Can’t Find Flour? Here’s How You Can Still Bake.

Stores out of flour? Don't fret! Pastry chef and Master Chef Junior judge Christina Tosi has the solution so you can keep baking.

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Courtesy of Duncan Hines

Living life in quarantine has many of us spending more time in our kitchens than ever. Instead of whipping up the occasional batch of cookies, we’re baking up bread, desserts and breakfasts almost daily. The unfortunate effect of this: grocery stores are often running out of flour. This is a baker’s worst nightmare! But don’t worry—it’s possible to keep baking.

How, do you ask? Baker extraordinaire and Master Chef Junior judge Christina Tosi says grab those boxed cake and brownie mixes and get into the kitchen!

Why Box Mixes Are the Perfect Flour Substitute

Courtesy of Duncan Hines

“If you don’t have flour, get your cake mix and your brownie mix on!” Christina suggests. These mixes are full of the basic ingredients needed in most baking recipes, plus most grocery stores still have plenty of these mixes in stock, even if the flour supply is running low.

How to Use Box Mixes in From-Scratch Baking

Boxed cake, brownie and even pancake mixes contain many essential ingredients used in our favorite baking recipes. They contain flour, sugar, a bit of baking soda or powder and extra flavors like cocoa or even just some mood-boosting sprinkles (confetti cake, anyone?).

“I can count on a mix to give me flavor and direction,” Christina says. And that’s why she always keeps a few packages in the back of the pantry—just in case.

Use premade mixes as a foundation in your bakes and layer on more flavors and additions. You can start simply by adding extra chocolate chunks and nuts to a boxed brownie mix or use the mix as an ingredient like with this caramel fudge cheesecake.

Christina’s Go-To Quarantine Treat (Starring Brownie Mix!)

Courtesy of Duncan Hines

While the options for using baking mixes in the kitchen are nearly limitless, Christina shares that she’s been baking up one super-versatile recipe over and over again while staying in: her Little Motivators cookies.

These cookies, which start with a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix, are a great quarantine bake, according to Christina, because “you can’t do them wrong!” While she has her suggested mix-ins of nuts, instant coffee and chocolate chips, you can adapt it to what you have in your pantry.

Here’s what you’ll need to make these cookies at home:

  • 1 box (18.2 ounces) Duncan Hines brownie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Step 1: Mix Everything with the Mix

No fancy gear needed for this recipe! Just grab a large mixing bowl and spatula and mix the brownie mix, egg, vanilla and melted butter until smooth. Then add in the instant coffee, chocolate chips and nuts. Our Test Kitchen recommends toasting the nuts first to release more flavor.

Step 2: Scoop and Bake

Once the cookie dough is together, all that’s left to do is portion out the dough. Christina suggests large, one-third-cup-sized scoops. You can do this with a measuring cup or a scoop like this.

Pop the cookies on a lined or greased cooking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350ºF. Let them cool on a wire rack and enjoy. Eat them within three days and stash any extras in the freezer.

How to Customize Your Cookies

Courtesy of Duncan Hines

While Christina’s recipe calls for pecans, walnuts and chocolate chips, she encourages working with what you’ve got and experimenting in the kitchen, especially when it comes to the mix-ins for this cookie recipe.

“You can’t do ’em wrong,” she explains. “You’re not into pecans? What about pistachios? What about peanuts and chocolate? No one’s mad at that! You can just riff.”

And this customization is exactly what quarantine baking is about. No walnuts? No biggie! Add more chocolate. No flour? It’s OK—just snag a good cake mix and you’re ready to get back into the kitchen.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.