How to Make Your Own Self-Rising Flour Substitute (Because You Want Homemade Biscuits, Like, Now)

Self-rising flour makes impossibly fluffy pancakes, sky-high biscuits and muffins that rival any bakery’s. But it’s not all that common in recipes, plus it has a short shelf life, so stocking up isn’t really worth it. So of course you’re left high and dry when you want to whip up a batch of biscuits once every six months. Don’t head to the grocery yet: Here’s how to make a self-rising flour substitute with ingredients you have at home. 

But first, what is self-rising flour?

Self-rising flour is exactly what it sounds like: flour that makes baked goods rise without additional leavening. The secret is not one magical ingredient but a blend made from a combination of white flour, baking powder and salt. Self-rising flour is frequently called for in Southern recipes like biscuits and cobblers, but it was invented by a British baker who thought sailors in the British Navy would benefit from freshly baked bread while at sea. (How sweet.) 

Most recipes call for all-purpose flour and list the leavening—baking soda or baking powder—as a separate ingredient because it’s easier to control and adjust the amount needed, plus all-purpose flour is more versatile. So when you stumble upon a dreamy, three-ingredient biscuit recipe that requires the self-rising flour you don’t have in your pantry, is it worth making a special trip to the store? Not so fast. You can easily make a DIY substitution with ingredients you already have at home. 

How to Make Your Own Self-Rising Flour Substitute

All-purpose flour
Baking powder
Fine sea salt 

1. In a bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon fine sea salt.
2. Whisk thoroughly to combine.

Voilà, self-rising flour. For every cup of self-rising flour called for in your recipe, you can use this substitute. The only caveat? Self-rising flour is often milled from a softer wheat than all-purpose is, so your final results will be ever so slightly less tender.

Other Substitutes for Self-Rising Flour

1. Cake flour + leavening. Cake flour is soft and finely milled like self-rising flour, so it makes a good substitute in terms of tenderness and texture. For every cup of self-rising flour called for, replace with 1 cup cake flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon fine sea salt. 

2. Pastry flour + leavening. Pastry flour falls somewhere in between all-purpose and cake flours, so it’s another fine substitute for self-rising flour when used with leavening. Use 1 cup pastry flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon fine sea salt to replace 1 cup self-rising flour.

What to Make with Self-Rising Flour (or a Self-Rising Flour Substitute)

You can’t go wrong with a three-ingredient biscuit, but you could also make the easiest homemade pizza dough ever for pizza night. Or for the sandwich to end all others, try a fried chicken BLT with jalapeño honey, which uses self-rising flour for an impossibly crispy dredge.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...