How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour

You bought a bag of self-rising flour to make biscuits.

And you made biscuits, and they were superior: moist, tender, high-rising, and REALLY easy.

But you still have most of a bag of self-rising flour left – now what?

Well, there’s no need to use that self-rising flour ONLY in recipes calling for it. By using the following guidelines, you can easily substitute self-rising for all-purpose flour in many of your favorite recipes.

1. To substitute self-rising for all-purpose flour, look for recipes that use baking powder: about ½ teaspoon per cup of flour, minimum.

Our self-rising flour includes both a concentrated form of baking powder, and salt. Self-rising flour will work just fine in recipes using about 1/2 teaspoon (and up to 1 teaspoon*) baking powder per cup of flour.

*What about recipes using more than 1 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour? Add enough baking powder on your own to make up the difference.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

2. When making the substitution, omit the baking powder and salt from the recipe – it’s already in your self-rising flour.

Let’s see how these tips translate to real life – starting with a worthy candidate, our 2015 Recipe of the Year: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

Besides including leavening and salt, self-rising flour also differs from all-purpose in its protein level. All-purpose flour’s protein is 11.7%; self-rising checks in at 8.5%.

That’s quite a difference. How will that translate to cookies? I have my suspicions; let’s see how they play out.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

OK, we’ve got our all-purpose flour dough balls on the left, self-rising on the right. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon baking powder and 2 cups of all-purpose flour – which meets the criteria of 1/2 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour.

The dough looks the same for both versions. Let’s put these beauties to the test: into the oven they go.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

Ah, as I suspected: the self-rising flour cookies (right), with their lower protein, start to spread more quickly than those made with all-purpose flour.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

And that quicker spread yields slightly larger, flatter cookies.

What’s up with that? Lower protein means less gluten, which translates to less/looser structure: more oven spread.

Not a deal breaker, though. I wouldn’t throw those self-rising cookies away – would you?

If you have a cookie recipe that spreads a lot using all-purpose flour, then it’s probably not the best idea to substitute self-rising flour. But any cookie with normal spread – one using at least 1/2 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour – should be just fine.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies: check.

Let’s try another popular recipe, Banana Bread. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon baking powder and 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour.

Uh-oh – that’s not “at least 1/2 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour.” But rules are made to be tested, and it’s close; let’s see what happens.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

The batter made with self-rising flour is just slightly thinner. Again, that’s a reflection of self-rising’s lower protein level.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

Still, both breads rise and bake up similarly.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

Maybe the self-rising flour bread is a tiny bit flatter across the top? But without a side-by-side comparison, you’d never know.

Banana bread: check.

Finally, let’s try one of my favorite cake recipes, Lazy Daisy Cake.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

This is the first recipe I ever baked on my own. As a 14-year-old holding down my first Saturday job, I felt EXTREMELY grown up when my boss, noticing me admiring a slice of cake she’d brought for lunch, hand-printed this recipe on a 3″ x 5″ card (remember those?) and gave it to me.

I felt even more grown up when I got out my mom’s electric beater, her favorite bowl, found all the ingredients, and baked a perfectly wonderful cake. In fact, I think it might be this cake that first hooked me on baking.

Let’s see how it does with self-rising flour. It’s an old-fashioned hot milk cake, calling for 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 cup of flour: that’s 1 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour, double the minimum.

Will the self-rising flour have enough leavening power?

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

Absolutely. That’s all-purpose flour on the left, self-rising on the right. They look exactly the same.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

Once cut, it appears the all-purpose flour cake may have risen a bit more evenly; but that also might be just a simple aberration. Both have a lovely crumb.

How to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour via @kingarthurflour

And both versions, with their broiled brown sugar/coconut topping, taste just as I remember from junior-high days: superb.

Hot milk cake: check.

Now, what about recipes that include both baking powder and baking soda? Or only baking soda – no baking powder?

For recipes with both leaveners, include the baking soda just as you would if you were using all-purpose flour.

For recipes using baking soda, but no baking powder – well, you’re on your own. I can tell you that as far as leavening power goes, 1 teaspoon of baking powder is approximately equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. I leave any further recipe math up to you!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Theresa Bates

    what about recipes that call for Baking powder, baking soda and salt. do i omit the baking soda as well when using self rising?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi, Theresa! If the recipe is calling for both leaveners, include the baking soda just as you would if you were using all-purpose flour. Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

    1. Susan Reid

      Carol, King Arthur’s All-Purpose Flour is closer to what you would call strong flour; in the UK, your everyday white flour is a bit lower in protein than ours and it’s likely your recipes use a bit more than we would. Susan

  2. Bobbie

    I am making cinnamon rolls the recipe call for
    All purpose flour no baking powder or soda can I use self rising flour ?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Bobbie, it’s best to substitute self-rising flour in recipes that call for at least 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup of flour. If your recipe doesn’t call for any baking powder or baking soda, we don’t recommend using self-rising flour. Use the flour called for in the recipe for best results. If you want to make cinnamon buns (sticky buns) with your self-rising flour, consider using the recipe called The Quickest, Easiest Sticky Buns recipe. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Most yeast rolls don’t have baking powder in the recipe, which doesn’t make them great contestants for using Self-Rising Flour. If the recipe has at least 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour, you’re welcome to go ahead and give the Self-Rising Flour a try. Other than that, we don’t recommend making the swap for best results. Kye@KAF

  3. Debbie

    How about a cake recipe asking for 3 cups of A.P an all you have is S.R an it ask for neither of baking powder or baking soda or salt

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Debbie. For best results, you’ll want to either find a cake recipe that’s specifically calling for self-rising flour or take a quick trip to the store. Adding approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder to a recipe that isn’t calling for it could make for some unpleasant surprises in your oven that’ll likely end in burnt, smoky batter at the bottom. We don’t want that mess! Annabelle@KAF

  4. Cathy Cimala

    I am attempting to make an old fashioned cherry nut cake that requires self rising flour. The recipe does not list salt baking powder or baking soda as ingredients, however, in the directions it requires you to mix the salt, baking powder and baking soda together and add to the wet ingredients. What should I do? This cake requires a lot of expensive ingredients which I have already purchased….uggggh!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That sounds like a conundrum, Cathy! We’d probably recommend finding a different recipe just since that one seems a little wonky, or that it may have had parts of it edited but not the rest. Do you happen to have a link to it? We’d like to help you find something similar. Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello, Rosemary. The only recipes we could find online for moray were eel-based, and we weren’t sure if that was what you were planning on baking with self-rising flour. Could you possibly send us a link to the recipe you’re referring too so we can determine if self-rising flour would be a good fit? Thanks! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Nikki Crowl

    I need 5 cups of white flour to make choc chip cookies. I always use your flor. I only have 3 1/2 cups. What do I do ???? HELP

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Nikki. No worries! Either make a half batch or use a different flour for the remaining 1 1/2 cups if you have any lying around. Whole wheat, bread flour, it should be just fine. Add extra liquid if the dough seems dryer or stiffer than normal. Annabelle@KAF

    2. Erin mahaffey

      How about the recipe to that hot milk cake your boss gave you? That looks delicious!!
      This article was a great help. Thank you.

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s a crowd pleaser, for sure Erin! Here’s the recipe to that hot milk cake you see on display in this post. We call it our Lazy Daisy Cake, and it’s to die for! Kye@KAF

  6. Eva Latham

    i think this is a very good sighs to try out. thank you and i think your recipes are brilliant and are very nice to eat but can you email me some more recipe

    Reply

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