How to Measure Flour

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 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  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. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.