Mom’s Perfect Biscuits

The family biscuit recipe, perfected by three generations of fine biscuit makers and one persistent food blogger. The secret ingredient? One egg.

Mom's Perfect Biscuits ♥, the family recipe, perfected by three generations of biscuit makers and one persistent food blogger. The secret ingredient? One egg.

"WOW. You.Nailed.It." ~ My #1 Biscuit Taster
"... best biscuits in the entire history of my LIFE." ~ Jackson, age 6
"... best biscuits in the whole WORLD!" ~ Jerome, age 6, not to be outdone by his twin brother
"... pleased with the outcome." ~ Pat Y.

"It's a regular biscuit factory around here." So noticed My #1 Biscuit Taster a couple of weeks ago when the umpteenth batch of biscuits emerged from the oven.

You see, I come from a family of biscuit makers. My mom's biscuits were heavenly. My sister's biscuits – well, let's just say that if our mom were still around, it'd be a biscuit-toss between the two of them.

But me? Until now, my biscuits have been passable but unexceptional. For longer than I've kept notes, I experimented with one recipe after another, one trick after another, one flour after another.

Enter a biscuit challenge from Quirk Books, whose Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell Van Kraayenburg will publish this week. There's even a short video!

And I took the challenge! Seize the moment, I told myself, to finally tackle biscuits.

First up? The master biscuit recipe from Making Dough, a fine-fine biscuit if I may say so. My friend Mary, a southerner by birth, agreed. But that recipe calls for a mix of cake flour and bread flour, something I wasn't excited about, I loathe the idea of one more highly processed flour, just to make biscuits.

In desperation, I texted my sister for her recipe. "It's Mom's recipe," she replied, slightly indignant that I'd forgotten. "It's in the family cookbook."

Sure enough, there it was, Mom's biscuit recipe – along with the story that when she and my dad were newlyweds, she made "bride's biscuits," tough, heavy and definitely unappealing even to a handsome young husband eager to be pleased.

If she'd listened to her own mother? She'd have known that an egg, a single simple egg, makes all the difference in biscuits.

So I made Mom's recipe, certain of success. And the egg did make a difference but after four or five slightly different batches, I was still stuck with so-so biscuits.

Back I went to Making Dough, the new cookbook. I decided to employ his flour:butter:liquid ratios to my Mom's recipe. The result? A little more butter, a little less flour. But there was no ignoring three generations of biscuit makers: the egg stayed!

Those first biscuits with the new ratio plus an egg? Wonderful! It took just a couple of more tweaks to finally nail what, to my taste, is the perfect biscuit.

Now by all rights, this is no longer really my mom's recipe. To be precise, it'd be named "My Mom & Russ Van Kraayenburg's Perfect Biscuits". But my mom's in heaven and Russ and I have never even met so I'm playing the Family Card. "Mom's Perfect Biscuits" it is, just a little bit better, thanks to three generations of biscuit makers, Russ and his ratios plus a good measure of personal perseverance.

ALANNA's TIPS No tips on this page, that's because I've gone into great detail here, How To Make Perfect Biscuits: Step-by-Step Photos & Detailed Instructions + Eight Tips for Extra-Good Biscuits. Trust me, that page includes all the tips needed to keep you happy in biscuits!


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Makes 12 biscuits
Step-by-Step Photos & Detailed Instructions
  • 6 tablespoons cold salted butter
  • 1/2 cup (125g) buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 220g
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, melted

MISE EN PLACE Place butter in the freezer for the few minutes it takes to gather ingredients and tools. Place oven rack in top third of oven, heat oven to 425F/220C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk and egg.

In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and table salt. For good measure, stir it again a time or two.

Work quickly from now until biscuits go into the oven. Set a box grater on wax paper, grate (albeit briefly) frozen butter on the large holes.

Turn grated butter into large bowl of dry ingredients, toss lightly with a large fork until butter pieces are fully coated with a light layer of flour; if needed, use your fingers to separate large clumps of butter.

Turn buttermilk-egg mixture into flour-butter mixture. Use the large fork to gently combine until most of the flour mixture has been dampened.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn biscuit dough onto the counter. Gently knead four or five times, forming a neat dough package.

Use a rolling pin to roll dough out until large enough to cut seven or eight or even nine biscuits. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits, arrange on the baking sheet, leaving room between for some spreading.

