Tender, Fluffy Biscuits Without a Drop of Butter or Flour? Yes, Please.

August 16, 2018

My main criterion for judging the deliciousness of a biscuit is whether it’s so warm and buttery, I forget who I was before tasting it. I’ve been lucky to lead a life where many biscuits have met this benchmark of existence-altering butteriness, thereby creating a positive feedback loop (slicked down with butter) and consequently, dangerously high standards.

Photo by Julia Gartland

So when my editor Hana asked me to test a biscuit recipe that contained exactly no butter, I prepared myself for what I knew would be massive disappointment.

“Sure,” I said, shrugging like a retired athlete in a movie who, despite a bad hip, has been asked to come back and play for one last season. I grabbed my favorite jam, and resignedly, prepared to take a bite.

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Well, I’ve never been more wrong.

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Top Comment:
“Where or what is the leavening agent in this recipe? Is it steam on baking, or is something left out of the recipe?”
— W J.

To say that Sweet Laurel Bakery’s dairy-free, grain-free Southern-style biscuits are delicious is an understatement—to say that they’re so fluffy and “buttery” that I’d like to cut open a whole batch of them to use as pillows gets closer to the reality of the situation. And to say that they’re more tender than even the most heart-filled Pete Davidson/Ariana Grande emoji exchange would be to paraphrase a text message I sent my mom last night at 1 a.m. 


Interestingly, the technique behind Sweet Laurel’s biscuits comes from taking their favorite classic biscuit recipe, and just swapping in grain-free, dairy-free ingredients, like almond flour, coconut butter, and coconut yogurt. Two main steps in the dough process are integral to the tenderness of the final product:

  1. Chilling the coconut oil and butter and cutting it into the almond flour so it’s pea-sized, rather than fully combined, which (like with standard pie dough) facilities flakiness.
  2. Folding the formed dough over on itself as if laminating it three times creates layers to puff up in the oven, which sets the biscuits up for maximum fluffiness.

The buttery quality I mentioned (okay, swooned over dramatically) comes from the combination of three different fat sources: coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut yogurt. This trio confers a distinct coconutty-edge, which allows the biscuits' flavor profile to transition nicely from savory to sweet.


Everything! Creator Laurel Gallucci likes them best, “right out of the oven or with BBQ.”

Other than as a pillow, I like to use them as a base for building a sandwich—they’re on the heavier side, as biscuits go, so they pair well with lighter layers like crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes.

The subtle coconut flavor of these biscuits also lends itself to sweeter applications—they’d be great forked open (like an English muffin) and served with jam, as a substitute for shortcake, or topped with roasted rhubarb:


One of the essential qualities of this recipe that makes it a keeper in my book is how easily (and intuitively) adaptable it is. A few examples:

  • One of our testing days had near 90% humidity and an 85° F temperature, and as a result, we couldn’t keep the coconut oil and butter chilled for very long. We adapted by adding in more almond flour (about 1/4 cup) by eye to make the dough less wet, using a smaller (about 2-inch) cutter to reduce spread, chilling the biscuits after cutting, and baking for them for longer (20 to 22 minutes total).
  • I suspect that, should one want to mellow out the coconut flavor, almond or cashew milk yogurt could be swapped in for the coconut yogurt—if you try this, let us know in the comments!
  • According to Laurel, the coconut butter doesn’t need to be cubed, as the recipe calls for—it can be scooped right out of the jar.


Have you made these grain-free, dairy-free biscuits? Let us know what you think in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • W J Freeman
    W J Freeman
  • Michelle Slatalla
    Michelle Slatalla
  • dietitian-nutritionist
  • Chrissy
  • Ella Quittner
    Ella Quittner
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


W J. August 17, 2019
Where or what is the leavening agent in this recipe? Is it steam on baking, or is something left out of the recipe?
Ella Q. August 17, 2019
Hi there,

The recipe calls for baking powder:

Hope you enjoy!
W J. August 17, 2019
Thanks. I must have missed it, but I thought I read the list of ingredients several times looking for it. Or was it missing and added owing to my question?
Michelle S. August 22, 2018
These remind me (in a good way) of the cathead biscuits my aunt in Kentucky has made daily for nearly 50 years.
dietitian-nutritionist August 16, 2018
There's always flax eggs or chia eggs:

Chrissy August 16, 2018
Is there something to substitute for the egg to make this vegan?
Ella Q. August 16, 2018
Hi Chrissy,

While I haven't tested this recipe with any substitutes, in general a few handy vegan egg substitutes I like to use include flax eggs, and aquafaba. Here's a piece we ran that goes into more detail on tests run with several options (in blueberry muffins):


If you try out a substitute, we'd love to hear how it goes!

dietitian-nutritionist August 16, 2018
While coconut oil has become a popular replacement for butter and other fats, keep in mind that this is not a healthier alternative and coconut oil should be used sparingly ( https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/coconut-oil).
Josie August 17, 2018
I think in this case it's to make it allergy and/or animal friendly, not necessarily to make it healthier.
Anita104 August 16, 2019
"Healthy" is a relative term. What is "healthy" for one person can put another in the hospital with anaphylaxis. It is important to listen to your body and not blindly follow someone else's rules.