The Best Flours Every Baker Needs In 2023

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When humans began to mill wheat into flour 6,000 years ago, the business of baked goods completely transformed. Humans could make more flour-based products than ever, which soon evolved into numerous opportunities and ways to sustain the population. Today, according to the Flour Museum, mills make 320 million tons of wheat flour annually, which indicates that for every low-carb fad diet, there are more people who continue to chow down on baked goods.

Avid bakers may already know the benefits of using different flours in the kitchen depending on the purpose. But even amateur bakers can see stellar results by tailoring their choice of flour to their end goal. All-purpose flour is the most common type, but special flours can help you obtain bakery-worthy results such as fluffy pastries and moist cakes. Aside from stylistic choices, gluten-free flour has allowed people with gluten allergies to continue enjoying their favorite baked goods.

So whether you're planning on crafting a multilayered creation or just need some flour for dusting surfaces, there's an option for you. We've narrowed down the various types of flour to those most useful for your home kitchen and rounded up the best flours in each category in 2023.

How we chose the products

If you're just learning there are different flours for different purposes, you're not alone. (After all, it is called all-purpose flour for a reason.) But once you get comfortable with when to use the various types of flours, you'll likely see a huge improvement in your baking — fluffier bagels, bouncier loaves, and impossibly moist cake. Flour might not save your cookies, muffins, and cakes if you're baking at improper temperatures and using incorrect measurements. But to step your baking up a notch, you could definitely benefit from assorted bags of flour.

To give you a headstart on which flours to opt for, we've gone through articles, consumer ratings, and expert reviews to cull the list down to the very best flours for specific needs. Our final selection will have your pantry stocked with everything you need to become the token baker of your friend group.

Best overall flour

Home cooks who want a workhorse flour to thicken soups or sauces and bake simpler treats like cookies may want to consider eliminating the complexity and just grabbing an all-purpose flour. Arrowhead Mills organic all purpose unbleached flour tops our list as the best overall flour. Not only is it perfect for making basic baked goods (scones, cookies, etc.) but it is also organic and unbleached. 

Bleaching flour involves removing the wheat bran and germ before the grain is ground into fine flour. The flour is then combined with a bleaching agent like benzoyl peroxide, which assists in a quicker maturation rate, explains Healthline. Whether you choose bleached or unbleached is a question of personal decision. Bleached flour is finer in texture and can therefore soak up more liquid, making it a good option for foods like pie crusts and cookies. Meanwhile, unbleached flour is great for recipes that need to hold some shape, such as yeast bread and hand pies. 

A 5-pound bag of Arrowhead Mills organic unbleached all purpose flour is available on Amazon for $10.49 as of February 2023.

The best bread flour

When COVID-19 precautions kept most people stuck in the house, many people took to a hobby that was both relaxing and fruitful. But a lot of them learned that baking bread is not for the faint of heart. As with most baking processes, one wrong move can result in an underbaked, dense, or just downright disgusting loaf. To get a leg up on your baking, bread flour is a good place to start.

This type of flour is milled from a harder wheat, which increases the protein content and thus the amount of gluten in the bread. Bob's Red Mill is our pick for the best bread flour on the market thanks to its undeniable results. One baker shared in an Amazon review that they were disheartened after several bread-baking failures. Once they tried Bob's Red Mill they had immediate success using the exact same recipe that had previously given them a hard time. Meanwhile, one Redditor tested it against another well-known brand of bread flour and concluded that Bob's produces bouncier fluffier results.

Bob's Red Mill unbleached artisan bread flour is available on Amazon starting at $9.95 for a 5-pound bag as of February 2023.

The best cake flour

A well-made cake is an essential part of an unforgettable birthday celebration. It needs to have some density accompanied by a delicate bounce. Swans Down cake flour is a niche type of flour that has captured the hearts of Southern bakers for its ability to make a cake go from bland to standout. Cake flour is ideal for baking cakes because it's milled from softer wheat, which decreases the protein content in the flour. If you've ever wondered how your favorite bakeries churn out fluffy, light cakes, this might be the explanation.

It's not advised to substitute cake flour in just any recipe, but keeping a box of Swans Down on hand is a smart move for those moments when the inspiration to make a cake suddenly strikes. Swans Down famously boasts that its flour is sifted 27 times before reaching shelves, giving it a higher rise and a fluffier moister outcome. One Amazon reviewer commented that they could never use another cake flour after this one, adding that "it was too late to turn back." Swans Down cake flour is a must-try for home bakers looking to achieve that elusive perfectly-baked cake.

Swans Down cake flour is available on Amazon for $5.99 for a 2-pound box as of February 2023.

The best self-rising flour

If you've ever wondered how the South consistently produces such mouth-wateringly delicious baked goods, the answer might lie in the flour. White Lily has been the South's secret weapon since it was founded in the late 1800s, according to Southern Living. Self-rising flour is combined with baking powder and salt, which makes it the perfect flour to use when you're looking for soft, fluffy desserts. 

You could make your own, but White Lily's self-rising flour is so dependable that it's worth keeping a bag in your pantry, even if you won't use it often. White Lily is made from red winter wheat, which has a lower gluten and protein content. This translates to particularly delicious baked goods, especially airy treats like biscuits, muffins, waffles, and quick loaves. For optimal results, avoid using it unless your recipe specifically calls for self-rising flour.

White Lily's unbleached self-rising flour is available on Amazon in a 5-pound bag for $14.20 as of February 2023

The best organic flour

Not only is Arrowhead Mills organic all purpose unbleached flour our best overall pick, but it earns a spot on this list for a second time as our pick for the top organic flour. There are many factors that go into defining and certifying a product as organic, and Arrowhead Mills prides itself on its organic farming approach. The flour is milled from pesticide and herbicide-free grain, and it is also grown in soil that is only treated by natural or organic fertilizers. 

