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A Recipe for Sourdough Biscuits

Got some sourdough discard? Don’t toss it! Instead make this recipe for sourdough biscuits. They’re buttery, flaky, and easy to make, with that distinct, tangy sourdough flavor. Read the post for tips and tricks on how to make the very best biscuits.

If you’re a sourdough baker (it’s really a whole identity, don’t even get me started), chances are you’ve had extra starter on more than one occasion. And while it’s painful to just toss it, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with the discard once all of the loaves have been baked.

Enter…this recipe for sourdough biscuits. They’re like the flaky, butter biscuits you know and love, but even better. Sourdough discard has an amazing flavor that gives your biscuits a lot more complexity and creates a lovely contrast to the buttery lusciousness.

Where do Biscuits Come From?

Biscuits are a bread staple common in the United States and Canada. They became a common food in the first half of the 19th century, and were popular because they didn’t require yeast (which was expensive for the standard home cook), and also because they were sturdy enough to carry and travel with. They also became popular for biscuits and gravy, and dish especially common in the Southern American states.

In the U.K., the word biscuit refers to what Americans call cookies, while in Scotland biscuits are more similar to the American version. In French, biscuit (pronounced bis-kui) generally refers to crackers or some cookie-like pastries.

Sourdough Biscuit Ingredients

  • All-Purpose Flour or Self-Rising Flour–See the notes section of the post or recipe card for how to use self-rising flour rather than all-purpose.
  • Baking Powder–This helps the biscuits rise
  • Salt–I like to use Himalayan salt, but regular table salt will do a great job too!
  • Sugar — 1 tablespoon of sugar in the biscuit dough helps them brown better when baking
  • Sourdough Starter Discard–wait until your starter isn’t active anymore to make this recipe. It gives the biscuits that distinct, tangy sourdough flavor
  • Unsalted Butter–There’s a whole section in the notes on butter, because it’s very, very important
  • Buttermilk–I like the whole milk kind, but any buttermilk will do the job. Buttermilk is also acidic, which is a great flavor boost!
Sourdough Biscuit Ingredients: Flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, sourdough starter discard, unsalted butter, and butter milk

How to Make Sourdough Biscuits

Start by preheating your oven to 425°F and set out a cast iron skillet or a baking sheet.

Making the Biscuit Dough

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt until they’re well combined. 

Mixing the dry ingredients for the sourdough biscuits insures that your rising agent and salt are more evenly distributed through the dough.

Cut the butter in with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Add in the sourdough starter and buttermilk and mix it in with a fork until it’s well combined and there’s no visibly dry flour.

Once the butter has been cut in, add the sourdough starter discard and buttermilk to the mixture to make the biscuit dough.

Turn the biscuit dough out onto a lightly floured counter. If it’s not quite holding together, press it together into one large disc of dough.

Cutting and Baking the Sourdough Biscuits

Fold the disc of dough over, roll it out slightly, then fold it again. Roll the dough out to between 1/2″ and 3/4″ thick.

Using a 2 3/4” round cutter to cut as many biscuits as you can from it. Press together the edges into another ball of dough and roll it out again, cutting it into as many biscuits as possible. Discard any remaining dough.

Use a round biscuit cutter to cut the biscuits out.

Place the biscuits in the cast iron skillet, then press the extra dough into a ball. Re-roll it and cut out as many more biscuits as you can get from it, then discard any leftover dough.

Bake the biscuits immediately, or chill them until you’re ready to bake. Bake the biscuits for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove them from the oven.

This recipe for sourdough biscuits bakes up beautifully in cast iron.

Serving and Storing Your Sourdough Biscuits

These sourdough biscuits are best eaten fresh and warm, but they will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container or bag.

Because of their layers, the biscuits should split easily. They’re delicious with butter spread on the inside, or you can add jam or honey. They also make great breakfast sandwiches with a runny egg, bacon, and cheese inside.

Sourdough biscuits are best drizzled with some honey or with a touch of jelly or jam.

Recipe Tips and Questions

Recipe Tips for Flakier Biscuits

  • Use cold starter. Actually, the colder all the ingredients are, the better! Flaky biscuits come from the butter staying in small pieces and not completely mixed into the flour. When the biscuits are baked, the heat causes the steam from the butter to evaporate, creating puffy layers. So keeping your ingredients and dough cold helps the butter not mix into the dough, giving you flakier, puffier biscuits.
  • If you want crispy edges on your biscuits, place them in a pan with space between them. If you’d prefer softer biscuits, place them in the pan so that the edges are barely touching. As they bake, they’ll rise and press together.
  • When you’re cutting your biscuits, don’t twist after you cut. Twisting effectively seals the edges of the biscuits, which prevents them from rising as high as the otherwise might. So just press down and pull up on your cutter.
Flaky, tall, sourdough biscuits.

