How Many Cups Of Flour In A 5-Pound Bag?

Does the type of flour matter?

Some moments in a baker’s life remain etched in their memory, no matter the time elapsed. The dreaded package change of a trusted product comes to mind.

You blithely head to the grocery store to restock pantry staples, and your favorite flour sits on the shelf in "new and improved" packaging. It still says five pounds, but it looks squatter. Will you have enough cups to make all those batches of cookies? How many cups of flour even come in a five-pound bag?

Most American recipes call for measuring cups of flour, rather than weights, the typical measurement for bags of flour. But the conversion is not the end. The types of flour and how you scoop it plays a role in the number of cups in a five-pound bag.

all-purpose flour bag with a bowl and measuring cup

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

How Much Does a Cup of Flour Weigh?

According to King Arthur Flour, one cup of all-purpose flour equals 4.25 ounces. (I tested this with a scale and it does indeed.) But for a less common type like almond flour, one cup equals 3.38 ounces.

Then the disparity in how you scoop the flour comes into play: If you dip the measuring cup directly into the bag, it compacts and yields a "larger" cup, making the number of cups in a bag less than the recommended technique of spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling with a knife.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, a delta of 20 percent can occur depending on the method of measurement.

How Many Cups of Flour Are in a 5-Pound Bag?

A 5-pound bag of all-purpose flour has 18 cups.

For other types of flour, the total may be different. Keep reading.

Why the Type of Flour Makes a Difference

With all the different varieties of flour on the shelf, it’s hard to know how many cups come in each bag. Returning to the King Arthur scale, one cup of whole-wheat flour weighs less, at 4 ounces than the 4.25 ounces for all-purpose.

We tested five common varieties (King Arthur Brand) utilizing the recommended spooning measurement technique and found the below conversions.

Cups in a Bag of Flour by Type
Name of Flour Cups in a 5-Pound Bag
All-purpose flour 18 cups
Bread flour 18 cups
Pastry flour 21 cups
Cake flour 18 cups
Whole-wheat flour 20 cups

Another consideration is sifted versus unsifted flour. Bakers often resolve clumps in flour by sifting it, making a lighter consistency, but also pulling more cups from the bag. If you sift your flour for recipes, be sure to measure after sifting to ensure you get the appropriate volume for baking success.

As you can see the variations in measurement on a five-pound bag of flour range between 17 and 21 cups, depending on the type of flour, but it is also worth considering the brand you use, how you fill your measuring cups, and whether you sift to remove clumps.

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