This small batch recipe for roasted garlic and cheddar biscuits is packed with flavor thanks to lots of roasted garlic, chives, and buttery, flaky layers created by a compound butter laminated into the dough.
They take just a few minutes to make and are even better when made with homemade stand mixer butter and buttermilk.
When I got really into making butter a couple months ago, it was basically inevitable that flavored butters would follow. Follow they did — mostly in the form of this roasted garlic and chive herb compound butter. Because I’ve never met anything I didn’t want to stuff with roasted garlic (see: roasted garlic ciabatta, roasted garlic bagels, etc, etc).
So what’s a person to do with lots and lots of homemade compound butter and fresh, homemade buttermilk? BISCUITS, BABY.
Why you should make these small batch biscuits
The first and most important reason to make these garlic cheddar biscuits is because they’re delicious. And the second most important reason is because they’re REALLY, REALLY EASY.
(Especially if you've already got the compound butter chilling in your fridge ready to go.)
Biscuits are best eaten while still warm from the oven, so I always love a good small batch biscuit recipe. This recipe will make 4 large garlic cheddar chive biscuits, or 9 small biscuits, depending on how you slice them.
Garlic cheddar biscuits are a great sub for garlic bread with spaghetti if you don't have time to make garlic bread or knots, but are also delish with salted butter for breakfast or as a side with your lunch.
Roasted garlic cheddar biscuit ingredient notes
To make these roasted garlic and cheddar biscuits you will need:
- 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 all purpose flour will also work.
- Roasted Garlic Chive Compound Herb Butter - The full version of this compound butter recipe makes about 200 grams (7 ounces) butter. You only need 60 grams of compound butter for this recipe. If you're just making the compound butter to use for these biscuits, you'll need:
- Unsalted butter - 4 tablespoons.
- Roasted garlic - 2 cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast with skins on at 400F for 20-25 mins until golden brown and fragrant.
- Chives - 2 tablespoons, chopped.
- Cheddar - Finely shredded works best, imo. Grate and chill it until ready to use so it's cold.
- 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 chilled until ready to use.
- 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.
How to make garlic cheddar biscuits
Make the roasted garlic and chive herb compound butter in advance so that it has time to chill completely in the fridge. You always want to work with VERY COLD (but not frozen) butter when you’re making biscuits.
Because the compound butter is already made, when it’s time to make biscuits all you have to do is mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and cheddar cheese together in a bowl, pinch the cold butter into it, and fold in the buttermilk.
Then you shape your biscuits, brush them with an egg wash, top them with flaky salt, and bake them. It’s really just that easy. You can get them in the oven in less than 10 minutes if you’re organized about it (and about 15 minutes if you’re not).
How to get flaky biscuit layers
The reason it's so important to keep the butter and buttermilk for biscuit dough as cold as possible (without freezing it) is to get nice, flaky biscuits. Cold butter turns into steam in the oven and pushes the layers of dough apart creating those flaky layers. If the butter is too warm, it will melt right out of the biscuits in the oven.
To make these flaky biscuits you’re going to build those layers of butter in two ways.
The first way is a 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 folding the dough to create horizontal layers of butter within the dough before you cut it.
HINT: Work quickly so the butter doesn’t start melting from the heat of your hands!
Once the butter pieces are about the size of large peas or small grapes, fold in the cold buttermilk just until everything is mostly combined. It’s okay — ideal, even! — if there are still lots of dry bits in the bowl.
As long as there’s no buttermilk pooling in the bowl and it’s mostly been absorbed in, STOP MIXING. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, etc, etc.
Then we do the second kind of butter lamination through a quick series of folds. The dough will be messy at first but after the second fold it will all hold together just fine.
Here's how it works: Turn the whole damp mess of flour and butter out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Cut across it in a cross hatch pattern to cut through any remaining chunks of butter and help redistribute the moisture in the dough.
Then, use your hands and a bench scraper to pat it into a long rectangle shape about ½” high.
Do a letter fold: Slide the bench scraper under the top third of the dough rectangle and fold it down. Then do the same with the bottom third of dough, folding it up over the top fold. This is called a “letter fold" because it's how you fold paper when you mail a letter.
Slide the bench scraper under the folded dough packet and rotate it 90 degrees. Repeat the letter fold again, finishing by rotating the dough packet 90 degrees.
This time, after you rotate it, the dough will be much more cohesive and smooth. It's time to cut the biscuits.
