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Flour plays a crucial role in cooking and baking. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves just how incredible it is! You make flour by grinding cereal grains, seeds, or other starchy ingredients like wheat. Also, you can use this transformative ingredient in everything from fluffy bread to delicate pastries.

Want to elevate your culinary creations? In this guide, we will dive into the different types of flour and their uses. We’ll cover their unique characteristics, versatility, and appeal. Let’s get into it!

Types of Flour and the Different Ways to Use Them

There are lots of different types of flour. Not just the basic self-raising or wheat flour. There are actually quite a few different options and while they’re slightly interchangeable, there are subtle differences. Here’s a rundown.

All-Purpose Flour

types of flour

All-purpose flour’s history traces back to the invention of the steel roller mills in the late 19th century. During this time, it became a hit thanks to convenience, adaptability, usefulness, and taste.

All-purpose flour’s greatest strength? Its versatility. All-purpose flour is the foundation ingredient of countless recipes, from cakes and pastries to breads to fried chicken! As you can see, all-purpose flour makes cooking and baking much more simple. It’s not hard to see why it was a hit!

Other namesplain flour, AP flour, multipurpose flour, wheat flour
CharacteristicsAll-purpose flour offers a balanced texture, neither too fine nor too coarse, making it an ideal choice for a wide array of recipes. It retains a pale color and a subtle, wheaty flavor that doesn’t overpower other ingredients.
Nutritional ValueIn general, all-purpose flour is a good source of carbohydrates, protein, and essential nutrients.
*nutritional value may vary depending on processing methods and brand
RecipesChocolate Chip Cookies
Buttermilk Biscuits
Chicken Pot Pie

Whole Wheat Flour

types of flour

Whole wheat flour or wholemeal flour is well-known for nutritional value. It has some health benefits because grinding the entire wheat kernel preserves fiber and nutrients. As a result of the grinding process, it also has a robust texture, distinctive color, and nutty flavor.

Whole wheat flour is great for creating whole-grain breads, muffins, pancakes, and pasta. Also, its fiber-rich composition is an excellent choice for health-conscious bakers who want to make wholesome treats without sacrificing flavor.

Other nameswholemeal flour
CharacteristicsWhole wheat flour is coarser than all-purpose flour, with a tan or light brown color, reflecting its whole grain origin. Its robust, nutty flavor adds depth to recipes.
Nutritional ValueThis flour is a nutritional powerhouse, containing essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. It provides a hearty dose of nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and dietary fiber.
RecipesWhole Wheat Bread
Whole Wheat Pancakes
Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
Whole Wheat Focaccia

Bread Flour

types of flour

Bread flour is a type of flour which, as you’d guess, is used mainly for bread. It’s key ingredient in the world of baking. Just like bread itself, it has a centuries-old legacy. Back then, bakers knew that they needed high gluten levels to create chewy, well-structured bread. So specific flour was needed to get the best bread, and it turned into essential ingredient during the evolution of bread-making methods. Ever since then, it’s viewed as the perfect choice for making crusty artisan bread and other baked goods.

CharacteristicsThis flour is renowned for its high protein content, creating a strong gluten network crucial for bread’s rise and structure, making it the best flour for bread. It exhibits a pale cream color and a neutral, slightly nutty taste.
Nutritional ValueWhile it’s not as nutrient-dense as whole wheat flour, bread flour provides essential carbohydrates and protein. It’s a key ingredient in bread, where the nutrients are amplified through fermentation.
RecipesFrench Baguette
Sourdough Bread
Honey Bagels
Ciabatta Bread

Rye Flour

types of flour

Rye flour or “dark flour” has a distinctively deep color and robust, earthy taste. It’s a type of flour which originated in Asia, but later gained popularity in Northern and Eastern Europe. Also, it serves as a reliable staple in communities with climates where wheat struggled to thrive.

The unique characteristics of rye flour make it the perfect ingredient for pumpernickel bread, rye sourdough, hearty rolls, crackers, and pancakes. In other words, it adds a rustic and hearty dimension to all kinds of recipes!

Other namesdark flour
CharacteristicsRye flour stands out with its dense, hearty texture and a deep brown color. Its taste is robust and earthy, often accompanied by subtle hints of nuttiness, making it a distinctive choice among different flours.
Nutritional ValueRye flour offers an abundance of nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a notable source of dietary fiber, supporting digestive health and providing sustained energy.
RecipesRye Sourdough Bread
Pumpernickel Bread
Rye Crispbread
Rye Pancakes

Cake Flour

types of flour

Cake flour is another type of flour you’re probably quite familiar with by now! Known for its unique ability to create light and tender cakes, cake flour uses soft wheat varieties, which have lower protein content. Indeed, bakers specifically developed it to create a finer, more delicate crumb structure!

