America's Test Kitchen LogoCook's Country LogoCook's Illustrated Logo
Recipe Spotlight

A Guide to Biscuits

Learn about the differences between classic, drop, cream, and (our new invention) “dream” biscuits.

Published Dec. 5, 2018.

How do you define a good biscuit? Not everyone will give the same answer. Some may prefer the ultraflakiness of a classic biscuit, while others might opt for the more subtle layers of a cream biscuit, the slightly irregular interior of a drop biscuit, or the fluffy, cake-like interior of our new “dream” biscuit. Find out the differences among these types of biscuits and how to make them.

Classic Biscuits

Technique: Combine the dry ingredients, and then cut in cubes of cold butter, which will crumble evenly throughout the flour. Next, stir in cold milk or buttermilk. Roll out the dough and cut out rounds with a sharp biscuit cutter before baking.

Results: Flat top; distinctly flaky, layered interior

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

How do you get tender, flaky biscuits with truly distinctive layers? It's a pressing issue.
Get the Recipe

Ultimate Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

For layered, ultraflaky biscuits, you’ve got to know when to fold them and when to hold them.
Get the Recipe

Cream Biscuits

Technique: Replace the butter and milk with heavy cream, which is added to the dry ingredients. Cream’s generous butterfat content will make the biscuits plenty rich and tender. This formula makes a pretty stiff dough, so you’ll still have to roll and cut.

Results: Flat top; subtly layered interior

Quick and Easy Cream Biscuits

With high rise and light texture, biscuits made with a simple combination of heavy cream, flour, baking powder, and salt beat out more complicated recipes.
Get the Recipe

Drop Biscuits

Technique: Cut the butter into the dry ingredients, but add extra buttermilk or milk so that the dough has a wetter consistency. Drop scoops of the soft dough onto a baking sheet and bake.

Results: Craggy top; slightly irregular interior

Best Drop Biscuits

Drop biscuits are the no-nonsense alternative to traditional rolled biscuits. Only one problem—they're often not very good.
Get the Recipe

By creating a cream biscuit that can be dropped, we invented a fourth style that’s the easiest biscuit imaginable to make.

Drop Biscuit + Cream Biscuit = Dream Biscuit

Technique: Use less cream than in cream biscuits; warm it to create a dough that is loose enough to be dropped.

Results: Subtly craggy top; fluffy, cake-like interior

Easiest-Ever Biscuits

We combine two classic methods (and break a cardinal rule) to make tender, fluffy, incredible biscuits that come together in record time.
Get the Recipe

Essential Equipment for Making Biscuits

Equipment Review

Bench Scrapers

Bench scrapers aren't just for pastry—we use ours for a wide variety of kitchen tasks.
Read Our Review
Equipment Review

The Best Biscuit Cutters

Do biscuit cutters really matter?
Read Our Review
Equipment Review

Rolling Pins

Tapered or straight, with handles or without, made from silicone, metal, or wood—what works best when you’re ready to roll?
Read Our Review
Equipment Review

The Best Dry Measuring Cups

Could we find a perfect set to sweep the competition?
Read Our Review


This is a members' feature.