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A Flaky Biscuit Recipe Made with Yogurt Whey or Buttermilk

Are you wondering what to do with the whey leftover from making Greek yogurt? If so, this recipe is for you. If not, no worries! Substitute buttermilk for the whey in these amazing honey-butter glazed Flaky Biscuits. Don’t miss the other variations including Cinnamon-Sugar Flaky Biscuits and Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits.

The secret to the flaky layers is in the technique. Keep reading or check out the video to find out more.

Flaky Biscuits in a pan
Flaky Biscuits Made with Yogurt Whey

Recipe Inspiration

Due to an overload of Pillsbury Flaky Biscuits and Cinnamon Twirls in my childhood, I’m a sucker for layers in my bread. Whether it’s cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls or these biscuits, pulling off the layers one by one is so much fun.

Yes, you can make these flaky biscuits at home. They may appear complicated, but they aren’t that hard. If you think it’s fun to make yogurt, you’ll enjoy making this recipe.

Although not as simple as stirred or drop biscuits, with a little practice, you can whip up a batch in 15 minutes. Don’t worry about rolling out perfectly symmetrical biscuits. A bit of homemade charm and wonkiness will make them taste even better.

I originally created this recipe to use up leftover whey from making Greek yogurt at home. For my readers who also make yogurt, you know what I mean. You can accumulate a boatload of whey if you have a voracious Greek yogurt habit.

a picture of yogurt and whey

What do you do with all that leftover whey? Check out this post for 18 Ways to Use Yogurt Whey. Next time you find yourself with too much whey, try these crispy-on-the-outside, moist-and-tender-on-the-inside biscuits.

No whey in the house? Substitute buttermilk for the whey. They will be just as tasty! Promise.

Different Kinds of Whey

If you are confused about whey, you are in good company. Yogurt whey is the watery liquid you often see on top of yogurt. This is acid whey.

A similar by-product of making hard cheese like Cheddar is sweet whey. It has different uses than acid whey because of the reduced acidity.

Whey protein powder is processed sweet whey derived from making cheese. It’s a completely different animal and will not work in this recipe the way it is written.

What is the difference between sweet whey and acid whey? Acid whey is the liquid that is leftover when dairy producers make yogurts or soft cheeses. It is called acid whey because it is more acidic than sweet whey. Sweet whey is the liquid that is leftover when dairy producers make hard or rennet cheeses. ACID WHEY FAQ – MOOSCIENCE

Substitute Buttermilk for Whey

A common substitute for yogurt whey is buttermilk or a buttermilk substitute (like milk with vinegar or lemon juice added).

For each cup of buttermilk, you can use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes.Taste of Home: Buttermilk Substitute

If you have some whey, but not enough, add milk or yogurt to make up the difference. In fact, you can substitute yogurt for whey or buttermilk. If your yogurt is thick, add some milk or whey until it matches the consistency of buttermilk.

Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits with Honey Butter Glaze
Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits made with Yogurt Whey and a Honey Butter Glaze

Shortening Substitute

I modified the original recipe to use all butter instead of part shortening. Shortening helps to stabilize the biscuits, but I like the flavor better with all butter.

However, without shortening the biscuits will sometimes rise so high they topple over. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Don’t skip the 30-minute rest period for the dough before you cut the biscuits.
  2. Don’t cut the biscuits too narrow. I’ve done that when trying to get more biscuits. To be honest, they bake up really delicious that way, but it’s not the look I want.
  3. Place the biscuits close together (1/4 to 1/2-inch apart) on the baking sheet. If they start to tip over, they will be supported by the other biscuits.

Can I free these biscuits?

These flaky whey biscuits are great to make ahead right up to the point of baking. Wrap your unfrozen biscuit squares in two layers (plastic wrap and a zippered bag or foil) and freeze. Use within a month.

When you are ready to bake, the frozen biscuits can go directly onto a baking sheet. Add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

How can I prepare whey biscuits in advance?

If you want to prepare flaky biscuits earlier in the day or the night before, make dough through step 8. Chill until you are ready to bake. Cut the biscuits in squares, place on a baking sheet, and bake.

Variations

***Honey-Butter Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits

Substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of unbleached flour. Glaze with equal parts honey and butter as the biscuits come out of the oven.

If you want 100% whole wheat biscuits, substitute 2 cups of soft whole wheat pastry flour. I like to buy this flour from the bulk bin. If you can find it, I urge you to try this variation. They are so light and mild-tasting for a 100% whole-wheat product.

***Cinnamon-Sugar Flaky Biscuits with Sanding Sugar or Icing

These biscuits are a time-saving substitute for cinnamon rolls made with yeast. Put them together through step #8 the day before and refrigerate.