Because of this, cake flour is perfect for light, delicate cakes like sponges, chiffons, and angel food cakes.

CharacteristicsCake flour is exceptionally fine-textured, appearing as a pure white powder. Its neutral taste enhances the flavors of other ingredients, creating a soft, tender, and velvety texture in cakes.
Nutritional ValueWhile cake flour is not a significant source of nutrients, it serves a crucial role in creating the desired texture in cakes. Its lower protein content promotes tenderness in baked goods.
RecipesVanilla Sponge Cake
Angel Food Cake
Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Self-Rising Flour

types of flour

Self-rising or “self-raising” flour is a shortcut to baking success. In many countries, people refer to it as “self-raising flour” because of its unique ability to rise without needing separate leavening agents. In fact, it was first developed in the United Kingdom as an all-in-one alternative to traditional flour, salt, and leavening agents. Since then, it’s become a kitchen staple for recipes that require leavening agents (like yeast or baking powder, for instance) and it’s time-saving abilities.

CharacteristicsSelf-rising flour is a blend of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. It boasts a fine texture, a light cream color, and a neutral taste, allowing it to serve as an all-in-one solution for various baked goods.
Nutritional ValueWhile self-rising flour contains essential carbohydrates and a minimal amount of added salt, it doesn’t offer significant nutritional value. Its primary purpose is to simplify the baking process.
RecipesFruit Gateau
Buttermilk Scones
Summer Cake
Vanilla Sponge Cake

Pastry Flour

pastry flour

Pastry flour is a well-kept secret in the baking world. In particular, it’s celebrated for its unique ability to create tender, delicate pastries. Its origins lie in the demand for a flour that could produce the perfect, crumbly texture which is so sought after in pastries. Also, it excels in crafting cookies, shortcrust tarts, pie crusts, and biscuits. This is thanks to its low protein content, which creates a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth quality.

CharacteristicsPastry flour is finely milled, resulting in a soft and silky texture. It appears as a pale, almost snow-white powder, and its subtle, neutral taste allows the flavors of pastries to shine through.
Nutritional ValueWhile pastry flour doesn’t offer substantial nutritional value, it’s prized for its unique texture-enhancing qualities, making it the flour of choice for delectable pastries.
RecipesApple Turnovers
Boston Cream Pie
Charlotte Royale

Pizza Flour

pizza flour

Pizza flour has distinct characteristics that are key in achieving the perfect pizza crust. It’s thought to originate from Naples, Italy. After all, Napoli is the home of pizza! There, pizza makers required finely milled, low-protein flour in order to craft the thin, elastic, and crispy crust. In fact, this is the main characteristic when it comes to texture of traditional Neapolitan pizza. In some regions, pizza flour is known as “00 flour” (doppio zero flour) because it is ground to a fine texture.

Other names00 flour
CharacteristicsPizza flour is finely ground, resulting in a powdery, talcum-like texture. It is typically pure white and imparts a subtle, slightly nutty flavor that enhances the pizza’s overall taste.
Nutritional ValuePizza flour is primarily a source of carbohydrates with minimal nutritional value. Its low protein content is key to achieving a thin, crispy crust in pizza.
RecipesNeapolitan Pizza
Tomato and Basil Pesto Focaccia

Pasta Flour

pasta flour

Pasta flour is a key ingredient in Italian cuisine…and beyond. The fine grains offer the pasta just the right mix of firmness and tenderness when you cook it. Also, in Italy, people call it ‘semola di grano duro,’ which means durum wheat flour.

This type of flour is essential for creating fresh pasta like fettuccine, ravioli, and gnocchi.

Other namessemola di grano duro
CharacteristicsPasta flour, primarily ground from durum wheat, is known for its coarse texture, pale yellow color, and mild, wheaty taste. These characteristics make it ideal for producing pasta with a firm texture and a satisfying bite.
Nutritional ValuePasta flour is a significant source of carbohydrates and protein. It contains essential nutrients, such as B vitamins and dietary fiber, contributing to its nutritional value.
RecipesForager’s Ravioli
Squid Ink Pasta
Duck Ragù with Spinach Pasta

Gluten-Free Flour

gluten free flour

Gluten-free flour transformed the landscape of baking and cooking for those who can’t consume wheat. Without a doubt, the rise of gluten-free diets and celiac awareness sparked the development of specialized gluten-free flour blends.

