Make Ahead

Cheese Biscuits

April 25, 2011
8 Ratings
  • Makes 10 to 12 large biscuits
Author Notes

Frequently on Tuesdays, Kristen shows up to our photo shoot bearing an armload of goodies from Bluebird Coffee Shop. All of the baked treats from this tiny gem of a place in the East Village of Manhattan are delicious, but our little cadre has pinpointed a couple of particular favorites: the doughnuts (more on those later this week from Amanda), and the cheese biscuits -- impossibly tender and almost melting within, the subtle bite of cheddar woven throughout. The other week, Amanda and I went to visit Adam Baumgart in his pastry kitchen in the basement of Bluebird, and he taught us how to make both of our top picks, sharing his tips and tricks along the way. This is Adam’s recipe for his heavenly biscuits. —Merrill Stubbs

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is a part of Cheese Week—seven days of recipes and stories, all cheese—presented by our friends at Proudly Wisconsin Cheese
—The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 1/2 cups minus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cold unsalted butter (use a good brand, like Plugra, with a high butterfat content)
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and put it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, cut the butter into chunks and leave out at room temperature (you want it malleable, but not soft).
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the chilled dry ingredients, the cheese and the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for a few minutes, until the chunks of butter are no bigger than a large pea – or a small bean. (In the oven, the water in the chunks of butter creates steam, which in turn will creates lovely pockets of air within the biscuits.)
  3. Add the buttermilk to the bowl and mix on low just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured board, dust your fingers with flour and gently knead it a few times. Quickly and carefully pat the dough into a large rectangle about 1/2 an inch thick.
  4. Dip a 3-inch round cutter with sharp edges in flour and then cut the biscuits using an even downward motion, without twisting the cutter. Transfer the rounds of dough to the baking sheets, leaving an inch or two of space between them. When you’ve cut the first batch of biscuits, gently pat the dough into another rectangle and cut a few more -- discard the dough or add the funky leftover shapes to the baking sheets after the second batch is cut (if you shape the dough a third time, the biscuits will be tough).
  5. Beat the egg with a splash of water (if you’re feeling fancy, you can then pass it through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any clumps of egg white that might burn). Brush the tops of the biscuits lightly with egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the biscuits are a deep golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets but serve them while still warm!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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82 Reviews

Cynthia C. March 20, 2022
I have made these many times and they are so delicious. I usually double the recipe and bring warm biscuits to neighbors - and yes, in fact, it has sealed my position as the favorite neighbor. 😀
JCrys February 15, 2021
Fantastic biscuit! I understand the need for refrigerating the dry ingredients. This kept everything cold when mixing the butter in. I sheeted them on rimless baking pans but found that when baking the grease from the cheese run over onto the bottom of the oven (my pans are old and not perfectly flat). I switched to a rimmed pan on the next batch and solved that problem. Didn't see any difference with the bake between the two different pans. These biscuits are tender and cheesy with a nice thin crisp bottom to them. Definitely a keeper.
jan K. August 19, 2020
Deeelish! Didn't want to drag the stand mixer out so I cut in the butter with my hands. Used same amount of sea salt since I only had course kosher. Wouldn't change a thing.
Charleen February 2, 2020
Made these for my husband but I'm not a biscuit fan, too dry. These, however were very good. A bit too salty but that may have been from the cheddar I used (Cracker Barrel). I couldn't be bothered with a round biscuit cutter so I cut them into squares with my bench scraper. Hey, I'm not a Southern lady and this was my first go at biscuit baking. They didn't rise very much so they were kind of funny looking but they tasted like cheddary biscuits and hubby loved them. Every time I see him he's got another one or two in his hands.
Rachel M. February 16, 2018
These are really, really lovely. I've never been a big biscuit fan because I tend to find them too dry, but am absolutely in love with these. I know it's been quite a while now, but some people asked about making before/freezing and I just thought I would share my experience. I made a double recipe (which you'll want to do in separate batches if you do -- it was too much for my mixer to handle) and froze them, sans egg wash. When I was ready to bake I brushed on the egg wash and let them go at least 5 minutes longer in the oven and they turned out great. I will say I lost a lot of butter out of them, much moreso than when baking immediately, which was only a problem in terms of it burning on the oven bottom. Thanks for this great recipe!
nutcakes August 29, 2015
These are keepers. And I love how it makes so many at once and no trouble at all. Love using a mixer that is a new method I also saw Ina Garten use. Going to put these into rotation. Also I subbed a bit of cheddar out for some Parmesan cheese, subbed a cup of AP flour for white whole wheat and they were excellent with the fresh tomato soup I just made.
Erica S. January 28, 2015
Just a little twist, I added a table spoon of Dijon mustard and chopped parsley and they are one of the best biscuits I've ever made!
Gabriella January 21, 2015
"Could you make the biscuit dough in advance then cut them out and bake the following day?"
please answer!
Merrill S. January 21, 2015
Because of the yeast, I'd cut them and freeze them and then bake from frozen, but this is a good question for our Hotline.
nutcakes August 29, 2015
What yeast? Am I losing my mind?
nutcakes August 29, 2015
Oh a tip for making in advance, even a day is to freeze them raw and bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time. Biscuits isn't something you usually want to sit before baking.
Joycelyn May 7, 2017
Your recipe does not have yeast in the ingredient list. Could you please explain what you mean when you say, "because of the yeast, I'd cut them and freeze them and bake from frozen."
Thank you.
Carolyn May 1, 2024
No, we’re both okay. It’s this recipe. 🤷‍♀️
cosmiccook May 1, 2024
Yeast? I don't see the yeast in ingredient list???
Merrill S. May 6, 2024
Apologies, I'm honestly not sure why I mentioned yeast since obviously there is none in the ingredient list--I may have been confusing it with a different recipe. But my recommendation to freeze and bake from frozen, which others seem to agree with, stands!
Marivic R. December 20, 2014
Could you make the biscuit dough in advance then cut them out and bake the following day?
Simon December 6, 2014
This looks like a great recipe but I am a bit annoyed at the writing of the recipe. Hopefully my comments will be taken with a grain of salt and used to improve the recipe process at Food52 to make the site even better!