Stack the scraps two layers deep, roll this out and cut out two or three more biscuits. Repeat as needed.

Bake biscuits for 10 minutes or until crispy and golden.

Remove from oven, brush biscuit tops with butter, then return to the oven for one more minute.

Serve hot from the oven but these biscuits will keep for two or three days, not that they'll last, if you know what I mean ...

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Biscuit: 144 Calories; 7g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 36mg Cholesterol; 470mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 1g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3 & WW Points Plus 4. CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 2/3 biscuit (2g protein).
DISCLOSURE Many thanks to Valerie Howlett from Quirk Books for a complimentary copy of Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries but most especially for the opportunity to finally nail the beast that is the biscuit! My Disclosure Promise

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe from your mother that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

What's Your Idea of the Perfect Biscuit?

Mom's Perfect Biscuits ♥, the family recipe, perfected by three generations of biscuit makers and one persistent food blogger. The secret ingredient? One egg.

My #1 Biscuit Tester's idea of the perfect biscuit? Any biscuit, perfect or otherwise, so long as it's hot out of the oven, ready to melt butter and turn honey runny. Ha! He's got a point!

But biscuit batch after biscuit batch, I learned what it takes, to my taste, to call Mom's Biscuits "Perfect". In my book, the perfect biscuit is:

Tender with break-apart layers
Buttery & slightly salty
Golden-crisp on the top and bottom
Sturdy enough for mini biscuit sandwiches
Made from pantry ingredients
A real biscuit, not a soft dinner roll, not a sweet scone
Just like Mom's!

But tastes vary! We may share the same taste for biscuits but maybe we don't. What's your idea of the perfect biscuit?

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I had to watch the Lefse video again. Made me feel so at home in LeAnne's kitchen. She does such a great job.
my biscuit making has been much like yours. I will have to give these a try.
I haven’t had a good biscuit since my mother died five years ago. I just know, this is my recipe!
I think egg in the biscuit is soooo cheating. Call it something else if you use the egg.
Hi Mary ~ Oh my, that’s not a reaction I expected. Would you mind explaining? Biscuits can’t/shouldn’t have an egg in them? I’m not being disingenous here, am really interested what makes an egg cheating.
And I didn't intend to be rude or anything like that. I just never heard of an egg in biscuits. I make mine a variety of different ways, buttermilk, sweet cream, baking powder and never once included an egg. Egg is one ingredient used as leavening, and these biscuits are all leavened with something other than egg. I figured if you added an egg it was a cake or a bread.

I'm a traditionalist. I'm sure if I googled it, I'd find eggs in biscuits, but like I said, I had never heard of it. Ever. And I'm old. And I have been baking a long, long time, well over sixty years. I guess it's right up there with chocolate or chocolate muffins. To me they are coarse textured cupcakes. I may have to jump into the 21st century and join the real world.

Please, forgive me. I did not say that to offend. It was just my gut reaction.
Hi again Mary ! Thanks for taking the time to explain! You did "sound” a little bit miffed but it’s so easy to mis-take things on email so truly, no offense taken, I didn’t give it a second thought. Besides — anyone who cares so much about biscuits? You’re my kinda cook! If need be, we can even agree to disagree! :-)

FYI these biscuits are still definitely biscuits, not cake, not bread and definitely not cupcakes! (I am so with you on too-sweet, too-cupcake-y muffins!) And it’s the egg that made all the difference for my grandmother’s biscuits (born 1902), my mother’s biscuits (born 1930) and my sister’s biscuits (born ... hmmm maybe I shouldn’t say!). And my sense is, that the egg doesn’t add leavening but a slight richness and some structure.

Funny thing is, if you read the story that accompanies the recipe, my mom ignored her mother’s advice for a long while too. She was like you, she’d “never heard of such a thing” and added to that, she was a Home Ec grad and thought she was pretty smart about cooking stuff! Ha ha — her “bride’s biscuits” were no good until she added an egg!

If you’re game, I would love to have you give an egg a try — as such an experienced biscuit maker, getting your reaction would be much appreciated. Maybe an egg is only needed for less-experienced biscuit makers?

Again, thanks so much for taking the time to explain, it is so appreciated.
Our son was deer hunting this AM on the farm and I wanted to make some good biscuits. I have made lots of biscuits but none are just right so when I saw your recipe I tried it and was pleased with the outcome.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna