Did your last batch of paella burn, or your most recent soufflé fall flat? It doesn’t matter; as long as you can make a mean biscuit, you’re legit. After all, the ability to bake biscuits that are consistently flaky and tender is one of the key signs of a masterful home cook or baker. Below, using 12 examples, we outline a simple process to transform you into the best biscuit-maker in town.
BEGIN WITH THE BASICS
If you’re going to become a biscuit expert, you’ll want to begin with the fundamentals.
1. Start with Drop Biscuits
Drop biscuits get their name because all you have to do is drop dollops of dough onto a metal sheet and bake—no kneading, rolling, or cutting required. Start with our recipe and make it until it becomes easy to recognize the appearance of a “shaggy” dough. We recommend using buttermilk instead of beer so you can get familiar with the tangy undertones of the classic biscuit ingredient.
Recipe and photo from CHOW
2. Master the Buttermilk Biscuit
Once you’re comfortable with drop biscuits, move on to a classic buttermilk biscuit recipe, which will call for transferring the dough to a floured surface, working it gently to an even thickness, and cutting uniformly sized biscuits. Make this recipe until you’re able to work deftly so as not to melt the pieces of butter or overwork the dough.
Recipe and photo from CHOW
3. Don’t Let Gluten Stop You!
Don’t let being celiac or gluten-intolerant stop you from excelling at biscuit technique (or from impressing your wheat-free friends). For a gluten-free version, substitute regular flour with tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and guar gum. In fact, you can tweak all of the other recipes here, as long as you stick to the same ratio of tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and guar gum as a replacement for all-purpose wheat flour.
Gluten-Free Biscuit recipe and photo from CHOW
START TO PLAY AROUND WITH NEW INGREDIENTS
Now that you’ve conquered the fundamentals, it’s time to add some small flourishes to make the biscuit yours.
4. Consider a Savory Addition…
Try including a popular savory ingredient, like grated cheese. Experiment with highlighting different varieties of semifirm cheese from mild to sharp to find out which your palate prefers.
Cheddar Biscuit recipe and photo from CHOW
5. ...Or a Sweet One
If you’re more of a sugar fiend, there are plenty of sweet additions that work well in biscuits, too, like maple syrup, dried fruit, or simply sugar. But we like the natural sweetness that comes from an oven-roasted sweet potato.
Sweet Potato Biscuit recipe and photo from CHOW
6. Toy with Complementary Flavor Profiles
Tinker with biscuit recipes that call for a blend of contrasting ingredients, like smoky bacon, sharp cheddar, and hardy herbs like oregano and thyme.
Bacon-Cheddar Biscuit recipe and photo from CHOW
7. Try Swapping in Different Liquids
If you don’t like the characteristic tang that comes from buttermilk, experiment with swapping it for regular milk (or, if you want an extra-buttery quality, heavy cream). We’d also suggest an unexpected leavening agent, beer, which imparts a subtle malty flavor and a light, fluffy texture.
Beer Biscuit recipe and photo from CHOW
8. Consider Including a Topping
Alternatively, keep the biscuit relatively basic so it becomes merely a vehicle for the topping that carries all the flavor. Case in point: Chef Andrew Carmellini’s self-proclaimed “world’s best biscuits,” which are served smothered in a honey-butter glaze.
Recipe and photo from Serious Eats
TAKE SOME BISCUIT LIBERTIES
Once you’ve mastered all of this, it’s time to get sophisticated by putting a personalized spin on all the biscuits you make. Here are some great examples.
9. Make a Treat That’s Both Filled and Iced
Work in a spice or ingredient you love—here, it's cinnamon—as a flavor theme in both a filling and a topping. These biscuits are filled with melted cinnamon chips, as well as smeared with a cinnamon glaze–like topping.
Photo and recipe from The Kitchn
10. Put Something Ridiculous in the Middle
For an incredible sandwich, use a biscuit to bookend a vegetable or protein, like battered and fried chicken thighs.
Fried Chicken Biscuit recipe from CHOW
11. Make It a Worthy Base for a Meal...
Again, contrasting ingredients, like lemon zest (for brightness) and chive (for bite), make this biscuit a worthy base for a fancy brunch dish like crab Benedict.
Lemon-Chive Biscuit recipe and photo from CHOW
12. ...Or a Standout Dessert
Sweet biscuits are essentially shortcakes. Create a standout dessert like the almond biscuit shortcake shown here by highlighting a distinctive ingredient such as almonds with the addition of almond flour and sliced almonds. Then serve it as you would a shortcake, with roasted fruit and whipped cream.
Almond Biscuit Shortcake recipe and header image of Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits from CHOW