Making these baking powder biscuits isn’t hard. All it takes is a light hand with the flour, shortening, and milk. You don’t even need a biscuit cutter–a drinking glass with do. They’re old-fashioned as can be and we couldn’t be happier about that.

In our book, there are two types of biscuits. The ethereally airy, flaky, unimaginably decadent cream biscuit that just sort of disintegrates the moment you deign to eat it. And the splendidly sturdy and versatile baking powder biscuit, which isn’t quite as lofty as cream biscuits but is remarkably tender and makes an able accompaniment to anything you want to slather or stack upon it, whether butter or jam or eggs or bacon or fried chicken.–David Leite

Notes on Ingredients

Ingredients for baking powder biscuits -- buttermilk, baking powder, flour, salt, shortening, and butter.
  • All-purpose flour–We like White Lily best for making the flakiest biscuits.
  • Baking powder–This is the leavener for these biscuits, so you want to be sure that your baking powder is fresh. To check, pour some boiling water over 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. It should bubble and fizz. If it doesn’t, it’s no longer active, and you should replace it.
Baking powder biscuits piled on a white square plate.

Baking Powder Biscuits

4.67 / 3 votes
Making these baking powder biscuits isn’t hard. All it takes is a light hand with the flour, shortening, and milk. You don’t even need a biscuit cutter–a drinking glass with do. They’re old-fashioned as can be and we couldn’t be happier about that.
Servings12 to 14 servings
Calories143 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening chilled
  • 1 cup whole milk


  • Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Butter a baking sheet.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add the shortening to the flour mixture in 5 or 6 large pieces, cutting it into the flour with a pastry cutter or rubbing it in with your fingers. The mixture should have the consistency of coarse meal with no large pieces of shortening visible. 
  • Add the milk and stir in with a fork just until the mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. The dough will be quite sticky.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and gently knead the dough just until it’s no longer sticky, about 30 seconds. Pat the dough into a 9-inch circle that’s about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out biscuits with a cookie cutter or the rim of a juice glass and place them on baking sheet. If the biscuits touch each other, they’ll have tender sides when baked; if you prefer crisper sides, separate them a bit. Using floured hands, gently push the scraps into one another and press them together and cut out more biscuits.
  • Bake until the biscuit tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. 
  • Place the biscuits on a wire rack and let them cool ever so slightly. Serve while still hot.

Adapted From

Saveur Cooks Authentic American

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Serving: 1 biscuitCalories: 143 kcalCarbohydrates: 17 gProtein: 3 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 2 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 3 mgSodium: 204 mgPotassium: 150 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 43 IUCalcium: 70 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2007 Saveur Magazine. Photo © 2007 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

We loved these biscuits. They had good flavor and were absolutely gorgeous—impressively tall, white inside, and golden on top and bottom. They were tall and fluffy with layers like you usually only see in canned biscuits. I often make biscuits from scratch and these compared very favorably to my favorite recipe.

The biscuits came together quickly and easily but the dough was wet more than sticky and required a lot of flour on the counter for the kneading stage. I baked my biscuits a little apart so they would have crispier sides. I will be making these again, perhaps with butter instead of shortening next time.

From start to eating warm biscuits, it was 35 minutes of very easy prep and a short bake time. I don’t think these are what may people think of, when they imagine pulling warm biscuits out of the oven at 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday. I definitely don’t!

As a result, they don’t have a complex flavor but if you’re looking for a warm, fluffy, homemade carb to accompany breakfast or brunch, that’s dead easy (and fast) to put together, this is your recipe. A silver lining of them being so neutral in flavor is that they can be a vehicle for just about anything—butter and jam, smoked salmon, eggs, or even vegemite (a very popular bread topping in my house).

I live in the northeast where it’s cold, which means lots of soups and stews in the winter. I had already started a pot of vegetable soup when I saw this recipe and thought biscuits would go well with the soup for dinner. Once the shortening was chilled, the dough was easy to throw together and, start to finish, took less than an hour.  The biscuits were not as fluffy as the picture shows but had a nice flavor and texture.

When I patted the dough to a 9-inch circle the dough was less than 1/2 thick. I used a 3″ biscuit cutter which yielded 12. I would make this again patting the dough to a smaller circle for a thicker biscuit.

Light and fluffy and quick to put together, these biscuits would be great with stew, a pot of chili or with breakfast. I think subbing in buttermilk would add a nice flavor. I made them Sunday and on Tuesday were still really good and tender.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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