Introduction: The Science of Biscuits

Picture of The Science of Biscuits

Butter or shortening? Milk or buttermilk? What is the true key to flakiness? These are the questions that plague biscuit makers everywhere, and they are the questions that I have set out, over the past 13 months, to answer once and for all.

When you ask how to make biscuits, it seems that everyone and their grandmother (especially their grandmother) has an opinion. If you look up a hundred biscuit recipes, you'll get some commonalities... and a lot of specific, mysterious "key" steps that sound more like potion-making instructions from a Harry Potter book than a real recipe.

Does the amount of salt really matter down to the 1/3rd of a teaspoon? Is it really key to knead exactly 15 times, or to use a baking mat, or to use buttermilk? Or are some of the mysterious steps in these recipes as arbitrary and nonsensical as cutting off both ends of the ham?

There's only one way to find out: experimenting. For the past year, I've performed dozens of biscuit experiments. I've tried to be as scientific as possible by:

  • changing only one thing at a time (the amount of fat or the type of liquid, for example)
  • doing blind taste tests with friends (i.e. not explaining the difference in recipes until after I get opinions).
  • testing multiple types of biscuits on the same day (so that taste testers can say "biscuit A is better than biscuit B" rather than having to say, "Yeah, I think these taste better than the ones you made last week!")

In this instructable, I will show the results of these experiments and my results for the "ultimate" biscuit recipe. But first a little about technique: how do you make biscuits in the first place?

Step 1: The Basics (tips and Tricks)

Picture of The Basics (tips and Tricks)

Making biscuits is basically composed of seven steps:

  1. Mix some dry ingredients
  2. "Cut" in some fat
  3. Mix in some liquid
  4. Knead the dough
  5. Roll out the dough
  6. Cut biscuits
  7. Bake

Most of these steps are pretty straightforward, but here are some tips and tricks I've learned after making about a zillion biscuits:

  1. Mix some dry ingredients
    • No tips needed. Just mix them with a fork (or anything else handy).
  2. "Cut" in some fat
    • This can be the hardest step. The goal is to turn your fat into a bunch of little pea-sized pieces coated with the dry ingredients.
    • Preferred method: If you're using butter, it's easy: just grate the butter with a cheese grater.

    • Other methods include:
      • Squishing the fat around with a fork until it's a bunch of little pieces coated in flour.
      • Blending the fat in with a food processor.
      • Using two table knives (or scissors) to cut the fat up until it's a bunch of little pieces coated in flour.
      • Using a pastry cutter (not much better than a fork)
      • Using your hands
  3. Mix in some liquid
    • Again, just mix with a fork.
  4. Knead the dough
    • Fold the dough in half. Squish it. Repeat about 10 times.
  5. Roll out the dough
    • Roll with a pin or pat with your hands until it's about one inch thick.
  6. Cut the biscuits
    • Traditionally, you use a round biscuit cutter. I like to use a knife and cut squares, so I don't have left-over pieces to re-knead and re-roll.

  1. Bake
    • Put the biscuits on a baking sheet and stick them in the oven.

And now, on to the experiments!

Step 2: How Does Baking Powder Affect the Biscuits?

Picture of How Does Baking Powder Affect the Biscuits?

Baking powder is a field of contention. Some people think the amount of baking powder used is very specific and important, while others seem to think it's almost unnecessary. I've even read one book that said that rising occurs because of the butter in the biscuits, not the baking powder.

So what difference does baking powder really make?

To find out, I made five different batches of biscuits. The only difference between the batches was the amount of baking powder used:

  • Batch 1: 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Batch 2: 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Batch 3: 1.5 teaspoons (1/2 tablespoon) baking powder
  • Batch 4: 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • Batch 5: 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) baking powder

I then took a time-lapse video of the biscuits as they baked. The pan has three representative biscuits from each batch. Oven temperature is 425 F.

The video shows pretty clearly that a lot more rising occurs when you use more baking powder. This picture, taken right after the biscuits had finished baking, shows the same thing:

But what about taste?

Both taste testers (my wife and I) thought that batches 1 and 2 (with only a tiny amount of baking powder) were noticeably denser and moister than the others. The texture wasn't the nice, flaky, classic biscuit texture we both like.

For batches 3, 4 and 5 (with half to double the base recommended baking powder amount), the taste difference was almost indistinguishable. My wife thought the batch with the most baking powder was best, while I thought it tasted a tad too salty and chemically. My favorite was the middle batch, with two teaspoons of baking powder, but my wife thought this one was a little too dense.

Conclusion: More baking powder makes the biscuit rise more (imagine that!). About 1 tablespoon of baking powder per 2 cups of flour seems to be about the right amount, but even halving or doubling this amount should not ruin your biscuits.

Step 3: How Does the Liquid to Flour Ratio Affect Biscuits?

