Today I’m sharing with you my recipe for old-fashioned angel biscuits. While many recipes call for shortening, my all-butter version still rises nice and high while having a great, buttery flavor.
If you aren’t sure your “regular” biscuit-making skills are up to snuff, angel biscuits, which are raised with both yeast and baking powder, give you added insurance that your biscuits will rise to great heights.
I’ll show you how to make the dough, roll in some layers for extra “oomph,” and give you some tips and tricks for biscuit-making success.
If you’re an old hand at making biscuits, you may also enjoy my flaky cheese biscuits recipe.
For ease of browsing, you can find all my bread and rolls recipes in the same place. Thanks for being here. Now let’s get baking!
You’ll Love Buttery Angel Biscuits If:
Not all recipes are for all people, so here’s a description of these biscuits. If you think they sound great, you can skip straight to the recipe and get started.
If you need a bit more guidance, please read on. The recipe is at the bottom of the post.
You’ll love these if you like biscuits that:
- Have a bread-like quality
- Have crackly tops and tender insides
- Bake up tall with lots of layers
- Have a bit of a buttermilk tang to them
- Are just a bit chewy like fresh, homemade bread
If these sound like the angel biscuits of your dreams and you do make them, please consider leaving a comment, a rating, and/or a review. This feedback not only helps me but will help others decide if they’d like to make some also.
What Are Angel Biscuits?
It’s hard to know for sure why they’re called angel biscuits, but maybe because they rise so well and are soft and tender.
The main characteristics of angel biscuits are that:
- they are made with all shortening
- they use both yeast and baking powder for leavening
I broke rule number one and used all butter instead.
Why? Because butter tastes better than shortening while still assisting with rise.
PRO TIP: Using refrigerated ghee or clarified butter will get you all the butter flavor with none of the water in whole butter. This should ensure a rise almost as high as all-shortening angel biscuits.
How to Make Them
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own pillowy yeast biscuits. I’ll provide substitution ideas where possible.
- water: I use warm tap water. You only need 1/4 cup, and it’s used to give the yeast a bit of time to hydrate
- yeast: You can use instant or active yeast. Either will work.
- buttermilk: The best substitute for buttermilk, which I use frequently, is plain Greek yogurt thinned to buttermilk consistency with water. If you do have buttermilk, either low-fat or full fat buttermilk will work
- all-purpose flour: I use King Arthur, but you can also use a lower protein all-purpose flour such as Gold Medal
- sugar: Enough to help feed the yeast, add a touch of sweetness, and assist in browning in the oven. You can use brown sugar if you prefer, although it will darken the color of the biscuits just a bit
- salt: Don’t leave out the salt. It brings all the flavors into focus and helps control yeast growth as well
- baking powder: Acts as an additional leavener
- baking soda: Assists in leavening and also raises the pH a little bit to counteract the acidity in the buttermilk
- cold butter: You can also substitute cold clarified butter or cold ghee. Either will give you slightly more rise than whole butter, although I use whole butter because that’s what most folks have on hand
How to Mix Angel Biscuits
- Combine all dry ingredients and whisk well:
- Cut or rub in cold butter
- Mix all wet ingredients together
- Pour wet into dry and gently mix until mostly combined
When I make biscuits, I like to give them a few rolls and folds to build in some layers.
Behold, my photo tutorial about how to roll and fold layers into your biscuits, angel or otherwise.
Rolling in Biscuit Layers
I love biscuits with layers. And you don’t have to buy canned biscuits to get those thin layers. You can roll them in yourself.
1. Mix the dough until it barely comes together and then dump it out of a well-floured counter. Sprinkle additional flour on top of the pile of shaggy dough:
2. This photo shows the first “roll out” with my rolling pin. The dough really isn’t holding together at all at this point, so be sure to use your bench knife to help with folding the dough in half.
You can see it barely holds together, so you will really need to use your bench knife to assist. If anything falls off, just piece it back together. It will come together in another couple of rolls. Promise.
3. After 6 turns and folds but before rolling it out to its final thickness. See how nicely it came together?
5. Roll out your dough to its final thickness, about 1/2-3/4″. Trim off the folded edges with your bench knife because they will impede the rise:
Don’t waste those cut off ends. You can brush them with buttermilk and bake them right along with the biscuits. Or, roll them in some butter and Parmesan cheese and twist them into biscuit bread sticks before baking.
6. Use your bench knife to cut biscuits the size you want. I was able to get 20 all-butter angel biscuits from this recipe. Brush the tops with buttermilk or with some melted butter before baking.
If you’re serving them with something savory, consider grinding on some cracked black pepper as well.
Why Make Square Biscuits?
Most biscuit recipes tell you to roll or pat out your dough, cut rounds as close together as you can, then re-roll the scraps.
These recipes come right out and tell you that these “second roll” biscuits won’t rise as high and might be a bit tougher, yet they tell you to do it anyway.
Here’s a tip:
PRO TIP: For next to zero waste and no “second roll” inferior biscuits, cut biscuits into squares with your bench knife.
If you don’t already have a bench knife, please pick one up. They’re inexpensive, are useful for a wide variety of tasks, not the least of which are helping to fold biscuit dough and cutting out biscuits, and they will last you for decades.
