Home » Resources » What Brand of Bread Flour is Best? (Bread Test #1)
What Brand of Bread Flour is Best? (Bread Test #1)
A breakdown comparing 9 different brands of bread flour WITH VIDEO RESULTS, to see if the brand used changes the quality of each final loaf.

Home » Resources » What Brand of Bread Flour is Best? (Bread Test #1)
What Brand of Bread Flour is Best? (Bread Test #1)
A breakdown comparing 9 different brands of bread flour WITH VIDEO RESULTS, to see if the brand used changes the quality of each final loaf.

bread flour labels

ingredients matter, or do they?

I’ve seen how the science behind each ingredient plays a huge role in the end result, but I wondered with bread flour, even if the protein content of flour was closely aligned, could the brand alone change the end result? If so, it could change everything for us, and even help us potentially save a lot of money!

Is it worth splurging or can Walmart do the job just as well?

I picked 9 popular brands of bread flour and put them to the test with my tried and true Classic White Sandwich Bread recipe. This test was 100% unaffiliated and NOT sponsored from any brands. There were lots of ways to take this test (gluten free substitutes, testing the flours with different recipes, etc.) But I wanted to keep this test singularly focused with every variable remaining the same except the main question – brands of bread flour.

(PS – keep scrolling to find the quick 10 minute synopsis video we pulled from our hours worth of testing and footage.)

Bread flour vs all purpose flour

A test comparing brands of all purpose flours should definitely be next on my list, but I already know from previous comparisons that I prefer bread flour over all purpose flour for my hearty breads.

Why? Bread flour is higher in protein content (typically 12-14% compared to all purpose flour’s protein of 8-11%). This higher protein content promotes a strong gluten formation in the bread dough as it kneads, providing more elasticity, greater strength, and a slightly chewier texture. Bread flour is often yielded from hard wheat varieties, and all purpose flour is often from soft wheat varieties.

In upcoming tests in the series I will show the difference between bread flour and all purpose flour in the same recipe, so watch out for that soon!

brands tested

We tested bread flours from 9 different brands. To keep the test unbiased, I assigned a number to each brand and only knew which number I was working with throughout the test.

  1. Pillsbury
  2. Great Value
  3. Gold Medal
  4. Wheat Montana
  5. Hayden Flour Mills
  6. Central Milling
  7. Bob’s Red Mill
  8. King Arthur
  9. Lehi Mills
pre-measured ingredients
line up of 9 bosch mixers

bread flour test rules

Knowing how little variations can change the end result in our baking, I wanted to make sure that the only difference between each batch was the one we cared most about: THE FLOUR. To pull off this level of chaos, I called in my good friend, Chef Lindsey from LK Cooking, to help me manage all of the batches so the timing could be as close together as possible.

  • Ingredients weighed for precision
  • Same brand of mixer (I’ve used Bosch mixers for over 20 years and they are tried and true for bread making. Use this link and code LOSKITCHEN for $50 off.)
  • Same proofing time in same location
  • Shaped identically
  • Same oven & bake time

Both the process AND results proved to be very fascinating between the brands. Some very similar, and some unbelievably stood out.

proofed bread dough in loaf pans
baked bread in loaf pans

BRAND BREAK DOWN

Here is a quick break down of each brand’s protein content (if known from the packaging) and cost (cents per oz). Of course keep in mind these prices will vary based on location and time of year. This pricing was based out of Salt Lake City, UT in February 2024.

  1. Pillsbury – 12.9% – 5c/oz
  2. Great Value – n/a – 4.9c/oz
  3. Gold Medal – 12.3% – 6.7c/0z
  4. Wheat Montana – 13.3%? (mixed answers) – 12.8c/oz
  5. Hayden Flour Mills – 12.1% – 21c/oz
  6. Central Milling – 11.5% – 8c/oz
  7. Bob’s Red Mill – 12.5-13.5% – 7.6c/oz
  8. King Arthur – 12.7% – 7c/0z
  9. Lehi Mills – 11.5-12.75% – 3c/oz

the results

The most surprising result of all was that we enjoyed every loaf. The bottom line for me was that you can make amazing homemade bread with ANY of these brands. Accessibility and budget are always important considerations. But, when we were being extremely analytical, here was our report:

MY TOP 4:

  1. Lehi Mills
  2. Central Milling
  3. Wheat Montana
  4. Hayden Flour Mills

NEXT BEST:

  1. King Arthur
  2. Bob’s Red Mill

BOTTOM 3:

  1. Gold Medal
  2. Great Value
  3. Pillsbury

VIDEO RESULTS

brand breakdown

>> Lehi Mills: “Best value”

Many taste testers came back to this bread. There was a familiar, classic taste to it they resonated with for sandwich bread. It wasn’t quite as elastic, but still proved to have a great crumb structure, good rise, and incredible taste. The best part of this for me is that if you live in Utah, you are able to get it locally for the cheapest price! Even cheaper than Great Value brand! It wins the “best value” and “consistent results” award every time for me. If you’re not local, I’m not sure I’d label it as a premium brand worth paying top price and shipping for. Compare prices of other accessible brands and that would weigh heavily for me.

