Pillsbury Biscuit on the left, homemade buttermilk biscuit on the right

Every home cook should have at least one good, basic biscuit recipe. This humble baked good is not only flakily delicious, but is also quick and versatile. Biscuits are wonderful for breakfast with some jam or gravy and work equally well served with soup for dinner. For some reason, I am always forgetting to pick up bread for dinner and biscuits have saved me more than once as they come together very quickly. Since I usually make biscuits as a last minute side dish, I have always made them from scratch using a version of the recipe my mom always makes. I have tried canned biscuits in the past and found them sadly lacking in both texture and flavor. However, I have never given frozen biscuits a chance so I decided to bake a bag of Pillsbury’s frozen buttermilk biscuits and see if they tasted anything like homemade. As a comparison, I made my usual recipe for homemade buttermilk biscuits and served both kinds of biscuits with the Colombian Chicken Stew in my earlier post. Here is my recipe for quick buttermilk biscuits:

Quick Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes about a dozen


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick of cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3 Tablespoons melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork.

2. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until well blended. Pour the buttermilk and egg into the flour mixture and mix gently with a wooden spoon just until the dry ingredients are wet. Be careful not to over-mix as this will make the biscuits tough.

3. Place the biscuit dough on a lightly floured counter and knead a few times, just until the dough really comes together. Roll the dough out until it is 1/2 inch thick and cut into biscuits with a circular cutter or cut into squares with a sharp knife.

4. Place the biscuits on an ungreased sheet pan and brush the top of each with some of the melted butter. Put them in the preheated oven and bake until golden brown on top, about 12 minutes, being careful not to burn the bottoms. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush the top of each with some more melted butter. Serve while still hot.

Inside of the biscuits: Pillsbury on the left, homemade on the right

I was surprised at how well the Pillsbury biscuits baked up. They rose impossibly high and were a perfect golden brown on top which made me hopeful that they might be fairly tasty too. As it turns out, the frozen biscuits looked much better than they tasted. Most of the tasters agreed that the homemade biscuits were flakier and had more flavor than the Pillsbury biscuits. Someone said the Pillsbury biscuits tasted “doughy” in the middle or were “bready instead of flaky” and I have to agree with that. Although they had a nice, brown, crunchy top, the inside of the frozen biscuits was not tender and flaky as you expect a biscuit to be and they tasted bland rather than buttery. The homemade biscuits did not rise as high as the frozen variety, but they were very flaky on the inside and had a nice, buttery flavor with a hint of tangy buttermilk. One taster did prefer the texture of the softer texture of the Pillsbury biscuits but still agreed that the homemade variety had more flavor.

The Pillsbury biscuits obviously take less preparation than the homemade variety, but they actually took twice as long to bake, making both biscuit varieties about equal on the time front. As far as cost, homemade biscuits were significantly cheaper than frozen, especially considering that they are made from common ingredients that most cooks already have on hand.

Bottom Line: Homemade biscuits were deemed flakier and more flavorful than frozen by most of the testers. They are also very convenient, cheap and fast making them an ideal last minute alternative to bread. Frozen biscuits, on the other hand, were more expensive, just as time consuming and did not taste quite as good as homemade.

Quick Buttermilk Biscuits Pillsbury Frozen Buttermilk Biscuits
Cost: $1.15 per dozen Cost: $2.99 per dozen
Time: 25 minutes Time: 28 minutes