Flour Substitutions

Flour SubstitutionsAll-purpose flour is the most suited and used flour for baking purposes. The gluten content in it makes it perfect to get the desired result, be it taste-wise, texture-wise or appearance-wise. That being said, people are on the look out for flour substitutions for a variety of reasons. Be it for health reasons, allergies, unavailability, etc.

Flour substitution is not as easy as simply using any other flour instead of all-purpose flour in a given recipe. Even though it gives a good taste, texture and look, the nutritional value is almost nil except for the vitamins and minerals which are mandatorily added these days to enrich it. Even then it is just plain starch without any fiber content, which is one of the essential nutrients for our bodies.

So many bakers are moving towards incorporating all kinds of whole grain flours while baking. Whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour, barley flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, etc just to name a few. But the only problem is these flours usually don't work out exactly like all-purpose flour because it's whole grain and the difference in the gluten quantity in such flours and also because of the high fiber content.

Treats baked using whole grain flours generally tend to be on the heavier side, don't rise as much as it's white counterpart and the taste might also need some time to get used to. But once you start baking with whole grain flours regularly you will crave for that more and more and wouldn't even go back to baking with regular white flour. The recipe might need some minor changes to be incorporated to get better results, like increasing the baking powder/baking soda a little bit, not over mixing the batter thereby over working the gluten which will end up in hard, dense and heavy baked treat, etc.

To start with one might try substituting 1/3rd or 1/2 a portion of all-purpose flour with the whole grain flour of your choice. See how it works out and then from there move on to increase the quantity of the whole grain flour. Pretty soon you will end up baking with it 100%. That's where I'm now. Whole wheat pastry flour especially is a boon for people like me; those who want to bake healthy. This works in all types of baked treats, be it cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, scones etc. Because it is milled from soft whole wheat the gluten content is not as high as regular whole wheat flour making it perfect for all treats.

Other whole grain flours don't work exactly like whole wheat pastry flour so may not be suitable for all types of recipes. Quinoa flour, oat flour, barley flour etc maybe partly used in a recipe in combination with either all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour. These flours might especially be suited for cookies, scones and sometimes in muffins too.

Some other examples of flour substitution:

Flour Substitution Chart

For 1 cup sifted all purpose white flour, substitute:

  • 1/4 cup soy flour plus 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ plus 2/3 cup white flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour plus 2/3 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup coarse cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1.5 cups oat flour
    Note that these substitutions may require additional leavening, so add 2.5 teaspoons baking powder per cup of flour to compensate. These alternatives to white flour will result in a heavier yeast bread product.

Gluten-free baking is yet another ball game altogether. At least it is not as difficult as it was even a decade ago. Thanks to the wide spread awareness of the Celiac disease in specific and gluten intolerance in general. These days it's not at all difficult to locate gluten-free flours. Some of those are amaranth flour, coconut flour, almond flour etc. But the drawback is all-purpose flour can't be simply replaced by these flours. Recipes have to be tweaked to get decent results. Even ready to use gluten free mix is easily available these days. Gluten-free baking along with egg-free is when it gets really complicated.

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  1. Ellie

    I am wondering if I can use only oatmeal instead of flour? And also I would like to use apple sauce instead of sugar , is this possible ?

    • heather

      I’ve never tried apple sauce, but I’ve tried banana puree with success. It has actually made things, like cookies, more muffin like. Good luck!

      • Madhuram

        Do try it Heather. Applesauce works fine in muffins. But in cookies they become very soft and chewy. So not a good choice if you want to make crispy cookies.

  2. Karen

    I’m using whole wheat flour, and I want to find a substitute. Oat flour sound good, but what is the carbohydrate count compared to whole wheat flour?

    • Madhuram

      I’m guessing it should be about the same as in whole wheat flour.

  3. Daisy

    When your saying 1/4 cup soy flour plus 3/4 cup white flour
    Do you mean you can substitute 1/4 of soy flour to equal 3/4 cup. of white flour? Sorry I feel stupid not knowing if I am reading this right

    • Madhuram

      I mean that instead of using 1 cup of all-purpose flour you can use 3/4th cup of it plus 1/4 cup of soy flour or whole wheat flour instead to cut back on the white stuff.

  4. Shrutika

    Where will i get whole wheat pastry flour or cake flour ?

  5. Cyndi

    I love your site!!!!!!!It is just like an app on my phone, I love it!!!! Also if you know the substitution for almond flour and the supplements (such as flour and leavening) to make a product that doesn’t feel grainy. In cookies and brownies it is “okay” but I have NO idea for ratios when making cakes. Thank you for the assistance.

    • Madhuram

      Thanks Cyndi. I too need to look into almond flour baking. But doing egg free and gluten free is quite a task. I’ll post once I’m successful.

