All-Purpose Flour: What It Is, How to Use It, and Why It’s So Popular

We may earn a commission on qualified purchases made through one of our links. Learn more

All-purpose flour is the most commonly used flour in baking. It is finely milled with a moderate gluten content.

All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat. The exact ratio of these two types of wheat determines the final texture of the flour. It’s used to make a wide variety of baked goods like cakes, cookies, and bread.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about this versatile flour and how to use it in your baking.

What is all-purpose flour

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Decoding All-Purpose Flour: Everything You Need to Know

All-purpose flour has a long and prominent history, dating back to the traditional way of grinding grain into flour. The production of all-purpose flour began when steel roller mills were introduced in the late 1800s, which allowed for a more precise and efficient way of grinding wheat. This resulted in a finer and more consistent flour, which was perfect for creating a versatile and all-purpose flour. Today, all-purpose flour is widely produced and sold in supermarkets under different names and brands.

Usage and Storage

All-purpose flour is a highly versatile ingredient that can be used in multiple ways. It is perfect for making cakes, cookies, bread, pizza dough, and other baked goods. When using all-purpose flour, it is essential to check the ingredients of the recipe to ensure that it is a suitable substitute. All-purpose flour is generally suitable for most recipes, but certain recipes may require a more precise type of flour.

When storing all-purpose flour, it is essential to keep it in a cool and dry place, away from moisture and heat. All-purpose flour can last for a decent amount of time if stored correctly, but it is always best to check the expiration date and use it before it goes bad.

What’s the Taste of All-Purpose Flour?

All-purpose flour is a common type of flour that is typically sold in stores. It is a mixture of different types of flour, including hard and soft wheat, and it contains a lower protein content compared to bread flour. The protein content of all-purpose flour typically ranges from 8-11%, depending on the brand and type of flour. The flour is ground to a fine texture, creating a delicate structure that is suitable for a variety of recipes.

Substitutes for All-Purpose Flour

If you need to substitute all-purpose flour in a recipe, there are plenty of options available. Some of the most common substitutes for all-purpose flour include:

  • Bread flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content compared to all-purpose flour, which makes it suitable for making bread and other baked goods that require a strong structure.
  • Cake flour: Cake flour has a lower protein content compared to all-purpose flour, which makes it suitable for making delicate baked goods like cakes and pastries.
  • Whole wheat flour: Whole wheat flour contains the entire grain, which means it has a higher protein and fiber content compared to all-purpose flour. It has a nuttier flavor and a denser texture compared to all-purpose flour.

Get Creative in the Kitchen: How to Make the Most of All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is a staple in most kitchens, and for good reason. It’s versatile, affordable, and easy to prepare. This type of flour is a combination of hard and soft wheat, which means it contains a moderate amount of protein and starch. The protein content in all-purpose flour is typically between 8-11%, which makes it perfect for creating a decent structure in baked goods.

Choosing the Right Brand and Size

When it comes to choosing the right all-purpose flour, it depends on what you want to use it for. Different manufacturers produce all-purpose flour with varying protein content, which can affect the final product. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • If you want to make bread, choose a brand with a higher protein content (around 11%).
  • If you’re making cakes or pastries, choose a brand with a lower protein content (around 8%).
  • If you’re not sure what to choose, go for a mid-range protein content (around 9-10%).

Additionally, consider the size of the bag you want to buy. If you use all-purpose flour frequently, it’s more cost-effective to buy a bigger bag.

Using All-Purpose Flour as a Thickening Tool

All-purpose flour is not just for baking. It can also be used as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies. Here’s how to do it:

  • Melt some butter or beef fat in a pan.
  • Add a tablespoon of all-purpose flour and stir until combined.
  • Gradually add liquid (such as broth or milk) while stirring constantly.
  • Keep stirring until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency.
  • If the mixture is too thick, add more liquid. If it’s too thin, add more flour.

Getting Creative with All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use it to make a roux for mac and cheese or gravy.
  • Add it to pancake or waffle batter for a thicker consistency.
  • Use it to coat chicken or fish before frying.
  • Mix it with water to create a paste for paper mache or other crafts.
  • Use it to thicken soups or stews.

Benefits of Grinding Your Own All-Purpose Flour

If you want to take your all-purpose flour game to the next level, consider grinding your own flour. This means you can choose the type of grain you want to use and have more control over the final product. Here are some benefits of grinding your own all-purpose flour:

  • You can choose organic or non-GMO grains.
  • You can control the texture of the flour.
  • You can create a fresher product.
  • You can save money in the long run.

Is all-purpose flour good for you?

One of the key benefits of all-purpose flour is its versatility in baking. It provides elasticity to dough, helping it to stretch and trap the gases that are formed by leavening agents like yeast or baking powder. This results in baked goods that are soft, fluffy, and have a good texture. All-purpose flour also has a neutral taste, which makes it a good choice for a wide range of recipes.


So, all-purpose flour is a type of flour that can be used for a variety of baking needs. It’s great for making cakes, cookies, and bread. You can also use it for thickening sauces and gravies, and even for coating chicken and fish before frying. 

So, now you know what all-purpose flour is and how to use it. You’re ready to get creative in the kitchen!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.