Self-rising wheat flour is a kitchen staple for both seasoned and amateur bakers.
However, it could be helpful to have alternative options handy.
Whether you’re trying to improve the nutritional value of your favorite recipe, want to make a gluten-free version, or simply don’t have self-rising flour on hand, there is a replacement for almost every situation.
Here are the 12 best substitutes for self-rising flour, including gluten-free options.
1. All-purpose flour + leavening agent
All-purpose or white flour is arguably the simplest replacement for self-rising flour. That’s because self-rising flour combines white flour and a leavening agent.
In baking, leavening is the production of gas or air that causes the food to rise.
A leavening agent is the substance or combination of substances used to induce this process. The reaction creates the typical porous and fluffy texture of baked goods.
The leavening agent in self-rising flour is usually baking powder.
A chemical leavening agent like baking powder typically contains an acidic (low pH) and basic (high pH) substance. The acid and the base react when combined, producing CO2 gas, which allows the baked good to rise.
You can create your own self-rising flour by using one of the following leavening agents:
- Baking powder: For every three cups (375 grams) of flour, add two teaspoons (10 grams) of baking powder.
- Baking soda + cream of tartar: Mix one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda and half a teaspoon (1.5 grams) of cream of tartar to equal one teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder.
- Baking soda + buttermilk: Mix one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda and half a cup (123 grams) of buttermilk to equal one teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder. You may use yogurt or sour milk instead of buttermilk.
- Baking soda + vinegar: Mix one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda with half a teaspoon (2.5 grams) of vinegar to equal one teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder. You may use lemon juice instead of vinegar.
- Baking soda + molasses: Mix one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda with one-third cup (112 grams) of molasses to equal one teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder. You may use honey instead of molasses.
If you’re using a leavening agent that includes a liquid, remember to reduce your original recipe’s liquid content accordingly.
Summary: Make your own self-rising flour by adding a leavening agent to regular, all-purpose flour.
2. Whole-wheat flour
If you’d like to increase the nutritional value of your recipe, consider whole-wheat flour.
Whole-wheat flour contains all of the nutritious components of the whole grain, including the bran, endosperm, and germ.
Research indicates that people who regularly eat whole grains are less likely to develop heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and other infectious diseases.
You can substitute whole-wheat flour equally for white flour, but remember that it has a heavier consistency. While it’s great for hearty bread and muffins, it may not be the best choice for cakes and other light pastries.
Don’t forget to add a leavening agent if you’re using plain whole-wheat flour in place of self-rising flour.
Summary: Whole-wheat flour is a whole-grain substitute for self-rising flour. It’s best used for hearty baked goods like bread and muffins.
3. Spelt flour
Spelt is an ancient whole grain that is nutritionally very similar to wheat.
It’s available in both refined and whole-grain versions.
You can substitute spelt equally for self-rising flour but will need to add a leavening agent.
Spelt is more water soluble than wheat, so you may want to use slightly less liquid than your original recipe calls for.
Like wheat, spelt contains gluten and is unsuitable for those following a gluten-free diet.
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Summary: Spelt flour is a gluten-containing grain similar to wheat. You may need less liquid in your recipe when substituting with spelt.
4. Amaranth flour
Amaranth is an ancient, gluten-free pseudo-grain. It contains all nine essential amino acids and is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Though technically not a grain, amaranth flour is a suitable substitute for wheat flour in many recipes.
Like other whole grains, amaranth flour is dense and hearty. It’s best used for pancakes and quick bread.
If you want a fluffier, less dense texture, a 50/50 mix of amaranth and a lighter flour can produce the desired results.
You will need to add a leavening agent to amaranth flour, as it doesn’t contain one.
Summary: Amaranth flour is a gluten-free, nutrient-dense pseudo-grain. It’s best for pancakes, quick bread, and other hearty baked goods.
5. Beans and bean flour
Beans are an unexpected, nutritious, and gluten-free substitute for self-rising flour in certain baked goods.
Beans are a good source of fiber, protein, and various minerals. Research shows that eating beans regularly may help reduce cholesterol.
In your recipe, you can substitute one cup (224 grams) of cooked, puréed beans and a leavening agent for each cup (125 grams) of flour.
Black beans are most appropriate for cocoa recipes, as their dark color will be visible in the end product.
Note that beans hold more moisture and contain less starch than wheat flour. This may lead to a denser end product that will not rise as much.
Summary: Beans are a nutritious, gluten-free substitute for flour. Use one cup (224 grams) of puréed beans or bean flour for one cup (125 grams) of self-rising flour and add a leavening agent.
6. Oat flour
Oat flour is a whole-grain alternative to wheat flour.
You can purchase it or easily make it on your own by pulsing dried oats in a food processor or blender until they become a fine powder.
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Oat flour does not rise the same way that wheat flour does. You will need to use extra baking powder or another leavening agent to ensure the proper rise of your end product.
Try adding 2.5 teaspoons (12.5 grams) of baking powder per cup (92 grams) of oat flour.
Be mindful that oats are often contaminated with gluten during processing if you’re using oat flour due to a gluten allergy or intolerance. To avoid this, ensure that you’re buying certified gluten-free oats.
