15 Ways To Upgrade Canned Biscuits

Biscuits on cutting board
Biscuits on cutting board - Rudisill/Getty Images

Canned biscuits are one of the few ready-made baking products that might actually taste better than the ones you make from scratch. Canned chocolate chip cookies can't hold a candle to the gooey, caramelized goodness of a batch of homemade ones, canned pizza dough always tastes more artificial than the floury, yeasted version you can make at home, and no pie crust tastes quite as satisfying as the one you wrestle and cajole into existence with your own two hands. But biscuits are different. They seem easy enough to produce from scratch. All you need are a handful of ingredients (just three if you're using our recipe), and you don't have to worry about kneading, letting them rise, or producing lamination. Many recipes only take about 20 minutes from start to finish. Frustratingly, however, homemade biscuits often turn out flat, dense, or sour from too much baking powder. In contrast, canned biscuits produce fluffy, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth results every time.

There is a broad range of quality when it comes to canned biscuits, but once you've found a product you love, you'll probably end up purchasing it repeatedly. Eventually, you may get tired of plain biscuits, which is why we've rounded up a list of all the ways you can revamp them to make a surprising variety of sweet and savory recipes.

Read more: Ingredients To Take Your Scrambled Eggs To The Next Level

Add Herbs

Chopping herbs
Chopping herbs - Fotostorm/Getty Images

Herbs are one of the fastest and most effortless ways to transform a dish. A bunch of rosemary or a scattering of shredded basil can turn a tired, uninspiring stir-fry into a fresh, flavorful main dish, while a handful of mint leaves can turn a jug of plain sparkling water into a refreshing, crave-worthy soft drink. Biscuits are no different. These light, buttery pastries taste delicious with just about any herb or herb combination you can throw at them. Chives and parsley will offer a savory edge, while thyme or rosemary will give them a more fragrant note that will pair beautifully with a hint of sugar and lemon zest. If you want to kick things up a notch, you can add pesto (homemade or store-bought).

To add herbs to canned biscuits, you have several options. First, you can brush the top of the biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle the herbs on top before baking. Alternatively, you can gently separate the layers of each biscuit before baking them, scatter the herbs inside (or spread the pesto), and then press the layers together, pinching the sides to make sure they adhere.

Turn Them Into Fritters

Donut holes
Donut holes - Tati Liberta/Shutterstock

Pretty much everything tastes better fried (even Oreos), so it's no surprise that canned biscuits do too. Through the miracle of heat and oil, you can turn biscuit dough into something akin to donut holes. Using this apple fritter recipe as a guide, cut the dough into one-inch pieces, heat two to three inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot to between 350 and 365 degrees Fahrenheit, and fry each piece for a minute or two on each side. Sprinkle them with cinnamon and powdered sugar as they drain on a rack or bed of paper towels. To make them a bit more exciting, you can dip them in melted chocolate once they've cooled or stuff each piece of dough with apples, sugar, or cinnamon before adding them to the oil. If you choose the latter option, make sure to seal the edges to prevent the filling from spilling out during frying.

If you'd rather not deep fry at home, you can still make fritters. Just cut the dough into one-inch pieces, coat them in whatever ingredients you'd like to flavor them with, and bake them instead. Fried or baked, the results will be tantalizing and dangerously moreish.

Add Meat

Bacon biscuits
Bacon biscuits - Kate Shungu/Mashed

In the South, biscuits are more often eaten during a savory part of a meal rather than as dessert or a sweet breakfast. To follow this tradition, you don't have to cook a separate recipe like gravy or fried chicken to enjoy them. You can simply add savory elements to the biscuit dough itself. Meat is an easy and obvious option, with ham, bacon, and Italian sausage providing the most potent flavor.

To add meat to canned biscuits, you can either pull apart the layers of each unbaked circle of dough and fill it with cooked meat, or sprinkle the meat on top halfway through baking. If you don't mind a little extra work, you can also roll the dough out into thin layers as if you're making cut-out cookies, and then fold the meat into them to create filled parcels. For a sweet and savory version, drizzle the biscuits with maple syrup after you remove them from the oven or glaze the meat with syrup before you add it to the dough.

