Easy Cream Biscuits

These easy cream biscuits from Natalie Dupree, made with just self-rising flour and cream, are so simple even a beginner can make them.

A woman's hand using a biscuit cutter on cream biscuit dough

Truth in advertising. That’s what you can expect from this Easy Cream Biscuits recipe that calls for just two ingredients yet turns out remarkably airy and lovely biscuits. It’s a lesser-known Southern biscuit tradition that chef and author Nathalie Dupree learned both in the 1964 issue of Joy of Cooking as well as when she was a culinary student in England. She quotes Atlanta chef Gena Berry, who says of it,  “A respectable homemade biscuit is an essential art of the Southern table, and this scandalously simple recipe makes turning out the perfect biscuit a snap. This recipe breaks all the rules of Southern biscuit making; there’s no shortening to cut in, and you don’t even roll out the dough. The results are remarkable and even a novice can turn out fluffy, perfect biscuits in minutes. Would a respectable Southern lady bend recipe rules, defy convention and use sneaky shortcuts all in the name of turning out a hot, homemade biscuit? You better believe it!” Originally published June 2, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

What is White Lily Flour?

An intrepid recipe tester of ours, Eydie Desser, recently had the good fortune of chatting with the lovely Nathalie Dupree about this very cream biscuits recipe, which comes from Dupree’s recent cookbook, Southern Biscuits. Nathalie imparted many words of biscuit-minded wisdom in response to Eydie’s questions, including the fact that she prefers to work with White Lily, a Southern belle of a flour that boasts a relatively low gluten content and, as a result, invariably turns out biscuits that are lighter and fluffier than anything made with standard-issue flours. If you aren’t able to find White Lily (or another self-rising, low-gluten Southern flour such as Martha White or Midstate Mills), continued Nathalie, you can substitute an equal measure of self-rising cake flour and the results will be close to indistinguishable. Even if all you have available to you is standard-issue self-rising flour, simply scale back on the amount of flour in this recipe by two tablespoons and your biscuits will mimic those made with White Lily. Neat-o, yes?

How to Make Self-Rising Flour

One last flour fact. Because we know self-rising flour isn’t necessarily a must in everyone’s pantry, we wanted to share how to make your own self-rising flour via a very easy equation: 1 cup of self-rising flour = 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 cup all-purpose flour. [In case you haven’t a calculator handy, when you do the math for this recipe, that equates to 1 tablespoon of baking powder + 3/4 teaspoon salt + 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. You’re welcome.]

Easy Cream Biscuits

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Makes 12 to 16 biscuits
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to one of the top positions, setting the rack one shelf above the middle shelf but not so close to the top of the oven that the biscuits will bump into it as they rise.

For a soft biscuit exterior, select an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, pizza pan, or ovenproof skillet. The biscuits will nestle together snugly, helping each other stay tender but rise while baking. Brush the pan with butter.

For a crisp biscuit exterior, select a baking sheet or large baking pan where the biscuits can be spaced wide apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisp exterior. Brush the pan with butter.

In a large bowl, fork-sift or whisk 2 cups flour. Make a deep well in the center of the flour. Pour 1 cup cream into the well and stir with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the cream. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough becomes sticky and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If flour remains on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved cream, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wettish dough.

Lightly sprinkle a cutting board or other clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Flour your hands and then fold the dough in half. Pat the dough into a round about 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick, using a little additional flour if the dough is sticky.

Fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough still seems clumpy, pat and fold it a third time. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round for a normal biscuit, 3/4 inch thick for a tall biscuit, and 1 inch thick for a giant biscuit. Brush any visible flour from the top.

Dip a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. Re-flour the cutter after each biscuit. (The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although the scraps will result in tougher biscuits.)

Using a metal spatula, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for 6 minutes and then rotate the pan so the front is now turned to the back. If the bottoms are browning too quickly, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes, until the cream biscuits are lightly golden brown, a total of 10 to 14 minutes.