Summary: Oat flour is a whole-grain alternative to self-rising flour that you can easily make yourself. It requires more leavening agent than other flours to ensure proper rise.
7. Quinoa flour
Quinoa is a popular pseudo-grain praised for its high protein content compared to other grains. Like amaranth, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and is gluten-free.
Quinoa flour has a bold, nutty flavor and works great for muffins and quick bread.
It tends to be very dry when used alone as a self-rising flour substitute. That’s why it’s best combined with another kind of flour or very moist ingredients.
You will need to add a leavening agent to any recipe in which you substitute quinoa flour.
Summary: Quinoa flour is a protein-rich, gluten-free flour that’s good for muffins and quick bread. It’s best used in conjunction with another type of flour due to its dryness.
8. Cricket flour
Cricket flour is a gluten-free flour made from roasted, milled crickets.
It boasts the highest protein content of all flour substitutes on this list, with 7 grams of protein in a two-tablespoon (28.5-gram) serving.
If you use cricket flour alone to replace self-rising flour, your baked goods may end up crumbly and dry. It’s best to use it in combination with other flours for an added protein boost.
Cricket flour is not appropriate for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
If you end up experimenting with this unique ingredient, remember that you may need to add a leavening agent if your recipe doesn’t include one already.
Summary: Cricket flour is a high-protein flour substitute made from roasted crickets. It’s best used in combination with other flours, as it can make baked goods dry and crumbly if used alone.
9. Rice flour
Rice flour is a gluten-free flour made from milled brown or white rice. Its neutral flavor and wide accessibility make it a popular alternative to wheat flour.
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Rice flour is often a thickener in soups, sauces, and gravies. It also works well for moist baked goods like cakes and dumplings.
Rice flour does not absorb liquids or fats as readily as wheat flour does, which can make baked goods mushy or greasy.
Let batters and mixes of rice flour sit for a while before baking them. This gives them more time to absorb the liquids.
Rice flour is best used in conjunction with other gluten-free flours for more closely resembling wheat flour results.
You may need a leavening agent to ensure the results mimic those of self-rising flour.
Summary: Rice flour is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. It does not absorb liquids or fats well, so batters may need to sit for a while before baking. Minimize this effect by combining rice flour with other types of flour.
10. Coconut flour
Coconut flour is a soft, gluten-free flour made from dried coconut meat.
Because of its high fat and low starch content, coconut flour behaves very differently than other grain-based flours in baking.
It’s highly absorbent, so you’ll need to use less than if you were using wheat flour. For best results, use one-fourth to one-third cup (32–43 grams) of coconut flour for every cup (125 grams) of wheat flour.
Coconut flour also requires extra eggs and liquid to hold baked goods together. Generally, use six eggs with every cup (128 grams) of coconut flour, plus one additional cup (237 ml) of liquid.
You may also need to add a leavening agent, which may vary by recipe.
Due to the vast differences between wheat and coconut flour, it may be a good idea to use pre-made recipes designed specifically for coconut flour instead of experimenting with altering your own.
Summary: Coconut flour is a gluten-free flour made from coconut meat. Recipes that use coconut flour as a wheat flour substitute may require extensive modification to achieve the same result.
11. Nut flours
Nut flours, or nut meals, are a gluten-free flour option made from raw nuts ground into a fine powder.
They’re a good choice for adding fiber, protein, and healthy fats to baked recipes. They also have a unique flavor depending on the type of nut.
The most common nut flours are:
To replicate the same structure of wheat flour in baked goods, you should use nut flours with other types of flour and/or eggs. You may also need to add a leavening agent.
Nut flours are versatile and a great addition to pie crusts, muffins, cakes, cookies, and bread.
Store nut flours in the freezer or refrigerator, as they can easily spoil.
Summary: Nut flours are made from ground, raw nuts. They require adding other flour types or eggs, as they do not provide structure to baked goods as effectively as wheat flour does.
12. Alternative flour blends
Gluten- or grain-free alternative flour blends are a great option for taking the guesswork out of using different flour substitutes.
When exchanging self-rising flour for other types of flour, the end product may be different than what you expected, or your results may be inconsistent.
Using a combination or blend of different types of flour may help you ensure the right texture, rise, and flavor of your recipe each time you make it.
Typically these flour blends are designed to mimic all-purpose flour. Thus, you likely need a leavening agent to ensure your blend behaves like self-rising flour.
Pre-made flour blends are increasingly available in many major grocery stores, or, if you’re feeling experimental, you can try making your own.
Summary: Using a pre-made or homemade blend of alternative flours helps ensure more consistency in your wheat-flour-free baking endeavors.
There are numerous options for substituting self-rising wheat flour when you don’t have it on hand, need to tailor a recipe for an allergy, or just want to boost the nutrition content of your recipe.
Most of these substitutes require a leavening agent to help your baked goods rise properly.
Many gluten-free flours are best used with other alternatives to mimic wheat-based baked goods’ texture, rise, and flavor.
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As you explore these different options, a degree of curiosity and patience is recommended for experimentation.
If baking experiments aren’t your cup of tea, a pre-made blend of alternative flours may be the simplest way.