James Beard’s Baking Powder Biscuits

Baking Powder Biscuits, Inside

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter or other shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk

Baking Powder BiscuitsSift the flour into a mixing bowl with the baking powder and salt. Then, using your fingers or two knives (I use a heavy fork) blend the butter and flour into very fine particles. Add the milk and stir into the dough just enough to make the particles cling together. (It should be a very, very soft dough.) Turn out on a floured surface and knead for about 1 minute, then either pat or roll out.  (If you want very high, fluffy biscuits, the dough should be 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick, and if you want thin crusty biscuits, make it about 1/4 inch thick.)  Cut in rounds or in squares. For crisp biscuits, place far apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  For fluffier biscuits, place close together on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 450° oven for about 12 to 15 minutes and serve piping hot.


  • Add chopped herbs or grated cheese to the biscuit dough
  • For drop biscuits, add another 1/4 cup of milk, drop by spoonfuls onto a buttered baking sheet, and bake the same way.

Beard on BreadYield: about 12 biscuits

From: Beard on Bread by James Beard

Gray: This is a great recipe.  These turned out perfectly.  They were crispy on the outside and fluffy inside.  They are definitely my best attempt at biscuits so far.  I worked the butter and flour in with a heavy fork as far as I could, and then used my fingers to work it in finer.  If you want to try biscuits this a great recipe to try first!  Don’t be discouraged if they don’t look the best on your first attempts.  They do take practice, but they are tasty even if they aren’t pretty.  Another note, I love this cookbook.  It is one of my favorites, everything is very well thought out and explained, and it really helps you to learn to successfully recreate the breads!

Katie: These were very good biscuits! Gray has been trying to improve his biscuit making and has been trying different methods and recipes. I really liked these biscuits, but I also really liked Alton Brown’s biscuits. I don’t really think one is better than the other, they are just different types of biscuits. Both my mother and grandmother made biscuits while I was growing up, and so I always compare biscuits to theirs. My dad has tried on numerous occasions to duplicate my grandmother’s (his mother) biscuits, and has come very close. I have come to the conclusion that I almost always enjoy homemade biscuits better than store-bought biscuits. Try homemade biscuits yourself and see what you think. Don’t worry if they aren’t the prettiest biscuits, just keep practicing! I need to make more biscuits myself and improve my technique. If rolling dough out scares you, try patting the biscuits by hand. Here’s how I do it: Pinch off enough dough for one biscuit, roll it around making a ball, and then pat the dough gently between your palms making the desired biscuit size. Good luck with your biscuits and we’ll keep making more here too!

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2 Responses to James Beard’s Baking Powder Biscuits

  1. LFFL says:

    I plan to make my own biscuits one day soon and I can’t wait.

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