What We Cook With: Our Favorite Brands of Flour

Ingredient GuidesBaking

In every home baker's pantry is a bag (or three!) of flour. From King Arthur to Gold Medal for all-purpose, from White Lily self-rising flour to Bob's Red Mill for spelt and buckwheat, here are the flour brands we purchase again and again.

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Photography Credit: Andy Christensen

It’s always in our pantry. It’s in practically every baking recipe. It’s got a permanent spot on our grocery list. And, if we didn’t realize before just how much we rely on it, the buying rush and ensuing shortage last spring due to the pandemic made it pretty clear that everyone wants to have it on hand.

Yes, I’m taking about flour.

Today we consider availability, consistency, and specialty for a list of flour brands we rely on and buy again and again!

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Our Favorite All-Purpose Flours

We love King Arthur Baking Company, Bob’s Red Mill, and Gold Medal for all-purpose flour.

King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

$6.99 for three 3-pound bags from King Arthur Baking Company

Formerly known as King Arthur Flour, King Arthur Baking Company updated their new name and logo last summer to better represent the company’s commitment to all kinds of baking. (You’ll see some of the photos in this post still show the old “King Arthur Flour” name and logo, but rest assured, the product is the same!)

While other flour brands mill to a protein range, King Arthur mills their flour to a strictly-controlled and consistent protein count of 11.7%. This means you can expect the flour to perform the same way every time you use it.

King Arthur’s all-purpose flour is made from 100% American-grown hard red wheat. It’s also unbleached, unbromated, and contains no artificial preservatives.

King Arthur is my go-to flour brand. It’s reliable, and I like how the protein content is clearly listed on the bag. –Summer

I choose King Arthur for its reliability. Like Summer, I love that the protein breakdown is listed on all bags, and it makes really great pie dough! –Megan

I’ve been buying King Arthur flour for years. I love that it’s an American company that’s been around for over two hundred years (!) and that it’s 100% employee-owned. The flour is very high-quality and always produces consistent basking results, thanks to its precise protein content, which is listed right on the bag. -Cambria 

All purpose flour we cook with

Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour

$4.69 for 5-pound bag from Bob’s Red Mill

All Bob’s Red Mill products, including their all-purpose flour, are made at their manufacturing facility in Milwaukie, Oregon. Their all-purpose flour is made of hard red wheat grown in Washington and Montana, and it’s milled to a protein count range between 10-12%.

The flour is also unbleached and unbromated, and like many white flours, including King Arthur, it contains a bit of malted barley flour, which basically adds a little sugar to the flour to produce a stronger gluten reaction (like bromate, but without the chemicals).

I like supporting Bob’s Red Mill (a West coast company!) and it actually tends to be one of the more affordable top-shelf brands where I live. -Emma

Gold Medal Bleached and Enriched All-Purpose Flour

$2.38 for 5-pound bag from Walmart

Gold Medal’s all-purpose flour is made with a blend of hard (red) and soft (white) wheat, which leads to a slightly lower protein content at 10.5%.

This is a solid, middle-of-the-road protein content, and it makes Gold Medal a versatile all-purpose flour for all kinds of baked goods, but especially for more tender cakes, cookies, and pastries.

Stella Parks recommends Gold Medal Bleached for baking because of its blend of white and red wheat, and I have followed her lead. -Rachel

King Arthur and Bob's Red Mill bread flour

Our Favorite Bread Flours

King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

$4.95 for 5-pound bag from King Arthur Baking Company

King Arthur’s bread flour is milled to a tight 12.7% protein content, and the higher protein (and more gluten) leads to a better bread rise. Like King Arthur’s all-purpose flour, the bread flour is made from 100% hard red wheat grown in America.

It’s also unbleached, unbromated, and is not enriched.

I use King Arthur’s bread flour every week to make skillet pizza. I get such a fantastic rise, and the end result is a chewy pizza crust that surpasses all others. -Cambria

Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached Enriched Artisan Bread Flour

$5.89 for 3-pound bag from Bob’s Red Mill

While it’s not milled to a specific protein content, Bob’s Red Mill artisan bread flour is guaranteed to have a protein content between 12-14%, which is higher than other bread flours on the market. It’s milled from 100% American hard red wheat.

It’s also unbleached and unbromated, and enriched with niacin, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, and folic acid.

