The 2 Ingredients to Take Your Biscuits Over the Top

May 22, 2018
Buttery, flaky delights, cuddled up close! Photo by Rocky Luten

I’m pretty sure I reached biscuit nirvana when I first tried Joanna Gaines’ biscuits. I had long admired her and her husband Chip’s home renovation artistry on their hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper, but after my initial bite, I had yet another reason to swoon. Buttery, flaky, and tender, JoJo’s Biscuits, as these cuties are known, came after more than a year of taste-testing among the opinionated Gaines clan. Hey, biscuit prowess doesn’t come overnight.

What makes this recipe an incredible one are two noteworthy additions: eggs, which are not so common in biscuit recipes (unless you’re using one to brush the tops); and salted butter. The eggs enrich the dough, while the salted butter give ‘em that lip-smacking quality that has you going in for the next bite. Lucky for us, Jo shares her family recipe with us and in her new book, Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering. Read on for the backstory below.


It took me a year of Saturdays to get these biscuits just right. Almost every weekend for months I worked up another batch for Chip and the kids to taste and then wrote down their feedback. Biscuit after biscuit was judged to be too heavy, too light, too flat, too salty, too dry, or just... not right. I don’t entirely know what kept me going back to the mixing bowl, but something inside me was clearly determined to prevail. All those failed batches didn’t discourage me—instead each one spurred me to tweak my formula and try again the next week. Of course it helped that I had a houseful of agreeable taste testers who delivered their criticisms with kindness, and encouraged me to keep at it with the kind of enthusiasm that can only be mustered by people who really love biscuits.

Shop the Story

I vividly remember the moment I finally nailed it, when the whole family declared simultaneously, “This is it.” They have been our family s Saturday-morning breakfast ever since. Among the tricks I worked out along the way are the somewhat unusual addition of eggs and the way they are arranged for baking so that they all touch, both of which contribute to the moisture, lightness, and loft of these biscuits.

Chip thinks they are nothing less than heaven on earth. Every Saturday he has the same breakfast— fried eggs cooked over-medium and two biscuits, one slathered with butter and strawberry jam and the other one tucked under a generous serving of sausage gravy. Every week he declares that it’s the best breakfast he has ever had. And every week the kids reply, “Dad, you say that every time!” These biscuits have become so ingrained in our lives that when our oldest, Drake, went away to summer camp for the first time he wrote me a card that said, in part, “Dear Mom, I miss you so much. All I can think about is home and your biscuits and gravy. Promise me that as soon I get back, we’ll have biscuits and gravy.” Naturally, I framed the card.

When we opened Magnolia Table, there was no question these biscuits had to be on the menu, so I turned the recipe over to the chefs to transform it to suit the needs of a restaurant kitchen. (I make only twenty at a time; they make hundreds of them every day.) When the time came to decide which of my family's favorites would go in this cookbook, I knew not only that I had to share the biscuits, but also that the recipe had to be the very first one in the book.

You Know What Would Go Great with These Biscuits?

What's your idea of a perfect biscuit? Share your thoughts below!

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • judy
  • suzanne
  • HalfPint
  • Jay
  • Alamobecky
Hana Asbrink

Written by: Hana Asbrink

Hana is the senior lifestyle editor at Food52.


judy August 21, 2018
world an adult lifetime learning to make biscuits that are light, airy full of layers and NOT cocky pucks. finally perfected this with recipe from Serious EATS. Their sweet potato biscuit is easy, light and to die for. I barely cut in the butter. Another tick I learned is from a Scandinavian, while learning to use spelt flour--put everything into the refrigerator and let it get really cold. I always use salted butter. Recipes have been saying unsalted for decades. But about a year ago I went to salted for my baking, and it sure makes a difference. I then reduce the added salt by about half. Never use self-rising flour, and make my won baking powder--single action with baking soda and cram of tartar. A totally by mistake find when I didn't have any baking powder one day, and really wanted biscuits. Butter in cubes or grated and cut into flour. Add sweet potato and whatever dairy product I have on hand--even sour cream one day, as that is all that I had. fold and stop together util just blended. Out onto a pastry board. fold a few times. I do not roll out--simply pat into a rectangle, cut into nine -12 biscuits, depending on amount and size I need. I also cut square/rectangle, don't use a cutter. So they are very rustic. But handle them minimally. And on to the baking sheet and into hot oven. They are to die for, freeze well, and adapt well to variations. like substituting dairy for potato when I do't have any. And my favorite way to serve? With roasted rhubarb compote and sour cream or whipped cream.
suzanne May 25, 2018
Is self-rising flour a regional thing? I live in Northern CA and can't find it anywhere.
Alamobecky May 27, 2018
I live in Northern CA as well and it's a common item in the baking section.
Sarah June 3, 2018
The King Arthur self rising flour is awesome - very light (lower protein than their AP) and well balanced with salt. One of those things that are more than the sum of their parts. I'm actually not a huge fan of their AP - I usually use gold medal unbleached unless I specifically want something higher protein. There are also classic southern brands like White Lily but I haven't used those myself.
HalfPint May 23, 2018
Will this work with soured milk? Or does it need to be buttermilk?

My ideal biscuit: lofty, a firmer texture (I'm not a fan of cakey biscuits; ie not fluffy like cotton or cake) and a few layers. My favorite recipe is from Homesick Texan in which she folds the dough a couple of times and whacks it flat with a rolling pin. Counter-intuitive but it produces a wonderful biscuit.
Author Comment
Hana A. May 25, 2018
Hi HalfPint! I think you might really love these biscuits then, on your preference alone. :)

As for the soured milk vs. buttermilk: I haven't tried that substitute for this recipe, but I have in general (for pancakes, etc.) with no ill effects. If by your "soured," you mean adding a TB or two of potent vinegar into your regular milk? Here's also a good hotline thread for your reference: - lmk how it goes if you try it!
Jay May 22, 2018
Self-rising flour AND baking powder + soda? is that right?
Author Comment
Hana A. May 22, 2018
Hi Jay - yes, that's correct! I did a double-take, too, but trust, me, the final product is delicious. Please report back! :)