Drop Biscuits with Molasses Butter

June  8, 2013
15 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 1 dozen medium biscuits
Author Notes

This is one of my most-baked recipes of all time. Adapted slightly from a recipe my mom would make for my family growing up. She would divide the batch in half, and mix dried fruit or nuts into some of the dough, then mix mini chocolate chips in for my brother and I. When I moved away from home, I turned to this recipe to help treat frequent bouts of homesickness - and because it's so easy to make, it soon became a staple.

When I was first invited to the Food52 offices many years ago, I wanted to bring a treat in with me to share with the staff. There was no other option: this recipe is so important to me, and I knew they would appreciate it. I made it extra special by making homemade maple butter to serve with it. If you want to skip the butter, this recipe can also be gussied up the same way my mom did: by adding inclusions like chocolate, nuts, fresh or dried fruit, or even savory ingredients like fresh herbs or shredded cheese. You can eyeball these inclusions, but a 1/2-3/4 cup works well as a jumping off point.

This recipe is adaptable beyond inclusions, too. When I used to frequently make homemade ricotta cheese, I would use the leftover whey from the process in place of buttermilk in this recipe. Sour cream, yogurt, and creme fraiche all work great, too.

I use plain biscuits for strawberry shortcake or biscuits and gravy, and I love to crumble the dough over a fruit or vegetables as an easy (and delicious!) cobbler topping. It may not cure homesickness for everyone, but the possibilities are as endless as your imagination with this recipe, and the resulting pile of dishes will be minimal. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Erinmcdowell is a writer, editor, and food stylist -- and occasional Food52 test kitchen assistant!
WHAT: Fluffy, delicate, lightly-sweet biscuits -- and homemade molasses-y butter to slather all over them.
HOW: Make butter (you can do it!) by whipping cream and molasses, and skimming off the liquid. Mix together your biscuits, drop them on a baking sheet, and butter them as soon as they're out of the oven. Feel very happy.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Let's look past the fact, for a moment, that these were the best biscuits we've had in a long time. We love that erinmcdowell calls for making your own butter in such a nonchalant way -- because once you do it, you realize how easy it can be. And the fact that these biscuits are adaptable makes them easy to whip up whenever the mood strikes; if you have leftover whey from making ricotta, you should use it, but feel free to swap in buttermilk. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Drop Biscuits
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (240 g)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (71 g)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (6 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (2 g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (1 g)
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed (85 g)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or leftover whey (from making ricotta or butter)) (115 g)
  • 1 egg (57 g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 g)
  • turbinado sugar, as needed to garnish
  • Molasses Butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream (470 g)
  • Gallon generous pinch salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons molasses (Steen's is the best I've ever tasted) (64-85 g)
  1. Drop Biscuits
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Cut in the butter and mix until it ranges in size from peas to walnut halves in the dough. (This can be done by pulsing in the food processor, which makes quick work of it!)
  3. Whisk the whey/buttermilk, egg, and vanilla to combine. Add the mixture to the dough and mix just until it comes together - it should be pretty shaggy but evenly combined.
  4. Drop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden at the top and around the edges, 12-15 minutes.
  1. Molasses Butter
  2. Whip the cream in an electric mixer on medium high speed. Whip until the buttermilk separates, then pour it off. Add 1/2 cup of water and mix for another minute or so, then pour off the liquid. Repeat 2-3 times or until the liquid is mostly clear when it is poured off.
  3. Season the butter with salt, and whip in the molasses. Mix until well combined. Slather on warm drop biscuits.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Eleanor Goodman Gipson
    Eleanor Goodman Gipson
  • anna
  • Horto
  • ImprovCuisine
  • Leemoe Jones
    Leemoe Jones
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

