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Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits

Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits
Black Pepper Buttermilk BiscuitsNathan Congleton / TODAY
6 to 8 large biscuits

Chef notes

When we were working on the original menu for Big Bad Breakfast in the winter and spring of 2008, biscuits were at the top of the list of things we knew had to stand way apart from the crowd. We experimented with various ratios of butter to lard, we weighted flour and measured it by the cup, we raised the lowered the amounts of sugar and sat, and we played around with the ratios of baking soda to baking powder. After testing about 40 different recipes, we arrived at the very biscuit we wanted. And then, at the very last second, we added a touch of black pepper, which created the earthy, slightly spicy edge I was looking for. That was it, the Big Bad Breakfast biscuit was born and it has remained exactly the same for about a half a million biscuits (by my count today, around 572,400, and I am likely conservative).

We cut a generous 3½-inch-diameter biscuit at Big Bad Breakfast. Feel free to cut whatever size or shape you like. Time Out Chicken and Biscuits in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, runs a purist program — they make square biscuits so they never reroll their dough (one of the reasons it is one of my favorite places on the planet, but that's a story for another time). That said, cut your biscuits however makes you happy.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 3 tablespoons lard, frozen
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, for brushing


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt, and pepper and pulse several times to combine. Add the frozen butter and lard and pulse several times again, just until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Turn out the flour mixture into a stainless steel bowl, add the buttermilk, (see photos on the following page), and stir with a dinner fork until combined. (It will be crumbly, but still very wet in places.) Dust your hands generously with flour, gather the dough while it's still in the bowl, and work it with your hands until it barely holds together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead, folding and turning the dough, until it becomes slightly smooth and homogenous, about 4 or 5 turns of the dough. Roll out the dough until it's ¾ inch thick. Cut the biscuits with a 3-inch biscuit cutter (or whatever size you like). Gather the scraps, knead gently just until the dough comes back together, reroll, and cut. Discard the scraps. Place on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the melted butter. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.