Fluffy Biscuits, Gluten Free

This month’s GF Ratio Rally is brought to you by the humble biscuit. Our host is Gretchen from Kumquat. For other awesome renditions of all things biscuit find the links at the bottom of the post.

My experience making gluten-free biscuits had been less than stellar. My gluten-free biscuits typically resembled glorious hockey pucks, doorstops, or crumbling messes. I’ve never been able to make a decent one although I’ve come close here.

But after reading Ruhlman’s Ratio and thinking about the chemistry of fats, flours and liquids and with a little help from Cap’n Geek Awesome, science won.

Elements like sweet dairy whey powder, milk powder, and buttermilk all matter in creating a great biscuit (think proteins).  Make the fats tasty – like adding in butter – and don’t mess with the dough – don’t overwork it very much. Et voila. There should be biscuits. I must say the first half-dozen tries were truly masterpieces in the truism of how GF sometimes is not so easy. Badly done, all.

But then arrived my true hero, Alton Brown who has yet to fail me. Along with the chemistry lesson from Cap’n Awesome, the Ruhlman ratio (3 parts flour, 1 part fat, 2 parts liquid) and Alton Brown’s magic – this GF biscuit was born – with heartfelt thanks to his late grandmother Mae Skelton.  It finally worked. Each time. Really. And nope. We aren’t sick of them yet.

When you use GF flours, the ratio can change slightly. For example – using a larger percentage of starch will mean that you want to cut back on the fats in a ratio. The ratio worked out to be almost on target but ended slightly low in the fats to make it work well.

You can alter the flours if you wish but that will alter the flavor slightly. Remember a few rules and you will be able to make these in a big fat hurry any morning.

  • Handle it as little as possible.
  • Make sure the dough is sticky wet and not dry.
  • Butter and buttermilk are your biscuit friends.
  • And don’t leave out the dry dairy whey stuff.

I keep sweet dairy whey powder in the refrigerator sealed in a ziplock bag and though I use it seldom, it is worth the space to keep it on hand. Most stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill will carry this. Or order it here.

The wonderful thing about biscuits is the versatility of what you can do with them. For breakfast, make simple biscuits and top them with butter and jam. For a more elegant presentation, add some thyme, garlic and onion powder to the dough and serve those savory biscuits with a really good ham, shaved into thin slices. Don’t forget the mustard. Try making a batch infused with nutmeg and apple pie spices and serving those biscuits topped with this apple filling and a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

But whatever you do, make these. Everyone will be glad you did.

Fluffy Biscuits, Gluten Free
The fluffiness in this biscuit is brought to you by a happy chemistry accident. First, the little bugger requires protein to help it rise. It requires a very light touch both with handling and the types of flours used - which is why it tips in favor of starch - use whatever starch makes you happy. We like tapioca for this biscuit. When you cut in the fats, use a fork or your fingers and be sure to work it lightly - big lumps are fine. When you weigh in the cold cold cold buttermilk use that fork to give it a mix just until it is wet. Don't overdo the mixing or the biscuit will be tough. Don't bother to roll it out either. Drop the dough, pat it square and do a rough cut into small squares. They like to just touch each other on the baking sheet to get that pull apart fluffiness, so don't leave much space between the biscuits. The fun part is pulling them apart. Fluffy biscuits, warm from the oven - what could be better?
  • 280 grams GF flour (120 grams tapioca starch/flour, 60 grams superfine brown rice flour, 60 grams sweet white rice flour, 40 grams powdered sweet dairy whey)
  • 4 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • optional version 1: (1 teaspoon thyme, pinch of onion and garlic powder, black pepper)
  • optional version 2: (1 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of apple pie spice, lemon zest)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Spectrum vegetable shortening
  • 200 grams buttermilk, cold (plus about 15-20 grams more)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a small jelly roll pan (quarter sheet pan) with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, weigh flours and powdered dairy whey. Add baking powder, salt, (optional herbs and spices if using) and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Drop in cold butter cubes and shortening. Using your (clean) fingers, mush up the dry with the fats until it looks like coarse crumbs. Work quickly so you don't melt the butter/shortening. You want big coarse crumbs so don't work it too hard. Make a well in the center and weigh in 200 grams or so of buttermilk. Using a fork, blend everything together quickly. You want the mixture just this side of sticky wet, so add in a little more buttermilk a tiny bit at a time. Just when it looks sticky wet, stop. Scoop mixture onto a starch covered board and flatten slightly. Using the sides of your hand pat the mixture into a rectangle and square up the corners. You want it almost ½ inch thick. Cut into two-inch logs and then cut those in thirds. You should get between 9 and 12 biscuits. Don't worry - they grow in the oven.
  3. Place on the parchment just barely touching one another. Brush a tiny bit of buttermilk on top (if using herbs, you can sprinkle more on top). Place in oven and bake 12 minutes. Rotate pan and bake about 3 minutes more until the tops are golden brown and if you have a thermometer - the temperature in the center biscuit is about 205 degrees. Remove when they look fluffy and golden. Serve warm with butter and jam or stuff with ham and coarse mustard.

