Many new bakers ask themselves: "Can I substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour when baking?" The short answer is yes, but you'll need to make adjustments. It's not a one-to-one swap. Get our must-know tips for substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour.

By Sheena Chihak
Updated March 09, 2020
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If you're keeping an eye on nutrition, you may want to substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour to add more whole grains to your diet. Congratulations! You are indeed making a healthier choice when using a whole wheat flour substitute in place of the more common all-purpose flour. But take note, if a recipe calls for one cup of all-purpose flour and you swap that for one cup whole wheat flour, you're likely to get a not-so-tasty result. We'll explain why and help you reduce some of the all-purpose flour in your recipes and increase whole wheat flour.

How to Substitute Whole Wheat Flour for All-Purpose Flour

You can replace some but not all of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour when baking. Swapping equal amounts results in baked goods that are too dense with an offputting flavor. Blending whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour will lighten the finished product while adding the nutritional benefits of whole wheat. In most cooking uses you may substitute whole wheat for all-purpose flour without issue. Try it the next time you make breading for a chicken breast recipe, or thicken a sauce. Just remember the flavor could vary.

When baking, experiment with your ratio of whole wheat to all-purpose. Start by swapping one-third of the amount of flour in your recipe for whole wheat (if your recipe calls for 1 cup flour, use ⅓ cup whole wheat and ⅔ cup all-purpose). If that result is good, increase to use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.

Because whole wheat flour is ground from the entire wheat kernel to retain more nutrients and fiber, it also has a coarser texture, which doesn't work as well when you're trying to bake something airy and light.

White Whole Wheat Flour

Increasingly common in grocery stores is white whole wheat flour. Nutritionally it's the same as whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour is still made from the entire kernel (aka a whole grain), the plant itself is simply lighter in color and flavor. In baking, you may be able to substitute higher ratios of white whole wheat flour to all-purpose flour than regular whole wheat flour before you notice flavor differences. As healthy flour substitutes go, this is a good one to have in your arsenal.

Whole Wheat Flour vs All-Purpose Flour Nutrition

You know whole wheat flour is a whole grain, but how do the nutrients really stack up? Here's how they sift out on a cup-by-cup comparison.

  • In 1 cup all-purpose flour: 12 grams protein, 92 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 0 grams fat.
  • In 1 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour): 16 grams protein, 84 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fiber, 2 grams fat

There you have it. Whether you need an emergency substitution or are just trying to make healthier food choices, you can handle using whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose.

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