This post will teach you how to make the absolute best mini honey butter biscuits. This detailed guide is full of tips and tricks and how-to photos to help you successfully make these tender and flaky mini buttermilk biscuits at home.
This recipe makes 18 mini biscuits, which are so good topped with a pat of butter and a bit of fruit jam (like my spiced cranberry jam!)
These mini honey butter buttermilk biscuits are made with a compound honey butter (a riff on my whipped honey butter) and drizzled with even more melted honey butter while they're baking for maximum honey butter vibes. (Have I said "honey butter" enough yet?)
Serve these honey butter biscuits with tea or coffee or scale the recipe up for finger-food events like bridal or baby showers. They're also right at home as part of a nice brunch spread, or as dessert topped with a bit of mascarpone and strawberries.
Need more brunch baking inspiration? Check out my recipes for homemade biscuits, scones and loaves!
- 📋 About This Recipe
- 📋 Ingredient Notes
- 📋 Equipment Notes
- Making Honey Butter
- 🍯 How to Make Mini Buttermilk Biscuits
- 🥐 How To Make Biscuits Light and Flaky
- Pinching in the Butter (aka Sabler)
- Stacking and Flattening (aka Laminating)
- Baking and Glazing
- Making Big Honey Butter Biscuits
- A Note on Buttermilk Substitutes
- 📖 Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- 💭 Top Tip
- 👩🏻🍳 FAQ
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
📋 About This Recipe
Most honey butter biscuits are plain buttermilk biscuits topped with melted honey butter. These mini honey butter buttermilk biscuits, however, have the honey worked into the biscuit dough along with the butter.
As a pastry chef, I'm always looking for new ways to introduce more flavor to my bakes. So just like my garlic cheddar small batch buttermilk biscuits used a compound herb butter to amp up the flavor, these honey butter biscuits are made with a honey compound butter.
When the butter turns to steam in the oven and pushes the biscuit layers apart, the honey is left sandwiched between them so you get honey butter flavor from top to bottom.
I like making these biscuits with homemade butter and buttermilk, but you can totally use store bought buttermilk. I've even included notes at in the FAQ for subbing in buttermilk powder.
Just make sure you leave time to make the honey butter and let it chill before you're ready to bake!
📋 Ingredient Notes
Here's what ingredients you'll need to make these mini honey butter biscuits. Nothing too fancy, though I do recommend making sure to get high quality ingredients for best results.
- Pastry flour - I used King Arthur Baking's pastry flour blend which has a relatively high protein content for a pastry flour (10.3%). Your biscuits will be flakier and more tender with a pastry flour, but store brand all purpose flour (which has a protein content between 9-11%) will also work. I don't recommend using King Arthur's all-purpose flour for these mini biscuits.
- Butter - Unsalted butter preferred, but salted butter is just fine too. You may want to reduce the amount of salt elsewhere in the recipe if you use salted butter.
- Honey - Use your favorite brand or flavor of honey. The more assertive the honey flavor is, the more it will show up in your biscuits!
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which is half as salty as other brands of salt. If you're measuring by volume, use half as much of any other brand.
- Baking powder - This plus the steam from the butter helps your biscuits rise in the oven.
- Buttermilk - If you're using homemade buttermilk it will likely be thinner and a bit sweeter than the cultured buttermilk you get in stores. I've made these with both homemade and cultured buttermilk and didn't notice too much of a difference between them! Keep buttermilk chilled until ready to use.
Note: To keep things simple, I'm having you make the compound honey butter with 1 stick (½ cup; 8 TBSP) butter. You'll use it two different ways in the recipe, and might end up with some honey butter left over which you can spread on the biscuits!
📋 Equipment Notes
You don't need any super fancy equipment to make biscuits which is part of why they're so easy to make! You will need:
- Bench scraper - The straight edge of a bench scraper helps you keep your dough edges even during the shaping process. I like this one because it has a ruler on the blade.
- Kitchen scale - This recipe was tested using a 1-2-3 ratio of butter-buttermilk-flour by weight and you will have the most success making it if you also measure ingredients by weight.
If you have arthritis or your hands run warm or if there is any other reason you can't pinch the butter into the flour by hand, you can pulse the mixture a few times in a food processor or use a pastry cutter for that step.