Picture of How Does the Liquid to Flour Ratio Affect Biscuits?

A big variation in biscuit recipes is the amount of liquid (milk, water, buttermilk) that the recipe calls for. Some biscuits, like drop biscuits, call for a lot of liquid, so the dough is super sticky and you have to "drop" lumps of it onto the pan. Others call for very little liquid, so it's difficult to mix the dough without over-kneading it. What is best? How does the amount of liquid affect the final product?

To find out, I made five batches of biscuits that were identical except for the amount of milk used. Each batch uses two cups of flour and normally makes 8 biscuits, but I only cooked two biscuits from each batch so that I could make sure the baking conditions were exactly the same for all of the biscuits.

  • Batch 1: 1/2 cup of milk (1:4 ratio)
  • Batch 2: 3/4 cup of milk (3:8 ratio)
  • Batch 3: 1 cup of milk (1:2 ratio)
  • Batch 4: 1-1/4 cups of milk (5:8 ratio)
  • Batch 5: 1-1/2 cups of milk (3:4 ratio)

I then took a time-lapse video of the biscuits as they baked. The pan has two representative biscuits from each batch. Oven temperature is 425 F.

The video shows that you get a lot more rising for drier biscuits. You can see this well in the picture of the final biscuits as well:

How about taste?

Surprisingly, all of the biscuits were extremely good. I went into this thinking that the amount of liquid ratio was probably the most important variable in the whole recipe. It turns out that it's not. The very dry biscuits were really good, as were the very wet "drop" biscuits. My favorites were probably the ones in the middle (with 1 cup of liquid per 2 cups of flour), but that was by a very narrow margin, and my decision may have been influenced by the fact that a 1:2 ratio is easy to remember.

What about handling the dough?

Again, the 1:2 liquid:flour ratio was about the easiest dough to handle. It was slightly sticky, so you could save some mess by going with a 3:8 liquid:flour ratio. The very dry biscuits were difficult to get mixed, and the very wet biscuits were, well, very wet.


1 cup of milk (or water, or buttermilk) per 2 cups of flour is a pretty good ratio, but it's really not that important.

Side note:

This experiment also (mostly) debunks the theory that you have to make your biscuits by using a scale rather than using cups and teaspoons. Yes, it's more exact to measure the actual mass (or weight) of your ingredients than it is to measure volume, but this experiment shows that huge variations in the amount of flour per liquid can still result in good biscuits. The small variation in flour amount you'll get by measuring flour by volume will not ruin your liquid to flour ratio enough to ruin your biscuits.

Side note on the Side note:

I say mostly debunks because, theoretically, some other ratio could be super crucial to the science of biscuit making. We've already seen that the baking powder : flour ratio and the liquid:flour ratio have a lot of leeway, though, so unless the fat : flour ratio needs to be honed to perfection, a small measurement error just isn't going to make much of a difference.

Step 4: How Does the Butter to Flour Ratio Affect Biscuits?

Picture of How Does the Butter to Flour Ratio Affect Biscuits?

Another big variable in biscuit recipes is the amount of fat (butter, shortening, etc.) that the recipe calls for. Usually its in the ballpark of 1/3 or 1/2 cup per 2 cups of flour, which is about half the amount of fat per flour that you put into a pie crust.

But what difference does the fat make? Are biscuits fluffier with more or less fat? Richer? Tastier?

To find out, I made three batches of biscuits that were identical except for the amount of fat used (in this case, butter). Each batch uses two cups of flour and normally makes 8 biscuits, but I only cooked two biscuits from each batch so that I could make sure the baking conditions were exactly the same for all of the biscuits.

  • Batch 1: 1/4 cup of butter (1:8 ratio)
  • Batch 2: 1/2 cup of butter (1:4 ratio)
  • Batch 3: 1 cup of butter (1:2 ratio)

I then took a time-lapse video of the biscuits as they baked. The pan has two representative biscuits from each batch. Oven temperature is 425 F.

As we saw with the liquid experiment, "drier" biscuits tend to rise more (in this case, the biscuits with less fat tend to rise more). in this case, it appears that the biscuit structure is just a lot more stable (structurally speaking) when there's less butter. When you get a lot of butter, you're kind of filling your biscuit with holes, which makes it unable to bear its own weight to rise very far.

So, you definitely get flatter biscuits when you add more butter (incidentally, the same is true with cookies... if your cookies are running all over the pan when they bake, just reduce the amount of butter/shortening and they'll hold their shape much better).

But what about taste?

This was a tough one. Increasing the amount of butter definitely makes the biscuit "taste" softer, more crumbly, and more flaky. I usually associate flakiness and softness with size; you expect a big biscuit to be fluffy and soft, and a biscuit that doesn't rise to be dense. But, at least right out of the oven, the super buttery biscuits really melt in your mouth.