If you're a fan of organic produce, then you probably already grab organic flour for baking. There's no major difference in the texture of organic versus non-organic flour, although some people can taste a slight change, as Cotswold Flour explains. Arrowhead Mills is our favorite brand because it's easy to find and produces high-quality leavened and unleavened baked goods. One Amazon reviewer noted that it was very finely sifted, which might explain the soft texture of the baked goods made using this flour.

Arrowhead Mills organic all purpose Flour is available on Amazon for $10.49 for a 5-pound bag as of February 2023.

The best flour for pizza dough

Imagine inviting your friends over on a Saturday night for pizza and serving them bland, dense homemade pies. Even if the toppings are fresh, you can still spoil the entire meal by using a poorly-prepared dough. To avoid this pizza night disaster, a 00 flour will set you in the right direction. Cook's Illustrated describes 00 flour as an Italian flour that gets its name from the level of the grind. 00 is the finest, which gives you a more pliable dough so you can flip and twirl it to your delight.

The best flour for pizza is by the Italian brand Antimo Caputo. The Pizza Heaven explains that it's used by the pizzaiolos in Naples, so if it's good enough for the professionals, it's good enough for home bakers. With an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars from more than 10,700 Amazon reviews, it's clear that home cooks are happy with the results. For an easy way to upgrade your pizza dough, go back to the roots and opt for one of Italy's most respected pizza flours.

Antimo Caputo tipo "OO" flour is available on Amazon for $10.49 for a 2.2-pound bag as of February 2023.

The best biscuit flour

There's something comforting about freshly baked homemade biscuits. Whether or not you grew up eating them, they're a simple way to bring a home-cooked touch to any meal. But overmixing dough, incorrect measurements, and other easy-to-make mistakes can render your biscuits dense instead of soft and flaky.

A simple way to combat a rock-hard biscuit texture is by using pastry flour. This type of flour has a lower protein content, helping your baked goods turn out softer and lighter than if you are using all-purpose flour, per Webstaurant Store. Bob's Red Mill unbleached white fine pastry flour is our top pick for biscuit dough because the results are impossibly soft. This flour is milled from white wheat and it is enriched and unbleached. While there are other highly regarded flours for making biscuits, we chose Bob's Red Mill because it produces nicely risen biscuits with an excellent texture. One Amazon reviewer raved about making the perfect first batch of biscuits thanks to this flour.

Bob's Red Mill fine pastry four is available on Amazon for $16.67 for a 5-pound bag as of February 2023.

The best gluten-free flour

Social media magic makes gluten-free baking seem simple. Just use any wheat-free flour and you'll instantly have soft and fluffy baked goods. The reality is a bit trickier because gluten is responsible for a lot of the spring and bounce in the texture of many baked products. King Arthur's Measure for Measure gluten-free flour has taken much of the guesswork out of gluten-free baking by producing a product that, as its name suggests, can be used in the same ratio as regular flour.

Although King Arthur suggests only using this flour for non-yeasted recipes such as cookies, it still provides perfectly-textured baked goods. It consists of a combination of several ingredients including rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch. According to New York Magazine's The Strategist, this flour is a bright spot in a sea of otherwise disappointing gluten-free flours. No more rock-hard gluten-free baked goods and no more complicated math calculations to get the ratios correct.

King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour is available on Amazon for $8.62 for a 3-pound bag as of February 2023.

The best almond flour

Almond flour is a secret weapon for many gluten-free and ketogenic bakers. Made from finely ground almonds, this flour is a popular substitute for its ability to produce soft, moist baked goods without any gluten content. Although it's just almonds that have been de-skinned and ground to a fine powder, this wheat flour alternative can be transformed into delectable desserts. 

We love Blue Diamond's finely sifted almond flour for its silky texture. Some almond flours are coarse, resulting in grainy baked goods. As one Amazon reviewer commented, using Blue Diamond almond flour was the first time they were able to experience flour-free baking that tasted as it was intended. Try it the next time you bake a cake as a dense and subtly-nutty treat for your gluten-free friends. Your almond flour can go the extra mile by serving as a breading; just use it in place of breadcrumbs for a surprisingly crunchy coating.

Amazon sells a 3-pound pack of Blue Diamond finely sifted almond flour for $13.44 as of February 2023.

The best whole wheat flour

Whole wheat flour has often left bakers scratching their heads. While it can be used to create delicious baked goods, the results are sometimes unpredictable and it's not always a 1:1 substitute. As Cotwold Flour explains, whole wheat flour is any flour that is made from the entire wheat grain — the bran, germ, and endosperm. White flour, on the other hand, is made by removing the bran and germ, leaving just the endosperm. Because whole wheat flour uses more parts of the whole grain, it's higher in fiber and results in denser baked goods.

Whole Foods Market 365 organic whole wheat flour beat out its competitors for a very simple reason — it tastes great. Whole wheat flour can sometimes be a little too wheaty or grainy, but many reviewers found that it had a perfectly balanced flavor. While whole wheat may be a healthier option for the digestive tract, you might not necessarily want it to taste as though you're eating extra healthy food. According to user reviews, it's an ideal flour to use for denser types of bread like roti. And if you're not into using 100% whole wheat, this is the perfect flour to mix with all-purpose. 

Amazon sells Whole Foods 365 organic whole wheat flour for $4.69 for a 5-pound bag as of February 2023.