When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and immediately brush the top of the biscuits with softened or melted butter, using a light touch. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve while still hot, right side up.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Seemed strange--if not outright blasphemous--that a Southern biscuit recipe not have butter or shortening, but this recipe is awesome! I don't think I'll go back to cutting butter into flour ever again. The heavy cream works like magic. They were mostly devoured warm, but the ones that were left over still tasted great the next day.

The recipe directions call for very minimal handling of the dough, and this is important so as not to end up with a hockey-puck biscuit. I think I will try this next time with shredded Cheddar for an even richer biscuit.

This is a fabulous recipe for perfect biscuits in a snap—it only has two ingredients!

I couldn’t find the self-rising version of White Lily flour, so I added 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. With the full 4 tablespoons cream, the dough was extremely easy to work with. I didn’t use any shaggy or clumpy parts of the dough, and after folding twice, it was perfect—soft but not sticky. Voila! Eleven minutes later, we had hot, flaky biscuits.


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  1. I knew there was a good reason to crank up the oven to 450°F in the middle of summer. These biscuits baked up so beautifully. They were tender inside—almost cloud-like—and had a light and crisp exterior. I cut mine into squares in order to avoid rerolling scraps of the dough. They were wonderful plain, with butter, and for summer berry shortcake (I had a pint of heavy cream; the recipe left me with just enough to make a little whipped cream). I bet these biscuits would make great sliders with boneless fried chicken and coleslaw—I guess we know what I’ll be making next time!

    1. Your biscuits are stunning, Chiyo! Can’t wait to hear how they turn out with fried chicken sandwiched in there.

  2. This recipe is a perfect example of why one never needs to buy a tube of dough in a grocery store ever again. With only two ingredients, a few minutes, and minimal fuss, you can have a pan of tender, soft biscuits that’ll please any biscuit lover. These were a revelation to me; with a very different, more delicate texture than my usual tea biscuits, and they’d be perfect as a base for a creamy chicken or seafood stew, or (with a little sugar added), a berry shortcake.

    The dough came together swiftly and tidily, without the “clumps” mentioned in the recipe, and the folding of the dough seemed to bring it together very well. I didn’t need to use the extra 1/4 cup of cream, and used only 2 cups of flour, with perhaps an extra tablespoon for rolling.

    When I make them again, I’ll add a bit of salt to the dough, and I’m not sure if I’d raise the oven rack quite as high, since my biscuits browned a bit too swiftly on the top. My yield after patting the dough to about 3/4-inch was 6 biscuits at 2 1/2 inches, and 3 freeform biscuit-objects (yummy, just not pretty) made from the scraps.

    1. We couldn’t agree more, Sherry. Nothing quite like a homemade biscuit. We’re glad you love them as much as we do!

  3. This recipe makes delicious biscuits and was very easy to do. The recipe came together with only 2 cups of flour and at least the full 1 1/4 cups of cream, and still wasn’t particularly wet. I only needed to fold and pat it twice and didn’t experience any clumpiness. The biscuits baked up very well in a heavy cast iron pan and were delicious hot as well as cooled a few hours later.

  4. I just bought some White Lily flour thru the mail (hard to find if not impossible in So Cal). I wanted to try this cream recipe, but I had no cream, then I thought what if I used sour cream and thinned it a little with half-and-half? I followed the cream recipe with the substitute and they turned out pretty darn good, light and fluffy and with a tang almost like sourdough. One thing I learned after a batch or two is once the the dough is mixed, just turn it out onto the floured surface and gently flatten it out to your desired thickness and bake as directed in the cream recipe. Pretty good stuff.

    1. Hi Mike, so glad that you like this recipe! It was one of my favorites when I worked with Nathalie Dupree, and I actually made some this morning. If you want them to have lots of layers, keep folding the dough. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a flexible cutting board to flip the dough in half.

  5. If you are making your own self-rising flour, do you start with all-purpose flour? I also have bread flour…..

    1. Hi Terri, all-purpose flour and preferably a Southern brand if you can get your hands on it. White Lily and Martha White are great in this recipe.

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