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Flour is useful for cooking, baking, pasta making and frying. There are a few types of flour, each has its strengths.


Regular Flour

Whole Wheat Flour

All Purpose Flour

Cake or Pastry Flour

Instant Blending Flour

Corn Flour

Tapioca Flour

Arrowroot Flour

Potato Flour

Rice Flour

Culinary Uses

When you use flour to thicken a sauce, you can't add it directly, as it will create lumps. The best way to add it is in a Roux, where you heat it with a fat like butter or oil and cook it for a few minutes (constantly stirring) to cook out the raw flour taste before whisking in your liquid sauce.  

Other ways to add flour to a sauce are with a White Wash or Slurry, where you stir or shake up the flour with cold water and then add it to the sauce. Another option is a Beurre Manié, where you mix the flour and butter into a paste and add it a piece at a time.

Regular Flour: White flour is the most common thickener used in sauces. In some recipes, you might be fine using it. There are 6 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon of regular flour. This will thicken one cup of a gravy (which has some thickeners from the meat), or a thin sauce. It takes two tablespoons of flour to thicken a sauce of medium thickness, and three for a thick sauce.

Whole Wheat Flour: has 4.5 grams effective carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber per tablespoon. It takes slightly more to thicken a sauce than regular white flour.

All-Purpose Flour:  is a blend of high-gluten hard wheat flour and low-gluten soft wheat flour. It is milled from the inner part of the wheat kernel and is a fine-textured flour. It contains neither the germ (the sprout) nor the bran (the shell). By U.S. law, all flours without wheat germ must be fortified with niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and iron. When you see “enriched” on the flour package, you will know that the flour inside has been fortified.

All-purpose flour comes in two basic forms — bleached and unbleached. They two can be used interchangeably in cooking and baking. Bleached flour can be whitened for aesthetic reasons naturally as it ages or with chemicals. Most commercial All Purpose Flour available at your grocer’s is pre-sifted, requiring only that it be stirred and measured for use.

Cake or Pastry Flour: has the least amount of gluten of all the wheat flours, making it ideal for light delicate products like sponge cake. Cake Flour is made from extra short or fancy patent flour, milled only from soft wheat. Many Commercial Cake Flours are bleached to a fine, bright white color.

Instant Blending Flour: is a granular, quick-blending flour which can be poured into liquids without getting too many lumps.

Corn Flour: (also known as Cornstarch) is the quickest and easiest thickener for a home cook, since it thickens 50-100% more efficiently than wheat flour. Unlike wheat flour, Corn Flour contains no protein. It gives a glossy, translucent appearance to sauces, especially helpful in Asian cooking. 

Tapioca Flour: (also known as Tapioca Starch) is used as a thickener in soups, sauces and puddings.  Gluten-free, it is also used in baking to add chewiness and lighten textures. 

Arrowroot Flour: (also known as Arrowroot and Arrowroot Starch) is used as a thickener that can be used in place of cornstarch in soups, sauces, and puddings.  It is especially useful in gluten-free cooking, and also for those allergic to corn.  Arrowroot flour has no flavor of its own which is good for delicate sauces, and it tolerates acidic ingredients and longer cooking times than cornstarch; in addition, sauces made with arrowroot as a thickener can be frozen and thawed without spongy results.  However, it is not a good thickener for dairy-based sauces as it makes them slimy and stretchy.

Potato Flour:  (also known as Potato Starch) is usually employed as a substitute for other starches is for dietary reasons.  Unlike most flours and cornstarch, potato starch is permitted for Passover, and it is also gluten-free.

Rice Flour: Since it is gluten-free, Rice Flour is commonly used in gluten-free cooking, from thickening a sauce to pasta to baking. It is also used to thicken product in refrigerated and frozen foods since it helps to stop liquids from separating.  Rice Flour is different from Sweet Rice Flour (Mochiko) which is made from “sweet” or “glutinous” rice (although it does not contain gluten); this rice is starchy and serves well in gelling product.

Gluten Free


Low Fat


Low Calorie