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.

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!

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Several golden-brown biscuits coolign on a round, black wire rack on a butcher block surface.

I was born and raised in Georgia, and Angel biscuits were cherished in our family. My mother always made a batch to take to any family gathering, and they all disappeared long before the green bean casserole! Yet, I always felt they could be better.
When I found this recipe, I knew this is what I was looking for! I always tend to put my own touch on recipes, but this one didn’t need any more touches. Perfect!! Tender, delicious, angelic biscuits! I froze my first batch and took them out of the freezer before baking for Thanksgiving. Perfect!!!

Reader Kay

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.

All the ingredients needed to make angel biscuits, labeled and photographed on a white background.
  • 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

Not surprisingly, these biscuits are made using the Biscuit Method, which is similar to the muffin method with the additional step of cutting fat into the dry ingredients.

In short:

  • 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.

Here’s how:

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:

A very messy pile of shaggy biscuit dough on a counter. Some flour is sprinkled on the top.

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.

The biscuit dough rolled out at folded in half. It is still very messy and shaggy and has not really come together.

3. After 6 turns and folds but before rolling it out to its final thickness. See how nicely it came together?

Biscuit dough that has been rolled and folded several times and is now nice and smooth although some pieces of butter still show up in the dough.

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:

the biscuit dough rolled out to about 1/2" thick with the four sides trimmed off of ragged edges, leaving a nice rectangle of dough to cut into biscuits.

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.

Twelve square biscuits on a Silpat before baking. The tops of the biscuits have been brushed with buttermilk.

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.

Equipment Recommendations

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.

Jenni's Pick
Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper/Chopper, 6in/15cm x 4in/10cm
$8.96
  • 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
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03/07/2024 04:52 pm GMT

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.

My Pick for Pie Dough
French Tapered Rolling Pin
$7.64

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.

Purchase Now
This is an affiliate link which means I earn from qualifying purchases. Your price is unaffected.
03/07/2024 05:12 pm GMT

Variations

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:

  1. Cut the biscuits in rounds.
  2. Make a fold line slightly off-center and add a pat of butter.
  3. Fold the shorter half of the circle over the butter and press the edges together lightly.
  4. 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

A blue plate with square butter angel biscuits piled on it. The plate sits on a pale gray tile surface.
Can you refrigerate the biscuit dough overnight?

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.

Can you freeze angel biscuit dough?

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.

Can you bake these biscuits from frozen?

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.

Serving Suggestions

A close-up image of an angel biscuit torn in half showing how high they rise and the layers built in through rolling and folding the 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)

For a light breakfast, serve angel biscuits with some fig jam, bacon jam, or with apple butter.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

A Note About Measurements

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Escali Primo Digital Food Scale
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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.

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03/07/2024 05:03 pm GMT
5 golden stars for rating recipes

And now, without further ado, I give you my recipe for All-Butter Angel Biscuits.

A blue plate with square butter angel biscuits piled on it. The plate sits on a pale gray tile surface.

All-Butter Angel Biscuits

Jennifer Field
These all-butter angel biscuits are the best of both worlds. A little chewy like bread and tender and flaky like biscuits.
The use of both yeast and baking powder almost ensures a fantastic rise, too.
4.88 from 8 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Bread and Rolls Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 20 biscuits
Calories 180 kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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?

Notes

HOW TO AVOID “SECOND ROLL” 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 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 Batch

This recipe is very easily halved. I ended up with 9 biscuits from the half recipe.
Original, handwritten recipe found on RecipeCurio.com

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 180kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 5gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 343mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3g
Keyword angel biscuit recipe, angel biscuits, biscuits
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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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23 Comments

  1. I made these yesterday and they are on the menu for breakfast this morning, thank you so much they are delicious ! I am really enjoying making your recipes !

  2. Is buttermilk an absolute necessity for this recipe or can regular dairy milk or heavy cream or another milk be substituted and if so, would it be the same amount? Also, what effects might that have on the finished product what?

