Flaky Biscuits

Recipe by PJ Hamel

This recipe makes a flaky biscuit that's rich and tender, yet strong enough to stand up to gravy without turning to mush. If you don't want to use them as a base for sauce, they're also strong-yet-tender enough to be split in half and stuffed with breakfast sandwich fillings. And, come summer, they're just right for strawberry shortcake or simply spread with butter or jam. 

10 mins
16 mins
1 hr 26 mins
9 biscuits
Flaky Biscuits - select to zoom
Flaky Biscuits - select to zoom
Flaky Biscuits - select to zoom
Flaky Biscuits - select to zoom
Biscuits for Breakfast - select to zoom


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  1. Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the shortening. 

  2. Using your fingertips, a pastry blender, or a stand mixer, incorporate the shortening into the flour mixture until the consistency resembles bread crumbs.

  3. Cut cold butter into 1/2" chunks, add to flour mixture and toss to coat.

  4. With your fingertips, a pastry blender, or a stand mixer, flatten the chunks of the butter until there aren't pieces larger than the size of a dime. 

  5. Whisk the egg and milk together. Add them to the dry ingredients all at once, mixing quickly and gently for about 20 seconds until you have a soft dough.

  6. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it a couple of times to bring it together. With the help of a dough scraper, shape the dough into a 6" x 6" square, about 3/4" thick. Run a rolling pin over the top once to even it out. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer for 1 hour.

  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  8. Remove the dough from the freezer, unwrap it, and set it on a work surface. It'll be very stiff, but still soft enough to cut with a sharp knife, sharpened dough scraper or rolling cutter (pizza cutter). Cut the dough into nine 2" squares, and place the squares on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

  9. Bake the biscuits for 16 minutes, or until they're a light, golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

  10. Store leftover flaky biscuits well-wrapped, on the counter for 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Make sure to cut out the biscuits with something sharp; if you use a dull knife, you'll compress the biscuits' edges, and they won't rise as high.
  • You can use any kind of milk, from skim right up through whipping cream. The richer the milk, the richer and more tender your biscuit will be. In addition, if you prefer a more buttery biscuit, substitute 1/4 cup butter for the 1/4 cup vegetable shortening.

  • If you're using these biscuits for fruit shortcake and you prefer your shortcake biscuits sweeter and more cake-like, feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla to the recipe.

  • The point is to work the cold fat into the dry ingredients fairly evenly, but so that it still retains its integrity; you don't want the fat to become one with the flour. The uneven, flaky texture of biscuits comes from pockets of cold fat in the dough, which in the baking process don't melt until after the dough is set, leaving butter-catching fissures in the baked biscuit.