How Much Does a Cup of Flour Weigh?  I Weighed 192 Cups of All-Purpose Flour to Find Out.

How Much Does a Cup of Flour Weigh? I Weighed 192 Cups of All-Purpose Flour to Find Out.


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How much does a cup of flour weigh

How much does a cup of flour weigh?  It’s an important question if you want to be able to convert American recipes over to the metric system or if you want to break down a recipe to see the ratios of different ingredients.  Knowing the answer can also help you more easily scale recipes up or down.

If you do a Google search, you may find yourself on the Instructables page that says that a cup of all-purpose flour weighs 120 grams.  Allrecipes says one cup of flour is 128 grams.  Joy of Baking weighs in, calling one cup of flour 130 grams.   Why is there a discrepancy, what number should you be using, and does it matter at all?  I weighed 192 cups of flour to figure out how much a cup of flour weighs!

I decided to look at three different factors that could cause weight variation: the method of getting the flour into the measuring cup, the brand of flour, and the type of measuring cup.

This is a long post, so grab a drink and get ready.  First, I share my findings.  Then, I tackle the important issue of whether  the difference in weight matters.  At the end, I summarize all of my conclusions (skip to that section if you are short on time).

The Dip Versus The Scoop

There are two main ways that people fill their measuring cups.

Dipping measuring cup

I’m calling the first method “The Dip”.  This is where you dip your measuring cup right into the bag or jar of flour.

Scooping flour

The second method is “The Scoop”.  In this method, you use a scoop to pour flour from the bag or jar into your measuring cup.

Leveling flour

In both methods, it’s important to level off the top of the measuring cup after it is full.

I ran 72 tests on each method using different brands of flours and measuring cups.  Here are the averaged results:

The Dip 139 grams
The Scoop 128 grams
Difference The Dip yields 8.5% more flour than The Scoop

 

Perhaps more telling is the difference in standard deviation between The Dip and The Scoop.   I know, I’m getting all mathy on you now.  As a quick math refresher, the standard deviation is a measure that is used to quantify the amount of variation in set of data values.  A standard deviation of 0 would mean that I got the exact same answer when I did things the same way.  What I found was that the standard deviation for The Dip was 2.43 grams and the standard deviation for The Scoop was 1.93 grams.  Using The Scoop yields more consistent results.

The Flour Brand

Flour Brands

For this project, I looked at four different brands of flour: King Arthur Flour, 365 Everyday Value Organic (Whole Foods’ house brand), Gold Medal, and Pillsbury.

When calculating the brand results, I used an average of measures taken using The Dip and the Scoop Method with a variety of measuring cups for each flour brand.  The results are as follows:

King Arthur Flour 138 grams
365 Everyday Value 136 grams
Gold Medal 130 grams
Pillsbury 129 grams

 

That’s a 7.3% difference between Pillsbury and King Arthur Flour!

The Measuring Cups

Measuring Cups

Will you get the same result using any measuring cup?  It looks like the answer is “no”.

Yellow Cup 133 grams
Blue Cup 132 grams
Pink Striped Cup 135 grams

 

The difference in standard deviation is also striking here.  The yellow cup’s standard deviation was 2.80 grams, the blue cup’s was 2.05 grams, and the pink striped cup’s was 1.68 grams.  I attribute this to the round shape of the striped cup and the fact that it has less of a rim.  This makes it easier to level the cup.

Liquid Measuring Cups

Liquid Measuring Cups

I am including a liquid measuring cup in this post because I know that some of you use a liquid measure to measure dry ingredients.  The standard deviation when I used a liquid measure was 8.76 grams!  Because you can’t level a liquid measure, it is nearly impossible to get an accurate result using one.

Does a 20 Gram Difference in the Weight of a Cup of Flour Matter?

The highest weight that I measured for a cup of all-purpose flour was 144 grams (King Arthur Flour using The Dip) and the lowest weight was 124 grams (Pillsbury flour using The Scoop).  That’s a 20 gram difference.  It sounded like a lot, but would it really matter?  I wanted to know.  So, I baked two loaves of bread.

I used a scale to measure all of the ingredients.  I treated a cup of flour as 124 grams for one loaf and 144 grams for the other.  I kept everything else exactly the same.

