Best Cake Flour Substitutes

If you’re an avid cake baker (like me), then you likely have cake flour in your arsenal. Cake flour has a low protein content that restricts gluten networking. This results in a fluffy and lightweight cake that is highly enjoyable. But you can still achieve cake greatness without it.

The most straightforward substitution for cake flour is all-purpose flour. However, using all-purpose flour with a mix-in such as cornstarch is the best choice. The other options include pastry flour, almond flour, and self-rising flour. Use these flours correctly, and you won’t notice the difference!

Hey! I’m Michelle, and I bake cakes on the regular. Needless to say, I typically have cake flour sitting in my pantry. Yet, there’s been plenty of times when I’ve found myself without this beloved flour. I have found several substitutes that work like a charm.

Need a cake flour substitute? Check out my top five list below!

Top 5 Cake Flour Substitutes

If your recipe calls for cake flour, I highly recommend purchasing some. In the meantime, you can use one of these top-notch swaps for cake flour.

1. All-Purpose Flour

The simplest swap for cake flour is all-purpose flour.

That’s because it can be used in a 1:1 ratio, and most people have this convenient flour on hand, so you won’t need to run to the grocery store to get it.

The flavor won’t change when you use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. However, the texture will change ever so slightly. That’s because all-purpose flour has a higher protein content which develops more gluten networks, resulting in a slightly denser and firmer goodie.

2. All-Purpose Flour with Cornstarch, Tapioca Flour, or Arrowroot Powder

Using all-purpose flour in place of cake flour is a quick and easy swap. But why settle for this substitution when you can create your very own “DIY cake flour?”

You can “make” cake flour at home by adding a few tablespoons of cornstarch, tapioca flour, or arrowroot powder. 

All you need to do to create one cup of cake flour is to add ¾ cup of all-purpose flour and mix it generously with two tablespoons of one of the ingredients mentioned above.

Use it in your recipe, and you’ll end up with a fabulously light and fluffy dessert!

3. Pastry Flour

If you love to bake and eat pies, you likely have pastry flour in your kitchen.

Pastry flour is an excellent substitution for cake flour because it has an even lower protein content.

That said, it can be used in a 1:1 ratio in your recipe – as long as the recipe contains some type of leavening agent.

Using pastry flour, you’ll have an incredibly tender treat, unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You might enjoy it so much that you regularly replace cake flour with pastry flour!

4. Almond Flour

Many bakers – especially gluten-free ones – are opting to use almond flour for their baked goodies. 


For starters, it’s perfectly safe for those on a strict gluten-free diet. Secondly, it’s delicious with a subtle nutty flavor that many enjoy. Third, it’s an excellent swap for many other flours, including cake flour.

You can swap almond flour for cake flour in a 1:1 ratio. The perk of using almond flour is that it is made with nuts, so it will add an extra dose of moisture to your baked goods. And who doesn’t love an ultra-moist treat?

Tip: Don’t use almond flour if you have a nut allergy. While this might go without saying, I always have to mention it – just in case. The last thing I want is for anyone to get ill!

5. Self-Rising Flour

The last option is self-rising flour. This is a lesser-known sub for cake flour, and it’s a little trickier, so it’s certainly not the number one choice. But it can be a top-notch swap if you don’t mind working a little magic to get your desired result.

Self-rising flour is a low-protein flour, which is obviously good news for recipes calling for cake flour.

However, self-rising flour also contains salt and a leavening agent, namely baking powder.

So, when using self-rising flour instead of cake flour, reduce the baking powder by one teaspoon and omit the salt (if your recipe calls for salt). 


You don’t need to have cake flour in order to be successful with your dessert recipe. Pretty cool, huh? If you want to keep learning about this fun topic, I’ve included several frequently asked questions to take a look at.

Is it OK to use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?

You can successfully swap all-purpose for cake flour in a 1:1 ratio. The only thing to remember is that the texture of the desserts will be altered. It will not be as tender or lightweight. However, the difference isn’t too noticeable, and you’ll still enjoy your baked goods.

Does cake flour make a difference?

Using cake flour for certain recipes, such as vanilla cake, makes a difference. That’s because cake flour has a lower protein content. So, when you use it in a recipe that calls for cake flour, you’ll achieve a tender and lighter dessert.

What is the difference between using cake flour and all-purpose?

The most straightforward answer is cake flour has a lower protein content, which results in a lighter and fluffier baked good. It’s best suited for tender recipes, such as vanilla cake. All-purpose flour has medium protein content, creating medium density better suited for cookies and pizza dough.

Cake Flour is Ideal, but There are Many Great Substitutions!

If your recipe calls for cake flour, I recommend purchasing and using some. However, if you don’t want to buy a whole thing of cake flour, you can also opt for all-purpose flour (with or without a mix-in), pastry flour, almond flour, or self-rising flour.

Have you used any of these substitutions for cake flour? Do you have any substitutions you’d like to add to this list? Share in the comment section below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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