Are ready-to-bake biscuits any good?
Published Jan. 8, 2019.
Centuries ago, biscuits closely resembled crackers, which made them easy for travelers, sailors, and soldiers to pack and transport. Modern-day biscuits are fluffier and softer, thanks to leaveners and more fat, but people still care about convenience, as evidenced by the popularity of packaged ready-to-bake biscuits.
Our winning premade refrigerated biscuits were discontinued, so it was time to retest. We tasted four widely available biscuits, and this time we included one product that came frozen in addition to three that were refrigerated.
Biscuits can be broadly categorized as either laminated (created using a process in which buttery pastry dough is folded repeatedly to create defined, flaky layers) or tender (softer and more uniform in consistency). Our lineup included three laminated biscuits and one tender-style offering. The latter was bread-like throughout, with no noticeable distinction between interior and exterior, and tasters lamented the lack of flakiness. Another biscuit was also downgraded because, though it had layers, they weren’t well-defined and were chewy, not flaky. We preferred laminated-style biscuits that had great textural contrast, with distinct layers that “pulled apart easily.”
Tasters noted flavor differences, too. Our winner had a “neutral butter” flavor, while our runner-up tasted “almost fruity.” Both had the same ingredients and nutritional information, so the differences likely were due to each one’s natural flavor—lab-created chemical formulations made from natural ingredients such as plants. Tasters also generally preferred biscuits with more sugar and sodium.
Our winner, Immaculate Baking Organic Flaky Biscuits ($3.99 for 16 ounces), had the “best flavor of the bunch.” Though we still think homemade biscuits are worth the effort, these are an excellent alternative if you’re pressed for time.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.