As the loaves were going through their second rise, I already had my answer.

Bread Rising

The loaf on the left used the higher measurement and the loaf on the right used the lower measurement.   Everything else was the same.  Wow!

Bread didn't rise

Here’s how the two loaves looked after the bake. (For more on this, King Arthur Flour has a fabulous post about how small differences in ingredients can significantly affect bread baking.)

In bread baking, flour is the main ingredient and interacts with the yeast and the liquid.  I wondered if the difference would be as prominent in cupcakes where flour is just one of many ingredients.

Two chocolate cupcakes

The chocolate cupcake on the left used the higher weight number and the one on the right used the lower weight number.  If you see a difference, let me know.  To me, they are basically identical and they were also identical in taste.

Conclusions

1.  If a bread recipe includes weights, use them.  This can make or break your end result.

2.  Measuring using weights may not matter as much for cakes and cookies.  If you like using cups, stick with it and don’t worry.  However, if it’s something delicate (like macarons or pastry)  or if getting a specific rise is important to you, I would still consider using weights.

3.  Never use a liquid measuring cup for dry ingredients.

4.  When possible, use a measuring cup that has a very clean, defined top (ideally with no lip) as it is easier to level and will yield more consistent results.

5.  The Scoop produces more consistent results and a lighter weight than The Dip.  Most cookbook authors will tell you to measure that way.  Listen to them if you want to get the same results they do.

6.  If you successfully make a recipe using cups and want to make it again using a different brand of flour, you may need to adjust the recipe slightly to take the different weights into account.

How Much Does a Cup of Flour Weigh?

If you want to use weights and the author of a recipe doesn’t give you a weight or tell you which brand of flour they used or how they scooped their flour, I would use 128 grams for a cup of all-purpose flour.  That’s the average across all four brands of flour that I weighed using The Scoop.

Note: I know many of you have asked for weights on my recipes for years.  I am working on a blog redesign and one of the features that I am adding will be a tool that converts my recipes to weight.  It will be a while.  But, it will come. 

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29 comments on “How Much Does a Cup of Flour Weigh? I Weighed 192 Cups of All-Purpose Flour to Find Out.”

  1. Liliana says:

    Oh, my God! I live in Europe and whenever I want to use an American recipe, the cup measuring kills me! And I am not speaking only about the flour, but also about butter etc. Let alone the tablespoons and teaspoons…

    • Ana says:

      Liliana (are you Romanian?)
      Spending my time on both sides of the pond, I found that 130 g/cup works well for flour (000) in Europe.

      Butter: 1 stick = 1/2 cup = 113 g = 8 tablespoons (1 tablespoon = roughly 15 g)
      1 cup = 2 sticks = 226 g

    • Stef says:

      We like it over here. I guess it’s what you are used to. :)

    • Inge says:

      I do live in America and I don’t like this cup business as well. It is much better to use a scale and get consistent results.

  2. Cathy says:

    This is absolutely fascinating and interesting. I’m so glad you did this test! I’ll probably try to stick to weight measurements, though, as I have a tendency to not measure perfect cups out when I bake…Anyways, this was really useful, so thanks a lot :)

  3. Mike says:

    I’m an US of A resident who does most of his baking using digital scales to measure. One is a standard kitchen scale with a 5kg limit and the other is a jewelry scale that weighs to a tenth of a gram. If a recipe doesn’t give weight and I intend to make it again then I’ll record the weights I used.

    One thing I noticed a long time ago is many recipes apparently started life with metric weight measurements and were converted to Imperial volume and/or weight. The ingredients cluster near round metric numbers; i.e., 346gr, 502 gr, etc. Also, the flour and liquid ingredients have a weight ratio and can often be scaled up or down successfully as long as the ratio is maintained.

  4. Sandy Brown says:

    Thank you so very much for going to all this trouble to define cup = 128 grams for flour. I really appreciate it very much. I have been using scales for a long time, so it is very useful. Thanks again.

  5. Ethyl Stover says:

    This is exactly why I prefer weighing all ingredients; I’ve managed to slowly convert my baking friends to the beauty of using a scale and I specifically seek out recipes that call for weights and not volume. But on a side note, my researcher husband informed me that disposable plastic is used exclusively in the lab because plastic is much more accurate than glass.

