Long live the drop biscuit (and now, the drop beer biscuit). Is there anything more Southern, or more comforting than a light and airy biscuit? More than just a delicious breakfast, side, dumpling, or sandwich foundation, biscuits have this magical way of making practically anything taste better. Keep the toppings simple with a little herbed butter or lean sweeter with some fruit preserves. One of my favorite biscuit uses is for a berry shortcake complete with vegan whipped cream.
So, it was only natural – and a matter of time – that I find a way to adapt a favorite beer bread recipe to serve as a drop biscuit that can be enjoyed year-round as a fun twist on the delicious classic. Though these don’t incorporate traditional butter, you still get a delightful, full-bodied flavor from the beer and olive oil…perfect for your next biscuit concoction. I sincerely believe beer biscuits are going to be your new favorite!
Why you'll love this recipe
As fun as it may be to roll out biscuit dough, drop biscuits are so easy to scoop and bake – no rolling required! Meaning, less counter clean-up when you’re done. You’re welcome. Plus, there’s no need to worry about layers of butter creating enough height. Just grab a spoon or ice cream scoop and create biscuits that meet your size preferences. It’s as easy as that!
The addition of cornstarch creates a lighter texture that many bakers achieve by combining all-purpose flour with cake flour. While you can absolutely try that method (half all-purpose flour and half cake flour), I am more likely to have cornstarch in my pantry than cake flour. Thus, the addition of cornstarch to the drop biscuits save me space and a little money.
This recipe is vegan-friendly, as long as you use vegan beer, making these beer biscuits a little more accessible to those who follow a variety of diets.
Since you don’t need to cut the butter into the flour, you might need to incorporate an arm workout into your routine that day. All this recipe requires is that you gently stir, just until combined. More energy to pump actual iron, right?
All-purpose flour: Any type of all-purpose flour will do, but as a general rule, I prefer unbleached flour for most recipes.
Cornstarch: Though this is an optional ingredient if you don’t have cornstarch handy, mixing cornstarch with all-purpose flour creates a more delicate structure that is similar to cake flour. In fact, many bakers like to combine cake flour with all-purpose flour, but I find this to be a little easier with a small pantry.
Baking powder: We aren’t using layers of butter like traditional biscuit recipes, so will rely on the air pockets from the beer and leavening from the baking powder to add more substance to our beer biscuits.
Salt: Pink Himalayan sea salt is my preferred finer-grained salt. You can also sprinkle the tops with a little coarse sea salt, if you want a little extra flavor.
Beer: Most beer will work well, but there are a few points to keep in mind. Double check to make sure the beer you have on hand is vegan, if you are following a vegan diet, or serving beer biscuits to a vegan crowd. Also, a light beer works well for a tender, light flavor that won’t overpower added toppings (think jams, herbs, etc.). Just like many other ingredients, consider the quality. The biscuits will adopt a hint of the beer flavor and are only as good as the beer (and other ingredients) you use.
Granulated sugar: Though I do try to avoid granulated sugar as much as possible, the sugar works with the yeast to feed it. You can use cane sugar, if following a vegan diet in the U.S. I have also successfully made these with Truvia Sweet Complete, so you are certainly welcome to try alternatives, if that is important to you.
Extra virgin olive oil: Since biscuits typically include fat, I added a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to give these a slightly more luxurious texture while keeping the recipe vegan friendly.
(Optional) Vegan Butter: You are welcome to brush a thin layer of vegan butter (or butter of your choice) when you remove these from the oven, and before sprinkling with extra coarse sea salt. About a teaspoon will be more than enough to coat 10 large biscuits.
Heat your cast iron skillet in the oven while it preheats, removing it carefully (with hot pads!) to add the drop biscuits. This will create a crispier bottom to the biscuits. If you forget, or just don’t want to take that step, no problem. Your biscuits will still turn out delicious with a wonderful texture!
