By Lucy Yanckello, Ph.D.
When the word biscuit is brought up, most people think about Southern food and cooking. Light and fluffy biscuits, smothered in butter, usually come as a side dish and are served with a variety of things from sausage gravy to homemade jam. However, biscuits like we eat today in the U.S. evolved from a hard, thin, and durable version without fat or leavening agent and were meant to be used as rations. Read on to learn more about biscuits!
What is a biscuit? What are biscuits made of?
A biscuit in the United States is a small type of bread made of flour, salt, and butter or a type of solid shortening. Baking powder is used as the leavening agent eliminating the need to wait for biscuits to rise (such as with bread when yeast is used). The biscuit dough is briefly kneaded and rolled out, and a round or square cutter is often used.
Can biscuits be healthy?
Though biscuits are not particularly healthy, biscuits can fit into a healthy diet in moderation. One of the main health issues with biscuits is the high level of butter and therefore saturated fat. Saturated fats should be limited to 5% to 6% of daily caloric intake, according to the American Heart Association. To make a healthier biscuit, try substituting butter with plant-based butter to decrease the amount of saturated fats in the recipe. Plant-based butters also contain higher levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can lower risk of heart disease and stroke when eaten in moderation.
Is biscuit the same as scone? Is a scone a biscuit or muffin?
A biscuit is not exactly the same as a scone, although both biscuits and scones use baking powder as a leavening agent instead of yeast. However, scones are made with cream and eggs, whereas biscuits do not contain eggs. Scones are often sweetened slightly, and glazed with an egg wash or frosting, and biscuits are traditionally not sweet (although they can be).
A biscuit is also not the same as a muffin. Muffins are more similar to cake than scones or biscuits. Each of the three should be considered their own unique category of treat.
Is a British biscuit a cookie or a cracker?
A British biscuit is what Americans know as a cookie or a cracker. In the United Kingdom, the word biscuit refers to any hard, thin, bread-like product. A distinguishing factor between an American cookie and a British biscuit is that a British biscuit must always have a “snap” because it is crispy. In the UK, if a biscuit does not snap, or is soft, it is considered to have gone bad.
What’s the difference between biscuit vs. cookie vs. English muffins vs. scone?
Cookies are heavier in texture than biscuits, and cookies are often loaded with additional ingredients such as nuts, chocolate, oats, or raisins. Additionally, cookies have a much higher sugar content than biscuits, making cookies crispier and chewier than biscuits.
English muffins are typically made with bread flour, referred to as “strong flour” in the UK. Bread flour has a high protein and gluten content, allowing for a soft, chewy texture that is essential for English muffins. The open structure present in English muffins distinguishes them from biscuits.
Though both scones and biscuits use baking powder as a leavening agent, a scone is not the same as a biscuit. Biscuits do not contain any eggs, while scones are made with eggs and cream. Though biscuits are not typically sweet, scones are sweetened and often glazed with frosting or an egg wash.
Which is healthier: biscuit or scone?
Biscuits are often slightly healthier than scones because they use less butter and sugar than scones. Both biscuits and scones contain flour, fat, dairy, and baking powder. Both of these treats fit into a healthy diet in moderation.
Which is healthier: biscuit or English muffins?
Compared to biscuits, English muffins have more health benefits.The higher protein content of bread flour that is used in English muffins is an easy way to sneak extra protein into your diet. Compared to all purpose flour, bread flour has around three more grams of protein per cup.
Where can I buy biscuits, scones, English muffins, or cookies?
At Wildgrain, we specialize in making high-quality, fresh baked goods that are delivered directly to your door. Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen delivery subscription service for breads, pastries, and fresh pastas. Some of our popular baked goods include English muffins, sweet biscuits (raspberry lemon, orange cranberry, and blueberry), savory biscuits, and chocolate chunk cookies. Learn more about Wildgrain and our artisanal baking and cooking methods.
About the Author
Lucy Yanckello received her Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. She currently works as a medical writer and enjoys being able to help people better understand nutrition and science.
This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.