Skip Navigation

Eat Like a Freshman: Baking Powder Biscuits

This recipe comes together faster than you can thwack a can against a counter.


2 cups flour

3½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons sugar

½ cup shortening

⅓ cup milk


Measure the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut the shortening into it (as in mixing a pie crust). Add the milk and mix together so all flour is dampened. Knead lightly on a floured board. Let the dough rest on the board for about 10 minutes, then roll it to desired thickness and cut biscuits with a two-inch biscuit cutter. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • This recipe yields approximately four large, tall biscuits or nine modest biscuits (plus a tiny, scraggly biscuit you can make from the dough scraps). In my experience, bigger is better.  
  • I stayed true to the recipe and used shortening, but cold butter is a one-to-one substitute.
  • Do not bake these for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In my modern oven, 11–12 minutes is more like it.


This biscuit recipe is a tried-and-true Carson Gulley classic. Not only did he demonstrate it on a January 1954 episode of his WMTV show, Carson Gulley’s Recipes, but he also later included it in an expanded version of his cookbook, Seasoning Secrets.

When I first saw the recipe, I thought, “Sounds simple enough.” But since I seldom eat biscuits and have never made them, I decided to do some research before starting. Here are my takeaways:

  • Since this recipe doesn’t use yeast or buttermilk, you’ll need the baking powder to act as the fluffing agent in the biscuits. This recipe uses an average amount, though I saw some recipes using as many as 6 teaspoons. Feel free to add an extra dash if you’d like.  
  • This recipe calls for rolling out your dough. However, the online biscuit community favors repeatedly folding the dough in half to form layers before flattening it with your hands. I used my hands for the first batch and a rolling pin for the second, and I did notice taller and less dense biscuits when I used my hands.
  • For the uninitiated biscuit makers, the word cut in this recipe has two meanings. The first involves mixing a cold fat (in this case, shortening or butter) into dry ingredients until you get tiny, coarse crumbles. If you don’t have a pastry cutter (but have plenty of patience and forearm strength), you can use two forks or even a cheese grater to cut in the shortening or butter. 

The second meaning is straightforward: punch out the biscuits into your desired shape. The directions recommend a biscuit cutter, but I used a flour-rimmed drinking glass.

Once I finally got to baking, the extra research proved helpful but unnecessary as I went from a bowl of dry ingredients to cut-out biscuits in minutes. (I might have played it fast and loose with the 10-minute dough-resting time, though.)

Not only were they easy, but they were also fun to make. I felt like a little kid with a Play-Doh cooking set. Though in this case, the results were much better tasting. I cooked the biscuits for about 12 minutes and brushed them with melted butter to keep them golden brown.  

Fresh out of the oven, they are delicious, fluffy biscuits; however, if you’re going to eat them the next day, they desperately need some moisture. I’d revive them in the microwave with a damp paper towel, add some jam/honey/more butter, or, as Gulley did, smother them in a creamed chicken sauce.

With only six pantry staples and five steps, this recipe was perfect for a biscuit novice like me. And, as I’m now well stocked with shortening, I’ll be making these biscuits again.

Related News and Stories

Voting is open! Help choose the new design for The Red Shirt before 5 p.m. CDT on Friday, April 26. Vote now!