This type of flour varies widely in texture, color, and taste. Gluten-free flour is a versatile substitute. And it’s used to create gluten-free bread, cakes, and pastries. It’s also a common choice for thickening sauces and crafting gluten-free pasta.

Some of the common types of Gluten-Free Flour:

Rice FlourRice flour, made from finely ground rice grains, is a versatile gluten-free option with a neutral taste. It’s commonly used in a wide range of dishes, from baked goods to rice noodles.
Almond FlourAlmond flour, crafted from finely ground almonds, offers a slightly nutty flavor and a moist texture. It’s an excellent choice for gluten-free baking, adding a rich and unique flavor to various recipes.
Tapioca FlourTapioca flour, sourced from the cassava root, is a versatile gluten-free flour with a neutral flavor. It’s prized for its ability to add a light and chewy texture to baked goods like bread and pizza crusts.
Buckwheat FlourBuckwheat flour, despite its name, is gluten-free and has a distinctive, earthy taste. It’s a common choice for making gluten-free pancakes, noodles, and bread.
Coconut FlourCoconut flour, made from the dried, defatted coconut meat, adds a subtle coconut flavor to recipes. It’s popular in gluten-free baking, particularly for creating moist and dense treats like cakes and muffins.

Vegetable Flour

types of flour

Besides grain-based flour, there’s also vegetable flour, which is a versatile and nutritious gluten-free ingredient. In fact, it’s suitable for a wide range of recipes.

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Here are some common vegetable flours:

  • Chickpea Flour: Chickpea Flour or besan is made from ground chickpeas. The result? A versatile flour which Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines both use often. Commonly, people use it for recipes like chickpea pancakes (besan chilla) and falafel.
  • Cassava Flour: Ground from cassava root, it’s a grain-free and gluten-free flour. For example, this flour is suitable for various recipes, including traditional dishes like cassava cake.
  • Potato Flour: Made from dried and ground potatoes. You can use it for thickening sauces, or use it in gluten-free baking.
  • Arrowroot Flour: Extracted from the arrowroot plant, this is a type of a gluten-free starch. It’s really useful as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies.
  • Sweet Potato Flour: Produced from dehydrated sweet potatoes, sweet potato flour is often used as a gluten-free alternative in baking and cooking.

Flour Substitutes

Substituting flours in recipes becomes necessary for different reasons, such as dietary needs or allergies. In most cases, you can replace one type of flour with another. However, remember that this substitution might affect the texture and taste of your dish. You can adjust the quantity and may need to experiment with various combinations and conversions, especially in baking. In addition to other flour varieties, here are some common flour substitutes:

  • Cornmeal: You can replace flour in recipes that require a coarse texture, such as cornbread, polenta, and some types of cookies with cornmeal.
  • Psyllium Husk Powder: Yep, trusty psyllium husk powder isn’t just a health good. You can use it as a binding agent in gluten-free recipes. Also, many low-carb bread recipes use it. That’s because it to create a bread-like texture…just without the carbohydrate content.
  • Ground Flaxseed: In vegan baking recipes, you can mix ground flaxseed with water to create a flax egg, and it serves as a binding agent.
  • Chia Seeds: Like flaxseeds, you can use chia seeds to create a chia egg, offering binding properties in recipes.
  • Protein Powder: In some low-carb and high-protein recipes, you can use protein powder as a substitute.


bread flour
How to choose the right flour in my recipes?

To select the ideal flour for your recipes, consider the types of flour available. Start by evaluating the specific characteristics like protein content, texture, and taste. Each type of flour serves a distinct purpose, so matching it to your culinary needs is essential for successful cooking and baking.

What flour is the strongest?

The strength of flour in baking is determined by its gluten content. Bread flour, with a high gluten content (12-14% protein), is the strongest and is ideal for yeast bread. The choice of flour depends on the desired outcome, with strong flours for structure and weaker flours for tenderness, while all-purpose flour is a versatile option.

How do I store different types of flour to maintain their freshness?

The shelf life of flour can differ depending on its type and storage methods. Generally, you can keep your flour fresh by placing it in airtight containers to shield it from moisture and pests. Store these containers in a cool, dark place, away from heat and sunlight. For added freshness, it’s helpful to label them with purchase dates. If necessary, consider refrigeration or freezing as storage options.


Whether you’re baking a fluffy cake, or seeking gluten-free options, we hope our guide equipped you with the right knowledge to start cooking! So, what are you waiting for? Time to get cooking or baking. Just make sure you’ve filled your pantry with the right type of flour first!