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Basic Homemade Biscuits

This basic homemade biscuit recipe can be made in about 20 minutes. The biscuits are easy to make with a light, flaky, and tender texture!

two biscuits stacked on top of single layer of biscuits

Biscuits are a dinner staple and one of the easiest side dishes to make. They are buttery, flaky, and taste best when served warm from the oven.

The biscuit method is used for biscuits, shortcakes, and scones. This method is similar to the one used for making pie crust.

Cold fat is cut into the flour until uniform pieces are visible. This helps achieve the desired flakiness in the biscuit dough.

The dough is rolled and shaped before baking then the biscuits are brushed with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.

Why this recipe works

  • The biscuit method is used to produce a flaky product.
  • A good amount of butter is used to create a soft texture with a rich buttery flavor.
  • Working the dough as little as possible eliminates toughness and allows the biscuits to rise.
one biscuit stacked on single layer of biscuits

Basic homemade biscuit recipe

It took some trial and error to get this recipe right. I tested it with various amounts of butter, cutting them in different sizes, and arranging them closer and further apart on the baking sheet.

Finally, I ended up a result I am happy with. The process is similar to my basic scone recipe with a few changes to the ingredients.

My basic biscuits don't call for eggs and this particular recipe uses regular milk instead of buttermilk. It's a simple and straightforward recipe that can be made with staple pantry ingredients.


Basic biscuit ingredients

More than likely you already have these ingredients in your pantry. They are everyday staples.

  • Flour: Regular all-purpose flour will work best.
  • Salt: You only need a little salt but it can be adjusted to taste.
  • Sugar: I like to add 1-2 tablespoons but this is completely optional.
  • Baking powder: Make sure your baking powder is still good to use or the biscuits won't rise.
  • Butter: I prefer to use unsalted butter. Make sure the butter is cold.
  • Milk: Whole milk is what I used because it's most of us already have on hand.

To make these homemade biscuits you'll need:

  • Pastry blender: A pastry blender is my favorite tool to use to cut the butter into the flour.
  • Baking sheet: I prefer to bake the biscuits on a baking sheet.
  • Mixing bowls: These bowls are my favorite. I use them regularly.
  • Rolling pin: I like to use this silicone French rolling pin.

What can I use instead of whole milk?

You can substitute buttermilk, light cream, or heavy cream for the whole milk. Use just enough of the liquid of your choice to bring the dough together without having to work it too much.

biscuit filled with jam

How to make homemade biscuits

I tried to make this recipe as simple and straight forward as possible. I wanted everyone to be able to have success!

Step 1: Mix the dry ingredients

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. Use a whisk to or sifter to get everything very well combined. You want to make sure the baking powder is evenly distributed through the flour.

Step 2: Cut in the butter

Next, you need to cut cold butter into the dry ingredients until small uniform pieces are visible.

There are a few ways to do this...

You can use a pastry blender as I do. Or you can use your fingertips. Or you can use a box grater.

process shots showing butter cut into flour mixture

Using a pastry blender: Cut the cold butter into small pieces and toss it into the flour mixture. Grip the handle of the pastry cutter and press the blades down into the butter. Twist the blender a half-turn and then lift up. Repeat this process in quick motions until the mixture looks mealy.

Using your fingertips: Cut the cold butter into small pieces and toss them into the flour mixture. Rub the pieces into the flour by pressing them between your fingertips until the mixture looks mealy.

Using a box grater: Place the butter into the freezer the night before you plan to use it. Grate the frozen butter into shreds with a cheese grater. Work quickly because the butter will start to soften in your hand. Once grated, gently toss it with the flour mixture.

Step 3: Mix in the milk

Add the milk and gently mix just until the ingredients are combined and the mixture holds together. Be extra careful and do not overmix as this will cause tough biscuits that don't rise properly.

process shots showing milk mixed into dough

Step 4: Knead the dough

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and gently press it together 4 to 5 times.

The dough should be soft and slightly elastic but not sticky. Don't over knead it because this toughens the biscuits. Work slow with short mixing time.

hands kneading dough

Step 5: Roll and shape the dough

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a ½ to ¾-inch thickness. I like thicker biscuits so I aim for ¾-inch.

