20-Minute Biscuits: Recipe Makeover

Made from scratch with whole grains and less fat: A new method makes biscuits an everyday option.

20-Minute Biscuits
Photo: Photo: Brian Woodcock

The bliss of a freshly baked biscuit is worth the effort—all that measuring of flour, cutting in of butter, rolling out of dough. These are treats to serve with love and pride. Problem is, a traditional biscuit may set you back 300 calories or more. Add fruity preserves and a smear of butter—or, in the South, a piece of salty country ham—and you have quite a rich breakfast. It's true that canned biscuits aren't as caloric, but they can deliver sodium and trans fats. We set out with two goals: lighter biscuits and less prep time.

Getting that fluffy texture while using less butter is a trick, and speeding up the recipe is also a challenge because it's the cutting in of cold butter that takes a lot of the time. Here is the breakthrough: We stir melted butter into cold, fat-free buttermilk and let everything get lumpy as the butter congeals, at which point those little pockets of butter disperse evenly throughout the batter, allowing us to use half the amount of the original.

White whole-wheat flour adds nutty, whole-grain goodness, and a touch of canola oil keeps the biscuits nice and tender. No pastry blender or rolling pin is required—just mix, scoop, and bake until puffy and golden. Our lighter, made-from-scratch drop biscuits come together as fast as you can pop a can—and leave a little wiggle room for all those tasty toppers.

312 calories per serving
10 grams saturated fat
502 milligrams sodium

133 calories per serving
2.6 grams saturated fat
305 milligrams sodium

View Recipe: Fluffy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits


  • A Tally for Your Toppers

    A warm biscuit rarely gets the naked treatment. Keep an eye on the add-ons, which can send even the lighter recipes (like these) into meal-sized calorie territory.

    • Avoid the Slather: Choose a good-quality butter, and dab lightly while the biscuit is warm; it'll stretch further. Per teaspoon: 34 CALORIES, 3.8g FAT, and 2.4g SAT FAT.
    • Drizzle and Spread with Care: Local honey and fruity preserves are a tasty (but sugar-loaded) way to enjoy the market's sweetest offerings. Per tablespoon: 50 CALORIES, all from sugar (about 12g).
    • Stretch the Salty Stuff, Please: Cured meats like country ham and center-cut bacon pack in more than 500mg sodium per ounce—but a tiny bit goes a long way on a biscuit. Keep slices thin.

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