But the biscuits with 1 cup of butter seemed too rich to my wife and I, and I suspect that after cooling down, they would be dense and gross. The biscuit with very little butter wasn't as soft and flaky, but it was more structurally sound.


None of these biscuits were bad, but again, the middle option seems to be the best choice. A ratio of 1/2 cup of butter to 2 cups of flour (1:4) seems to work pretty well.

Step 5: Butter Vs Shortening Vs Cream Cheese

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    Some biscuit recipes call for butter. Others demand shortening. Still others swear by cream cheese. Some even claim a mix: I read one article that claimed that shortening led to better flakiness and butter led to better taste, so an even mix of both would lead to the ultimate biscuit.

    We've already seen what the amount of fat does to a biscuit, but what does the type of fat do?

    To find out, I made three batches of biscuits that were identical except for the type of fat used. I was cooking for a crowd, so I cooked each batch separately, one after the other, and asked my guests to let me know which batch tasted the best. I did not tell my guests what the difference in the batches was until everyone had told me their opinion.

    • Batch 1: shortening
    • Batch 2: butter
    • Batch 3: cream cheese

    Judging by appearance, I could not tell the shortening biscuits apart from the butter biscuits, but the cream cheese biscuits were a little cakier and less flaky looking.

    Taste-Test Results:

    • Four of eight people could tell no difference in taste between the shortening and butter biscuits.
    • Two of eight people thought the shortening biscuits tasted better than the butter biscuits.
    • One of eight people thought the butter biscuits tasted slightly saltier, but not necessarily better.
    • One of eight people thought the butter biscuits tasted slightly saltier and slightly better.
    • The cream cheese biscuits were pretty unanimously agreed to be blander and cakier.


    I (and my taste-testing friends) were pretty surprised by these results, so I did similar experiments about 5 times. Every time, the results were a wash... butter and shortening seem to be very difficult to distinguish in biscuits.


    Either butter or shortening is fine; there's no clear advantage of one over the other (except that butter is easier to incorporate into the dough by hand, especially if you grate it like cheese). Cream cheese is a decent (but inferior) alternative if you're worried about fat content (cream cheese has about half as many calories from fat as butter or shortening). Cream cheese might be an especially good option if you're making biscuits and gravy (where the biscuit is more of a vessel for the gravy anyway).

    Step 6: Butter Vs Margarine

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    All biscuit masters agree: if you're going to use butter, use real butter, not that fake crap (margarine).

    But margarine is usually several times cheaper than butter, and some argue that it's healthier. Could it really be all that bad for making biscuits?

    To find out, I made two batches of biscuits that were identical except for the type of fat used.

    • Batch 1: margarine
    • Batch 2: butter

    I cooked both batches on the same cookie sheet at 425 F, so baking conditions were identical. I had six taste-testers, and I did not tell them which biscuits were which until they'd given their opinions.

    It was difficult to tell any difference in appearance between the biscuits. Both turned out pretty nicely: fluffy, flaky, and crispy on the thin outer crust.

    What did the taste testers say?

    • 5 of 6 taste-testers preferred the margarine biscuits

    This surprised me. I asked how sure everybody was of the difference? Three of the five that chose margarine biscuits were only 20% sure of their choice. One was 80% sure, and the last (a smart alec) was 64% sure.

    What reasons did the un-witting margarine lovers give? Better texture and taste.

    What about the dissenter, who liked the butter biscuits better? She was also only 20% sure, and said that the butter biscuits (which she did not know were butter biscuits) were moister.


    If you're a purist and just can't stomach the "fake crap", then by all means use butter. But if you want to save a few bucks and a few calories, margarine is a great alternative that may even make the biscuits taste better.

    Step 7: Milk Vs Buttermilk (Experiment 1)

    Picture of Milk Vs Buttermilk (Experiment 1)

    Almost everyone, if you ask them, will tell you that buttermilk makes better biscuits. But does it?

    I did this experiment many times. Sometimes I used "real" store-bought buttermilk. In this first experiment, I didn't have any store-bought buttermilk handy, so I made my own:

    • Batch 1: Buttermilk (2% milk plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, let stand for 7 minutes)
    • Batch 2: 2% Milk

    Baked at 425 F. Four taste-testers.

    Taste Testing Results:

    • Two of four couldn't tell a difference.
    • One of four voted for the buttermilk biscuit (because of "better taste")
    • One of four voted for the milk biscuit (because, "the other one has better taste, but this one has better texture")


    Inconclusive. Buttermilk isn't blow-everyone-away better, but it might be a little better. More data is needed (read on).

    Step 8: Milk Vs Buttermilk (Experiment 2)

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    To solve the milk vs buttermilk question, I decided to make two giant batches for a bunch of guests. I didn't tell anyone what the difference between biscuits was until after they'd made their choice.