Make Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake
Strawberry shortcake - Jessica Morone/Mashed

Despite its name, strawberry shortcake is more of a biscuit than a cake. Although there are variations that use pound cake or vanilla sponge as a base, the classic version uses American-style biscuits. Our recipe calls for only five ingredients and takes 34 minutes to make. Simply roll the biscuits in sugar, bake them, slice them in half, and fill them with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

For best results, make the whipped cream yourself instead of purchasing it in a can. If you have a stand mixture, the process is easy and yields incomparably rich, flavorful results. Add a hint of vanilla and sugar to make it even tastier. As for the strawberries, mixing them with sugar and letting them sit for 30 minutes will make them even sweeter and juicier than they are on their own. Even though you'll want to assemble this delicious treat as soon as the biscuits are out of the oven, make sure to let them cool completely before cutting them.

Add Cheese

Cheese biscuits
Cheese biscuits - Caelmi/Getty Images

When in doubt, add cheese. This simple hack works almost all the time when you're making savory recipes and is one of the easiest ways to instantly elevate a can of plain biscuit dough. The best part about adding cheese to recipes (aside from its gooey melted texture and salty deliciousness) is how many options there are. If you're looking for a sharp, salty flavor, add Parmesan. If you're looking for something buttery and slightly sweet, add Gouda. If you want a mild flavor and stringy texture, add mozzarella.

Cheddar -- a key ingredient in this copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits recipe -- tastes particularly good, with its sharpness and saltiness complemented by its gooey texture. One of the best ways to add it and other hard cheeses to canned biscuits is to sprinkle it on top, halfway through baking. The result is a crunchy, salty crust that you won't be able to get enough of.

Unless you plan to plan to eat the biscuits right away, stuffing them will not yield the best outcome. The cheese will melt as it bakes, but once it's out of the oven and cooled, it will form a hard, rubbery filling that, though flavorful, will not be particularly appetizing as a texture.

Make A Biscuit Casserole Or Cobbler

Biscuit casserole
Biscuit casserole - AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

Biscuits often fill the function of a side dish. Like stuffing at Thanksgiving and crusty bread served with soup, biscuits absorb excess liquid and provide a much-needed carbohydrate component to spread butter on. But they are also versatile when incorporated into a main dish. Biscuit casseroles are simple to make and easily adapted. In fact, you can pretty much name any of your favorite dishes and transform them into one. Maybe your favorite meal is beef chili. All you have to do is make your go-to chili recipe, pour it into a casserole dish, top it with biscuit dough, and bake. You can do the same with chicken pot pie, using biscuits instead of finicky pie crust.

You can even take things further by using biscuits as the topping for cobblers and crisps. Just sprinkle the dough with plenty of sugar to create a sweet, crunchy crust, and you'll have a buttery topping that will change how you make cobblers forever.

Glaze Or Ice Them

Biscuits with icing
Biscuits with icing - Minadezhda/Getty Images

Incorporating ingredients into canned biscuits can be tricky since you aren't making the dough yourself. Instead of simply folding shredded cheese or diced apples into the mixture before forming the individual biscuits, you'll either have to split the layers of each pre-shaped biscuit, roll them out and fill them, or sprinkle the ingredients on top. But with icing and glazes, you don't have to worry about adding anything new until after the biscuits are baked. For this reason, they're one of the simplest and most failsafe options when you want to upgrade your recipe.

A simple Krispy Kreme-style glaze can be made with water, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch. You can add chocolate, lemon zest, or cinnamon, but just a plain glaze will elevate your biscuits to new heights. For a richer, more flavorful glaze, opt for a recipe that includes butter and cream. If you're making the biscuits for breakfast, a simple combination of whisked butter and honey or maple syrup will make them, hands down, the best meal of the day.