Shop Lehi Mills (free shipping available over $69)

>> Central Milling: “Organic, Softest, Fastest proof

This one was very fascinating to me. The dough mixed up SO elastic just like Hayden’s. But even after testing this brand more times independently, it always seemed to proof faster than other brands. It has a very tender, almost fluffy like texture, but while keeping a decent structure. They have a fantastic range of flours in their line up including a higher protein bread flour, and a pizza flour that we use weekly for pizza night. Because it’s strong proofing aspect and tender results, I reach for this brand every time when I make sourdough bread. Local to Utah but shipping options available.

Shop Central Milling flour

>> Wheat Montana: “Great flavor; bigger price tag”

Wheat Montana quickly stood out in its taste and texture. This one was my husband’s personal favorite. Depending on your location, it can carry a higher price tag, and so that’s why it ranked a tad lower for me, because I wasn’t sure the large jump in price justified the small quality difference. If you can find this at a good price, it’s a fantastic flour, and mixed up really well!

>> Hayden Flour Mills: “Most unique; premium price.”

This flour stood out in EVERY step of the process. The coloring of the flour and dough was the darkest, and the flavor was the most complex. It tasted like a loaf that was half wheat, half white – rich and tasted more nutritious. While this was all positive, it just was hard to keep it in the same category as everything else. It was no longer that classic bright white sandwich bread. So I would reach for it on many occasions (and in fact, it was my FIRST choice the next day for toast), but maybe not if you’re looking for more of a true white bread. Due to it feeling almost separate from the test and coming in at a premium price point, I put it as #4. If you’re local to Arizona, you can buy it in bulk at a bit lower cost.

It’s clear they are attentive and unique in their milling. They mill smaller batches and harvest everything locally, which I love.

Shop Hayden Flour (Use code LOSKITCHENCO for $10 OFF! I asked for this after my testing after I found out how much I love it, so I promise it remains unbiased! Plus, free shipping over $99)

>> King Arthur & Bob’s Red Mill: “Good crumb, Accessible”

One thing I’ve always loved about both of these brands is their consistent results. They seemed pretty comparable to me taste wise. King Arthur maybe had slightly more of a rise, but eating them blind it was hard to tell a difference. This flour is also very accessible, so if you can find it for reasonable price, you know you’re going to get reliable results. This dough wasn’t as elastic as Hayden or Central Milling, but wasn’t as sticky as our first 3 in the line up, so I appreciated that difference. If my choice was between these two, they were close enough for me that I’d lean towards favoring the better cost.

>> Gold Medal, Great Value, & Pillsbury: “Stickiest dough, decent results.”

These were all very similar in that these were THE STICKIEST doughs. I had to add more flour in each of those, particularly Pillsbury. The dough was slightly shaggier and not as elastic after kneading, but it came together ok during shaping. These 3 also seemed to lack the most in flavor. Gold did have a slightly more open crumb, but in our disguised taste test, these 3 tasted the most similar, especially when not over analyzing it. Not a stand out, but not awful. Just fine, good bread.

SUMMARY

The true winning aspect to me was that you can really use ANY of these brands and still have amazing homemade bread, especially with this tried and true recipe. If any of these brands are local to you, I would capitalize on that. I also trust the more localized stricter milling guidelines that brands like Hayden and Central Milling follow, which is an important factor for how I choose ingredients for my family, as opposed to mass produced flours like Great Value and Pillsbury that source their wheat from a large variety of farms. Remember to take advantage of some of the free shipping offers when you buy in bulk online, and safely store your flour in food grade buckets with easy twist lids for longest freshness.

Focus on what’s in budget and accessible to you.

I hope this post helps guide your buying decisions the next time you buy bread flour. Have any questions? Drop them below in the comments!

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Laurie
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Laurie
2 months ago

Interesting. I went to a bread making class probably 15+ years ago. The instructor was adamant that Lehi Rolling Mills flour made the best tasting bread. So based on her recommendation that’s what I’ve used. Was happy to see your testing agrees.

Linda Hansen
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Linda Hansen
1 month ago

Lehi Roller Mills is my all time favorite flour to use for my White breads. I have a small in-home bakery and love to use Hard Red Montana Wheat to grind for my wheat breads. A lot of bakers don’t realize that flour DOES have a shelf life and if it’s been sitting in their storage room for quite some time or on a grocery shelf, for who knows how long, this will affect your baking. Loved your experiment and pleased to see the results of the outcome. I’ve used a Bosch for years but you haven’t lived until you’ve tried an Ankrusrum!😉

Marie L
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Marie L
1 month ago

Would you be willing to share your sandwich bread recipe? Is it a sourdough? I make traditional sourdough and with inclusions but haven’t done a sandwich bread yet. Thanks.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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