    • Batch 1: Buttermilk (half was "real" store-bought buttermilk, half was 2% milk plus lemon juice)
    • Batch 2: 2% Milk

    Baked at 425 F. Eight taste-testers.

    Taste-Testing Results:

    • Two of eight people thought the milk biscuits were maybe a little "saltier", but couldn't decide which they liked better.
    • Six of eight people could not tell a difference.


    Buttermilk doesn't seem to make a difference.

    Step 9: Milk Vs Water

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    So if buttermilk isn't really better than milk, that begs a question: could you just use water instead of milk? Would taste-testers be able to tell the difference?

    To find out, I made two batches:

    • Batch 1: milk
    • Batch 2: water

    Both were baked at 425 F. There were five taste testers (who did not know what was in the biscuits they were tasting):

    Taste-testing results:

    • Three of five thought the water biscuits were fluffier and better overall.
    • Two of five thought the milk biscuits had a little better taste.


    Milk and water both seem to work fine... there's no clear advantage of one over the other.

    Step 10: Thin Vs Thick

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    There's a little bit of debate on how thick you should roll out your biscuits before you make them. To find out what difference it makes, I made two batches:

    • Batch 1: Thin (rolled 1/2 inch thick before baking)
    • Batch 2: Thick (rolled 1 inch thick before baking)

    Baked at 425 F. Four taste-testers.

    Taste Testing Results:

    Three of four people liked the thick-cut biscuits better.


    Roll 'em thick.

    Step 11: Baking Mat Vs No Baking Mat

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    Some people swear by the baking mat, while some swear by the bare cookie sheet. It turns out that for biscuits, it doesn't make a difference.

    I made a single batch of six biscuits. I put three biscuits on a baking mat and 3 on a bare cookie sheet and baked at 425 F.

    Can you tell a difference? I couldn't... not in taste, texture, or appearance, even on the bottom of the biscuit.


    Don't worry about using a baking mat.

    Step 12: Overworking the Dough

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    Many biscuit recipes caution against over-working the dough. I've read recipes that insist you only stir 15x after adding the milk and others that say you should knead only 5-10x. The idea is that too much kneading will make the biscuits tough, hard, and nasty.

    Usually I mix just until the ingredients are combined, then knead 5 times. But to see if this is really necessary, I made three batches:

    • Batch 1: Kneaded 5x
    • Batch 2: Kneaded 15x
    • Batch 3: Kneaded 45x

    You can definitely tell after 15 kneads or so that the dough is changing. It gets harder to fold, stiffer, more "bready". By the time you get to 45 kneads, you're starting to get tired, and the dough is resisting you. Something is happening with the gluten in there, I'm sure.

    But how does that affect the final product?

    Not as much as you'd think.

    As you can see in the pictures, the dough that was kneaded only 5x didn't rise quite as much as the other biscuits. It kind of rose and collapsed. The dough that was kneaded 15x and 45x was more "structurally sound" (like the biscuits we've seen before with less butter or milk).

    As for taste and texture, my wife and I noticed two things:

    • Kneading more makes the dough more homogenous. In other words, less crumbly, more spongy... like Pillsbury biscuits from a can.
    • Kneading more makes the texture slightly tougher. Emphasis on slightly... like, almost unnoticeably.


    Kneading somewhere around 10x is probably ideal, but I seriously doubt anyone would complain if you kneaded 5x or 45x. You're not going to absolutely ruin the biscuits by "overworking" them.

    Step 13: Baking Temperature

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    How about baking temperature? Is it better to bake for a short time at a high temperature, or for a long time at a low temperature?

    I made a single batch of biscuits and baked two biscuits at 425 F and two biscuits at 350 F. It took a little longer to finish at 350 F (20 minutes vs 15 minutes), but the resulting biscuits were almost indistinguishable. My wife thought the 350 F biscuits were a little tougher. I thought they tasted the same.


    Bake at a higher temperature... not because it makes a big difference in the final biscuit, but because you get to eat your biscuits sooner.

    Step 14: Conclusion

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    So how do you make the best, flakiest, most optimal biscuit ever?

    Well, that depends on your taste. If your taste is like mine, then (for 8 biscuits), use:

    • 2 cups of flour
    • 1 cup of liquid (milk, buttermilk, or water)
    • 1/2 cup of fat (butter, stick margarine, or shortening)
    • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon of salt

    Stir the dry ingredients together.

    Cut in the fat.

    Stir in the liquid.

    Knead ~10x.

    Roll ~1 inch thick.

    Bake ~15 minutes at 425 F.

    But maybe you just like your biscuits to be as big as possible. If so, up the baking powder, decrease the liquid and butter content, and knead them a bit more.

    Or maybe you just want the richest, crumbliest taste and texture possible. If so, use more fat.