Making Honey Butter
The first step is to make the honey butter. Honey and butter are kind of like oil and water — they don’t really want to combine. You'll definitely want to use an electric mixer for this step.
Use a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat honey and butter together at high speed so they have no choice but to combine.
Spread the honey buter into a square about a quarter inch thick on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap and chill until ready to use, at least one hour, but overnight is ideal.
When you're ready to make your mini buttermilk biscuits with the honey butter, measure out the amount of honey butter you'll need to for the biscuits.
Cut the butter into cubes about ½" inch in size, and place the cubes in the freezer for at least 5 minutes. Refrigerate the remaining honey butter, we'll use it later.
🍯 How to Make Mini Buttermilk Biscuits
Making biscuits is a super fast process once you've got everything prepped! You always want very cold butter and buttermilk for biscuit making, so make sure the buttermilk is cold and the honey butter cubes are in the freezer.
The standard biscuit making process:
- Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the pastry flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl so they're evenly distributed.
- Pinch in the butter (sabler). Use your fingers and thumbs to pinch the cold honey butter into the dry ingredients until you have lots of flat pieces the size of small grapes or large peas.
- Add the cold buttermilk. Add the cold buttermilk and use a spatula or your fingers to toss the mixture together just until all the buttermilk is absorbed. The mixture will be lumpy and messy and might not look like it will hold together, but I promise it will.
- Laminate and cut. Shape your biscuits, laminating by patting the dough into a square, cutting it into quarters, stacking them on each other, and repeating (see below!) before cutting 18 mini biscuits.
- Egg wash and bake. Brush just the tops of the biscuits with an egg wash and sprinkle with flaky salt. About 10 minutes into baking, spoon melted honey butter over the biscuits, then bake for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Below I'll go into much more detail about how to pinch the butter and layer the biscuit dough so you get nice flaky layers.
Don't be intimidated by this; the whole process actually only takes about 3-5 minutes!
🥐 How To Make Biscuits Light and Flaky
The reason it's so important to keep the butter and buttermilk for our biscuit dough as cold as possible and to not to over mix the dough is so we get nice, light and flaky biscuits.
The cold butter turns into steam in the oven and pushes the layers of dough apart creating those light flaky biscuit layers. If the butter is too warm, or the dough gets overworked, the butter will melt right out of the biscuits in the oven.
To make light and flaky biscuits you’re going to build those layers of cold butter in two ways.
- The first way is a pastry technique called sabler (sab-lay), which involves pinching, smushing, and rubbing the flour into the dry ingredients. It's very easy, fun, and fast!
- The second way borrows from a technique called lamination, which involves layering the dough on top of itself to create horizontal layers of butter before cutting it.
UPDATE 9/1/2022 - In an earlier version of this recipe, I used letter folds to create layers in your dough. The current version of the recipe borrows a technique from my friend Cynthia's flaky buttermilk biscuits (she learned the technique from Bake from Scratch). I found this method produces much taller biscuits with much more defined layers!
Pinching in the Butter (aka Sabler)
Sabler is a French pastry term which translates to "to make sandy."
The idea is to pinch and flatten the butter into the flour so you get lots of flat flaky pieces of butter. Coat the honey butter cubes well with flour, then begin quickly pinching them in the flour.
The butter will warm up from the heat of your hands, so you want to work quickly here.
Toss the cold pieces of butter in the dry ingredients and pinch them between your thumbs and fingers, coating each piece of butter with flour as they get smaller and smaller.
Once the butter pieces are about the size of large peas or small grapes, the mixture should look like damp, clumpy sand. See? Sandy!
Add the cold buttermilk and stir gently just until everything is mostly combined. It’s okay — ideal, even! — if there are still lots of dry bits or visible butter chunks in the bowl.
As long as the buttermilk has mostly been absorbed and you can't see any pooling in the bottom of the bowl, STOP MIXING.
Over mixing leads to tough, dense biscuits. You don't want that!
Stacking and Flattening (aka Laminating)
Turn the whole damp mess of flour and butter out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Dust some flour over the top too.
Cut a cross hatch pattern across the mess of dough to cut through the butter and redistribute the buttermilk. Gather the dough together on your counter.