  6. Thank you for the very good information on flour using cup measurement which is very informative and helpful. One thing I do not understand is most recipes found in European countries use cup or tablespoon to measure butter. Why is that so? Don’t they feel it’s very messy after using cup and spoon which need washing after.

    I like recipes that measured ingredients in gram, oz, ml.

    Blessings
    Priscilla Poh

  7. Can I substitute the unbleached flour and use the same recipes and quantity from the regular all purpose flour? And also how much vinegar is need to change milk to buttermilk? thanks in advance.

  8. The simple answer is to use weight, not volume, to measure out ingredients. More and more recipes in the US are being written with mass units and it is easy to convert older ones. I now use metric weights almost exclusively because, once you get used to them, they are much easier.

  9. Thanks for this, it’s very helpful! I’m from Scotland but have been living in the USA since 2008, I’ve always baked by weight so that’s what I’m used to.

    I found that it’s even more crucial to use weight in gluten free baking as the weight of a cup of flour is at least 20grams more than wheat flour and varies widely depending on the types of flour in the blend. The average weight of my gluten free flour blend is 160g

  10. Karen Scully says:

    I was surprised by the weight of cocoa powder. It is really light when I weighed it. I have a recipe that is supposed to be by weight and the cocoa powder was definately off when I weighed it – too much.

  11. NB says:

    FINALLY –do you think the bakers on TV will finally show the proper technique for measuring flour? That scoop and liquid measure gets me so irritated. Thank you for confirming “I am not nuts” carefully measuring/weighing flour.

  12. Kerry says:

    Fantastic experiment with such valuable conclusion. I got so many different answers between manufacturer websites/labels, cookbooks, website, etc. Everyone says how weights are so much more accurate, but if there is no standardization between a common ingredient it really doesn’t matter. Thank you!

  13. Jaime says:

    Bless you. Seriously, this is exactly what I was looking for.

    Didn’t read all comments, so maybe somebody else mentioned this… but for gluten-free baking, it’s the mass that matters, not the volume. If I want to replace some all-purpose flour with buckwheat or with tapioca (a very heavy vs a very lightweight flour) the difference is astounding. I figured out through trial and error that measuring volume is the main thing. So, as long as my flour adds up to about 128-g, it’s a cup! Good to know. :D

    -Jaime

  14. Georgia says:

    Thank you for this research. Mostly everything else is standard (sugar, etc) for weights, but flour ALWAYS weighs different. It drives me nuts! I stick with 120 grams (mostly because it is easy to calculate in my head). Very interesting that “over weight” flour does not rise like “lower weight”!

  15. Sharon says:

    This is great. I just sifted a cup of Swans Down cake flour 3 different times and came up with 95.5, 96, and 97 grams. So I came to the internet to see if someone came up with a weight for sifted cake flour. This is close. I have an old sifter that has 2 screens in it. I sifted one time directly into the cup, topping it off by lifting from the flour that fell on the parchment paper with my leveling spatula. Wouldn’t happen to have experimented with this and have an average, would you? I’m about to make a sour cream pound cake.

  16. Dana says:

    Loved this article! I admit it, I’m a science nerd, I like to know why things work or don’t.

  17. George Pajari says:

    Brilliant. You are a cook after my own heart. In baking, precision and repeatability are key, and your research and article exemplify the best of what it means to be a serious baker. Thank you so much.

  18. Nicki says:

    My granddaughter’s name is Liliana, Lily for short (we are Israeli but that was the Argentine component from the in-laws) :)
    This was EXTREMELY helpful. I kept wondering why my hamburger and other bun baking was not coming out quite right.
    Thank you so much!

  19. Fazouna modaykhan says:

    It is very difficult for me to convert the American recipes-quantity of ingredients into grams but thanks to google which has been able to help me

  20. Marika says:

    I live in France, and your article just saved me (or the carrot cake recipe i’m translating from a U.S. blog ^^)! It’s really difficult to convert U.S. or U.K. measurements to european measurements (and vice versa)! Thank you soooo much!

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