I may be stirring the pot here but do we live in a day and age now that bakers don't have a digital scale in their kitchen? "x cups minus tsp", "x tbsp plus tsp" but without any weight based measurements is pretty frustrating especially as I don't live in the good ol' US of A where kosher salt is preferred - the rest of us use table salt and don't measure our butter in tablespoons (never heard of anyone measuring butter in *tea*spoons). As an international based reader of Food52 it would be good if some consideration is given to and audience who don't use the same measurements to at least give bakers a good chance of getting in the "ballpark" of your intended recipe.

Rant over! Happy baking all :)
Pat G. March 24, 2015
Oh, how I agree Simon. Maybe some one could weigh the ingredients for us. Quite happy to have decimal or imperial please! Love Food52 but find this off putting.
Merrill S. March 24, 2015
There is a wealth of conversion resources available online that can help you figure out the weight equivalents if you'd like them. Please understand that it would be a huge undertaking to provide both weight and volume measurements for every recipe on our site (the majority of which come from American home cooks who may or may not have digital scales). Currently, we do not have the resources to do this, although we hope to in the future!
Pat G. March 24, 2015
Thank you Merrill, I am looking forward to that and I will attempt to convert! Could I use yoghurt instead of buttermilk do you think?
Merrill S. March 24, 2015
Hmm, not sure, as I haven't played around with this recipe much -- sorry I can't be more helpful! You might want to ask the same question on our Hotline in case others have experimented.
reneej August 24, 2015
yes, please add ingredient weights. ;-)
BocaCindi July 5, 2017
Can't make all of the people happy all of the time, Merrill. 😉. I have a digital scale for some things, but mostly use cups, tablespoons, etc. like most American home cooks. I think digital is far superior, but it's not here yet.
Paul S. May 12, 2020
Time to weigh in, (so to speak). I could be wrong, but when the author visited Adam Baumgart in his pastry kitchen, the baker was most likely weighing the ingredients. If indeed that was the case, then Merrill needed to convert the weights to cups and teaspoons etc. Using weight measurement much simpler to scale for home cook.
Paul S. May 12, 2020
3 1/2 cups minus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour (444 grams)
2 tablespoons (27.5 grams) baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (Morton's KS = 10.25 grams - Diamond Crystal + 7.5 g) author does not specify
2 cups (225 grams) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 3/4 cups (430 grams) buttermilk
Paul S. May 14, 2020
Above assumes a 4.5 ounce cup of flour.
Carolyn May 1, 2024
The author comment in response seems a tad snarky! And definitely not helpful.
Merrill S. May 6, 2024
My intention was certainly not to be snarky. My response was written 8 years ago, when Food52 had a very small team and many fewer resources than we do today--I was simply being truthful, and offering a potential option for those interested in converting volume measurements to weight.
Mary V. May 8, 2014
Would love to know where that biscuit cutter was purchased.
Marie March 13, 2014
These look great!
wendy January 26, 2014
can you make these without cheese?
Merrill S. January 28, 2014
I'm sure you can, yours. might want to adjust some of the other ingredients to make up for the loss of fat, but I haven't tried this so can't give you specific guidance. This would be a great question for our Hotline!
Merrill S. January 28, 2014
Sorry, "yes," not "yours!"
Ralph June 25, 2014
Hi Wendy. Did today added some heavy cream to replace the cream and added Diced Garlic Scapes for use in biscuits and gravy.
Burf November 19, 2013
Sometimes, I call Red Lobster, give a phony name, and wear a disguise while I pick up a dozen of their biscuits. Never again! These were great!! I reduced the salt as others had suggested. Also, being a yankee, I didn't have anything like a sharp biscuit cutter, so I patted the dough into a rectangle and made 12 squares, cut with a sharp knife. None of that rolling/re-rolling business, and I could never throw away scraps.
Barb April 26, 2014
I love that idea! I'm doing this next time I make biscuits.
za'atar November 18, 2013
I made these as drop biscuits rather than rolling them out - everyone loves them! The second time I made them I reduced the salt by half and that seemed to better suit our family's taste preferences, but I'm sure it depends on the kind of salt and cheese that is used. Can't wait to make these again!
steffiweffi October 20, 2013
I must have made these 4-5 times! I love them! I like to freeze a couple so I have a go-to breakfast in a pinch. I just reheat them in the oven for 5-10 minutes and they taste amazing!
Merrill S. October 20, 2013
So glad you like them!
The F. September 9, 2013
In the oven as I type this and will be served with Merrill's lentil, sausage, kale soup!
Sarah B. August 12, 2013
Super easy and quite delish! I used habanero jack (Whole foods carries it) because I had it on hand. I paired these biscuits with the summer corn chowder - also found on Food52 - the combination of spicy and rich/sweet was just awesome. Will make again!
Megan July 18, 2013
I've never found a biscuit recipe that I go back to more than once...until now! These biscuits are perfect, I've made them with cheese and without, and can't wait to try different things with them. I usually get 12 out of the batch and I freeze 6 - they bake up out of the freezer beautifully! Sometimes they fall apart very easily, sometimes not - I'm sure it's something that I am doing or not doing, but I'm not an accomplished enough baker to figure that out yet! Thank you for this keeper!
Mary July 13, 2013
Just made these lastnight. Very easy. Still tasted great this morning warmed up with butter.