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Cathead Biscuits

Jim Villas | September 2, 2016

For the right crispy texture, do not substitute butter or margarine for the lard in these biscuits, and serve them with plenty of butter and homemade fruit preserves, molasses, or sorghum syrup.


According to recipe author Jim Villas, cathead biscuits must be shaped by hand, not cut evenly with a biscuit cutter. The dough will be more crumbly than mealy, the texture of the biscuits should be slightly crunchy on the outside, and they should be baked only in a cast iron skillet.

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
cathead biscuits


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chilled lard, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk, or as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two 12-inch cast iron skillets and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. Add the lard and cut it in with a pastry cutter or rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture is just crumbly. Gradually stir in just enough buttermilk to form a soft ball of dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead about 8 times, then shape by hand into biscuits about 3 ½ inches across and 1 inch high.
  4. Arrange the biscuits fairly close together in the prepared skillets and bake in the upper third of the oven until golden brown and craggy on the outsides, about 17 minutes.
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Contributed By: Jim Villas
Jim Villas has written several cookbooks, five of which are James Beard Award winning. Jim was born and bred in North Carolina, and currently lives in East Hampton, Long Island. 


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