Vegan Skillet Biscuits
Yes, you read that right.
A few foods stand out as a quintessential member of Southern culture. Fried green tomatoes, cornbread, okra, collard greens and the like probably top the list in the minds of most. Buttermilk biscuits – especially those lucky enough to bake in a cast iron skillet - are one of those nostalgia-inducing foods. Growing up in the Southern U.S., you quickly learn how important biscuits are to *almost* everyday cuisine. Few things tasted better than biscuits and jam in the morning – for me, on special occasions that didn’t involve coffee cake or cinnamon rolls – and as any good Atlantan can claim, I remember my very first trip to the Flying Biscuit Café. I also remember how big my eyes got when I saw the height to that towering fluff ball of biscuit-y goodness. Biscuits are featured at almost every Southern restaurant and family recipes usually include little notes explaining their special secret to maximize fluffiness and capture that special umami, typically from butter. Though these vegan skillet biscuits omit butter, they are tender and offer a nice, balanced flavor.
A healthier approach to this Southern staple
Biscuits can also boast a year-round popularity and versatility in the kitchen. Unless you are avoiding gluten, they provide a terrific foundation for sweet jams and jellies or something a bit more savory like eggs and bacon. Used as a sandwich and meal in and of itself, or a dish’s sidekick to round out the day, these are the workhorse of the baker’s kitchen.
As much as I love butter and dairy, I never miss the opportunity to add a more healthful component to a dish…as long as it doesn’t sacrifice too much flavor. So, I created these vegan skillet biscuits that are both delicious and use ingredients that are more common in today’s kitchen. Avocado oil serves as the fat replacement and buttermilk was made from soy milk and lemon juice.
Is avocado oil good for cooking?
Yes – one of the most desirable aspects of avocado oil is the high smoke point, which is actually higher than olive oil (520° F vs 390 – 460° F, respectively). Biscuits do best when cooked at high temps, sometimes as hot as 500° F. Given avocado oil’s place atop the throne of smoke points, it is a wonderful alternative for cooking methods that require quite a bit of heat – frying, baking, sautéing, etc. Not to mention, it has good “body” for an oil and has very light taste, so you don’t run the risk of a strange after-taste or competing flavors in your food. Just be sure to look for unrefined avocado oil.
Avocado oil health benefits
If you would like to brush up on your knowledge, this resource breaks down the pros and cons of avocado oil compared to the ever-popular olive oil. The two are very much alike – boasting about the same amount of calories, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamin E, lutein, and antioxidants. Since I love products that can pull double-duty, like the DIY honey and cinnamon face mask review, avocado oil may be a good option to help those with dry skin and patches of psoriasis. Always talk to your doctor or dermatologist before trying new treatments. Bonus points for the avocado oil! Not to mention, the smoke point of an oil is important to know because surpassing that point can cause foods to burn and start to release free radicals that are damaging to our health. No, thank you!
If you don’t have actual buttermilk on hand, or avoid dairy, you can make your own buttermilk in just a few minutes. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (or more for larger quantities of milk) to about ½ cup of plant-based milk and let it sit for a few minutes. The acidity will create the desired consistency and subtle sour flavor that is so popular with traditional buttermilk recipes. After adding the lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar), just whisk it around in the container and let it sit while you prepare your other ingredients.
The widely accepted ratio for biscuit-making is 3 – 2 – 1; 3 parts flour – 2 parts liquid – 1 part fat. Of course, you are the master of your own kitchen. For example, if the flour is too dry, add a little more milk about one tablespoon at a time. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments and try out a few varieties.
Vegan Skillet Biscuits Recipe
Avocado Oil "Buttermilk" Vegan Skillet Biscuits
- Cast iron skillet
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 ½ tablespoon avocado oil reserve 1 tablespoon for use in skillet before baking
- 1 cup soy milk or plant-based milk of your choosing
- ½ lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch optional
- Preheat oven to 475° F.
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, add lemon juice to soy milk, whisk, and let sit for a few minutes before adding to other ingredients.
- Add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil to skillet and let it cover the bottom of the pan. You can help it along by gently using a paper towel to spread it, but be careful not to absorb too much oil. Place skillet in oven to heat up while preparing other ingredients.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, and table salt).
- Add the remaining avocado oil and "buttermilk" to the dry ingredients and gently stir to incorporate. Flour consistency should be sticky and loosely bound together.
- Roll dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and use a rolling pin to even the dough, until it is about ½ inch - ¾ inch thick. Flour your rolling pin if dough is sticking to the material.
- Using a biscuit cutter or mouth of a standard drinking glass (lightly floured as well) and cut the dough into circles. Depending upon the size of the biscuits, it should yield 8 - 10.
- Pull the skillet out of the oven (using gloves or pot holders). Place biscuits in skillet and flip so both sides are coated in the avocado oil. Return full skillet to oven and bake for about 10 minutes.
- Let cool on wire cooling rack and serve with your favorite topping!
Note: Have some fresh herbs handy? These biscuits would be delicious with a savory twist as well, like adding a few tablespoons of mild chives from the garden (chopped, of course.)
Don’t forget that baking soda is helpful for leavening when the recipe includes an acidic ingredient. In this case, that is the lemon juice.
Enjoy and until next time, cheers to your #hearthhealthhappiness!
The Library Lady says
I love finding healthy versions of Southern cooking! This girl loves her grandmother's cooking, but I'm plus size for a reason 😂 healthy versions of my favorite foods is refreshing. Great article!
Me too - and thanks so much! I'm all about balance. Can't always replace the classics, but I love healthy alternatives between special occasions. 😉 If you aren't vegan, you can add butter or other dairy toppings to these and still enjoy a biscuit without as much fat as regular butter-based biscuits hold. Just a thought! Let me know if you recommend any Southern recipe faves we should try! 🤗
These turned out so tasty and super easy to make. I'm not vegan but I try to eat plant based as much as possible. That being said I used powdered milk instead of a plant based one, had all the rest of the ingrediants. Way too hot here to fire up the oven so "baked" them in my cast iron skillet with a lid, on the stove set on low. 4 minutes on each side. I will definately keep this recipe. Thank you
Melanie Lorick says
Thank you so much for sharing, Greta! I'm delighted to hear they turned out well in the skillet - wonderful tip to avoid heating up the kitchen with the oven (it's been brutal the past several days!). Enjoy!