Fourth of July

Learn This Basic Biscuit Formula; Turn It Red, White, and Blue

The most festive weekend of the summer is deliciously close. A holiday feeling shimmers in the (very hot) air. Wherever you are, you can sense the excitement and preparation. I've spent most summers of my life up and down the East Coast, and can picture each spot. The ferry to Nantucket is packed with cars full of canvas totes and beach umbrellas. Coastal Maine beaches are covered in striped towels and coolers of watermelon slices. In New York, every restaurant sets out sidewalk tables and chairs. The warm, syrupy, late-afternoon sunlight drenches the streets, turning the city gold.

Whether you have a traditional Fourth of July, complete with beach picnics and burgers on the grill and blueberry pie, or just a relaxing long weekend, today's recipe—one of them, if not all three—is the one you should reach for. If you're going to a potluck or barbecue, it's perfect! If you're watching fireworks on a blanket somewhere, it's perfect! If you're sitting on the couch by yourself watching old episodes of Seinfeld, it's perfect!

Photo by Posie Harwood

Biscuits are simple. Full stop. My friends ooh and ahh over this master biscuit recipe (which I've riffed on in red, white, and blue today, but can easily be adapted to any flavor you like), and they think it must be complicated and tricky to execute. But it's not! Biscuit dough takes a mere 10 minutes to mix up, and another 10 or 15 to bake. To get lofty, tender biscuits with lots of flaky layers, I have a few helpful tips. Once you practice the basic template a few times, you'll feel confident enough to try new variations.

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Add any cheese you like! Add fruit! Add spices! Biscuits are so buttery and indulgent while also being delicate and light. They're good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert. Everyone loves them. Become a good biscuit baker, and you'll never be at a loss for something homemade to bring to a party.

Photo by Posie Harwood

For Fourth of July, I've made a festive trio of my basic biscuit recipe in red, white, and blue. The basic formula is as follows: 2 cups AP flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup milk—and the add-in(s) of your choice.

I'm giving you two savory options. The red is a sun-dried tomato and cheddar biscuit with paprika and a touch of cayenne. With crisp cheesy edges and a little spice, it's a good partner for a dinner of burgers and corn on the cob.

The white is a goat cheese biscuit. If you want even more of a sharper flavor, add some grated Parmesan. Don't be put off by the goat cheese; it's not a strong flavor, the soft cheese just adds a nice moisture and texture to the biscuits. But if you aren't into it, use fresh mozzarella instead, which I absolutely adore in a biscuit. It melts into gooey, pull-apart strands of cheese while still keeping the buttery layers intact.

Obviously, I did not neglect dessert. The blue biscuit is slightly sweet with a crunchy sugar topping, dusted with lemon zest. Each bite bursts with juicy summer blueberries. To adjust the master recipe for a sweeter version, just dial back the salt slightly and add some sugar to the dough.

Fireworks and burgers and beers are nice, but to really celebrate the Fourth of July, there's nothing better than baking three kinds of biscuits and making everyone around you happier because of it.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Stephanie G
    Stephanie G
  • Nancy
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.


Stephanie G. June 28, 2017
I really like this idea. I never think the flag cakes or red, white and blue themed dishes are very good. This is a tasteful holiday dish I would love to make.
Nancy June 28, 2017
Lovely idea, article, recipes. New to me - and can't wait to make these - are the biscuits with feta or mozzarella. Happy 4th!