Baking Powder Biscuits

James Beard

Author and Educator

“Certainly no bread in America has been more popular over a longer time than baking powder biscuits. In fact, in many homes they were baked three times a day in great quantities, and were eaten hot, with butter and honey or preserves, along with every meal. Nowadays ready-to-bake biscuits that come packaged in tubes have taken the place of the homemade, but few commercial brands are as good as a well-made biscuit, which should be made quickly and handled as little as possible.”

–James Beard


  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Additional melted butter for dipping


Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Add baking powder and salt to the sifted flour, and sift again into a mixing bowl. Work in the butter with your fingers (or two knives or a heavy fork) until it is the consistency of cornmeal. Add milk and stir into the dough just enough to make the particles cling together. (It should be a very, very soft dough.) Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. Then either pat or roll out to a 3/4-inch thickness.

Cut out the biscuits into rounds or squares, according to your taste. Dip each in the melted butter and arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet or pan. If you want them crisp all around, place them far apart; for fluffier biscuits, place close together. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden.


12 to 18 biscuits