My Crispy Cheddar Biscuits are my flaky buttermilk biscuits taken to the next level! They’re not only stuffed with cheese on the inside, but they sit on a pile of cheese that bakes into a crispy cheese skirt!
My Grandma Olga Mae made incredible buttermilk biscuits. Every Sunday morning, before she left for church, she made biscuits. She would leave them on the counter under a napkin for our family dinner when she got home. Not all of those biscuits made it to the dinner table. Thus began my obsession with biscuits. It became my life goal to make biscuits as good as Olga Mae's, and after years of hard work, my buttermilk biscuits were born!
Now that I've mastered the art of the flaky biscuit, why not take them to the next level? Let's crunchify them! There aren't a lot of things that can't be made better with a little crunch. Whether it's croutons in your salad, nuts in your cookies, or chips in your sandwich - crunch makes it better! So I thought, how can I crunchify my biscuits? Why, dress them up in a cheese skirt, of course!
- All-purpose flour No fancy flours here. I use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, but any brand will do.
- Baking soda Baking soda reacts with the buttermilk right away to give your biscuits a nice lift.
- Baking powder Baking powder also works immediately when combined with liquid (the buttermilk), but is “double acting”, meaning it also lifts your biscuits when it hits the heat. To ensure you get all that lift, check the expiration date of your baking powder. You want to use the freshest possible to ensure you get tall biscuits!
- Sugar Just a touch of sugar enhances the sweetness of the unsalted butter, but it also balances the acidity of the buttermilk. A true win-win ingredient!
- Salt Unless your doctor told you to ditch sodium, never leave out salt! Whether baking or cooking, salt enhances the flavor of all the ingredients. Friend not foe, unless otherwise directed.
- Buttermilk Buttermilk helps to create an overall taller, tastier, flakier, fluffier biscuit. Who doesn’t want all that? I use 2 tablespoons more buttermilk than in my regular buttermilk biscuit recipe, to make sure all the cheese and the dry ingredients get mixed in well.
- Butter Always use cold butter. The high heat of your oven hits the cold butter, and the butter releases steam that pushes up and out of the dough, creating flaky layers as a fabulous side effect. I love science!
- Cheddar Cheese You'll need 1 cup for inside your biscuit and ½ cup for your crispy cheesy bottom!
- Spicy - Try adding a diced jalapeño for a delicious Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit!
- Swiss - Switch out your cheddar with nutty Gruyère cheese like I do in my Gruyère Biscuits with Bacon and Chives.
- Drop it like it's hot - Add an extra four tablespoons of buttermilk and drop or scoop dough onto piles of cheese on your sheet pan, for Drop Biscuit version of these cheddar biscuits.
- Mix the dry ingredients In a bowl, or in your food processor, measure all of your dry ingredients. For consistent results, I always recommend weighing your flour. If you do not have a scale, fluff up your flour with a spoon, scoop it into your measuring cup, and use a knife or other straight edged utensil to level the flour across the measuring cup. Whisk or pulse together.
- Cut in your butter I usually work fast and use my fingers to pinch, squeeze, and mix the butter into the dry ingredients, just like I do when making the topping for a crisp or crumble, but sometimes I go the food processor route. If I use the food processor, I freeze my butter for 10-15 minutes beforehand so I don't end up breaking it up too much with the machine. A handful of bigger butter chunks mixed in is one of the ways that you give your biscuits nice layers. Give the machine about 5 to 6 good pulses.
- Toss in your cheese In a bowl, add in one cup of cheddar and toss around in the flour/butter mixture, to coat all the individual shreds. This makes sure you get cheese in every bite!
- Add cold buttermilk Whether I cut in my butter by hand or by machine, I mix in the buttermilk in a bowl with a flat spatula, rice paddle, or Danish dough whisk. It won't look like you have enough liquid, but trust the process! Everything will come together.
- Cut and stack I learned my biscuit stacking process from Brian Hart Hoffman of Bake From Scratch magazine. Instead of rolling out your dough and cutting out biscuits, I pat the dough into a square, cut it into quarters, and stack them on top of each other, like doughy legos. Then I just give 'em a big smush down toward the counter until they've formed a single square again. I repeat this process a total of four times and each cut-and-stack adds more layers to your biscuits. Also, each time you cut and stack, you incorporate more of the stray dry bits. It all comes together!
