How to Substitute Whole-Wheat Flours for All-Purpose Flour

updated Feb 28, 2022
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Credit: The Kitchn/ King Arthur Flour

Our local grocery stores carry a wide variety of flours that are great for all sorts of baking projects. Among the many types of flours available are white all-purpose, white whole-wheat, and regular whole-wheat flour. Regular whole-wheat flour is made from whole wheat grains, also known as kernels, and has a recognizable tan or beige color. White all-purpose flour (aka the kind you’re probably most used to baking with) is made from only part of the wheat grain known as the endosperm.

What Is White Whole-Wheat Flour?

White whole-wheat flour, on the other hand, is made from white wheat berries. These berries don’t contain the red pigment found in regular wheat berries, so the resulting whole-wheat flour is light in color. The biggest advantage in using white whole-wheat flour is in its flavor. Regular whole wheat can taste nutty and somewhat tannic, which some people love and others find off-putting. Flour milled from white wheat berries is much more mild-tasting and doesn’t have any of that astringent “whole-wheat flavor.” This makes it a great choice for people who want the nutritional benefits of whole wheat but without the taste. It’s often called for in whole-grain pastry recipes.

How to Substitute Whole-Wheat Flours for White All-Purpose Flour

When substituting white whole-wheat flour in recipes, it’s important to remember that it is still a whole wheat — meaning it contains the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. This can pose some special challenges in certain baking recipes, as whole-wheat flours don’t develop gluten as readily and can tend toward heaviness in the final product.

To substitute whole-wheat flour for white all-purpose flour, start by replacing a portion of the all-purpose flour with a smaller amount of the whole-wheat flour, such as one-quarter to one-half; if you like the results, try subbing a little more whole-wheat flour for the all purpose flour the next time you make the same recipe. White whole-wheat flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour similarly to regular whole-wheat flour. If you ever feel unsure during the substitution process, however, always just proceed with caution and start small.

(Images: King Arthur Flour and Flickr member .j.e.n.n.y. licensed under Creative Commons)