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It may seem like an insignificant step at the beginning of a recipe, but taking the time to sift your flour before whipping up that next dessert really will yield fluffier and more delicate results. Biting into a chunk of flour or cocoa powder that didn't properly disperse while mixing takes the fun out of your baked goods, and could even be the thing that's weighing your angel food cakes down.
Sifters haven't changed all that much throughout the years. Chances are, your flour sifter is going to look a lot like that metal hand-cranked model you found in your grandparent's kitchen cabinets. Keep grandma's tarnished vintage sifter on display for nostalgia's sake, and pick up a fresh sifter that operates easily and gives you the smoothest baked goods imaginable.
Not interested in doing the extra work to crank or shake out the dry ingredients for your recipe? There are also a few electronic sifters on the market to reduce the work required to achieve the same results as the hand-cranked versions. From classic to contemporary, here are our favorite sifters to make quick work of sifting for your next project.
Best Overall: Epica Products Inc Bellemain Stainless Steel 3-Cup Flour Sifter
A basic crank-style sifter is a favorite among bakers, and this 3-cup sifter shows exactly why that is. The sifter is tough enough to handle different types of flour and other coarse ingredients, like bran or almond meal. The cannister has measurement markings stamped into the metal that can be read on the inside of the sifter so you can measure amounts as you pour them into the sifter (or see how much more you have left to sift). The manufacturer recommends simply wiping this clean with a cloth rather than immersing it in water, but some reviewers have hand-washed the sifter and others have washed it in the dishwasher with no issues.
Best with Squeeze Handle: Cuisipro Browne 3-Cup Sifter
Crank-handled sifters are quite popular but require two hands to operate. This squeeze-handled sifter can be operated with just one hand. You can even scoop the flour directly into the sifter, rather than pouring it in with a measuring cup. The handle is designed so you can hang the sifter on your bowl while you’re working with other ingredients, so it will stay neatly out of the way while you’re combining wet and dry ingredients.
Users noted that this works best if it’s holding 2 cups or less, although the manufacturer says it can hold up to 3 cups at once. When cooking is done, everything is top-rack dishwasher safe.
Best Dishwasher-Safe: Williams Sonoma Traditional Flour Sifter
If you only use your sifter for flour, you may not need to wash it often, but if you plan on using the sifter to combine ingredients, washing between uses will keep your baked goods tasting fresh. But as every baker knows, flour and water make a sticky goo, and sifters have a lot of small nooks and crannies, making them difficult to clean.
This sifter is dishwasher safe, so you can let the machine do all the work for you. Reviewers commented that, even though the sifter is metal, it seems resistant to rusting, which is great news for your baking. The cannister is large enough to hold up to 5 cups of flour at once.
Best Stand Mixer Attachment: KitchenAid Sifter and Scale Attachment
If you're looking for the best flour sifter that won't make your arm sore after a day of baking, this KitchenAid attachment is your pick. It sifts and weighs the ingredients while sending them gradually into the mixer bowl to make sure everything combines evenly. The process is completely hands-off once the flour is loaded, so bakers can just watch the process or stir a pot on the stove while the mixer does its job.
The hopper holds up to four cups of flour or similar dry ingredients, but can easily be reloaded for bigger recipes. The scale can be used on its own to measure all your baking ingredients and the kit includes a top plate for the scale when you’re using it on your counter. A storage case is included as well so you can keep all the parts neatly together when they’re not in use.
Best Mini: OXO Good Grips Baker’s Dusting Wand
While you certainly won’t use this for sifting flour for a cake, it's the best flour sifter for small amounts of sifting and dusting. It’s perfect for dusting cocoa powder, powdered sugar, or cinnamon onto cupcakes, cookies, or drinks like hot chocolate, lattes, or eggnog. It can also be used for lightly dusting flour onto your work surface before rolling out dough, or for dusting powdered sugar or cocoa powder when you’re using a stencil on a cake. The small size gives you the precision to dust the center of a cookie or cupcake without spreading powdered sugar everywhere. When you’re finished dusting, this hand-held tool is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best Large Capacity: Norpro Polished 8-Cup Stainless Steel Hand Crank Sifter
Serious bakers will love this 8-cup sifter that lets you load up large quantities of flour at once, so you won’t need to re-load as often when you've got a big baking job on your hands. This flour sifter is made from polished stainless steel that will look good on the counter, and it has a sturdy crank handle with a wooden knob.
Some users noted that flour can puff out of the top of the sifter, but that problem was easy to solve by using the plastic lid from a standard tin of coffee. Hand washing is recommended for this sifter.
Best Electric: Norpro Battery Operated Sifter
No matter how you do it, sifting flour can be tedious if there’s a lot of baking going on. This battery-operated sifter makes it simple, since there’s no need for cranking, squeezing, or shaking to get flour through the mesh of the sifter—just press the button and let the sifter do all the manual work.
Made from white plastic with a stainless steel mesh screen, this looks clean and attractive in use, and it holds a whopping 5 cups of flour, so there’s no need to refill over and over when there are a lot of cakes to be baked. This operates on one C battery, which is not included.
Best Easy to Use: OXO Good Grips 3-Cup Stainless Steel Flour Sifter
No need for squeezing a handle or turning a crank with this one-handed sifter. Shaking the sifter side to side moves the internal sifting mechanism—and the flour—back and forth, so the flour falls neatly through the screen at the bottom. If you use the sifter for combining dry ingredients or you want to switch from sifting flour to sifting powdered sugar, the sifter can be washed on the top rack of the dishwasher between uses.
If you only use this for flour, you can just snap on the bottom and top caps and store the whole thing with flour inside. A pre-filled sifter is easy to grab when you just need a little flour for your work surface for kneading bread dough or rolling out cookie dough. The compartment holds 3 cups of flour, so it’s not too bulky to store, but you won’t need to refill it for your average baking recipe.
The Epica Products Inc Bellemain Stainless Steel 3-Cup Flour Sifter is a classic sifter that's going to serve you well time and time again, whether you're sifting flour, cocoa powder, or almond flour for your next project. For a reasonably priced electric alternative, the Norpro Battery Operated Sifter will save you from the extra cranking and shaking, making quick work of a sponge cake.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The author of this roundup, Donna Currie, specializes in product reviews and recipes and is the author of the cookbook Make Ahead Bread. Her search for the best cooking and baking gadgets is never-ending.
This article was updated by Jenny Kellerhals, a professional pastry chef in New York City and a freelance food writer. Jenny samples every type of cheese she can lay her hands on and spends her free time reading murder mysteries—usually with a batch of brownies in the oven.