- One-piece construction means the handle won't come off
- Six-inch ruler allows for measuring on the fly
- Tons of uses from cutting biscuits to scraping your countertops
- Easy to store and dishwasher safe
I also recommend a French rolling pin for rolling biscuits. The gentle curve allows you to easily roll a radius, and the long length of the pin ensures you don’t end up with roll marks from the edge of the pin running over the dough.
A French rolling pin is lightweight and the tapered ends make it very easy to roll a radius or vary pressure across the surface of the pin. I much prefer a tapered pin to a straight one.
Add your favorite herb blend and garlic powder to the dry ingredients to make herbed angel biscuits.
For Parmesan angel biscuits, sprinkle 2-3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan onto the dough before each roll and fold. Another option is to whisk about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese into the dry ingredients before rubbing in the butter.
A reader told me her mom used this dough to make Parker House rolls. Here’s how you’d do that:
- Cut the biscuits in rounds.
- Make a fold line slightly off-center and add a pat of butter.
- Fold the shorter half of the circle over the butter and press the edges together lightly.
- Brush with buttermilk or some melted butter and bake as per the directions.
My blogging friend Julie of Willow Bird Baking said that she uses angel biscuit dough to make cinnamon rolls. She learned that from her grandmother. Seems like an excellent plan!
Also take a look at my easy croissant recipe. I based that recipe on this one with just a few tweaks. If you love these biscuits, I bet you’ll enjoy the croissants as well.
Angel Biscuit Q&A
Yes, you can. Cover it well and it should be fine overnight. It has been my experience that, after a day or two, unbaked refrigerated biscuits tend to turn a bit gray, so don’t wait longer than a day before baking.
Yes. Cut out the biscuits, place them on Silpat-lined trays and put them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, you can transfer them to freezer bags to store for up to a month. Just take out the number you need and thaw overnight in the fridge. Let them rise for a couple of hours the next day, brush with buttermilk, and bake.
As long as you let them rise for 90 minutes to an hour before freezing, you can bake them from frozen. Just brush the frozen biscuits with some buttermilk, pop them on a baking tray, and bake as directed. It may take a couple of extra minutes, but they will be just as soft and wonderful as biscuits baked from freshly made dough.
Biscuits are the perfect bread to enjoy with any hearty meal. Liberally buttering a biscuit is always a good plan.
Make breakfast sandwiches on a split angel biscuit, or serve them split with sausage gravy for a hearty southern breakfast. (That link goes to a breakfast burger that has sausage gravy as one of the components)
A Note About Measurements
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
It will help me and other readers so much if you take a moment to rate and leave a review for this recipe.
You can use the stars to rate 1-5 (5 is best), and leave a review in the comments. It helps me make adjustments if any are needed, and comments help others decide whether the recipe is worth making.
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Thank you so much for taking the time!
And now, without further ado, I give you my recipe for All-Butter Angel Biscuits.
All-Butter Angel Biscuits
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 oz warm water 1/4 cup
- 16 oz buttermilk 2 cups or 454 grams
- 25 oz all-purpose flour about 5 1/2 cups or 709 grams
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar 40 grams
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces 1 1/2 sticks
- Heat oven to 425F and set a rack in the center of the oven.
- Combine yeast and water in a bowl. Whisk well to combine and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the buttermilk. Set aside.
- In a very large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
- Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk/yeast mixture.
- Mix gently with a clean hand until the dough is very shaggy but more or less in one mass.
- Turn out onto a well-floured surface. Flour the top of the dough and pat into a rough rectangle with your hands.
- Gently roll out until the dough is about 1/2" thick.
- Use your bench knife to scrape under half the dough and fold it over on itself. It will be pretty ragged, but it will shape up with each additional turn.
- Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the rolling and folding 5 more times.
- Roll the dough into a fairly even rectangle about 1/2"-3/4" high.
- You can cut round biscuits, but I find there is less waste if I just use my bench knife to cut square biscuits.
- Trim off the folded or irregular ends of the biscuits. You can certainly leave them on, but those edge biscuits won't rise evenly and will be sort of funny looking. They'll still taste good though, so it's your call.
- Cut the remaining rectangle of dough into biscuits of whatever size you want. I was able to get 20.
- Arrange on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet about an inch apart.
- Cover and let sit out for about an hour and a half.
- Place your biscuits in the freezer for an hour to firm up the butter. This will ensure the highest rise possible.
- Brush tops with buttermilk and bake for about 10 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top. If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate the pan after 5 minutes.
- Serve hot or warm.
- Allow leftovers to cool completely, and the freeze them in airtight freezer bags for up to 2 months.
Did You Make Any Changes?
HOW TO AVOID “SECOND ROLL” BISCUITSMost biscuit recipes tell you to roll or pat out your dough, cut rounds as close together as you can, then re-roll the scraps. These recipes come right out and tell you that these “second roll” biscuits won’t rise as high or be as tender as your first rolls. PRO TIP: For next to zero waste and no “second roll” inferior biscuits, cut biscuits into squares with your bench knife.
Need a Smaller BatchThis recipe is very easily halved. I ended up with 9 biscuits from the half recipe. Original, handwritten recipe found on RecipeCurio.com
I hope you enjoy the angel biscuit recipe, friends!
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.
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