How To Make Self-Rising Flour

Save yourself a trip to the store with this easy formula for homemade self-rising flour.

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If you don't bake frequently, it probably isn't practical to keep your pantry stocked with an endless array of flour varieties. In many cases, a bag of all-purpose flour is enough to see you through.

Every once in a while, though, you might find yourself looking at a recipe that specifically calls for self-rising flour. If that happens, there's no need to run to the store. We spoke to Christine Smith of Fairfax, Va., author of Cuisine of the Silk Road, and learned it's easy to make your own self-rising flour at home.

flour mixture in bowl with whisk

Hannah Zimmerman / Southern Living

What Is Self-Rising Flour?

It's flour that already has baking powder and salt mixed in. It was invented by a British baker named Henry Jones in 1845 specifically to be used for hard tack (the shelf-stable biscuit-like food that sailors ate on long voyages.)

Hard tack was infamously dense, but it still took ten years to convince the British navy to adopt Jones' flour for use in creating fresh bread for sailors. In 1855, the flour was finally approved for use in the Crimean War, thanks in part to Florence Nightingale.

His self-rising flour also earned him an appointment as the purveyor of flour and biscuits to Queen Victoria.

How To Make Your Own Self-Rising Flour

Smith says to make a cup of self-rising flour:

  • Measure out 1 level cup of all-purpose flour
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whisk to combine

It's that simple. However, it's important to mix the three ingredients really well to ensure the salt and baking powder are evenly distributed.

When it comes to self-rising flour in the South, more often than not, we're talking about White Lily. This flour is made from a specific kind of soft red winter wheat that has a lower protein content than the average all-purpose flour, and less protein means more tender baked goods. To recreate White Lily self-rising flour you can use pastry flour instead of all-purpose, which has a protein content closer to the flour White Lily uses.

Can I use baking soda instead?

You could use baking soda in place of baking powder, but you will need to add cornstarch and cream of tartar to the mix as well. In combining those three ingredients, you're essentially making baking powder from scratch.

If you're fresh out of baking powder and in a pinch, you can make this substitution. Otherwise it's not worth it.

For more information on these two leaveners, read our guide on the differences and similarities between baking soda and baking powder.

How To Make a Big Batch of Self-Rising Flour

If you're entertaining or preparing for holiday baking, you'll probably need to make your self-rising flour in bulk. Luckily, you can scale this recipe on a one-to-one basis.

For example, to make four cups of flour, you'll combine four cups of all-purpose flour with six teaspoons (or two tablespoons) of baking powder and one teaspoon of salt.

To ensure even distribution of salt and baking powder in larger batches, use a stand mixer to stir everything together.

flour mixture in stand mixer bowl

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How To Use Homemade Self-Rising Flour

You can use your homemade creation in virtually any recipe calling for self-rising flour. Self-rising flour is particularly good in pancakes, cobblers, biscuits, and scones. It can also be used as a coating for fried chicken, oysters, fish, or vegetables.

Try these recipes using self-rising flour:

Can You Substitute Self-Rising Flour for All-Purpose Flour?

If you want to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour in a recipe, just be aware you may have to adjust the salt and baking powder in the recipe since it's already been added to the flour beforehand.

How To Make Self-Rising Cornmeal

If you've come across a cornbread recipe that calls for self-rising cornmeal mix, but don't want to run to the store, you can also make it at home.

For one cup of self-rising cornmeal mix, combine 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons of cornmeal, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.

How To Store Homemade Self-Rising Flour

If you've got homemade self-rising flour leftover or if you merely prefer to make a big batch in advance, it can be stored for later use in an airtight container.

Be aware that flour is one of those pantry staples that needs to be replaced over time. Check the expiration date on both the baking powder and the all-purpose flour you used to make your batch, and use it with two or three months of the ingredient that expires soonest. To remember, simply put a "use by" date on the container.

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