How to Make Yogurt Biscuits Without a Recipe

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Food52's Provisions Editor, Posie Harwood, teaches us how to make light, fluffy biscuits without butter or oil -- and without a recipe -- in under 20 minutes.

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Adult breakfasts are fraught with anxiety: Should I eat a responsible bowl of Greek yogurt, or can I just have a plate of warm, flaky biscuits? I am here to tell you that you can have both, all at once. 

Classic biscuits require some technique (cutting in cold butter) and foresight (actually having cold butter). My rendition is simpler. You likely have the ingredients at hand: Do you have flour? Salt? Yogurt? Give yourself a mental high five -- you’ve got biscuits! The only skill this yogurt version requires is stirring. Can you stir? Great. You’re ready to bake. 

Yogurt won’t give you the same flakiness as butter, but if you use a delicate touch, your biscuits will steam up into airy, light mounds. Aim for a “wet mess” of a dough, like in Shirley Corriher’s Genius recipe. Yogurt also gives these biscuits a slight tang -- the perfect foil for add-ins like cheese and spices. Or, as I see it, a reason to eat cheese for breakfast.

More: Get extra points by starting with homemade yogurt.

Once I discovered how easy and fast it was to make these, I started having biscuits a lot. You can wake up, mix the dough in your pajamas, and bake them while you shower. Take all that butter you didn’t put in the biscuits, slather it on top, and eat them immediately. 

Ready? Let’s begin.

How to Make Yogurt Biscuits Without a Recipe

How to Make Yogurt Biscuits

1. First, preheat your oven to 400° F. Fill a large mixing bowl with as much flour as you want biscuits. All-purpose works well, but if you want more delicate biscuits, add in some pastry flour. Feel free to use whole wheat, or spelt, or any alternative -- just make sure that at least half of your flour is AP, or your biscuits will be too dense.

Add a generous pinch of both salt and baking powder; if you're making a very large batch, add a second pinch of each. If you fancy dry add-ins, like black pepper, paprika, or other spices, add those now. Stir everything together.

2. Next up: liquids. Add a large dollop of yogurt to your flour mixture and stir it in. Any kind of plain yogurt is fine -- Greek, whole milk, sheep’s milk, and non-fat all work beautifully. Keep adding yogurt and stirring until your mixture starts to look crumbly, but is still dry. Then slowly add some milk, stirring as you go. Stop when the mixture starts to come together and is wet, but not loose like pancake batter. Use whatever milk you have on hand -- skim, whole, buttermilk -- it’s your biscuit party!

More: If you have leftover yogurt, here are six dinners to make with it.

3. If you’re getting wild and flavoring your biscuits, stir in your add-ins now. Shredded cheddar cheese and sliced scallions are nice, or grated Parmesan and chives. Love bacon? There’s no one stopping you (in fact, I’m encouraging you). Crumble that up and toss it on in.

If you want sweet biscuits, just dial down the salt and add a heaping spoonful of sugar to your flour. Cinnamon sugar biscuits, coconut-cardamom biscuits, dried cherry and pistachio biscuits -- the kitchen is your oyster.

4. Lightly flour a surface, and turn your dough out on it. Gently fold the dough onto itself a few times, then press it together into a flattened ball. If your dough is too dry, add a little more milk. Too wet and sticky? Add some flour. (Way too wet? No worries -- call them drop biscuits and skip the next step. Just spoon heaps of dough onto your parchment-lined baking sheet and proceed.)

5. Once you’ve kneaded it together, use a rolling pin to make a flat disk. The thicker the dough, the higher and bigger it’ll be. Cut it into rounds using a biscuit cutter (a glass or empty can works well, too).

6. Place your beautiful biscuits onto a parchment-lined sheet, sprinkle them with coarse sea salt -- or infused salt, or dried herbs -- and bake them for about 12 to 15 minutes. Bigger biscuits take longer, but start checking around 10 minutes and take them out once they’re golden brown on the top.

Congratulations, you are now a top-notch baker. Your prize is warm biscuits for dinner. 

What do you like in your biscuits? Share your tips for the very best combinations in the comments below!

We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you could make in your sleep, without a recipe. Check out what we've already covered.

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • marynn
  • sashalina
  • Suzanne Haughwout Bonilla
    Suzanne Haughwout Bonilla
  • Julie
  • Blork
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