Use your hands and a bench scraper to pat the dough into a square about ½" thick. Dust in more flour if needed.
Use a bench scraper to cut the square into four equal quadrants.
Stack the four quarters of biscuit dough on top of each other in a tall tower.
Flatten the tower down. Shape it back into a square about ½" thick and repeat this process of quartering, stacking, and flattening two more times.
Each time you stack and flatten the dough you're building in a new set of horizontal flakes of butter sandwiched between the dough. This gives you extra tall mini buttermilk biscuits.
The dough will become smoother, less crumbly, and easier to work with each time you repeat this process.
Clean off the edge of your bench scraper so it’s nice and sharp. It's time to cut the biscuits.
TIP: If the butter in the dough seems like it has warmed up or is starting to feel sticky, put it on a parchment lined sheet pan in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before cutting the mini biscuits.
Trim the edges off with a sharp, clean bench scraper. Pat them on top of the dough rectangle. Then cut the rectangle into 18 mini biscuits.
Arrange the mini buttermilk biscuits on a parchment lined sheet pan. Pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
When cutting biscuits, you always want to move your bench scraper in an up and down motion. If you drag or slide it along the counter, you'll smush the edges of the biscuits together, ruining all the layers you worked so hard to create.
Before baking, brush just the tops of the biscuits with egg wash. The egg wash will glue the flaky layers together if you get it on the sides of the biscuits so try to avoid any drips if you can.
Then top each mini buttermilk biscuit with a sprinkle of flaky salt.
Baking and Glazing
These mini buttermilk biscuits bake for 13-15 minutes at 400F. But we're going to pull the biscuits out a bit early for a final dramatic flourish of honey butter.
After 10 minutes in the oven, remove the biscuits and spoon melted honey butter overtop, then pop them back in the oven for 3-5 minutes so the honey in the butter caramelizes.
This gives you really nicely browned mini buttermilk biscuits with great honey flavor — but makes them much less sticky than if you were to spoon honey butter over them after baking.
Ta-dah, flaky super tall mini honey butter biscuits with golden brown tops and a stack of flaky layers visible down the sides.
Making Big Honey Butter Biscuits
To make big (regular sized) honey butter biscuits, double the recipe below.
Pat the dough into a square about an inch to an inch-and-a-half thick, then cut it into a 3x3 grid. You'll get 9 square biscuits.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400F, then top with melted honey butter and bake for 5-6 minutes more.
A Note on Buttermilk Substitutes
If you don't have buttermilk, use buttermilk powder instead. Add 2 teaspoons of buttermilk powder to the dry ingredients and use chilled whole milk instead of buttermilk.
I don't recommend using a milk + vinegar/lemon juice buttermilk substitute here as it will throw off the ratio of liquid and dry ingredients, leaving you with very wet and sticky biscuit dough.
📖 Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- This recipe uses a classic 1-2-3 biscuit recipe ratio (1 part butter, 2 parts buttermilk, 3 parts flour) and can be easily scaled up and down accordingly! I've tweaked it slightly to account for the additional moisture the honey provides in the butter.
- DO NOT OVER MIX your biscuit dough. Once you add the buttermilk you just want to fold and stir it gently until no liquid remains. The flour will continue absorbing the buttermilk as you work through the lamination process. At first it might not seem like it will hold together, but by the time you do the final stack and flatten, the dough will hold together just fine.
- Egg wash goes on top of the biscuits, not on the sides. Egg wash is like glue and will stick all your flaky layers together if you brush it on the sides!
- Biscuits are best eaten day-of, still warm. They can be stored in an airtight container overnight.
- When trimming and cutting the biscuits, always cut in an up and down motion. Don’t slide the blade or cutter in a slicing motion along the counter or you’ll close up all the layers you just exposed and your biscuits will be flat.
- I use Maldon flaky sea salt to top my biscuits but any flaky finishing salt is fine.
- Do not melt the honey butter in the microwave — use a double boiler on the stove! You don't want to microwave the honey, it can get a bit weird.
💭 Top Tip
Honey makes the butter melt just a little bit faster than plain butter does. Keeping the butter cold is crucial to building flaky pastry layers! Don't stress too much about this — if the butter ever starts to feel warm, soft, or sticky, just pop the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes to give the butter a moment to firm up before continuing.