Bake and cover them with a glaze like this quick brown butter icing you can make in the microwave. Everyone will be hopping out of bed when they smell them baking.

Cinnamon-Sugar Biscuits with Brown Butter Icing
Cinnamon-Sugar Flaky Biscuits with Browned Butter Icing
  1. Use 2 tablespoons of sugar instead of 1 tablespoon.
  2. Put together a mixture of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon-mixture on each layer of dough as you roll out the biscuits. Fold and roll 4-5 times for the best results.
  3. Brush tops of biscuits with butter before baking. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, raw sugar (Demerara) or cover with a powdered sugar icing.
Flaky Cinnamon Biscuits on cooling rack
Cinnamon-Sugar Flaky Biscuits with Sanding Sugar on top

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t have a food processor. Is it ok to mix these by hand?

Yes. If you do it by hand, shredding the frozen butter will make it easier to incorporate.

Why do my biscuits burn on the bottom?

Try moving your pan of biscuits to a higher rack in the oven. Using dark pans that are heavy can make a difference, too.

Be sure your oven is pre-heated. If all else fails, try calibrating your oven using a cheap oven thermometer.

Why did my whey biscuits not rise very high?


You must use very cold butter–as in frozen. Also, make sure your whey (or buttermilk) is well-chilled. Some people go so far as chilling the flour and their mixing bowl. Chilling the dough for 30 minutes before you cut it into biscuits helps, too.

The temperature difference between the biscuit ingredients and the oven causes a pop of steam that helps the biscuits rise high. Make sure your oven is hot and the biscuit dough is cold!

Why did butter leak out of my biscuits while they were baking?

The pieces of butter in the dough were too big. After you cut the fat into your biscuit dough, no pieces should be over the size of a pea.

Hint: If you notice smoke leaking out of your oven (burning butter) or see butter dripping from the cookie sheet while your biscuits are baking, do this. Grab another cookie sheet and cover it with a silicone baking sheet, parchment paper, or foil. Slide it onto a rack beneath the biscuits to catch the drips.

It is easier to throw away parchment paper or foil than to clean your oven. Also, the drips won’t burn and smoke on the cookie sheet as they do on the bottom of your oven. I’ve already tested this for you.

p.s. I always do this when baking pie crusts, too.

Why are my biscuits dry?

The most common reason is using too much flour. I recommend weighing instead of measuring for the best results.

If you want to measure, stir the flour first. Then spoon the flour into a measuring cup with a light hand before leveling. Scooping flour with a measuring cup often results in too much flour.

I know there is a lot of butter in this recipe. You can cut back a tablespoon or so without too much damage. However, the butter makes the fabulous layers and keeps these whey biscuits moist (along with the whey and yogurt).

How To Mix Flaky Whey Biscuit Dough

1. Add all dry ingredients to the food processor bowl.

mixing flour in food processor bowl

2. Pulse 3-4 times to mix and aerate.

Frozen butter added to bowl

3. Add frozen butter, cut into smaller pieces, to the bowl.

Cutting butter into flour in food processor bowl

4. Pulse 15+ times until butter is a combination of oatmeal and pea-sized chunks. No chunks should be bigger than a pea.

Adding whey/yogurt to biscuits.

5. Add whey/yogurt (or buttermilk) and pulse about 8 times until dough is barely moistened but not gathered into a ball.

How to roll out biscuits

dough crumbles on a floured towel
  1. Press dough together. Knead 3 or 4 times. Press into a rough square.
Rolling the dough into a rectangle

2. Roll dough into a rectangle with dough about 1/2-inch thick.

sprinkling cinnamon and sugar over the dough

3. Only if you are making the cinnamon biscuits: Sprinkle some of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over 2/3 of the dough.

making the first fold

4. Fold 1/3 of the dough up over the top.

Folding the lower third of the dough

5. Fold lower third over the top third like a letter.

Turning the dough and rolling into a rectangle

6. Turn the dough a quarter turn. Repeat steps 2-5 again. (See the video for clarification.)

6-inch square of dough

7. Roll into a rough 6-inch square approximately 1/2-inch thick.

wrapping the dough before chilling

8. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

trimming the square of dough and cutting into 9 biscuits

9. After trimming all four edges, cut dough into 9 biscuits.

Placing biscuits on the sheet pan

10. Place biscuits close together on a cookie sheet. Bake.

Brushing baked biscuits with honey butter
Brush rolls with honey-butter as the biscuits come out of the oven.

Click here to get a FREE printable cheat-sheet for making Greek yogurt when you sign up for my FREE 6-day email course: “How To Make the Yogurt of Your Dreams.


