We demystify wonderful tawny biscuits, ditch the silliness, and show you how to get them soft, fluffy, and crispy on the outsides
I am obsessed with biscuits. I have tried every recipe under the sun. Biscuits are so wonderfully versatile, and surprisingly, they are easy and forgiving. And they can be baked on a grill with indirect heat! Either way, biscuits are best when served hot right out of the oven.
- 10 ounces all purpose flour (284 grams/2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen (1 stick)
- 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute, below)
These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page
- Prep. Toss the butter in the freezer an hour or so before cooking.
- With a fork, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Divide the butter into a 5 tablespoons hunk and a 3 tablespoons hunk. Keep the paper on the 5 ounce (140 g) chunk so you can hold it without melting it all over your hands. Roll the paper back and grate the 5 ounce (140 g) chunk with the large holes on a box grater right onto the baking sheet, then mix it into the flour with a fork, a handful at a time, until all the grated butter is coated. This is a brilliant trick that I discovered reading every recipe I could find. So fast and easy.
- Pour in the buttermilk and stir it with a fork until the liquid and all the dry ingredients are absorbed. You should have a wet sticky dough. Stick it in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
- Melt the 3 ounce (85 g) hunk of butter and lightly paint a small baking pan or cookie sheet with it. Thoroughly cover a section about 8 inches (20 cm) square with the butter. Butter the inner sides of the pan as well. When you are done, pick up the pan and look at it to make sure it is thoroughly buttered to prevent sticking. Do not be tempted to use a sheet of parchment paper or a silpat. Butter is crucial to getting a crispy bottom (and for flavor). Set the remaining melted butter aside for painting the tops before baking.
- Toss 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour on your work surface and coat your hands well with flour. Slide the dough onto the work surface and gently press it into a 6 inch (15 cm) square. It'll be about 1 inch (25 mm) thick. Fold the square of dough in half, flatten it out, and fold it again and again, at least 5 times. This folding creates layers that will bake into a flaky biscuit. You will probably have to re-flour the surface and your hands several times. Then form the dough into a 6 inch (15 cm) square.
- Cut the dough into 9 squares like a tic-tac-toe board. If you prefer, you can cut them into round biscuits with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a water glass. Or, you can make "drop biscuits," rustic unformed biscuits, by simply ripping off a hunk of dough a bit larger than a golf ball. At this point, you can now freeze the biscuits between layers of wax paper in a zipper bag. Then you can bake them right out of the freezer, adding an extra 5 minutes or so to the baking time.
- If you are ready to bake now, put the biscuits one at a time on the buttered baking sheet and push them up against each other. They like to touch, as it makes each biscuit puff up with pride and keeps them from falling over. Don't worry about putting them in the pan in the same place they were on the work surface. But if you have time, pop the pan of biscuits into the fridge for about 15 minutes. Just before cooking, paint their tops with the remaining melted butter. You probably won't use it up, so save the rest for serving. Again, this step of buttering the tops is crucial for the crispy crunch.
- Fire up. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218 °C). On a grill, use indirect heat. On a smoker, keep the smoke down.
- Cook. Bake until golden brown on top, a bit darker on the bottom, and about 205°F (96°C) in the center, about 15 to 20 minutes if your oven is calibrated. After about 7 minutes, rotate the pan for even browning.
- Serve. While still warm, serve the biscuits on their own, buttered, or with butter and molasses, as is traditional in some parts of the South. Jam and/or marmalade make excellent spreads. Or serve them with turkey and all the fixings, with ham and a glaze or redeye gravy, smothered in sausage sawmill gravy, made into sandwiches, or topped with a sunnyside up egg. Biscuits also make pillowy toppings for fruit cobblers, pot pies, or chili baked in a Dutch oven. Oh, and if you are going to serve your biscuits with butter, set a stick on the counter when you start the process so it can come to room temp and it will spread more easily.