    Or maybe you're curious about some tests I haven't done yet, like:

    • working the dough even less (COMPLETE: see this post)
    • milk vs 7-up (apparently it's a thing)
    • cutting the butter in vs. melting it and pouring it in
    • types of flour
    • sour cream (apparently it's also a thing)
    • [Fill in the blank]

    If that's the case, then check out my blog, where I've posted more installments of my continued quest for the "perfect" biscuit (as well as info on my novels, short stories, other food experiments, and book reviews).

    I hope you found this useful. Thanks for reading!

    Note: Metric conversions (thanks to ZaKKoS for writing these up):

    • 250g flour
    • 230ml liquid (milk, water)
    • 110g fat (butter, margarine)
    • 10g baking powder
    • 5g salt
    • Roll ~2.5cm thick.
    • Bake ~15 minutes at 220° C


    pedalmonkey (author)2015-08-09

    I used the final recipe of your ible. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong, like inaccurately measuring out the flour, because upon mixing in the liquid and stirring, it was very sticky. In fact, I couldn't even knead it. I added some more flour - about a third of a cup - and then put it on a floured board to knead it. In all, I must have added a full cup of flour before the dough was what I would consider workable. Could you post pics of what your mixed dough looks like before and after kneading? It would help me a lot to actually see your dough's texture. Maybe I should let it sit in the bowl a bit before kneading? Thanks for your work on this!


    AnnaM244 made it! (author)pedalmonkey2017-11-03

    to knead it - its still sticky in the bowl. After mixing, flour a flat surface. about 1/4 up of flour, spoon out onto surface, flour top of the dough, pat it down with your hand, fold in half, pat down, fold in half, pat down, add a little four as you need it to keep it from sticking to the flat surface. I have it set at about 8 times that I fold and pat down. The last fold, I pat it down to about an inch thick and cut the biscuits putting them on a buttered pan. If you like dark bottoms, use a dark pan, if you like a light nice toasted bottom use a light aluminum pan.

    my recipe is 2 cups BREAD flour - I like king arthur all purpose bread flour, I like 2 tlbs of white sugar, 1 1/4 tlbs of baking powder, 1 tsp salt. stir it up, cut in 5 tlbs of butter cutting it in, add 1 cup milk, mix with spoon. flour surface, spoon onto flour surface, add flour on top about 1/4 cup, fold 8 times, pat out to an inch, cut out 8 biscuits. bake 400 for 15 minutes. They come out perfect every time, they rise better if they are close together than spread out. As you can see, spread out allows for them to rise awkward and not straight up.

    solobo (author)pedalmonkey2015-08-10

    It is a bit sticky... it generally gets all over my hands. If you're used to making bread or pizza dough, it'll take a little getting used to. You can use less milk (like 3/4 cup) if you like (see step 3, which talks about the effect of various amounts of liquid).
    I went ahead and made a video of me making some biscuits this morning with all the amounts shown in the final recipe (now shown on this final step); maybe that will help show how the dough looks when I make them.

    Let me know if they're still not working out for you and maybe we can troubleshoot. Thanks for reading!

    pedalmonkey (author)solobo2015-08-10

    Thanks man. Yes, I do bake breads, but not so much with the pizza. The best biscuits I ever made were in my dutch oven at deer camp about twenty years ago, but that was a yeast recipe. I've sporadically looked for another recipe since then that was a quickbread. Going to the recipe sites is frustrating because they take forever to load and require me to cleanse my 'puter of all the cooties they leave behind.

    Your title is what made me look. When I saw that you had taken a pretty scientific approach, I HAD to look at it. Judging from the texture I saw in your video, I did two things wrong: used too much butter and too little flour. They did work out just fine, but probably only because I used 4 t of baking powder. I'll try again in a couple of days and let you know how they turn out. I'm sure they will be great now that I know what I screwed up. Again, thanks for your work on this as it s worthy of the FRONT of the refrigerator.

    bautar (author)2015-03-30

    Excellent work! If you ever do a "revision 2" of this experiment, it would be good to test baking soda vs baking powder as well. Based on the chemistry, I think this is where you will see a greater difference making biscuits with or without buttermilk. Baking soda requires an additional acid in the mixture to make bubbles, whereas baking powder already contains an acidifying agent (cream of tartar). Here's an article on the subject:

    I'm a camper & frequently make biscuits in a Dutch oven; your experiments will help create a recipe that is much more "portable" than my usual recipe!



    mworrall (author)bautar2015-03-30

    Thank you,Bautar. for answering a question i was about to ask.

