumb when you’re measuring flour: fluff up the flour in the bin then SPOON the flour into the cup.

SPOON, don’t scoop. Let’s make a song!

SPOON don’t scoop. Just make that your baking mantra.

scale with bowl of flour

Use a scale to measure flour

The professional way to measure flour is to  weigh it using a scale. It’s the most accurate way, although most regular people don’t weigh their ingredients. I don’t normally weigh my flour because my readers don’t; I need to measure and cook things the way you do so that my recipes are accurate.

If you want to test how much flour you’re spooning or scooping, weigh it on a kitchen scale to test yourself.

1 cup of all-purpose flour weights 4.25 ounces or 120 grams.

Scoop then spoon your flour, weigh it, and do a test for yourself!

A scale is the best way to measure flour, especially if you don’t have a measuring cup.

Do you have to sift flour?

The short answer is no, however that comes with a big caveat. If a recipe calls for sifted flour then you need to use it. If the recipe doesn’t call for it then it’s fine if you don’t BUT, remember the steps above. You should always fluff up your flour before measuring it.

Measuring sifted flour

  • To properly measure sifted flour you sift THEN spoon the flour into the measuring cup.

The most important tip about how to measure flour is that you:

Do not pack your flour – ever.

Spoon the flour, don’t pack it, measure it correctly, and your recipes will turn out!

Looking for the best kitchen scale or measuring cups? Here are my favorites:

collage of flour photos

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18 comments

  1. By the way, we have the same scale you do (the one shown in the photo).  I used it to test the difference between weighing and spooning 1 cup flour, and could not believe the difference.  My spooned-in (non-fluffed-up) flour always weighs a few ounces more than the industry standard 4.25 oz. 

  2. I use a 1/2 cup to spoon the flour into a 1cup measuring cup . Is that too much flour to spoon at a time?

  3. Thanks for the quick reply. Here’s another: if I want to replace baking soda with baking powder in a c.c. cookie recipe, thinking powder helps PREVENT spread [I don’t know, just because] and knowing it is not 1:1, what is the general rule? I also know, being a know-it-all, that I’ll need more powder, thanks and enjoy today, Louis

    • Replacing baking soda with baking powder can be very tricky because they’re not the same thing, and they don’t act the same. It’s possible to use 2-3x more baking powder in a soda recipe, but results will be mixed depending on the recipe itself.

      Baking soda is what gives the spread in cookies. Baking powder would give it a more cakey texture, which is why soda is normally called for. You’ll notice lots of cookie recipes that call for 1 teaspoon of baking soda, resulting in somewhat flatter cookies. That’s traditional, but in most of my cookie recipes you’ll notice I only add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. This results in a thicker, puffier cookie that’s still chewy and not cakey.

      If you don’t have baking soda on hand and want cookies ASAP, you’ll have to google for some good recipes or exact substitutions. If at all possible, I’d use baking soda if it’s called for and not bother with the tinkering that is involved with substituting!

  4. Well, I guess learning never ends!  I’m 72, and just learned I’ve been measuring flour correctly just because it makes sense.  I’m looking forward to the next tip!

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