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Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula

flaky biscuits made with yogurt whey on a plate

Flaky Biscuit Recipe Made with Yogurt Whey

Yield: 9 biscuits
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 2 minutes

Light and flaky layers set this flaky biscuit recipe apart from the average biscuit. Use whey drained from yogurt for the liquid or buttermilk if you don't have yogurt whey. It's one of the best uses of whey I can think of.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (240 grams)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar (Use lesser amount for plain biscuits)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons of frozen unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon of melted butter for brushing tops
  • 2/3 cup yogurt whey (OR 2/3 cup buttermilk)

Honey-Butter Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Instructions

  1. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt together into the food processor bowl. Pulse 3 times.
  2. Add frozen butter sliced into small pieces. Pulse 15-20 times to cut into the flour. You should have pieces of various sizes resembling oatmeal, peas, and cornmeal all mixed together. No pieces should be larger than a pea.
  3. Pour whey/yogurt over mixture and pulse about 8 times until the mixture turns into dough crumbles. It should not come into a ball yet.
  4. Turn dough crumbles out onto a floured surface. I like to use a silicone baking mat or a well-floured pastry cloth. I also like to wear surgical gloves to protect the dough from the heat of my hands but it's not essential.
  5. Knead about 3-4 times until you have a barely cohesive ball of dough. Use your hands to gently push the dough into a square shape.
  6. Use a rolling pin to roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Fold a third of the dough over itself. Now fold the uncovered third over the folded portion like a letter. (See the pictures or video)
  7. Give the dough a quarter turn. Roll out again into a rectangle that is about 1/2-inch thick. Fold as described in the previous step. Repeat the folding process four-five times.
  8. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thick and approximately 6-inch square. Wrap and chill for thirty minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  10. Trim 1/4 inch from each side of the square of dough with a sharp knife to make clean edges. You should be able to see all the layers.
  11. Slice into 9 biscuits, Place biscuits about 1/2-inch apart on a cookie sheet that has been greased, covered with parchment paper, or a silicone mat.
  12. Optional: Brush biscuits with butter or milk.
  13. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-17 minutes

Notes


VARIATIONS:

Flaky Whole Wheat Biscuits with Honey-Butter Glaze Recipe:

Substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour (113 grams) for 1 cup of unbleached flour (120 grams). As biscuits come out of the oven, brush with a mixture of equal parts butter and honey.

100% Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits Recipe:


Use 2 cups of soft whole wheat pastry flour (192 grams) in place of the unbleached flour. Follow the recipe as written.

Cinnamon-Sugar Flaky Biscuits Recipe:

Stir together 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar. As you roll the layers, sprinkle cinnamon on each layer before folding. Roll and fold at least 4 times. Chill and cut as directed in the recipe. Before baking, brush the tops of the raw biscuits with butter and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Continue with step 8. Icing or glaze is optional but it takes these cinnamon biscuits over the top. If doing icing, you can skip the sanding sugar.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1 biscuit
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 279Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 439mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 8g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Thanks to Kate of Cooking During Stolen Moments for showing me how to do the layers.



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SHIRLEY YOUNG

Saturday 12th of September 2020

What a fabulous baker you are, to make this wonderful recipe!! My husband and I have been trying to make rising, flaky biscuits. We have tried many recipes, between us. My husband marvelled at how mine turned out, staring up close, to look at the layers. I have made them twice, and they both rose spectacularly. Thank you for a great recipe!!

Paula

Sunday 13th of September 2020

Hi Shirley, I'm so glad you love this recipe. Thank you for letting me know.

Jonathan Sudler

Monday 25th of May 2020

BEST BISCUITS EVER! They came out lighter than air!

Paula

Monday 25th of May 2020

Fantastic!! Thrilled that they turned out good for you.

Jules

Sunday 24th of May 2020

These were really terrific - the family loved them. I loved using my whey. Can’t wait to try the cinnamon sugar biscuits!

Renée

Saturday 5th of October 2019

This recipe is great I didn't have shortening and substituted butter and it worked out none the less beautiful flaky biscuits

Thank you so much for the recipe

Paula

Monday 7th of October 2019

Good to know about substituting the butter. Glad you liked the biscuits.

Cathy

Friday 1st of March 2019

I made my first batch of yogurt a couple of days ago and made these biscuits today with the whey. We absolutely loved them. They are delicious. My question is can I freeze them. Either before or after they are baked. Living on the east coast, biscuits were not on the table too often so i don’t know “biscuits 101”.

Paula

Friday 1st of March 2019

Yes, I would think you could do both. But if I had to choose, probably freezing before you bake is best.

So glad your yogurt turned out good and that you liked the biscuits. Have a great weekend.