24 Reviews

mfickas65 January 17, 2023
I made these and added cinnamon chips. Also made whipped honey butter to go with them. YUM!
Lilyp August 19, 2022
I decided to try this recipe after watching the video. I didn’t have buttermilk so I used sour cream. Also substituted dry blueberries for the chocolate chips, salted butter instead of unsalted and made it in the food processor. Thhis is what I had on hand at 10:30 in the evening. They turned out great! Delicious! This is definitely a keeper recipe. Thanks for sharing.
TheRambis February 2, 2022
Easy and delicious and adaptable as advertised, thanks! Made a batch and split it between plain for me and butterscotch chips for the little. Thumbs up!
Eleanor G. January 30, 2022
I am just dipping my toes into the baking arena and a couple of the processes in this recipe were brand new to me. Such fun! Making butter! And oh, my was it delicious. We didn’t have them for breakfast-we had them with champagne. Good company. Thanks!
Meryl January 29, 2022
SOO good!! Yonder and perfectly (read barely) sweet. Easy. Will make again. A must try!
MGZ January 25, 2022
I am definitely trying this recipe!!
Can you freeze the biscuits? My kids dont live at home and Id want them to try them when theyre here...
GourmandBeast January 21, 2022
What will be the substitute of egg here ?
anna November 13, 2021
My only regret is that I didn’t make a double batch! For newbies like myself (I’ve never separated butter from buttermilk), be aware it’s a long and messy process.it. It took me 30 to 40 minutes when it was all said and done and the molasses butter was mixed in. But you may be faster than me and it was well worth it!

Does anyone know why the cold water is added and poured off until it runs mostly clear?
Liz S. January 24, 2022
It is to rinse the buttermilk off ... the residual buttermilk contributes to spoilage as well as a bit of a sour taste.

I know this is an old comment, but just in case someone is looking since the recipe is reposted.
Cathy December 16, 2015
I substituted the AP flour with 1/2 cup whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup whole grain spelt flour. I also upped the liquid just a tablespoon or two and let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking to hydrate the whole grain flours. They turned out a bit more scone like than biscuit but they're fantastic!! Thanks for a wonderful and easy recipe!
Horto June 8, 2015
Any other uses for whey out there???
Maurizio L. August 10, 2021
Sourdough bread!
Carol F. March 12, 2023
Try whey crepes.
3 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablspn melted butter
1 1/2 cups whey
1 Tblspn sugar
Make in blender or bowl and whisk. Crack eggs in blender or bowl. Whisk. Dump flour, then butter, whey and sugar. Blend till smooth. Chill for at least 1 hr. Or up to 2 days. Cook crepes in lightly buttered nonstick pan. Enjoy.
ImprovCuisine November 30, 2014
Great biscuits! Replaced the sugar with three tablespoons agave and the buttermilk with 6 tablespoons plain milk and one tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice. Turned out perfect.
Leemoe J. September 9, 2014
I made ricotta earlier today and was so stoked to be able to use the whey for something else! I made these biscuits with just a sprinkling of brown sugar and no vanilla, and added some aged white cheddar and cracked pepper. They go marvelously with the ricotta. Yummo.
AntoniaJames August 21, 2014
Made these last night - did not add all the sugar right away (added only about a teaspoon at the outset), as I wanted half of the batch to be savory, for use with this: https://food52.com/recipes/7331-chicken-and-mushrooms-on-toasts Best drop biscuit's I've ever had! Added about a tablespoon of brown sugar, plus a quick sprinkling of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of nutmeg, to the rest of the dough, and used it to top a blueberry cobbler that we'll be enjoying tonight. Used 256 grams of flour + ice cold ricotta whey. This one's a keeper, to be sure. ;o)
Danielle June 19, 2014
For those avoiding white grains, these are absolutely beautiful as whole-grain biscuits. Simply substitute half of the A.P. Flour for whole wheat flour, and (optionally) add a heaping handful of oats. I haven't tried substituting in parts margarine for some of the butter to lower the fat, but that's the next test on the list. Somehow, I have a feeling they'll still be pretty damn good.
JP April 22, 2014
Well, it's confusing because it says:
2 cups heavy cream ( I understand that)
gallons generous pinch salt ( I understand the salt but gallons of what?)
The rest I understand. What am I missing?
meganvt01 April 22, 2014
The gallons is a typo. It's just a pinch of salt.
meganvt01 April 20, 2014
Fantastic! These were the hit of our Easter table today. Thanks!
JP April 20, 2014
How sis you make the molasses butter i.e., ingredient amounts.
meganvt01 April 22, 2014
The ingredients and instructions are listed in the second part of the recipe above "Molasses Butter."
JP April 14, 2014
Please clarify the molasses butter recipe.
AntoniaJames September 30, 2013
Great recipe! I always have a few quarts of whey in my freezer, because we make fresh ricotta here, too. I love what it does to my Pullman loaves. It also makes fantastic polenta, and dreamy mashed potatoes. ;o)