How many cups of flour are in a 5lb bag?

Quick Answer

There are approximately 20 cups of flour in a 5 pound bag. Flour is typically measured in cups for baking recipes, with 1 cup of flour weighing approximately 4 to 5 ounces depending on whether it is sifted or not. Since there are 16 ounces in 1 pound, and 5 pounds in a 5 pound bag, there would be about 80 ounces of flour total. Dividing 80 ounces by 4 ounces per cup (the average weight of 1 cup of flour) results in 20 cups of flour. So for most standard flours, you can expect a 5 pound bag to contain right around 20 cups.

Calculating Cups and Ounces

To determine more precisely how many cups are in 5 pounds of flour, it helps to understand the typical weights of a cup of flour and how it relates to ounces and pounds:

– There are 16 ounces in 1 pound
– A cup of flour weighs approximately 4-5 ounces, with sifted flour at the lower end and unsifted at the higher end
– So a 5 pound bag contains 80 ounces (5 lbs x 16 oz/lb = 80 oz)
– If flour weighs 4 ounces per cup, then 80 oz / 4 oz per cup = 20 cups

– If flour weighs 5 ounces per cup, then 80 oz / 5 oz per cup = 16 cups

So while we can estimate 20 cups per 5 pound bag, the exact amount can range from 16-20 cups depending on whether flour is sifted and how densely it is packed into the cup during measurement.

Factors That Impact Cups per Pound

There are a few key factors that impact the number of cups of flour in a 5 pound bag:

Type of Flour

Different types of flour can have slightly different weights per cup. All-purpose flour tends to weigh around 4.25-4.5 oz per cup, while cake flour is lighter at around 4 oz and bread flour is denser at 5 oz. So cake flour would result in more cups per pound and bread flour fewer cups.


Sifted flour is lighter and less densely packed than unsifted. Sifting can reduce the weight per cup by 0.5-1 oz. So sifted all-purpose flour would weigh approx 4 oz per cup resulting in 20 cups, while unsifted would be closer to 16 cups at 5 oz per cup.

How Flour is Measured

The more densely the flour is packed into the measuring cup, the more it will weigh per cup resulting in fewer cups per pound. So spooning flour lightly or scooping and sweeping off excess will increase cups per pound compared to packing it tightly.

Humidity & Environmental Factors

Flour can absorb or lose moisture based on the humidity and temperature of its environment. Absorbing moisture adds weight so humid conditions may result in fewer cups per pound. Dry environments may have the opposite effect. Proper storage helps minimize environmental impact.

Exact Weight Per Cup of Common Flour Types

Here are some approximate cup weights for common types of flour:

Flour Type Weight per Cup
All-purpose (sifted) 4 ounces
All-purpose (unsifted) 4.5 ounces
Whole wheat (sifted) 4.25 ounces
Whole wheat (unsifted) 5 ounces
Bread (sifted) 4.5 ounces
Bread (unsifted) 5.5 ounces
Cake (sifted) 4 ounces

So using these weights, we can calculate:

– All-purpose flour (sifted): 80 oz / 4 oz per cup = 20 cups
– All-purpose flour (unsifted): 80 oz / 4.5 oz per cup = 17.8 cups
– Whole wheat flour (sifted): 80 oz / 4.25 oz per cup = 18.8 cups
– Whole wheat flour (unsifted): 80 oz / 5 oz per cup = 16 cups

And so on for any flour type using the pounds and weight per cup.

Weight of Flour Can Vary Between Brands

It’s important to note that different brands of flour can vary slightly in their weight per cup and density. So the above are just general guidelines for the most common weights.

For accuracy when baking, you should check the weight per cup listed on the flour package you are using, or weigh out the first cup on a food scale to determine the exact weight before measuring additional cups.

This accounts for any differences between brands or even batches of the same flour.

Tips for Measuring Flour Accurately

To get accurate, consistent measurements it’s best to:

– Use the right sized cups designed for dry ingredients like flour or sugar. Over-sized cups will result in too much flour.

– Avoid scooping directly from the bag, which compacts flour inconsistently. Instead spoon flour lightly into a bowl or container first.

– Sift or whisk flour first for lighter measurements. Be sure to fully incorporate any clumps.

– Spoon flour into measuring cups and level off excess using straight edge, don’t pack or tap cup.

– When recipe isn’t precise, weigh first cup on a food scale, then use weight to measure remaining needed cups.

How Many Cups in Other Common Bag Sizes

Here is an overview of how many approximate cups other standard flour bag sizes contain:

– 2 pound bag: 8-10 cups
– 10 pound bag: 40-50 cups
– 25 pound bag: 100-125 cups
– 50 pound bag: 200-250 cups

These ranges account for sifted vs unsifted flour differences. For other fractional bag sizes, you can determine cups by dividing the total ounces by the typical weight per cup for the specific flour type as shown above.

