In our third-culture family, these homemade cheddar biscuits have a prominent seat at the Thanksgiving table; they're right there with any cookout for Labor Day! This recipe will help you can make these ultra flaky, cheesy, skillet biscuits from scratch with little effort. It's inspired by Carla Hall, so thank you Carla!
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
Where do I even start?!
- Ready in 45 minutes: Start to finish, this recipe has been tested so many times to make sure you have a hot batch of biscuits in under an hour.
- Great for make ahead: Both the biscuits and the biscuit dough freeze easily and so it makes for a great make-ahead side for any family gathering or dinner party!
- Ultra, ultra flaky and easy bake recipe: I started calling these biscuits the "Leaning Tower of Biscuits" because they'd get so tall and flaky, they'd flop over. Delicious!
📋 Ingredients and notes
My recipe is made in a cast iron skillet (which browns the bottom really nicely) and uses buttermilk as the binding agent. You'll need all purpose flour, unsalted butter, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, buttermilk, salt, and shredded cheddar cheese. For topping, I use butter, and minced garlic. Let's go through some key tips for these ingredients.
Notes and substitutions
- Buttermilk: I love to use buttermilk in this recipe because it provides a nice tangy flavor. No buttermilk? No problem. You can substitute whole milk. Or, you can curdle some milk with lemon juice or vinegar. To do this, add about 2 teaspoons or lemon juice to a cup of whole milk and let it just sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes. Try to use whole fat buttermilk if you can too.
- Cheddar: I like to use Tillamook sharp cheddar for use in these biscuits (this is not a sponsored post, I just love that brand!) But even if you use a different brand, try to get a wedge of fresh cheddar cheese and shred it yourself if possible. However, in a pinch, packaged shredded cheddar works just as well.
👩🏽🍳Five tips for flaky cheddar biscuits
Okay, first off - don't be afraid of trying this at home! I promise you, this recipe is SUPER simple and you don't need to pull off any magic tricks. You'll get your hands dirty, but it's worth it. I'll break it down here for you so you can follow along!
Sift dry ingredients together or use a whisk to aerate
I generally use a sieve to sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt, sugar and garlic powder) together. This not only ensures that all of the components are mixed well together, but it also aerates the flour and prevents clumping. If you don't have a sieve, you can just dump all the dry ingredients together and then whisk them together!
Use a box grater to shred butter and make sure it's cold
Cold butter is KEY to this recipe. There's science behind this. You want the butter to be cold until it hits the oven. Then, when it melts inside the biscuit dough, it releases steam because butter has water! This makes the biscuits puff and become flaky. So you want butter to be as cold as you can get it.
I recommend using a box grater to shred the butter. To prevent the butter melting or sticking when you do this, just dust the sides of the box grater with some flour and then drop the stick of butter into some flour. This works like a charm each time. Then, pop the shredded butter into the fridge for five minutes while you get the cheddar ready.
Fold dough to get cheese to spread nicely and get flaky
Add the buttermilk slowly to make sure that the dough is evenly hydrated. You'll notice that the dough is somewhat sticky - don't overwork it or knead it!
Once the dough comes together, I typically throw it on a floured work surface. I rock them side to side to get them into a nice texture. You can stop here if you want but I highly recommend going to the next step to ensure maximum flakiness!
Then, flatten this dough gently, fold the sides in, and then flatten again. I usually do this a total of three times before I cut my biscuits. This ensures crazy flakiness. I also try not to use any pressure when I do this. If this seems like too much effort, once you get the biscuit dough ready, just flatten them into a rectangle and get punching.
Use a biscuit cutter or opt for more rustic biscuits
I like making tall cheddar biscuits, so my biscuit cutter has been my best friend. The sharp edges of a biscuit cutter helps biscuits rise without losing shape. Try to avoid twisting the biscuit cutter. Just place on the dough and push straight down. Start from the corners of the dough, so you can just slide the biscuit off the edge. Then remove the cutter.
If you don't have a biscuit cutter, that's fine. If you have a metal measuring cup, take the ¼ cup measure and pressure it straight down on the dough. Or alternatively, for a more rustic biscuit, just scoop ¼ cup of dough and place on skillet and flatten them a bit to resemble a biscuit. These biscuits will still be flaky but maybe not as tall! Remember to place the edge with the pinched rim facing the top.
Use a cast iron skillet, and brush with butter before and after baking
These biscuits should really be called skillet biscuits, because I use a cast iron skillet. I LOVE the crispy bottom from using a skillet. Make a mix of the butter and garlic, and brush the biscuits with this mixture before they bake. Then brush them with this again after they're done baking - delicious.