When to use your sourdough biscuit starter

You can use your sourdough starter in this biscuit recipe any time after it’s become inactive and doesn’t have any bubbles. At this point, it’s considered discard since it doesn’t have any active bacteria that will create a rise in your recipes.

If you don’t have enough discard for a recipe (like these sourdough biscuits), you can store it for up to a week in the refrigerator and continue to accumulate more discard. Be aware that it will develop a stronger flavor as it sits, and if it’s too sour it could affect your biscuits.

What’s the best kind of butter for biscuits?

The best butter for biscuits is unsalted. I also like to use European style butter in butter-forward recipes because it has a higher fat content than American-style butter. For example, I used Kerrygold unsalted butter for this recipe.

Take your stick or block of cold butter and grate it with a large-holed grater. Pop the grated butter into the freezer for about 10 minutes, then cut it into the dry ingredients until it's a clumpy, sandy mixture.

When you’re cutting butter into flour (like in these biscuits), there’s an awesome trick that makes it so much easier! Take your stick or block of cold butter and grate it with a large-holed grater. Pop the grated butter into the freezer for about 10 minutes, then cut it into the dry ingredients until it’s a clumpy, sandy mixture. So easy!

Using Self-Rising Flour for Sourdough Biscuits

If you want to use self-rising flour in this recipe for sourdough biscuits, you absolutely can substitute it. In facts, some people prefer it because it has a lower gluten content than all-purpose flour, which makes for more tender biscuits.

Substitute the same amount of self-rising flour for all-purpose, and don’t add the baking powder or salt. Those ingredients are already in the flour.

When baking sourdough biscuits, you want to use a flour with as low of a gluten content as possible. this will give you more tender, softer biscuits, rather than bready, tough ones. White Lily flour has a very low gluten protein content, while other brands like Gold Medal flour have a moderate gluten content. You can see a list of brands and their gluten protein level in this article.

Other Sourdough Recipes You May Enjoy:

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A Recipe for Sourdough Biscuits


  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 10 biscuits 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose or self-rising flour (see notes)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 8 Tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (188 g) sourdough starter discard
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (preferably whole fat)

Instructions

Start by preheating your oven to 425°F and set out a cast iron skillet or a baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar until they’re well combined. 

Cut the butter in with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Add in the sourdough starter and buttermilk and mix it in with a fork until it’s well combined and there’s no visibly dry flour.

Turn the biscuit dough out onto a lightly floured counter. If it’s not quite holding together, press it together into one large disc of dough.

Fold the disc of dough over, roll it out slightly, then fold it again. Roll the dough out to between 1/2″ and 3/4″ thick.

Using a 2 3/4” round cutter to cut as many biscuits as you can from it. Press together the edges into another ball of dough and roll it out again, cutting it into as many biscuits as possible. Discard any remaining dough.

Place the biscuits in the cast iron skillet, then press the extra dough into a ball. Re-roll it and cut out as many more biscuits as you can get from it, then discard any leftover dough.

Bake the biscuits immediately, or chill them until you’re ready to bake. Bake the biscuits for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove them from the oven.

These sourdough biscuits are best eaten fresh and warm, but they will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container or bag.

 

Notes

  • Use cold starter. Actually, the colder all the ingredients are, the better! Flaky biscuits come from the butter staying in small pieces and not completely mixed into the flour. When the biscuits are baked, the heat causes the steam from the butter to evaporate, creating puffy layers. So keeping your ingredients and dough cold helps the butter not mix into the dough, giving you flakier, puffier biscuits.
  • If you want crispy edges on your biscuits, place them in a pan with space between them. If you’d prefer softer biscuits, place them in the pan so that the edges are barely touching. As they bake, they’ll rise and press together.
  • When you’re cutting your biscuits, don’t twist after you cut. Twisting effectively seals the edges of the biscuits, which prevents them from rising as high as the otherwise might. So just press down and pull up on your cutter.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: sourdough, biscuits, butter, southern

Recipe rating

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