Pat the dough packet out into a 5-inch by 5-inch square shape about 1” tall.
Trim the absolute least amount you can off all four sides to release the tension from where the dough was folded so the layers can rise evenly. Pat the excess dough down on top of the biscuit square.
Clean off the edge of your bench scraper so it’s nice and sharp. Then cut the square into four equal pieces. That’s it! Those are your biscuits!
Brush the tops with egg wash, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and you're ready to bake.
A few quick recipe notes
- This recipes uses a classic 1-2-3 biscuit ratio — 1 part butter, 2 parts buttermilk, 3 parts flour as the base recipe. I’ve adjusted it slightly to account for the fact that the compound butter also has garlic and herbs in it.
- Always cut and trim the biscuit dough by moving your knife or cutter in an up and down motion. If you slide it in a slicing motion along the counter you’ll close up all the outside layers and your biscuits will be flat.
- Keep your biscuit ingredients as COLD as possible. If it’s particularly hot or humid in your kitchen, you can even chill the dry ingredients before (or after) you pinch in the butter. Once you add the buttermilk the clock is ticking — work quickly to laminate and shape the dough.
- DO NOT OVERMIX your biscuit dough. Once you add the buttermilk you just want to fold it gently together just until no liquid remains. The flour will continue hydrating and 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 fold, the dough will hold together just fine.
- I use Maldon flaky sea salt to top my biscuits, but any flaky finishing salt is 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!
- If you don't want your hands to smell like roasted garlic, you may want to wear kitchen gloves while pinching the butter into the flour.
You can freeze your shaped biscuits on a sheet pan and then transfer them to an airtight container to store in the freezer. Egg wash prior to baking. And add a few minutes to the bake time to account for the colder starting temperature.
YUP! You can get super creative with your flavors here.
One thing to be aware of: The ratio of butter to flour and buttermilk in this recipe takes into account the fact that some of the weight of the compound butter is garlic and chives and herbs. So while you can swap in any other compound butter, you might find the dough is slightly drier or wetter or flakier depending on what the ratio of butter to other ingredients is in your compound butter.
Cover it and let it rest for 1-2 minutes (ideally in the fridge), then do a third set of folds.
Yep! Cut this however you want. You can even use biscuit cutters to cut round biscuits if you like. Just make sure you’re always moving the knife or biscuit cutter in an up and down motion, never twisting or sliding the blade on the counter.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 cloves roasted garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped chives. 1 teaspoon additional minced herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage optional.
You can — just add them to the dry ingredients.
Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cut butter into 1" pieces and chill well in the fridge. Measure buttermilk and place in the fridge. Leave both in fridge right up until ready to use to keep them as cold as possible.
- Combine pastry flour, salt, baking powder, and cheddar cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Toss well to combine and coat cheese in flour.
- Add butter cubes to dry ingredients and toss to coat. Pinch and rub butter pieces into the flour between your finger tips until they're the size of small grapes. Work quickly so the warmth of your fingers doesn't start to melt the butter.
- Add cold buttermilk and fold gently with a spatula just until combined. It's okay if there's still some dry floury bits left in the bowl.
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured countertop or cutting board. Use your hands to roughly shape the mixture into a flat rectangle shape. Then use a bench scraper to cut through the dough in a cross hatch pattern.It won't hold together yet, that's okay.
- Gather the dough into a rough rectangle about ½" tall. Use the bench scraper to fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter.Then slide the bench scraper under the dough packet, lift it up, and rotate it 90 degrees on the counter.
- Flatten the dough rectangle out again so it's about ½" tall and longer than it is wide. Use the bench scraper to straighten the sides and ends of the rectangle as best you can. Repeat the letter fold process and rotate the dough 90 degrees again.The dough should be holding together much better at this point.
- Flatten the dough out into a 5x5" square about 1" tall. Use the bench scraper in an up-and-down motion (don't saw or slice) to trim the edges (remove as little as you can) all the way around so you have a sharp square and can see the layers inside.
- Press the scraps gently into the top of the dough square, then divide the dough into four equal sized pieces, again using the bench scraper in an up-and-down motion.
- Transfer biscuits to lined sheet pan and brush just the tops with egg wash. Sprinkle with flaky salt. If the dough seems to be getting soft or warm, place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes prior to baking.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes at 400°F until shiny and golden brown on top.
- Prep time does not include making and chilling the compound butter.