If you don't have a cast iron skillet that's okay. Just rub butter generously along the bottom of a sheet pan (no parchment paper!) And then just place the cheddar biscuits directly on the baking sheet and bake away.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
If you have leftovers after you make this biscuit, I applaud your self control. Throw them in an airtight container and leave them out on the counter at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you put them in the fridge, I'd throw them in the oven at 350F for 5 minutes to reheat them. If you made excess biscuit dough or want to bake in batches in the next couple of days, you can wrap dough in plastic (tightly) and store in fridge for a day or two. I don't recommend keeping in the fridge beyond that.
You can also freeze the biscuits in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Once you're ready to eat them again, thaw them first for about 60 to 90 minutes so they're at room temperature. Then, warm in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes. If you want to freeze the dough, just wrap them (tightly) in plastic wrap and throw them in the freezer for up to 3 months again. Then, you can repeat the same steps. Thaw, bake, enjoy.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you will also enjoy these other delicious sides:
Homemade cheddar biscuits
- 2.5 cup all purpose flour, plus ½ cup for dusting and work surface
- ½ tsp sugar, don't skip this!
- 1 tbsp baking powder, not a typo - you'll need 1 tbsp!
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup cold buttermilk, Get whole fat if possible - low fat doesn't rise as much
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 cup shredded cheddar cheese, shred fresh if possible
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- Before you start, pop the butter into the freezer for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 425F
- Have a bowl with the excess flour set aside
Prep the biscuit dough
- Add the sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and garlic powder to a a sieve and sift them together. Alternatively, whisk to combine nicely and aerate the flour.
- Dust the side of a box grater (with the largest holes) with flour. Take your stick of butter from the freezer and drop it into a flour, and grate that stick of butter. Place in the fridge while you prep everything else. Add grated butter into flour mixture and use your fingers to mix it in - the flour and butter should NOT stick. Use your fingers to pinch butter with the flour if you can! Note: If you're using a food processor, make sure to chill the bowl and the blade (or disc) before you shred. Otherwise, the butter will melt on the steel (and that's not fun to clean out!)
- Now, slowly add butter milk, and use a rubber spatula until a coarse mixture forms - take care not to add too much liquid at once! This can over saturate some parts of the dough and leave others totally dry.
- Using the same side of the box grater, shred cheddar. Then add cheddar cheese and fold this into the dough until it's pliable using your hands (don't overwork it!)
Make the biscuits
- Spray your counter with some cooking oil spray (optional) and dust it with some flour - this helps make sure that your dough doesn't absorb all the flour on the counter
- Empty your dough on the work surface and roll it between your hands (almost rocking side to side) - do not knead the dough!
- Then, pat the dough from side to side to flatten it (use one hand and don't apply any pressure). Once it's flat in the shape of a rectangle, fold either side towards the center. Now rotate the dough so it's perpendicular to what it was before and pat it down once more. Then, once more (so a total of three times)
- Now, place the nice flat surface on your counter and pat the dough into a nice rectangle, about ½" thick (less than the distance upto the first joint of your index finger) - this will make biscuits that are 1-1.5" thick (they'll double when you bake) Dust a biscuit cutter (2 ¼") with flour and then punch into the dough. Take care not to twist it until your biscuit cutter has hit your work surface. Shake the biscuit out of the cutter.
- Bring the scraps together and pat them into a rectangular dough (avoid the rolling pin). Punch out the biscuits. Add the rest of the biscuits close to each other, arranging them in a circle (take care not to punch them down while arranging them)
- Make sure that the pinched edge (what used to be on the bottom) is at the top - this will ensure a higher rise!
- Melt the butter for the topping, add minced garlic and mix well. Brush the tops of all your biscuits with this butter-garlic mixture
- Then, pop them into the oven and bake them for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Or you can tap the biscuit with a fork to check the consistency. If it's not quite as brown, pop them back in for another 3 to 5 minutes (this will depend on your oven!)
- Pull them out of the oven, brush with a bit more butter (and any cheddar cheese if you have extra) and pop them back in for 2-3 minutes.
- Brush the baked biscuits with more butter. Enjoy the flakiest biscuit ever.
- If you don't have a cast iron skillet, just butter the bottom of a baking sheet and use that instead. Also, the oven rack you use will determine how "crispy" the top and bottom get. Using the bottom rack, where there's more direct heat will lead to crispier edges.
- Use cold, cold butter and grate it into the flour - this ensures that the butter remains cold until it goes in the oven. The water in the butter steams and helps the biscuit become puffy and beautiful
- Don't overwork the dough and there's no need to knead (see what I did there!) - you want to pat down the dough gently to get the biscuit to the right consistency
- Don't twist the cutter until it's at the work surface and make sure you place the pinched side on the top so you can allow it to rise
- Use full fat buttermilk - you need the fat in the buttermilk to make the biscuits
- If you have biscuit dough in irregular shapes left over, just pop them back in the cast iron skillet once your proper biscuits are done - these biscuit drops make for great snacks in between the main snacks!