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Here’s how to make shortcake biscuits! These buttermilk biscuits are tender and moist with just the right salty sweet flavor.

Shortcake biscuits
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Making shortcake? Need biscuits? We’ve got you. Here are the best shortcake biscuits you’ll find! They’re tender and moist, with just the right salty sweet finish. They’ve got a lightly crunchy top and just the right texture when you stab them with a fork to get a bite. Buttermilk makes a beautiful texture and a subtle tang to the flavor. These are classic Americana: ideal for lazy summer evenings on the patio and summer celebration dinners.

Baking the shortcakes: some tips

Some shortcake recipes are more spongy, and some result in light and airy cakes. Of course there’s always the round, yellow cakes you can find at the store! But these shortcake biscuits are the traditional flaky biscuit, a sweet spin on Homemade Biscuits. They’re like a combination of a layered biscuit and a drop biscuit. Here are a few tips for making these shortcakes:

  • Use buttermilk. Buttermilk brings the right tangy flavor and fluffy texture. It’s worth springing for the real stuff (don’t use a buttermilk substitute).
  • Use lemon zest. It brings just the right brightness to the flavor.
  • Don’t overmix the batter. If it’s too dry, add a little more buttermilk: but not too much! Overmixing makes for a tough biscuit.
  • Use a biscuit cutter. A 3-inch biscuit cutter gets just the right shape. See below for a few other options.
  • Place the biscuits directly next to each other. Placing them next to each other on the baking sheet helps them rise in the oven.
  • Sprinkle with sugar (turbinado if you have it). Sprinkle the top with sugar to get a crunchy texture! If you want an even more glittery, crunchy top, use turbinado sugar.
Shortcake biscuits

What if you don’t have a biscuit cutter?

If you don’t have a biscuit cutter for the strawberry shortcakes, here are a few ideas on how to cut the biscuits:

  • Find a circular cookie cutter that’s approximately 3 inches wide.
  • Use a knife to draw a circle 3 inches wide. (You could even cut out a 3-inch wide circle to trace as a guide.)

Can you make shortcake biscuits ahead?

You can, but we don’t recommend it. These are best the day of, so they have a crispy on the outside and tender on the inside texture. If you do want to make them ahead, freeze them!

  • Freezing is the best way to preserve the biscuit texture; they’re good up to 3 months.
  • To thaw, place them on the counter at room temperature. Then heat on a baking sheet in a 300 degree oven until warm and the outside is crisp, about 5 minutes.
  • Or, you can place them directly in the oven from frozen. Heat about 7 to 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven until warm.
Strawberry shortcake

Mix it up: use orange zest & vanilla

One variation we love to use in these shortcake biscuits is to change the flavor to an orange vanilla flavor. The orange zest adds intrigue and nuance, and makes it taste even more elegant. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use 1 tablespoon orange zest in the dough instead of 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
  • Add 1 tablespoon vanilla to the dough.

Vary the shortcake fruit! Strawberry, peach and more

Once you’ve made your shortcake biscuits, it’s time for the fun part: the fruit! You can use any type of fruit you like for a shortcake. Of course there’s the classic…but we enjoy varying the flavors too. Here are some ideas:

  • Strawberry Shortcake: Go to Classic Strawberry Shortcake.
  • Peach Shortcake: Slice 2 cups of peaches. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Raspberry Shortcake: Mix 2 cups raspberries with 2 tablespoons sugar.
  • Blackberry Shortcake: Mix 2 cups blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Shortcake biscuits

This shortcake biscuits recipe is…


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Shortcake biscuits

Best Shortcake Biscuits

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
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Here’s how to make shortcake biscuits! These buttermilk biscuits are tender and moist with just the right salty sweet flavor.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (or 1 tablespoon orange zest*)
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • Optional: turbinado sugar for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and use a pastry cutter it into the flour mixture.
  3. Add the ¾ cup buttermilk to the flour and stir until all the buttermilk has just absorbed. Do not overstir. Use your hands to form the dough into a rough ball. Add the 1 tablespoon more buttermilk to help the dough come together.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured counter. Gently pat the dough out into a rectangle about 8” x 10” and about 3/4” thick (you may need to wash, dry and flour your hands to help pat it out).
  5. Use a 3” biscuit cutter to cut the biscuits, pushing straight down (without turning the cutter) and transferring to a parchment lined baking sheet (you can also use a cookie cutter or use a knife to cut out a 3-inch circle). Ensure the edges of each biscuit are touching on the baking sheet to improve rise. You should get 6 biscuits out of the first cutting, then re-roll the dough scraps for final 2 biscuits.
  6. Brush tops with buttermilk. Sprinkle with additional sugar or use turbinado sugar for a crunchy, glittery topping. Bake 15 to 17 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Store leftovers frozen for up to 3 months or refrigerated for a few days (reheat in a 350 degree oven until warm).
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

More great desserts

Shortcake is perfect for summer! Here are some more summer desserts to impress:

  • “Magic” Blueberry Cobbler This easy blueberry cobbler has a little magic! As it bakes, the blueberries sink to the bottom and the batter forms a golden crust on top.
  • The Best Peach Pie This really is the world’s best peach pie recipe! Our prize winning family recipe features fresh peaches with a thick creamy custard and a salty crust.
  • Grilled Apples a La Mode Grill them with sugar and spices until tender, then serve them with “a la mode” with melty vanilla ice cream.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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