marynn March 12, 2017
For those wanting a recipe,

I kept the oven at 400, as stated here...
sashalina July 24, 2016
I wanted so badly to like this recipe. Who couldn't like guilt-free biscuits?! It seemed too good to be true, and for me it was. For me these turned out flat and gooey, even with an extended bake. The tang of the yogurt was overpowering, even with herbs and cheese added. I'm sure with different proportions and if I rolled the dough out thicker things would have gone better. But why not just give us a ratio of liquids to flour and an actual measurement with baking powder so we can actually have your success?
Marc S. November 28, 2016
My guess is you used too much yogurt. That would explain the gooeyness as well as the flavor. You want just enough to yield a coarse crumbly meal before adding the liquid - like maybe say 1/4 cup yogurt for a cup of flour. As for baking powder, the standard measure is 1 tsp per cup of flour.
Suzanne H. June 19, 2016
Would like an actual recipe
Julie June 5, 2016
Just tried these. Super disappointed. They taste like soft, raw pasta.
Julie June 5, 2016
Second batch, same as the first. A little bit darker and a little bit worse. Baking is a science and needs a recipe. I call shenanigans.
Blork June 4, 2016
I never seem to have plain yogurt, but I often have sour cream sitting there asking to be used. Could you sub sour cream for the yogurt?
giulia T. April 2, 2016
What is this "no recipe" statement? The instructions you have in your post ARE A RECIPE. That's what a recipe is. A list of instructions describing how to cook things.
Vicky P. August 15, 2015
Eating one of these lovely biscuits right now. Yummy! I made them with some organic maple yogurt I bought, turkey sausage crumbles and cayenne pepper. It's reminiscent of an old-fashioned sausage ball without the guilt. Thanks for sharing the non-recipe ideas!
Tahira June 29, 2015
Just tried them! Turned out to be super gorgeous! Read the recipe 1 hour back and now I have these in front of me! In the beginning I wad wondering that there should be measurements specially for baking powder ratio - but the images were supet helpful in determining the texture. I put in thyme, spring onion and cheddar. For spiced, I added roasted and then crushed cumin seeds, and boy was that a smart move!! It smells adorable - reminds me of Popeyes buns but healthier and more flavoursome. I also added some red chili powder, black pepper and salt and it needed nothing more. At one point I really wanted to crack an egg in it but I fought that urge. Maybe next time I might do that and it could be softer from inside. I wouldnt call these biscuits - they are more like yogurt buns. Have them with your tea and relax! :) Thanks again : )
karmaya June 25, 2015
i have some cultured cocnut milk - it has same consistency as yogurt, so when the recipe mentions "sweet" biscuits i'm thinking why not use this "yogurt" plus chopped dried cherries and maybe pistachios, (and sugar ISO salt) - what do you think?
Annie June 23, 2015
Can you use flavored yogurt instead of plain? I guess they'd be more of a "desserty" type biscuit, and was wondering if it works just as well.
Posie (. June 23, 2015
I've never tried this! But I think you could, just add less sugar (maybe only a teaspoon) and I'd choose some sweet add-ins like dried fruit or a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to complement the yogurt.
Annie June 23, 2015
Thanks! I'm going to try it. I have some yummy Noosa strawberry-rhubarb yogurt, and I may throw in a bit of unsweetened coconut.
Annie June 23, 2015
And I will also definitely be trying the savory version, as well!
Tammy44 April 27, 2015
Carolanne F. April 26, 2015
Mine turned out all gummy, I baked for almost 20 minutes & they were small
yomabes September 9, 2014
Any suggestions/advice for using kefir please?
Posie (. September 9, 2014
I'd say go for it -- the rule of thumb I'd adhere to is texture: if you use something more liquid-y like kefir, then you'll need less milk to get to the right texture. Just add a little at a time to your flour mixture until you reach that "wet mess" (moist but still crumbly) point. Depending on the thickness of the kefir, you may need a little milk. Hope that helps!
yomabes October 11, 2014
Wonderful! The biscuits with kefir turned out crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I added a few dribbles of cream, shredded Gruyere and lots of chopped scallions. Thank you so much for sharing this!
Scribbles July 27, 2014
I'm definitely going to give these a try! My luck with biscuits has been so-so but with all the gorgeous veggies I get in Western NC it's nice to have a biscuit or cornbread to how with - it's time to try biscuits again!
foofaraw July 30, 2014
If you are in NC, try making biscuit with White Lily Flour. I get much better result with that than with AP flour/cake flour
Dru M. July 23, 2014
Posie, these are amazing...and so easy. I am a traditional flaky biscuit kinda guy, but these are really incredible. I love the different texture...hovering halfway between my Grandma's biscuits and a lovely dinner roll. I made mine with plain yogurt and buttermilk, and the tangy taste really reminded me of a yeast roll. Delicious. Thanks for this!
gia B. July 21, 2014
For those worried about printing the recipe .... there is so little to it, how about writing it down with a pen/pencil on paper? .... you can add notes on your own versions as you go along. PS. My entire batch disappeared with breakfast and lunch!
Nimuae July 21, 2014
Indeed! :c) I think with the advent of computers, tablets and smart phones, many folks forget about the manual method of keeping notes ~
virginia July 19, 2014
I just made these & eat some, they were good, I did use self rising flour instead of AP so I didn't need to add baking powder & salt. I will make them again
gia B. July 5, 2014
Super, duper ... I added a bit of baking powder and did the cheese and escallions...
So easy and perfect for my non recipe personality. They were crunchy on top and light and airy inside! Will try other variations.
Mayra June 19, 2014
Just made a small batch, half AP flour, half oat flour, homemade low-fat yogurt, fried garlic bits. They came out of the oven pretty and tasty! I've prepared myself to follow the flour/liquid/baking powder ratio you mentioned in a comment, but the best guides were your instructions and photos! Thank you so much for them!
Posie (. June 29, 2014
umm fried garlic bits -- you just took this to an entirely new, more awesome level. can't wait to try that!
marty May 29, 2014
As a biscuit lover I've been on a quest to find a more healthy and great tasting recipe. This is it. Mine also didn't rise well but next time I will roll them a little thicker and add more baking powder. Love the taste and texture. Sort of a cross between a biscuit and english muffin. Thanks.