Uses for Full 5 Pound Bag of Flour

A standard 5 pound bag of all-purpose flour contains enough to make around:

– 8 loaves of bread
– 5 batches of cookies
– 2 cakes or bundt cakes
– 30 crepes or tortillas
– 60 biscuits or scones
– 3-4 pizzas

Having approx 20 cups of flour on hand makes it easy to whip up a variety of baked goods. A full bag allows flexibility to make most recipes without running out of flour.

Storing Flour Properly

To maximize freshness and shelf life of flour:

– Keep flour in a sealed container or plastic bag at room temperature. This prevents moisture absorption or dryness.

– Avoid refrigerating or freezing flour if using within a few months. Cold temperatures hasten starch breakdown over time.

– Buy flour from stores with good product turnover to ensure freshness.

– Check expiration or best by dates and use older flour first.

– Smell flour for any rancid, musty or stale odors before use. Discard any that smells off.

– See signs below for identifying bad flour:

Signs of Bad Flour

– Changes color to yellow, gray, or rancid smelling
– Presence of bugs/insects which indicates contamination
– Lumpy texture instead of fine powder
– Tastes bitter instead of plain

Whole Wheat vs White Flour Differences

There are a few key differences between whole wheat and all-purpose white flour:

– Whole wheat contains the wheat germ and bran while white flour is refined with only the endosperm.

– Whole wheat is higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to white.

– Whole wheat has a slightly coarser texture and nuttier, earthier flavor than white.

– Whole wheat is heavier, weighing 5 oz per cup vs. 4-4.5 oz for white.

– Whole wheat absorbs more moisture so requires more liquid.

– White flour has a lighter texture and milder flavor best for cakes, cookies, pie doughs, biscuits.

– Whole wheat works well in hearty breads, muffins, waffles, pancakes.

Either type of flour will work for general baking depending on the flavor and texture you prefer.

Using Bread Flour vs All-Purpose Flour

Some key differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour:

– Bread flour has a higher gluten protein content, typically 12-14% vs 10-12% for all-purpose.

– The higher gluten results in greater structure and chewiness, ideal for yeast breads.

– Bread flour is more dense at 5 oz per cup compared to 4.25-4.5 oz for all-purpose.

– All-purpose has sufficient gluten for most baked goods besides yeasted breads.

– Use bread flour for bread machines, bagels, pizza dough, hard rolls. It develops crumb and texture.

– Reserve all-purpose for cakes, cookies, pie crusts, biscuits, muffins.

Either can be used but bread flour gives best rise and chewiness for breads. All-purpose works well for most other recipes.

Cake Flour Uses and Substitution

Cake flour has a lower protein content around 6-8% and very fine texture perfect for cakes. Key tips:

– Weighs only 4 oz per cup due to very fine grind. More cups per pound.

– Provides tenderness and delicate crumb for cakes. Prevents tough or rubbery texture.

– Best uses are cake layers, genoise, chiffon cakes, butter cakes, sponge cakes.

– To substitute use 2 tbsp cornstarch or potato starch per 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

– Can also replace up to 1/4 of all-purpose flour with cornstarch or potato starch.

– Avoid using self-rising cake flour unless recipe specifies, due to added leavening.

Cake flour provides the ideal lightness for cakes. In a pinch, all-purpose can be adapted as shown above.

Self-Rising vs All-Purpose Flour

Self-rising flour differs from all-purpose in that it has added leavening:

– Contains salt, baking powder, and sometimes powdered milk.

– Leavening makes it ideal for biscuits, muffins, quick breads.

– Creates light texture without needing to add baking powder/soda.

– 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1.5 tsp baking powder + 0.5 tsp salt

– Don’t use for yeast breads. Leavening would impede yeast action.

– Avoid using in recipes with other leavening unless adjusted.

Self-rising flour saves time and creates quick breads with built-in rise. Use all-purpose for yeast breads or if recipe already has leavening.


While 5 pounds of flour generally contains 16-20 cups, the exact amount can vary based on flour type, whether sifted, environmental factors, and how it is measured. Heavier bread or whole wheat flours will be fewer cups per pound and lighter cake or sifted flours will have more. Weighing flour gives the most accurate measurements. Storing flour properly maintains freshness and shelf life. Different types of flour are suited for various baked goods based on their protein content, weight and added leavening. But most standard flours can be interchanged if needed with adjustments to other ingredients in the recipe. Understanding the characteristics of flour allows bakers to adapt recipes and achieve the best results with whatever type they have on hand.

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