A kitchen scale is extremely worth it for making these biscuits. The recipe relies on a specific ratio of flour to buttermilk to butter which relies on accurate weight measurements.
It doesn't translate neatly to volumetric measurements, and if you did try to measure using volume the recipe is likely not to work out very well. I'm looking out for you here! If you're going to make these, I want you to succeed!
Biscuit dough should be somewhere in between, erring on the side of more dry than wet. At first after you add buttermilk it might look too dry, but as the flour continues to absorb the buttermilk, it might start to feel a bit wet. If it's so wet that it's sticking to your hands or the board as you're flattening and stacking it, dust it with flour. If it's so dry that it's not sticking to itself even as you move through the lamination process, you may want to let the biscuit dough rest in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to give the flour a chance to absorb more moisture before you proceed. The dough will become smoother and less crumbly as you laminate it, so don't stress too much if it seems crumbly and messy on the first pass.
Butter. While you can use shortening, which is 100% fat, butter has much more flavor to it. You'll get much tastier biscuits using butter.
I haven't tested these with gluten free flour but I think a 1-for-1 gluten free all purpose flour would work just fine! If you try it, please let me know in the comments.
Yes! If you're being picky, look for an all purpose flour with a lower protein content (9-10%). All purpose flour is better at developing gluten than pastry flour, so be very gentle with your mixing when you add the buttermilk. Stir gently, just until the buttermilk absorbs. Let the flour finish hydrating while you're folding the dough. You don't want to end up with dense biscuits!
How to Make Mini Honey Butter Biscuits
- 113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick / 8 TBSP)
- 38 grams honey
Honey Butter Biscuits
Make honey butter
- In a larger bowl than you think you'll need, use a hand mixer to combine softened butter and honey until cohesive.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until firm and cold throughout, at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Measure 60 grams of chilled honey butter and cut into roughly 1" pieces. Place in the freezer while you mix the dry ingredients (5 minutes).
- Combine pastry flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
- Add chilled honey butter and toss it with the flour mixture, pinching and smushing it between your fingers until the butter pieces are the size of large peas or small grapes.
- Fold in the cold buttermilk, stirring gently just until the buttermilk is absorbed. The mixture will be clumpy and might have lots of dry floury bits, but that's okay. Do not overmix!
- Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured counter or cutting board. Gather it into a pile in the center and use a bench scraper to cut a cross hatch pattern through it. Then use your hand and the straight edge of the bench scraper to form a square about ½" thick. Work quickly so the butter doesn't start to melt.
- Cut the square into quarters and stack them on top of each other. Press down with your hand to flatten the dough back into a square ½" thick. Repeat the cutting and stacking process two more times.
- Pat the dough out into a long rectangle about 6 inches across and 1 inch thick. Trim the edges to release any tension on the dough. Pat the excess dough down on top of the rectangle.
- Cut the dough rectangle into 18 mini biscuits — a 3 by 6 grid. Move the bench scraper in an up and down motion, do not slice or slide the blade along on the counter.
- Transfer biscuits to a lined baking sheet about 2" apart. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Brush just the tops of the biscuits with egg wash and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Try not to get egg wash on the sides of the biscuits, or it will glue the layers together.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes at 400°F. After 10 minutes, spoon melted honey butter over the biscuits and return to the oven for an additional 3-5 minutes.
- Best served warm.
- To use buttermilk powder instead of buttermilk, add 2 teaspoons of buttermilk powder to the dry ingredients and use chilled whole milk instead of buttermilk.
- I don't recommend using a milk + vinegar/lemon juice buttermilk substitute here as it will throw off the ratio of liquid and dry ingredients, leaving you with very wet and sticky biscuit dough.
- DO NOT OVER MIX your biscuit dough. Once you add the buttermilk fold gently until no liquid remains. The flour will continue absorbing the buttermilk as you work through the lamination process. At first it might not seem like it will hold together, but by the time you do the final stack and flatten, the dough will hold together just fine.
- Do not melt the honey butter in the microwave — use a double boiler on the stove! You don't want to microwave the honey, it can get a bit weird.