The Best Self-Rising Flour Substitutes

Southern biscuits

Rudisill / Getty Images

When baking, it is important to follow the recipe closely. Otherwise, your light and airy muffins may turn out dense and crumbly. Each ingredient in your recipe has a specific action, like self-rising flour. 

Self-rising flour is a type of flour that contains added salt and baking powder. You should only use this type of flour in recipes that call for self-rising flour. But what if you do not have self-rising flour?

There is no need to worry if you do not have this specialty flour on hand. There are many self-rising flour substitutes that work for your recipe. 

What Is Self-Rising Flour?

Self-rising flour is a type of flour most often made from soft wheat. Using soft wheat produces flour with lower protein content. Self-rising flour typically contains about 8.5% protein.

The amount of protein in flour determines the amount of gluten it has. Gluten is a specific protein found in wheat—along with oats and rye—that makes your dough more stretchy and pliable. All-purpose flour is made from a combination of soft and hard wheat flour and may have anywhere from 8 to 12% protein.

Though the protein content in your flour may affect the texture of your baked goods, it is the added salt and baking powder in self-rising flour that makes it different from other types of flour.

The salt and baking powder in the self-rising flour are leavening agents. These ingredients lighten and soften your baked treats. 

Baking powder works by producing carbon dioxide during the mixing and baking process, adding pockets of air in your baked goods. Salt, in addition to enhancing flavor, stabilizes those pockets of air. 

Self-Rising Flour Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information for 1/4 cup (30 grams) of self-rising flour comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 339mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Fiber: 0.99g
  • Sugars: 0.99g
  • Protein: 2g

Why Use a Self-Rising Flour Substitute?

Unless you live in the South, self-rising flour may not be a staple item in your kitchen. Or, maybe you ran out and need to make biscuits for dinner. No matter what, if your recipe calls for self-rising flour and you do not have it, then you need to use a self-rising flour substitute.

You may also need a self-rising flour substitute if you have an allergy to wheat, celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity and need to avoid wheat or gluten. Wheat-free or gluten-free self-rising flour substitutes may be your only option for making fluffy pancakes.

Best Substitutes for Self-Rising Flour

When you are out of self-rising flour and need it for a recipe, you can use a self-rising flour substitute. One option is to use 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Or, you can try 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Even 1 cup of gluten-free one-to-one baking flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt will work.

Learn more about how to make and use these substitutes below.

All-Purpose Flour With Salt and Baking Powder

All-purpose flour is a household staple and works well in almost any recipe, whether you are baking or cooking. Though it has more protein than self-rising flour, the amount of protein in all-purpose flour is moderate, which is why it has so much versatility. 

For this self-rising flour substitute, you mix 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. If possible, use a baking sifter to evenly combine the flour with the leavening agents. 

This is one of the reasons bakers like self-rising flour—to even the distribution of the baking powder and the salt in the flour.

All-Purpose Flour With Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar

Baking soda is a leavening agent that makes your baked goods light and airy when combined with an acid, such as lemon juice or buttermilk. Baking powder is a mix of baking soda and powdered acid, like cream of tartar. 

Though cream of tartar is one of the key ingredients in baking powder, if you make meringues, you may use this baking ingredient to prevent your fluffy egg whites from deflating. For this substitute, combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.

Carefully combine the ingredients and then sift your flour. If you do not have cream of tartar, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice for the 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. 

Gluten-Free Self-Rising Flour

If you need to follow a gluten-free diet and love baking, then you might have gluten-free flour in your cabinet. These flours contain a mix of gluten-free flours—rice flour, potato starch, and sorghum flour—to mimic the properties found in baking flour, but without the gluten. 

According to the USDA, a 37-gram serving of gluten-free one-to-one baking flour has 137 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein. To make your own gluten-free self-rising flour, mix 1 cup of gluten-free one-to-one baking flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 

If you have a gluten-free all-purpose flour, look for gluten-free self-rising flour recipes specific to your brand of gluten-free flour. Not all gluten-free all-purpose flours have the same mix of ingredients and you may need to add more than just baking powder and salt to get a light and airy gluten-free biscuit. 

Gluten-free baking is a type of chemistry experiment and requires even more precision with ingredients and measuring. You need to closely follow recipes to get the results you expect.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to finding a substitute for self-rising flour, there are a number of alternatives. Depending on the route you take, you may have to experiment a little bit to get your recipe to produce the desired results.

Allow yourself a little extra time in case your need to start over. With time and patience, though, you should find that making substitutions for self-rising flour is not that difficult.

7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Michigan State University, MSU Extension. Know the difference between all-purpose and self-rising flour.

  2. Bob’s Red Mill. Self-rising flour vs. all-purpose flour.

  3. International Food Information Council, Food Insight. Baking? Here’s your guide to flours.

  4. K-State Research and Extension, Johnson County. 3 key leavening agents in baking.

  5. USDA. FoodData Central. Self-rising flour.

  6. USDA, FoodData Central. Gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour.

  7. Beyond Celiac. Gluten-free baking tips and tricks.

By Jill Corleone, RD
Jill is a registered dietitian who's been learning and writing about nutrition for more than 20 years.