    And congrats to Solobo for the perfect experiment.

    solobo (author)bautar2015-03-30

    Great article. To summarize it:

    Baking Soda needs an acid (like buttermilk)

    Baking Powder is Baking Soda with the acid already mixed in (so you don't need buttermilk)

    You can substitute baking powder for baking soda (since you're just making double-sure there's enough acid for the reaction), but you can't substitute baking soda for baking powder (since that acid needs to come from somewhere).

    Conclusion: It's OK to use baking powder with buttermilk, but it's not OK to use baking soda with regular milk (at least according to this article).

    I agree: an experiment to verify this would be great. I'll put it on the list.

    dwebb-2 (author)2015-03-29

    What about the Cream of Tartar?

    WilliamT181 (author)dwebb-22017-11-24

    with 2 cups self rising flour, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup lard, add 1/2 tsp. baking soda and a tsp. of Cream of Tartar. Run em @ 400 degrees and try. I think you'll be surprised with the result.

    Blankgirl23 made it! (author)2017-11-12

    I love making biscuits and gravy. I ran out of biscuit mix and found this. It was quite informative. Maybe the recipe should say that you’ll need extra flour for the kneading surface since people are complaining about how sticky the dough is. I probably used about 1/2 cup of flour for kneading. I used salted butter and forgot to add salt, I recommend not forgetting salt. But they turned out good and my family was happy with the biscuits.

    solobo (author)Blankgirl232017-11-12

    Thanks, glad they worked out (and I am also notorious for forgetting the salt).

    AnnaM244 made it! (author)2017-11-03

    my recipe is 2 cups BREAD flour - I like king arthur all purpose bread flour, I like 2 tlbs of white sugar, 1 1/4 tlbs of baking powder, 1 tsp salt. stir it up, cut in 5 tlbs of COLD butter cutting it in, add 1 cup milk, mix with spoon. flour surface, spoon onto flour surface, add flour on top about 1/4 cup, fold & pat down about 8 times, pat out to an inch, cut out 8 biscuits. bake 400 for 15 minutes. They come out perfect every time, they rise better if they are close together than spread out. As you can see, spread out allows for them to rise awkward and not straight up. I want to add, you can also roll this out 1/4 inch, top with melted butter, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon, roll up into a roll, cut about 1 inch thick, play on buttered pan, bake 12-15 minutes and you have cinnamon rolls. Use a little melted butter and white powered sugar for a glaze.

    JeffJ117 (author)2017-08-31

    Have you ever tried liquid oil, such as olive oil or maybe coconut oil in place of the butter?

    I would be interested to know how those supposedly healthy oils affect the biscuit in comparison to a solid oil.

    solobo (author)JeffJ1172017-09-17

    Well I tried regular vegetable oil yesterday; wasn't bad! I imagine coconut oil or olive oil would be similar, but with more taste variation.

    Here's a blog post and video showing my results:

    JeffJ117 (author)solobo2017-09-18

    Nice. Thanks.

    solobo (author)JeffJ1172017-09-01

    Sounds like an excellent experiment, I'll do it ASAP!

    malitam (author)2015-04-29

    I really enjoyed your quest for the best biscuit. for my family I prefer to alter my recipes to keep them interested. I prefer butter, sometimes buttermilk, sometimes not, drop biscuits are awesome because I love the crispy points. And they are quick. I also love to toss in shredded sharp cheese when biscuits are a side dish. I also love the grated butter method for convenience. good luck and thanks for the enjoyable post.

    solobo (author)malitam2015-04-30

    mm, shredded cheese sounds tasty.

    JeanA6 (author)solobo2017-06-15

    red lobster biscuits have a drizzle of butter, garlic salt and sugar sauce at the end over biscuits w shredded cheese mixed into the dough

    solobo (author)JeanA62017-06-17


    johnk24 (author)2015-04-26

    One of the things I think makes a difference is how you cut the dough. Dip the cutter in flour and never twist. I am also partial to a square cutter. The edges get a little crunchy while the middle is soft.

    solobo (author)johnk242015-04-26

    I have noticed that edges that don't get cut tend to stay "pinched" together, but I've never noticed any difference between edges that I cut different ways... what do you notice happening when you twist the cutter?
    A square cutter would be nice: I usually use a knife for squares, but a square cutter would be easier I think.

