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Can you use cake flour to make cookies?

Whether you’re a seasoned baker or new to the kitchen, you may have wondered if you can use cake flour to make cookies. With its soft texture and mild flavor, cake flour is ideal for cakes, cupcakes and other tender baked goods. But how does it perform in cookies? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is a finely milled flour made from soft wheat. It has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, usually around 6-8% versus 10-12% in all-purpose. This lower protein content gives cakes and cupcakes a softer, delicate crumb. The proteins in flour form gluten when mixed with liquid, and gluten gives structure and chew to baked goods. With less gluten-forming potential, cakes made with cake flour have a lighter, airier texture.

In addition to soft wheat, cake flour is also chlorinated. This means that a small amount of chlorine gas is added during processing. Chlorination helps further soften the proteins, resulting in even less gluten development. So cake flour produces baked goods with a very tender, soft crumb.

How Does Cake Flour Differ from All-Purpose?

The main differences between cake flour and all-purpose flour are:

  • Protein content – Cake flour has a lower protein content (6-8% vs. 10-12%).
  • Gluten – Cake flour develops less gluten, resulting in more tender baked goods.
  • Chlorination – Cake flour is chlorinated to further limit gluten development.
  • Texture – Cake flour has a very soft, smooth texture compared to all-purpose.
  • Absorbency – The lower protein content in cake flour affects its absorbency. Cake flour doesn’t absorb liquid as readily as all-purpose.

The changes made to create cake flour give it unique properties that are ideal for soft, tender cakes and cupcakes. Cookies require some structure and chew, which all-purpose flour provides. So cake flour isn’t always the best choice when making cookies.

Can You Use Cake Flour for Cookies?

Cake flour can be used to make cookies, but there are some important things to consider:

  • Texture – Cookies made with 100% cake flour will spread more and have a more crumbly, cake-like texture. They will be soft and delicate rather than chewy.
  • Moisture absorption – Cake flour doesn’t absorb moisture as readily, so the dough may remain wet and sticky.
  • Rise – Cookies don’t rely on rise as much as cakes, but cake flour can affect how much cookies spread and puff up.
  • Structure – With less gluten development, the cookies may be more fragile and delicate.

While cake flour changes the finished texture of cookies, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For some types of cookies, like shortbread, a tender crumbly texture is desirable. Here are some tips for successfully using cake flour in cookies:

Tips for Baking Cookies with Cake Flour

  • Reduce any liquid in the recipe slightly.
  • Chill the dough thoroughly to make it easier to handle.
  • Use cake flour for a small portion of the flour, not 100%. Start by replacing 25% of the all-purpose flour.
  • Add a little extra leavening, like baking powder or baking soda.
  • Be gentle when scooping and handling the dough to avoid excessive spreading.
  • Watch closely during baking and slightly underbake for soft cookies.

What Types of Cookies Work Best with Cake Flour?

Certain types of cookies are better suited to using some cake flour than others. Good options include:

Cookie Type Why They Work with Cake Flour
Shortbread Shortbread depends on a tender, crumbling texture. Cake flour provides this delicate crumb.
Sugar cookies Sugar cookies are meant to be soft and a little cake-like. Cake flour gives them this melt-in-your-mouth quality.
Sandwich cookies Using cake flour makes the cookie layers tender to complement the filling. They’ll be less crunchy.
Rolled cookies Cake flour makes the dough easier to roll out without affecting shape. Cutouts keep their shape well.
Spritz cookies These fancy piped cookies benefit from a softer dough. Cake flour prevents crumbling and breakage.

Cookies that rely on deep flavor and a chewy texture, like chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies, are better made with mostly or all all-purpose flour. The fuller gluten development gives them a pleasantly chewy crumb.

Example Cookie Recipe with Cake Flour

Here is an example of a sugar cookie recipe adapted to use cake flour:

Cake Flour Sugar Cookies


  • 1 3⁄4 cups (220g) cake flour
  • 1⁄4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until a dough forms. If needed, refrigerate 30 minutes until easy to handle.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Roll dough to 1⁄4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
  6. Transfer to baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks.

The cake flour makes these sugar cookies incredibly soft, yet they hold their shape well thanks to the all-purpose flour. Feel free to tailor the cake and all-purpose flour ratio to achieve your desired texture.


Cake flour can be used successfully in some cookie recipes, though a few adjustments may be needed. Cookies made with 100% cake flour will be more fragile and cake-like in texture. For best results, use cake flour for a portion of the total flour called for. Types of cookies that benefit from a tender crumb, like shortbread and sugar cookies, take well to some cake flour. Chilling the dough thoroughly and slightly underbaking helps too. With the right recipe adjustments, cake flour can produce magical, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.