What Is Bleached Flour? (What Is It Made Of, What’s It For, Substitutes + More)

Flour is considered a crucial ingredient in many recipes, and various types of flour can suit different recipes. For instance, some recipes may specifically call for bleached flour instead of regular flour.

If you have ever seen bleached flour in a store, you may be curious as to what bleached flour is. I looked up the facts, and here is what I found!

What Is Bleached Flour?

While technically all flour is bleached, bleached flour is a tern used to refer to refined flour that has been bleached with chemical whitening agents while unbleached flour is bleached naturally over time. Generally, bleached flour provides bright color, softer texture, and more volume to recipes such as cookies and pancakes.

If you want to learn more about how flour is bleached, if bleached flour is better than unbleached flour, and what kinds of flour are bleached, keep reading!

What Does It Mean When Flour Is Bleached?

Technically speaking, all flour is considered bleached flour, but what categorizes certain types of flour as bleached flour is the process of how bleached flour is made.

When flour is bleached, it usually means that the flour is refined during processing, and refining flour removes the germ and bran from the wheat kernels while only leaving the endosperm.

Moreover, flour is bleached when whitening agents are added to the flour to make the flour white, hence the term “bleached” flour.

How Is Flour Bleached?

Flour is bleached by refining the wheat kernels used to make flour, and bleaching flour usually involves adding flour bleaching agents to freshly-milled flour.

Typically, benzoyl peroxide and other common powder bleaching agents are combined directly with the freshly-milled flour to whiten the flour, and the whitening process usually takes two days.

Additionally, there as gaseous bleaching agents like chlorine and nitrogen peroxide that get placed into a bin with the freshly-milled flour.

What Is The Purpose Of Bleached Flour?

Generally, bleached flour’s main purpose is to provide a different texture to foods since bleached flour is softer than unbleached flour.

Normally, using bleached flour for food will create a brighter color, more volume, and a softer texture, which is why bleached flour is often used for cookies, quick bread recipes, pancakes, muffins, and pie crusts.

Moreover, bleached flour is usually produced more than unbleached flour because bleached flour is economical since it is easy to produce bleached flour, making bleached flour the more affordable option for most people.

What Is The Difference Between Bleached Flour And Enriched Flour?

Bleached flour is a type of flour that has whitening agents added into it after the flour has been milled, but bleached flour often has the nutrients stripped from it due to the refining process.

On the other hand, enriched flour refers to flour that has specific nutrients added into enriched flour since refining flour can remove many nutrients.

Generally, bleached flour lacks a lot of nutrients since bleached flour is very refined, so a manufacturer can make enriched bleached flour to return nutrients to the flour.

Is It Better To Buy Bleached Flour Or Unbleached Flour?

Is It Better To Buy Bleached Flour Or Unbleached Flour?

As mentioned earlier, all flour can be considered bleached flour since all flour gets bleached with the difference being that bleached flour has whitening agents to bleach the flour whereas unbleached flour is naturally bleached as the unbleached flour ages.

Choosing whether bleached flour or unbleached flour is better to purchase will depend on what kind of results you want to get for your dish.

For instance, using bleached flour would be better if you want a dish that has a soft yet voluminous texture, such as fluffy brownies and soft chocolate chip cookies.

On the other hand, unbleached flour offers more structure in recipes and usually has an off-white color, making unbleached flour the better option if you want to create yeast bread and pastries.

However, some people will state that bleached flour is not better than unbleached flour because they have sensitive taste buds, so they may notice the different taste that comes from bleached flour.

Additionally, some people use unbleached flour and bleached flour interchangeably since certain people may not see a huge difference in their dishes.

For general baking, you may switch between bleached and unbleached flour with little to no problem, but more complex baking recipes may need a specific type of flour to achieve the best results.

Is Bread Flour Bleached?

Not all bread flour is bleached since most types of bread flour try to offer more structure to bread recipes, which is why most bread flour brands will be unbleached flour created from hard red spring wheat.

Since unbleached flour creates more structure in bread, unbleached bread flour is often ideal for heavy bread recipes like whole-wheat bread.

However, it is possible to use bleached flour or to find bleached bread flour and bleached flour is better for quick bread recipes, such as white bread.

Is All Cake Flour Bleached?

Not all cake flour is bleached, but most brands of cake flour are bleached, and this is likely because cakes are usually meant to be soft and bleached flour creates softer textures.

Additionally, many cake recipes are often meant to have somewhat voluminous cakes, which can be achieved through bleached flour.

Is Swans Down Cake Flour Bleached?

Swans Down Cake Flour is considered bleached flour because the ingredients list contains bleached wheat flour.

What Can I Substitute For Bleached Flour?

Most of the time, you can substitute bleached flour for almost any type of flour since all flour is considered bleached (since the flour is bleached through different methods).

However, the best replacement you can get for bleached flour is any flour that is white and offers a light texture, such as all-purpose flour.

Additionally, it is important to check the flour that you have since the label may not specifically state that it is bleached flour, but many flour brands include bleached flour in their ingredients list.

Read our other articles to find out what baker’s flour is, what buckwheat flour is, and what blanched almond flour is.


While all flour is technically bleached, bleached flour involves chemical whitening agents that speed up the whitening process of freshly milled flour.

Typically, bleached flour is used by itself or mixed with other flour (to create flour like cake flour) to create bright colors, more volume, and softer textures.

Generally, almost any type of white flour can be a decent substitute for bleached flour, but you may notice a slight change in texture and flavor.

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