Click on the links below for other awesome biscuit variations:
amanda from gluten free maui made classic biscuits and gravy
amie of the healthy apple made wasabi parsley biscuits
caleigh of gluten free[k] made american style biscuits
caneel of mama me gluten free made whole grain pecan drop biscuits
charissa of zest bakery made eggnog biscuits with grated nutmeg
erin of the sensitive epicure made scallion biscuits with sausage gravy
heather of discovering the extraordinary made almond coconut tea biscuits
jean of gluten-free doctor recipes made jammers
jonathan of the canary files made vegan sesame shiso biscuits 
karen of cooking gluten free! made biscuit template with dairy free substiutions
mary fran of frannycakes made suprise flavor biscuits
mrs r of honey from flint rocks made turkey pot pie with biscuit topping
rachel of the crispy cook made hummus in a biscuit
silvana of silvana’s kitchen made sausage-n-cheddar bialy biscuits
tr of no one likes crumbley cookies made lemon basil biscuits


  1. omg GORGEOUS!! They look absolutely perfect! congrats on some very successful biscuits 🙂

  2. Oh my. I think I’d like to eat those with the ham AND the jam. They really do look light and fluffy and I’m glad team Awesome & Alton were there to help you through it. 🙂 BTW, Alton is also my sister’s idol. She worships his books like bibles. I think he needs to do a molecular gastronomy book!

    Happy New Year!

  3. Oh … wow. Just wow. My mouth is actually watering at how fluffy these look! Mmmmm … I think I might try my drop biscuits this square and cut method instead of the muffin tins next time. Yum!

  4. holy smokes, these are perfect! and very smart to add the extra protein… fluffy is right! well done.

  5. So happy to know about Bob’s version of dairy whey! I use whey quite a lot, but didn’t know that Bob’s had some. I’ll have to order some and work with it so I can recommend it.
    Beautiful food, as always, Lisa.


  6. Nice! These look so light & fluffy!

  7. I am in AWE at how fluffy your biscuits look!! And I adore Alton Brown. HE is the ONLY thing I miss about NOT having television. I loved his science about cooking segments!!! Funny & informative!! I will have to look for some of his books.

  8. Super biscuits! That ham looks delicious as well. I’m not into dry milk powders, but these biscuits look great.

  9. Light and fluffy and fun–I hadn’t thought to place them close together on the baking sheet, good idea.

  10. “Glorious hockey pucks”? lol. And I hate to argue, but these look far from “decent.” They look AMAZING. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the beautiful photos. 🙂

  11. These look beautiful! Awesome job!! 🙂

  12. Any sub for the sweet dairy whey? I can not do lactose. They look great and I would love to make these. Would rice protein or almond flour work as a sub?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Cathy – I probably would not do almond flour – it has plenty of oils to throw off the fats. I might add an egg white to the liquid and reduce it by that amount. Also, be sure to check the links in the bottom of the post for other GF biscuits. I know there are some without dairy in the list. Hope that helps.

  13. What does the dairy whey do? Can you sub powdered milk?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Yes – you can sub powdered milk where it calls for whey. but from what I know about it (which is not a whole lot) whey does not contain the same sugars that milk does and it will alter the result – might make for more browning. In a yeast pastry/bread that could have consequences for the yeast (yeast love sugar) but for the biscuits, I bet it would be just fine. It has fewer calories than powdered milk, too. If anyone has better (or more complete) info on the differences, please do chime in! Kirk – hope that helps.

  14. Oh my gosh I am just drooling at the thought that I might be able to have biscuits and gravy again! I am so excited! Thank you. And your post was very educational as well, very informative. I usually just skim until I find the recipe but I actually sat and read the whole thing and learned SO much. Thank you again!

  15. I have been experimenting with biscuit recipes, and I, too, have made my fair share of hockey pucks, as well as grainy rocks that no amount of jam or honey will cover. I tried this recipe today and they taste great and the texture is fabulous. However, mine did not rise. I decided my dough was too wet and chalked it up to experience, and will try it again another day. Just now as I was reading through other recipes, I realized I left out the baking soda!! Duh! I will definitely try them again with all the ingredients!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Lisa – that has happened to me, too. I even left out the baking powder and wondered what happened… Glad they had great texture and flavor, though.

  16. Can you please convert this recipe ( I don’t know grams) for me so I can make these biscuits. Thank you.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Patti – I suggest you read the About Flours page (top of the blog on a tab) and use that as a guide or click through on the post to a recipe that might have volume measures. This particular recipe was developed using weights and I actually don’t know how it would work if converted to volume because I have not tested it that way. A scale is a great thing to have in the kitchen to make sure your measurements are spot-on and match a recipe, especially with GF flours because they are all so different (as you’ll read about in About Flours). Once you get used to using a scale, you will use it for everything. Hope that helps.

  17. Besides the sugar, what is the difference between dairy whey and sweet dairy whey? Can I substitute dairy whey for the sweet dairy whey and add a bit of sugar to compensate? I am having a hard time finding organic sweet dairy whey…

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi, Kay. This is the sdw I use – you can find it online or at most Whole Foods or other large grocery stores. http://www.bobsredmill.com/sweet-dairy-whey-mtx1293.html The difference between dairy whey and sweet dairy whey is not sugar – both have about the same amount of lactose – but the acid content. Dairy whey is more acidic and will produce a different outcome for the biscuits. If you are referring to whey concentrate, that’s a different product altogether. Hope that helps.

  18. Nelda Johnson says:

    I made these today, but used 4 TEASPOONS of baking powder instead of the 4 Tablespoons called for in your recipe. I had to add extra floor because my dough was very wet. They came out wonderful. Thank you!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Glad you liked them, Nelda. And glad you used 4 teaspoons (that’s what’s in the recipe, too) instead of 4 tablespoons.

  19. Do you think gluten free all purpose flour will work?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Nik. Some AP GF flours might work but I have not tested it with any other kind. You’ll have to experiment keeping in mind that those with additives like xanthan gum will make the recipe come out very differently because there is no gum in this recipe. Hope that helps.


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