    1. Hey, Jasmine. The buttermilk provides a nice “tang” to the biscuits and also helps to tenderize them. If you don’t have buttermilk, substitute plain yogurt watered down a bit so it’s about the same consistency as buttermilk. If you don’t have yogurt, you can use “plain” milk, but cut back on the baking soda. I can’t tell you by exactly how much, because I’ve not made this substitution, but I’m guessing use about 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Enjoy!

    1. Hey there, Teresa. Yes, after they rise for about 90 minutes, put them in the freezer. Then you can bake as soon as you remove them from the freezer. No need to wait for a second rise. Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    I was born and raised in Georgia, and Angel biscuits were cherished in our family. My mother always made a batch to take to any family gathering, and they all disappeared long before the green bean casserole! Yet, I always felt they could be better. When I found this recipe, I knew this is what I was looking for! I always tend to put my own touch on recipes, but this one didn’t need any more touches. Perfect!! Tender, delicious, angelic biscuits! I froze my first batch and took them out of the freezer before baking for Thanksgiving. Perfect!!!

  4. I found your blog by googling substitute for shortening in angel biscuits. So glad I found your blog. I have a question that I did not see in regards to angel biscuits. I like the butter substitution, and I know that your goal was to have more flavor in the angel biscuits. But, I was wondering if lard could be another substitution. I buy pork fat from a farmer (think naturally raised, not industrialized pork ) and render my own lard. Not many recipes call for lard, but for me, lard is better than shortening. I do not use shortening anymore because it’s hydrogenated. If, I do not have enough butter for pie crust, I can use lard. Have you tried substituting lard for shortening? Please let me know. Love your blog!

    1. Hey, Linda! If you have leaf lard, by all means use it. The crystalline structure of the lard should really help with rise. Go for it! I’m so glad you have found me. 🙂 Never hesitate to get in touch. I’m happy to help if I can!

  5. Jenni, I made these last week (with cheese addition) and they were truly delish with a cold tomato bisque, but I have a texture question.

    These were more yeast-roll-like and less biscuity than I expected. If I wanted them more biscuity (less fluffy), could I proof the dough BEFORE cutting them out, and then bake right after cutting? Or would you have another suggestion?

    (The leftovers, split and toasted just on the cut side, were fantastic. The toasting brought up the cheese shreds and they were like the world’s most elegant CheezIts.)

    PS: I make Sweet Potato Angel Biscuits that are To Die For. I’ll have to remember to tell about that when the cool weather gets here.

    1. The texture of these biscuits is generally a mix between a biscuit (more biscuity when hot) and a roll (more roll-ish when cold). I’m not really sure there is much you can do about that–it’s a factor of the yeast’s action.

      Here’s the recipe I used to use to make spiced cheese biscuits at the restaurant. Not angel biscuits but a mixture of cream and buttermilk with a ton of butter. Delicious: http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/cheese-biscuits-recipe/

      Would love to hear more about your sweet potato angel biscuits. Yum!

      1. Jenni, those cheese biscuits sound fabulous and I can’t believe I haven’t come across a reference to them in my travels around your site. Will try that folding technique a.s.a.p.!

        And bonus: really nice interview with you, too. There was one book on your cookbooks list that I didn’t know (the Pam Anderson one) and it went onto my wishlist immediately.

  6. One thing – – I just noticed that step #16 where you proof for 90 minutes says “see note” – – but I can’t find any reference to proofing in the notes. Wassup?

  7. Oh man, I love angel biscuits and never thought to add cheese to them. I’m trying this a.s.a.p., and am gonna cut them really tiny, so you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth. Yum indeed. I want these with a cold summer tomato soup — it’ll be like a little soup&grilled cheese mini-festival. Great inspiration, Jenni.

  8. yumyumyum!!! And then the cheese biscuits!!! I can practically taste the crunch and flaky and buttery… sticking these on my to-do list.

    1. Yes! That’s how I used to make them at the restaurant, but they weren’t angel ones. Just regular ones. Seasoned the flour with mustard powder and some other stuff I can’t remember right now and rolled in a mixture of Emmenthaler and Parm. So good!

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