King arthur and bob's red mill whole wheat flour

Our Favorite Whole Wheat Flours

King Arthur Stone-Ground White Whole Wheat Flour 

$3.69 for 5-pound bag from Target

What do you do when you want the nutritional benefits of whole wheat flour without that full-on, hearty whole wheat flavor? Use white whole wheat flour, like this one from King Arthur.

King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour is stone ground from hard white spring wheat instead of hard red spring wheat. It’s just as nutritious as regular whole wheat flour, but the lighter, milder flavor is gentler and more accessible.

Depending on the recipe, you can confidently replace up to half of the all-purpose flour called for with white whole wheat flour without compromising the flavor or structure. (If you’re nervous, start with replacing 1/3 of the all-purpose flour, and see how it goes!)

I often swap a little white whole wheat flour for all-purpose to get more nutrition. King Arthur calls for white whole wheat in my favorite waffle recipe, so I’ve kept it on hand ever since! -Rachel

Bob’s Red Mill 100% Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour

$4.69 for 5-pound bag from Bob’s Red Mill

Bob’s whole wheat flour is what we go to when we want that full-on, all-in whole wheat taste.

Stone ground on cool quartz millstones, Bob’s whole wheat flour retains every part of the wheat kernel: the wheat germ, bran, and endosperm. It has a protein content in the 13-15% range and gives a deep, nutty, whole grain flavor to breads and baked goods.

Bob's red mill specialty flours

Our Favorite Alternative Flours

Bob’s Red Mill wins on all accounts when we’re looking for alternative flours. It’s the most readily-accessible brand, both in-store and online, and we can always trust the quality. Here are the alternative flours we cook with the most.

Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground Spelt Flour

$4.29 for 22-ounce bag from Bob’s Red Mill

I like Bob’s Red Mill for any specialty flour. I use spelt flour in pancakes and quick breads for the nutty flavor, and Bob’s always delivers. -Summer

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Flour

$5.49 for 22-ounce bag from Bob’s Red Mill

Bob’s buckwheat flour is a staple in my house. I love our buckwheat pancake and buckwheat waffle recipes, and this flour works wonderfully. -Cambria

Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour

$3.69 for 20-ounce bag from Bob’s Red Mill

I like to sub in a little of Bob’s oat flour in pancakes and muffins for a bit more whole grain flavor and nutrition. -Cambria

White lily flour and swans down flour

Our Favorite Specialty Baking Flours

Swans Down Enriched Cake Flour

$3.19 for 32-ounce box from Target

Swans Down cake flour is a low-protein pastry flour made from soft white winter wheat. Bleached, enriched, and repeatedly sifted to create a very soft, very delicate flour, it’s a classic choice when you’re aiming for supremely airy, light desserts, like this vanilla cake!

White Lily Self-Rising Flour

$9.99 for 5-pound bag from Amazon

A must for Southern-style biscuits! White Lily’s self-rising flour is milled from soft winter wheat and blended with leavening agents and salt. It has a super-fine texture and a 9% protein content.

If you want to make a true Southern biscuit, White Lily is the only flour you should use. The soft winter wheat is milled so fine, it almost feels like cornstarch. Its low protein content makes baked goods light and fluffy. If you’re making biscuits and they end up like hockey pucks, you might need to switch your flour to White Lily. -Summer

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Cambria Bold

Cambria Bold is the Product and Lifestyle Director for Simply Recipes. She has almost a decade's worth of online editorial experience and know-how, first as the Managing Editor for Apartment Therapy's green living site Re-Nest (RIP) and later as the Design and Lifestyle Editor for Kitchn. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two little girls. And, yes, this is her real name.

More from Cambria

14 Comments

No ImageWhat We Cook With: Our Favorite Brands of Flour

  1. Tarre

    Thank you, Cambria! Thank you for the wonderful information. Here in Colorado, yes, we need the high altitude flour, but I will be moving to Illinois soon to live among the flatlanders and this is excellent information. You are going to save me a lot of trials and tribulations.

    Great information to share, very thoughtful. You complainers should just move on if you aren’t happy with her answers. Shame on you.

  2. Trish W

    I always get King Arthur White Whole Wheat.
    Great for all sorts of baking / cooking.

  3. Jose

    Why would I spend that type of money and bread flour what is Sam’s sells a great North Dakota hard wheat bread flour fat 25 pounds for eight dollars

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Marcie E Weiler

    I live in Colorado. Hungarian High Altitude flour. It *does* make a difference as well as letting the dough double rise.

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Joseph

    ya missed 00 flour from Italy

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best flour collectionWhat We Cook With: Our Favorite Brands of Flour