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How to Sift Flour Without a Sifter

How to Sift Flour Without a Sifter

Sifting flour is a step you find in many baking recipes. It is a step that many people are tempted to skip due to not having a sifter. However, if you want to get the best outcome in your baking, you must sift the flour. The good news is that even without a sifter, you can use other methods to ensure that the flour you use is fine and ready to use. All you need is a little creativity and an understanding of why this step is important. This article will guide you to find the best ways to sift and other tips to help you when using flour.

Why should you sift flour?

Some recipes may not indicate that you should sift flour, but it is in your best interest to do so. The following explains the importance of sifting.

Breaks the flour

Flour usually comes in a packet that is compact and held together. Depending on how old the flour is, it may form lumps that need breaking before being ready to use. Sifting the flour breaks these lumps and incorporates adequate air into the flour, making it more suitable for use.

Distributes ingredients evenly

Many recipes that you may use may require you to mix dry ingredients first before adding the wet ingredients. If the flour is not well sifted, these dry components may not distribute evenly. Items such as baking powder or soda need to get into the flour evenly to allow the dough to rise well. If you don’t sift the flour, you may end up with uneven rising, which affects the outcome.

Removes impurities

Some flour may have chaff, such as sand, husks, and clumped flour that you don’t need in your baked goods. Sifting is an excellent way to get rid of these substances so that your flour may be clean and ready for baking.

How do you sift flour without a sifter?

When your recipe calls for sifting, you may panic for not having one, but it is a relatively easy tool to replace. The main reason for sifting is to break lumps and aerate the flour, so it is fluffier. You can do this using different tools in the kitchen as follows:


If you are wondering what to use instead of a clean flour sifter this is the easiest way to get the same results. Get a mesh strainer which you can use to slowly sieve the flour to incorporate more air into it or separate it from the chaff. If you don’t have it handy, a homemade sieve for baking will get you similar results. Make sure it has small holes to get the best results.

If the recipe calls for measuring a certain amount of sifted flour, there are two ways to do it. You can sieve a large amount of flour first, then measure out what you need. The other way is first to measure the flour you need and then sift it before using it. The instructions can also call for sifting all the dry ingredients together, so you must measure the flour you need for the recipe.


Many homes have a colander for straining out vegetables or rice, and it can also be used to sift flour without a sifter. Ensure that the colander is completely dry before using since if it is wet, the flour will clump, and it won’t be easy to use. Next, add the flour bit by bit into the colander and tap lightly to strain it. Ensure that you do this slowly since you may end up wasting a lot of flour otherwise. Repeat the action until all the flour is sifted.


If you don’t have any of the mentioned tools, you need a large bowl to add some air into the flour. Pour your measured flour into a large bowl, preferably one with a lid. Cover the bowl and shake the flour a few times. You can do it bit by bit if your container is not large enough. Note that this method will not get rid of chaff in the flour.

What happens if you forget to sift flour?

You can get away with not sifting flour if your recipe doesn’t require it. Modern milling technology ensures that most of the flour you buy is already sieved, so you should get a decent outcome. However, if the recipe calls for sifting, then it is likely that the result you get may not be the best.

It has been proven that sifted flour weighs up to 25% less than packed flour. The fact that the flour is lighter means that whatever you are baking will be lighter too. Not sifting the flour may lead to a dense outcome, especially for certain cakes and bread. So, just as you will follow the exact measurements of a recipe, ensure that you follow the sifting requirements.

Can you sift flour in a food processor?

Yes, you can. The idea of using a food processor to sift flour is to make it lighter by adding air into it. Add the flour into your processor and pulse it a few times, and it should be ready to use. Remember to secure the lid properly to avoid creating a mess that will have you remeasuring the flour.

How to dust powdered sugar without a strainer

Applying a light layer of powdered sugar is important, which may be challenging to do if you don’t have a sieve or strainer. You can use a salt or pepper shaker to dust the sugar. Add some powdered sugar in a shaker and lightly tap the sides until you get the desired results.

If you don’t have a salt shaker, you can add the powdered sugar into a cup, cover the top of a cup using foil then poke small holes all over. Then, use the same action of tapping the sides to dust your baked goods until you get the best results.

How do you sift flour with a whisk?

You can use a whisk to fluff up and break any lumps in your flour, although the results may not be as good as the other methods. Do not use the light method of whisking since this may create a mess. Instead, use a more rounded action as if you are folding flour into the batter. Do this in batches to avoid wasting any flour, and it should be ready to use immediately.

A sifter is an essential tool to have in your home if you bake a lot. However, do not despair if you don’t have it since everyday kitchen utensils can replace it. Instead, use the best flour sifter substitute you have depending on the results you desire.