    JeanA6 (author)solobo2017-06-15

    I use a squared glass for cutting. You can find those at the dollar store sometimes or thrift store.

    maggieelrod (author)2017-04-07

    Hey, I just read most all of your biscuit recipe "experiments" First of all I really enjoyed them. I'm a southern Cook and have been making biscuits forever it seems and although I've never had a complaint I think any true biscuit maker still always looks to perfect them if you know what I mean. I was actually hoping to find of you mentioned carol fayes' biscuits somewhere . I've become obsessed it seems in finding out the recipe she uses. I know only a few things for sure. One she uses white Lilly flour, melted lard or crisco not oil , no sugar and I'm pretty sure she uses dry buttermilk and no yeast. If you ever came across her in your biscuit search let me know what you think. You seem to be so thorough and you've made a lot. I'd like to know what you think. Thanks again for all the time you put in. I truly did enjoy it. Think I'm gonna read up an your pancake tests now.
    Sincerely, Maggie

    solobo (author)maggieelrod2017-04-07

    Thanks, glad you enjoyed them! I've never heard anything about Carol Fayes' biscuits, but they sound delicious :)

    sirestephen (author)2017-02-20


    I have assiduously applied myself to the realization of this recipe, after admiring the work done, and I have proudced some truly sumptuous flat rocks. Using the metric measurements the dough I got was so gooey I couldn't even get it out of the bowl. I Wonder what's up. I used French Alsacian baking powder + cream of tartar. The butter came out of the freezer and was grated. Too much liquid in the recipe? Chemical inadequation between me and the product? (I have the same problem with whipped cream.) I shall stay tuned. to see what you think. The rocks, by the way, were delicious. Thanks

    metric measurements, the dough I got was

    solobo (author)sirestephen2017-02-20

    Check out the comment above by pedalmonkey, who had the same problem. I'm not sure why this seems to happen for people every once in a while. You can always lower the amount of water if you don't like the stickiness; as Step 3 shows, the amount of liquid isn't very important for how the final biscuits turn out. I used 1 cup because it was easy to remember, but using 3/4 cup or even 1/2 cup (though some flour doesn't get incorporated) will still yield good biscuits.

    After pedalmonkey's comment, I did record a video of me using the exact measurements in the final recipe (see final step); you can refer to that video to see how the ingredients turned out for me.

    eternal_fizzer (author)2017-01-21

    mmmm - just made biscuits out of *what was in my fridge* - used a mix of
    soft margarine and salmon cream cheese and for moisture drained a can
    of corn and topped up with milk. I threw a handful of corn into the mix
    for a savoury fluffy biscuit usin ~1" patted out and cut in 8 wedges. 18
    min @ 425 was golden onbottom, but slightly underdone.

    solobo (author)eternal_fizzer2017-01-21

    mm... sounds delish!

    Summers6710 (author)2016-10-11

    I know what you mean about a chemical taste with higher amounts of baking powder. I hate that taste. I can't get past it. I found out about chemical taste at all. It's aluminum free. Have you tried it? Or should I go back to regular baking powder for better results?

    solobo (author)Summers67102016-10-11

    I've never used Rumford, but it seems to have good reviews. Sounds worth a try... if you try it, let me know how it turns out!

    solobo (author)2016-06-04

    sweet, let me know how they turn out!

    DorisNorris (author)2016-05-28

    thanks for these tips

    solobo (author)DorisNorris2016-05-28

    no problem!

    armyspouse007 made it! (author)2016-04-03

    Thank you so much for the "hard" work! My kids and I have been using the final recipe (milk as the liquid) for months now. Needless to say, we are a biscuit family!

    We have recently encountered an issue, though. We are getting a coppery tang out of the biscuits. Have you ever encountered this? We are using Calumet double acting baking powder and we think that might be the cause. do you have any thoughts on this?

    solobo (author)armyspouse0072016-04-03

    Great, glad the info has been useful!

    Mm, sounds like you may be tasting the baking powder... when I doubled the baking powder for an experiment, it did have a bit different taste, maybe saltier, though I think one person described it as a chemically / coppery tang. You can try reducing the amount of baking powder (say 2 t instead of 1 T). If you're still sensitive to it, you could try substituting 1t of baking soda + 1T of lemon juice for the baking powder. (Note: baking powder is baking soda with cream of tartar mixed in... the cream of tartar is an acid to help the baking soda work. Lemon juice can also work as that acid. Alternatively you can use buttermilk instead of milk, and the acid in the buttermilk will do the same thing).

    I'm not sure this will solve the taste issue for you; I recently did another experiment where I performed this substitution (baking soda and buttermilk instead of baking powder and regular milk)... 3 of 5 people still liked the baking powder type better (describing them as saltier, richer, more biscuity), but two people liked the baking powder + buttermilk substitution a little bit better. It's worth a try, though!

    Shalifa (author)2016-03-11

    Thank you. I found this interesting. Even though what I was searching for was how to make them today and tomorrow when I need them Monday and don't have time to make them.

    solobo (author)Shalifa2016-03-11

    Ha, let me know if you solve that problem.

    kschouest (author)2016-01-10

    OMG. OMG. OMG. Travis, I have been reading - and enjoying - myriad ibles for years. This ible clearly ranks as the longest I have ever read, but still, I read Each.And.Every.Word in one sitting, enjoying every informative morsel of wisdom along the way. And I even enjoyed reading the bazillion comments as well, because there are more interesting tidbits in there (as is usually the case). THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your expenditure of time, trouble, and expense to do all these experiments and share the details!

