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!

How to measure flour for perfect recipes every time. The secret: SPOON don't SCOOP!

Every year around this time, I start getting comments on some of my most popular posts. 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 this time of year? 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 the correct way

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

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

If you ask any “official” baker, they’ll tell you to use a scale to measure ingredients. One, ain’t no one got time for that and two, not everyone owns a scale. Most people do own measuring cups though, so you need to know how to properly get the flour into the measuring cup.

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!

If you do happen to have a scale, you can use that too. I did a test. I scooped a cup of all purpose flour and it weighed 5 ounces. When I spooned it, it was about 4.25 ounces. That might not seem like a big difference, but when you’re making a delicate cookie or crust, it’s a lot. Take my snowball cookies, for example. 2 1/4 cups of flour should be about 8.5 ounces, but if I had scooped it it would be over 11. That’s a huge difference.

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

Oh, and I made you a video to demonstrate how to measure flour correctly:

 

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17 comments

  1. When I first started baking, I would dump. Like, literally dump the flour out of the bag into my measuring cup. I got flour everywhere and it was by no means exact. Live and learn!
    Great video too, Dorothy!

  2. I used to always scoop my flour. No one told me not to. It really works better to spoon not scoop…singing as I type… great tip!

  3. Great tip!  I’ve been doing it the wrong way the whole time!

  4. Most people don’t measure it correctly and on top of that they use cheap flour. Nothing good can come from using the cheapest flour on the shelf. It has less gluten, i.e. less insurance of your cookies puffing, your cake rising, or your bread staying risen and not falling. I wish I could write on every post I write, this is how you measure it and this is the brand you should buy.

    When I hear things like 8.5 vs 11 ounces, that is just crazy, but true, how big of a difference a simple thing like measuring can make!

  5. You assume everyone owns measuring cups…and maybe they do nowadays. When I was growing up, we didn’t. A coffee cup was close enough for most recipes to use as a cup measure. Now think of all the different size coffee cups. lol

  6. I love that you realize this issue. I usually dont seem to have any problems with my food by following recipes. Although now, according to you I’ve been measuring my flour wrong ever since I made my first cookie as a teenager. I always, always pack by tapping the mess out of the side of the cup and adding more until level. Thats how I was taught. Who knows how much better my baked goods could have been!…..or not, which takes me to the next point….
    It would all depend on how the person creating the recipe measured THEIR flour! (This gets deep!)
    I wish it was standard to weigh ingredients as they do in other countries, but that will be a long time coming!

    • That is all so true! And if you’ve been baking forever with good results, you’re probably doing it fine. Many people who scoop don’t know not to pack the flour. (I scoop, because I know what I’m doing!) And I think that last point is why scales are so important, but most people don’t have them!

  7. Hi so I made your russian tea cakes cookies last night and I packed the flour so the dough is quite dry. I put it in the fridge last night bc I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Do you have any suggestions to save it I don’t want to throw it away 
    Thanks a lot, Chloe

  8. AMEN!  I have been baking for over 50 years and always spooned flour into the cup and leveled with a knife, and I never fluffed the flour before measuring.  Everything came out fine.  However, now that we own a digital scale that measures ounces and grams, I weigh the flour and WOW I can’t believe the difference in the amount of flour used!  And my cookies turn out great or better!  A digital kitchen scale is one of the most-used tools in our kitchen and they are not expensive.

  9. 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. 

  10. 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?

  11. 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!

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