- Cut out your biscuits Press the dough into a ½ inch thick rectangle, Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out your biscuits. Do not twist the cutter when cutting them out. That would seal the edges of the biscuits, keeping them from fully rising. Just press straight down and lift straight up. Gather your scraps as you go and gently re-stack them together, press out to ½ inch, and cut as many biscuits as you can. Place on a parchment paper lined quarter sheet pan and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.
- Chill your biscuits Chilling your biscuit dough gets the butter cold again and cold butter plus hot oven equals flakiness! This is because, as the heat hits the butter, steam is released, and this pushes the layers you've created apart even further. Oh boy, science is cool! Place your cut biscuits on a parchment paper lined small sheet pan and place them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, you can preheat your oven and make cheese piles.
- Cheese your biscuits While your biscuits are chilling out, you'll want to make little piles of cheese on a parchment paper lined large sheet pan. I try to cut out 8 biscuits and make 8 two tablespoon piles of cheddar, evenly spaced on the sheet pan. Remove your biscuits from the freezer and place one on each cheese pile and give them a little wiggle. You should see a little bit of cheese peeking out around each biscuit.
- Egg wash Although these biscuits would taste great baked as is, an egg wash will give the tops of our biscuits a shiny brown top, and everyone knows brown food tastes better! The proteins in both the white and the yolk promote browning, while the fats in the yolk add a nice shine. Beautiful and delicious!
- Bake hot and fast Now that you are a scientist, put your oven on 450° F and bake your biscuits for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. The high heat will do all the things; brown the biscuits while creating all the layers. Amazing!
Freezing, storage, and reheating
You can make these biscuits ahead and freeze them, to bake later! Just cut out your biscuits and freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet until frozen solid. Then place in a ziptop bag for up to 2 months. To bake, place biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet while the oven preheats, then bake as directed. You may need to add 2 to 3 minutes onto the bake time.
Store cool biscuits, individually wrapped in plastic wrap, on the counter for up to 2 days. To reheat, remove from plastic and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Unwrap, and bake another 5 minutes, to allow the cheese skirt to re-crisp.
Crispy Cheddar Biscuits
- 2 cup (240 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (12 g) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoon (113 g) unsalted butter very cold and cut into small cubes
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) cheddar cheese shredded
- ¾ cup (210 g) + 2 tablespoons buttermilk very cold
- 1 large egg whisked with 1 tbs water, for egg wash
- Line one large baking sheet and one quarter baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.
- Toss cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients and, using a pastry cutter or your fingers, squeeze, pinch, and mix in the cold butter until you have a mixture of flat pieces and crumbly pea sized bits of butter mixed into the flour.
- Food processor instructions: Place cubed butter in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you get all your other ingredients together. Measure all of your dry ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.
- Add chilled butter to the dry ingredients and pulse 5 to 6 times, or until most of the butter is in pea sized, or smaller, pieces. Pour into a mixing bowl and proceed with the rest of the instructions.
- Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to your flour/butter mixture and toss to coat all the cheese in the flour.
- Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the cold buttermilk. Using a danish dough whisk, or a large silicone spatula, mix the wet and dry ingredients together until you have a fairly uniform, loose dough. The flour won't look all mixed in and that's okay. It will come together.
- Dump the butter/dry ingredient mix out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, gently press everything together into a rough square.
- With a bench scraper or knife, cut into four smaller squares. Stack the pieces of biscuit dough on top of each other. Smush it all down into a square again. Repeat this cutting and stacking procedure 3 more times. Pat the dough into a rectangle at least ½ inch thick.
- For round biscuits: Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out your biscuits. Do not twist the cutter when cutting them out! That would seal the edges of the biscuits, keeping them from fully rising. Just press straight down and lift straight up. Gather your scraps as you go and gently re-stack them together, press out to ½ inch, and cut as many biscuits as you can. Place cut biscuits on a parchment paper lined quarter sheet pan and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.
- For square biscuits: Using your bench scraper or a knife, cut into square biscuits and place on a parchment paper lined small sheet pan. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. On a large sheet pan, lined with parchment paper, make 8 piles of cheddar cheese, evenly spaced on the pan.
- Remove biscuits from the freezer and place each on top of a pile of cheese. Brush the tops of the biscuits lightly with an egg wash and sprinkle with flaky salt, if desired.
- Bake in a 450° oven for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes so the cheese skirt can reach the pinnacle of crispiness. Eat warm.
The nutritional and caloric information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It does not assert or suggest that readers should or should not count calories, and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s or doctor’s counseling.