Take care and make sure you are rolling the dough evenly or they'll bake uneven and lopsided.

Dip a 2-inch round cutter in flour and cut out 12 biscuits. Space cuts as close together as possible to minimize scraps.

Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper and arrange the biscuits. Place them nearly touching for a higher rise with softer sides. Or space them further apart for crusty sides.

hand cutting biscuits with red cutter and biscuits on baking sheet

Step 6: Bake

Bake at 425°F for 10-12 minutes. The tops should be light brown and the sides almost white. The interiors should be moist.

The internal heat will continue to cook them after they are removed from the oven.

Brush the tops with melted butter then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

closeup of three biscuits

Can I use this recipe to make shortcakes?

Yes, this recipe will work for shortcakes. You may wish to increase the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

If you like these homemade biscuits, you’ll love these other recipes:

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closeup of three biscuits

Basic Homemade Biscuits

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

This basic homemade biscuit recipe can be made in about 20 minutes. The biscuits are easy to make with a light, flaky, and tender texture!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup (150 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces - SEE NOTE 1
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, cold - SEE NOTE 2

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it with butter.
  2. Stir the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder together with a whisk until very well combined.
  3. Use a pastry blender or fingertips to cut the butter into the flour mixture until looks like coarse crumbs.
  4. Add the milk and mix just until combined and the mixture holds together. Do not overmix as this will cause tough biscuits that do not rise.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and gently press it together 4-5 times. The dough shouldn't be sticky but will be soft and elastic. Too much kneading will toughen the biscuits.
  6. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into ½-¾-inch thickness. Dip a 2-inch round cutter in flour and cut biscuits by pressing straight down. Avoid twisting the cutter because this will inhibit the rise. Space the cuts as close together as possible so minimize scraps.
  7. Arrange the biscuits on the prepare baking sheet. Place them nearly touching for a higher rise with softer sides. Or space them farther apart for crusty sides.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the sides are almost white. The interiors will still be moist but will continue to cook after they are removed from the oven.
  9. Brush the tops with melted butter if desired then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Biscuits are best served warm.

Notes

  1. Salted butter can be used in place of unsalted butter. Omit the salt from the recipe.
  2. Buttermilk or cream can be substituted for whole milk. Use enough liquid to bring the dough together without having to work it too much.
  3. Try freezing the shaped biscuits on the baking sheet for 20 minutes before baking. This will help them maintain their shape during baking.

Make ahead tip

  1. Baked and cooled biscuits can be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow them to cool completely then wrap each biscuit tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil or several layers of plastic wrap and store in a gallon-sized freezer bag or airtight container. TO REHEAT: Transfer the frozen biscuits to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, until soft and warmed through. lay a sheet of foil over the biscuits to prevent them from over-browning.
  2. Unbaked biscuits can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cut out the biscuits and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour. Once frozen, transfer the biscuits to a gallon-sized freezer bag or airtight container. TO BAKE: Bake straight from the freezer! Place frozen biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 biscuit
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 431mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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Sjockiea McCrary

Sunday 1st of November 2020

Can I freeze biscuit dough and if so, for how long?

Jen Sobjack

Sunday 1st of November 2020

Unbaked biscuits can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cut out the biscuits and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour. Once frozen, transfer the biscuits to a gallon-sized freezer bag or airtight container. TO BAKE: Bake straight from the freezer! Place frozen biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.

Nadia

Friday 17th of July 2020

Are the measures here right ? 240ml of milk made my dough super sticky! I made sure I followed it just like how you said. I had to add so more more flour about 100 gms more. It def wasn’t dry and crumbly :( not sure what the outcome is. They’re still baking

Jen Sobjack

Friday 17th of July 2020

240ml is 1 cup of milk and this is the correct measurement. There's a video showing exactly how the dough should look using the measurements I have listed. If you live in a humid environment, you may need to use less liquid. I suggest adding just enough to for the dough to come together without having to work the dough too much.

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