  6. Teresa

    I think you have your amounts switched for the rolled oats vs. oat flour. You need more rolled oats than you do oat flour. The substitutions I’ve found everywhere else say to use 1:1 Oat Flour for White flour, but 1.5:1 rolled oats for white flour.

    • Madhuram

      I’m not sure, Teresa because I got it from the magazine, long time back.

  7. Sandra

    Thanks for the tip, this is great for when I want to share a recipe with a boyfriend who is vegan. It does affect the final outcome a little bit, but it is completely worth it to be able to share.

  8. Uma

    How come when we make bhatura in home they are brown and in restaurant in they are white?

    • Madhuram

      Uma, I haven’t tried making bhatura at home, so I wouldn’t know how it turns out. I’m guessing you keep the oil too hot and that’s why it turns red.

    • smita

      Try using curd and little salt while preparing bhatura dough.if too much soda use than it turn brown while frying.

  9. Amy

    Thanks for these tips. Being a vegan these are really helpful 🙂

  10. Kim

    Hmm…thats interesting…I didn’t know about those kinda flour sustitution…I’m gonna try it today…thanks!

  11. Kayla

    Thanks for the great information about flour substitutes. They will definitely come in handy.

  12. Carol J. Anderson

    Hi Madhuram,

    Can you post more recipes which I can try cooking. I would be grateful if you would. Thanks!

  13. Shanthi

    When a recipe calls for all purpose flour, what will be the result of substituting with cake flour? Will it be too airy and light?

    • Madhuram

      Yes it will be quite lighter and fluffier than the cakes baked with all purpose flour.

  14. priya

    Is self rising flour and cake flour the same?Wanted to buy cake flour very few grocery store seem to stock it.Cake flour mix comes with baking powder along with it.Just confused.Would appreciate your answer.Thank you.

    • Madhuram

      They are not the same, Priya. Self rising flour has baking powder in it and not cake flour. Cake flour is made from soft wheat which makes the cakes more lighter and fluffier. The subsitute for a cup of cake flour would be 3/4th cup all purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

  15. Novi

    Hi, thank you for such informative site.
    Just asking:
    – can you substitute whole wheat flour with rolled oats?
    – What is the substitute of cornmeal?

    It’s hard to find those flour in my country. Thank you so much

    • Madhuram

      Thanks Novi. Substituting oats for whole wheat flour is not a good idea. You are better off using plain flour instead. Same with cornmeal too.

  16. Parul

    Most of your receipe says, All Purpose Flour.. Is that a Plain flour or selfrising flour or you mean normal While flour?


    • Madhuram

      All purpose flour is the American name for maida/plain flour. It is not self raising flour or cake flour. They are different.

  17. Chup

    Can I substitute all purpose flour with whole wheat flour in cakes? Will it differ in taste or only in texture?

    • Madhuram

      Whole wheat flour doesn’t taste good in all cakes, Chup. You will have to use 50% each or whole wheat pastry flour. It takes quite sometime to like the taste of goodies baked with whole wheat flour.

  18. Jeya

    Hi Madhu,

    This is an absolutely a great vegan cooking site. Keep that creative of yours in cooking flowing. I have a question, if a recipe calls for all purpose flour, can i substitute it with Self Raising flour since its baking without eggs. Would self raising flour help raise the height of the cake?

    Please advise.

    Thanks Jeya. Yes self raising flour can be used when baking eggless. But you have to also consider what other leaveners (baking soda/powder) are used in the recipe and adjust it accordingly.

  19. abc

    🙂 No problem. But I am sure, you will post something very soon!!!!

    Yes definitely.

  20. abc

    The entire site is very useful for vegans and vegetarian. Desserts, Pastas, Dosas. Recipes are pretty healthy too. I liked the idea of making pudding and dosa of brown rice even bhishi bhel bhat. I was thinking of making dosa of brown rice and was always skeptical. Not anymore. I am going to try it soon esp with the beans and brown rice. Just other day I made it with mixture of dals.
    Madhuram’s cooking is inspirational. She helped me a lot suggesting alterations for my recipe after trying herself.
    Madhuram, keep posting recipes every alternate day as you are doing now. We all are eagerly waiting for continuous updates.

    Thank you very much for your kind words of appreciation. It’s very encouraging. I guess I’m going to disappoint you tomorrow because I’m not posting anything.

  21. Kiran

    I found the flour substitutions very useful being a vegetarian, got an inspiration to make maize flour halva it was yum. Same method as wheatflour was used.

  22. krystyna


  23. Aparna

    I don’t know for sure, but should think it should be 2.5 tsp on the whole. I was thinking I would need 5 tsps for a cake or cookie recipe asking for 2 cups of flour and that seems to much.
    The cake/ cookie would probably rise and collapse upon itself.

  24. Madhuram

    I’m glad that you like this page. But sorry Uma, I’m not sure about that.

  25. Uma

    that’s a nice info, Madhu! It is so helpful. Can we use besan also the same way?