Baking Tips for the Best Beer Biscuits
I prefer whisking the dry ingredients together in the bowl before adding the sugar and wet ingredients, just to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Once you add the beer and stir, the dough becomes sticky almost immediately.
Don’t overmix the dough. Drop biscuits are best when their interior is tender, which can only work if you don’t overdevelop the gluten network. The dough should look springy, a little sticky, and contain air pockets…we really just want to avoid flour pockets.
You can place the dough close together within the cast iron skillet. These will rise, but not enough to risk merging with one another. Spacing by 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch separation is plenty.
Stick close to the biscuits while baking to avoid burning. These take about 15 minutes to bake in a 400ºF oven.
Add an extra burst of flavor by melting some vegan butter and brushing over the tops of the biscuits when you remove them from the oven. Finish by sprinkling with a little coarse sea salt.
Beer Biscuit Recipe
Easy Beer Biscuits
- Cast iron skillet
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 10 ounces beer
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/2 tbsp reserved to coat bottom of skillet
- 4½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vegan butter optional
- pinch coarse sea salt optional
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil to evenly coat skillet bottom. Place cast iron skillet in oven to heat while preparing the rest of your ingredients.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt). Add sugar.
- Gently pour in the beer and add olive oil. Stir just until combined, with no large pockets of flour remaining.
- Using pot holders, remove the cast iron skillet from the oven. With an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop and drop the biscuit dough onto the skillet. Biscuit dough will expand slightly during baking, but the biscuits can easily be placed close together.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the dough has cracks on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to rest for a few minutes and brush with melted vegan butter, if desired. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, up to 5 days at room temperature or 3 months in the freezer.
- Self-rising flour in place of all-purpose flour. If using self-rising flour, omit the baking powder and kosher salt.
- A neutral-flavored oil of your choice in place of olive oil. Avocado oil, for example, makes a great substitute and has a higher smoke point than olive oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour?
Yes! If you do, simply omit the baking powder and kosher salt called for in this particular recipe. Most self-rising flour brands include the baking powder and salt in the flour itself, so adding these ingredients would increase the leavening and sodium too much. The beer biscuits will have the same desired consistency.
Does the type of beer matter?
Technically, it does when it comes to taste and flavor profile. If you grab a pumpkin ale during the fall, your biscuits will have a hint of pumpkin flavor (fun idea for this fall…making note!). The darker the beer, the more complex and full-bodied the flavor. I like using a light beer to save calories and give the biscuits a hint of beer flavor. That means you can add toppings and build the biscuit without too many conflicts. Plus, if you use a vegan beer, you can stick with a vegan diet. We’ll cheers to that!
Do you have to bake biscuits in a cast iron skillet?
Not at all! Feel free to use a parchment-lined baking sheet instead of a cast iron skillet. Use what you have handy in your kitchen.
Why are we not rolling out the dough before cutting biscuits?
Since these beer biscuits are drop biscuits, the texture we are trying to achieve is a rustic, non-uniform exterior and a tender interior. This is best achieved by limiting gluten development, which means you only stir the ingredients together until the pockets of flour are distributed. Once you no longer have large bits of flour, stop mixing and start scooping. This biscuit dough will not be smooth, but we also need to ensure there are no hidden flour bombs, either.
How will I know when the biscuits are ready to be removed from the oven?
This particular recipe creates a biscuit that is light in color, so the overall color does not change much from the dough. However, you can see the cracks in the crust and gently touch the biscuit to judge doneness. It shouldn’t be sticky (at all), and resist your touch a bit. I do insert a toothpick in the center to make sure the middle is done, but 15 minutes in a 400ºF oven is the best bet that you will have a fully-baked product.
How do I store beer biscuits?
Of course, biscuits are best served fresh. I suggest enjoying them immediately or placing them in an airtight container at room temperature to eat within 5 days. Biscuits do start to dry the longer they sit, so if you need to use them days after baking, go ahead and store them in a freezer bag within the freezer.
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