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When I came across cathead biscuits, I had two questions: Why make them and are they good?  I found a recipe for Cathead Skillet Biscuits in Alford and Duguid’s book, Home Baking.  It was intriguing—they were making baking powder biscuits on a stovetop.  I searched on the Internet and found dozens of entries for “cathead biscuits.”  I learned that they were a Deep South regional favorite.  Funny, as much time as I’ve spent in the South and as many biscuits as I’ve eaten there, I’ve never heard them called cathead biscuits.  Maybe I don’t know so much about southern cooking after all.

What’s the advantage of Cathead biscuits?  They are good, very comparable to most biscuits.  Not as light but good, substantial biscuits.  And you cook them in a pan on the stovetop–no oven.

  • They’re fun.  It’s always nice to make something different.  They’re fun to talk about.
  • You don’t have to turn the oven on and heat up the house.
  • You can cook them on the patio, on the grill, camping or in an emergency.

They’re not your everyday biscuits but they’re nice to know about and occasionally make.  Your family will get a kick out of them.  Your kids will be the only kids on the bus that had cathead biscuits for breakfast.

And yes you can make cathead biscuits with our just-add-water biscuit mix.

Alford and Duguid were cooking theirs in a skillet on the stovetop.  I like baking in a skillet but they were flipping theirs twice in the skillet to cook them all the way through and never using the oven.  Why bother when you can stick them in the oven for ten minutes and forget about them.  But it does give you a way to make biscuits in the summer without turning the oven on, so we tried them.

With our quick and easy biscuit method, we used butter.  But we wanted these as crusty as possible and shortening makes a crustier biscuit.  But we didn’t want to give up on taste of butter so we went 50/50.  They worked.  They’re quick.  They’re good.  Here’s the recipe.

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Skillet Cathead Biscuits

This is the stovetop version of our cathead biscuits.  If you don’t want to turn the oven on in the heat of the summer, this is the way to go.  They also work as camping biscuits; you can cook them over an open campfire.

This recipe makes nine biscuits three to four inches across—the size of a cat’s head.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons dry buttermilk
1 cup cold milk
4 tablespoons butter and four tablespoons shortening, melted together but cooled to warm (still liquid)

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and buttermilk powder together.
  2. Pour the melted fats into the cold milk, whisking until the fat solidifies and the milk looks curdled.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture.  Stir with a fork just until the batter clumps and form a wet mound in the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an 11-inch skillet.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup (2-inch diameter) ice cream scoop (4 ounce), scoop the batter from the bowl onto the hot frying pan, leaving 1 1/2 inches between the biscuits for expansion.  As soon as you put the mounds in the pan, flatten then to less than an inch with the back of a wet spoon.
  6. Cook until they are crusty brown on the bottom, turn them and cook until the tops are brown.  Turn them over cook the first side again until you drive the heat through the biscuits.  Serve them hot.

cathead 1

Quick and Easy Cathead Biscuits

Because you don’t have to roll the dough and cut the biscuits, drop biscuits are faster than cut biscuits.

With this recipe, you add all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add melted butter and shortening to the cold milk, and then stirred the milk mixture into the dry ingredients.

To bake, we melted butter in a nonstick skillet (a cast iron skillet that is well seasoned will work).  We then used a lever-type ice cream scoop to quickly drop big mounds of batter about a half-inch apart into the pan with the melted butter.

This recipe filled an 11-inch skillet perfectly and made nine biscuits three to four inches across—the size of a cat’s head.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons dry buttermilk
1 cup cold milk
4 tablespoons butter and four tablespoons shortening, melted together but cooled to warm (still liquid)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and buttermilk powder together.
  2. Pour the melted fats into the cold milk, whisking until the fat solidifies and the milk looks curdled.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture.  Stir with a fork just until the batter clumps and form a wet mound in the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Using a 1/4 cup (2-inch diameter) ice cream scoop (4 ounce), scoop the batter from the bowl onto the hot frying pan, leaving just enough distance between the biscuits for expansion.  The mounds should be about 1 1/2-inchs high.
  5. Bake just until the tops of the biscuits are golden brown, ten to twelve minutes.  (Baking times will vary with different pans.)  Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a rack.  After a few minutes, remove the biscuits to racks to cool and serve while still hot.

About the Author

Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.

Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.