    I have been on a quest to find the perfect biscuit recipe for 40 years (I'm 62), and I could probably fill a landfill with the discarded biscuits that happened along the way. So sad! But no more. I now feel empowered to produce a batch of biscuits that are exactly the texture that I am attempting to accomplish, and if it's not, I now know exactly where and how I need to tweak it for next time.

    This morning I made a batch using 2c flour, 1c whey (leftover from homemade yogurt), 1-1/2 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, and 7 tbsp butter (slightly frozen and grated - thanks for that wonderful tip!). I followed your tips for handling and baked at 425 for 15 minutes. The only thing I did that you didn't mention is my usual trick of adding a pan of water to my electric oven. I recently moved into an all-electric apartment, after having used a gas stove for several years, and I was quickly reminded, after my first baking attempt, how the dry heat can affect baking times and temperatures. I filled a muffin pan (dozen bins) 2/3 full with warm water and popped it into the bottom rack when I first turned the oven on. The water helps to keep moisture in the oven and prevents the food from drying out. It makes a huge difference for any flour-based recipes!

    My biscuits came out AWESOME! I will try another batch in the coming week with some homemade buttermilk. My daughter (who lives just minutes away) buys raw milk, and she always saves the cream off the top for me, which I typically use for my coffee. We have used the cream in the past to make homemade butter and buttermilk (which is the liquid leftover after the homemade butter forms). We enjoyed both, but as you noted, it's a bit of work, so it's easier to just use the cream for coffee. :) Plus, we are spoiled on Kerrygold butter from Ireland, so not as motivated to make homemade butter. :) But the resulting buttermilk from the homemade butter (from the raw milk) is great for use in recipes, so I think it's worth making a batch and doing a taste test.

    And on an unrelated note, I would also like to commend you on your writing skills. I try to temper my expectations when reading content on the Internet. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes in the haste of the moment (me included). But it is almost impossible for me to read anything that doesn't automatically get filtered through my professional editor's hat. As a result, more often than not, I am left cringing as I am reminded, line after line, that so many people just "don't know what they don't know" (or don't care) when it comes to the written word. Thank you for caring - and for getting it right!

    And on one last unrelated note, my grandson (now 19) has been into Parkour since he was a tween, so I naturally perked up when I read your comment on your blog about the broken collarbone. I'm glad you recovered from that. I hope that inspired you to be more careful in future Parkour adventures! :)

    And your son is adorable. He looks like a mini-you!

    I have bookmarked your blog and look forward to reading future entries on biscuit experiments ... or whatever else you opt to share with your readers.

    Thank you again for finally helping me SMILE when I bite into my homemade biscuits!

    ~Karen S :)

    O'Fallon, MO

    solobo (author)kschouest2016-01-10

    Thanks for the kind comments, Karen, I'm glad it was helpful! Good biscuits are hard to beat, and it's definitely nice to know how to tweak things to make them just the way you like them. I'll have to try making some buttermilk sometime, that sounds like it'd be a lot of fun.

    Thanks again!

    JoshG42 (author)2015-11-29

    Nice Post! One glaring error though - the metric conversions! I'm sure it's a typo, but it should be 250g of flour, not 50g of flour. That would certainly explain the comments about a sticky, un-shapable dough. Otherwise, a great post. I'm interested in trying water instead of milk. Thanks!

    solobo (author)JoshG422015-11-30

    Oh, good call... fixed it. Thanks!

    wb5tts (author)2015-11-26

    Have you tried the dehidrated butter milk. Walmart has it in the baking section with the goats milk and such.

    I don't keep milk in the house, because I'm lactose intollerent, and it works out nice.

    solobo (author)wb5tts2015-11-27

    I haven't tried it, but that's a good idea for those who like the buttermilk.

    DonnaP26 (author)2015-10-23

    I noticed that when you used buttermilk, you didn't add baking soda. The baking soda reacts with the acid of the buttermilk to produce carbon dioxide, which should make fluffier biscuits. Perhaps you could try this in a future biscuit experiement: buttermilk with baking soda vs. buttermilk w/o baking soda.

    DonnaP26 (author)DonnaP262015-10-23

    Perhaps I should have finished reading the comments before I posted. I see this has been addressed. Anyway, it was a great instructable, and I appreciate all the effort you made. I will put this into practice next summer when camp starts. I bake hundreds of biscuits in the summer for my hungry campers. :)

    solobo (author)DonnaP262015-10-23


    meatpie (author)2015-08-05

    I love ibles like this. it's fun, interesting, different and entertaining. baking from a techie's point of view. it's tickling!

    solobo (author)meatpie2015-08-05


    GabyRainbow20 made it! (author)2015-07-05

    Greatest biscuits I've ever had!

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