Upgrade Them To Garlic Knots

Garlic knots
Garlic knots - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

If you're making an Italian-style meal, you need to add garlic knots to the menu. No matter how much pasta or pizza you have, these doughy balls of garlicky deliciousness are never redundant. Luckily, they don't take hours of extra effort to make, either. While other types of dinner rolls require yeast and hours of rising time, these garlic knots take less than 30 minutes to create from start to finish. Our garlic knots recipe is tailored specifically to using canned biscuits as the main ingredient, so you don't even have to worry about adapting a made-from-scratch recipe.

All you need is melted butter, Parmesan cheese, garlic granules, Italian seasoning, salt, and your favorite brand of canned biscuits. From there, you'll need to cut the biscuits in half and roll them into long ropes in order to tie them into loose, elegant knots. These tasty morsels look impressive, taste delicious, and are easy to make. If you've made them once, you won't be able to serve pasta without them.

Add Dried Fruit

Scones with raisins
Scones with raisins - AnaMarques/Shutterstock

Dried fruit is the secret weapon of many home cooks and chefs alike. In contrast with fresh fruit, it does not come with excessive moisture that you have to factor into the recipe, nor does it require chopping, peeling, or de-seeding. Instead, dried fruit can simply be tossed into the batter or dough in almost any baking recipe. Whether you're making runny muffin batter or whole wheat sandwich bread, dried fruit incorporates easily and provides tiny pockets of intense flavor.

However, adding dried fruit to canned biscuits poses a few challenges. Sprinkling it on top and baking it will lead to charring, while cutting the unbaked biscuits in half and sandwiching them with the fruit in the middle leads to uneven distribution. The best solution is to flatten the biscuits, sprinkle them with dried fruit, and then reshape them so that none of the fruit pieces are exposed. This ensures that there is even distribution and no charring.

Turn Them Into Biscuit Pizza

Biscuit pizza
Biscuit pizza - Kristen Carli/Mashed

Pizza is one of the most creative and customizable meals you can make at home, but the crust is time-consuming and tricky. Despite having only a handful of ingredients, it can still end up dense, chewy, and flavorless. You can buy premade dough if you have the foresight, but if you want to make a quick pizza and don't have time to rush to the store, that can of biscuits in your fridge or freezer will work just fine. In fact, they make such a delicious pizza crust that you might prefer it to the real deal.

To make flaky biscuit pizza, you'll need a grand total of four ingredients -– marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, minced garlic, and, of course, canned biscuits. Instead of stretching the unbaked biscuits into one large disk as you would pizza dough, all you have to do is cut them into quarters and distribute them across the bottom of a casserole dish. Top them with the remaining ingredients, and bake the dish for 30 minutes. You'll have a flaky, cheesy pizza just like that. Feel free to add any toppings you'd like, making sure to use a deep enough dish to accommodate all the ingredients.

Turn Them Into Monkey Bread

Monkey bread
Monkey bread - Jessica Morone/Mashed

How monkey bread came to be known as monkey bread is up for debate, but there are no doubts about its appeal. The gooey pull-apart bread is part cake, part donut, and 100% delicious, with just the right balance of sugar and doughiness. Some recipes call for making your own yeast dough, but many (including our recipe) rely on canned biscuits. The standard formula is to coat balls of dough in butter and sugar and bake them in a Bundt pan. Our recipe makes things even more flavorful by rolling the dough in a mixture of Jell-O Instant Butterscotch Pudding, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Although monkey bread is traditionally a sweet recipe, you can also make a savory version. Our everything bagel monkey bread, for example, requires just three ingredients (canned biscuits, everything bagel seasoning, and butter), and tastes like a fluffy, salty Southern biscuit and your favorite bagel flavor all in one.

Bake Them In A Muffin Tin

Muffins - photogal/Shutterstock

What makes a biscuit a biscuit and a muffin a muffin? We could get into the nitty gritty details of ingredient ratios and texture, but ultimately, a lot of it comes down to how they're baked. If you put biscuit dough into a muffin tin, a whole new world of possibility opens up that reaches far beyond the boundaries of a simple biscuit-versus-muffin binary. For example, if you love apple turnovers and apple crisps, you'll be pleased to learn that you can make a similar treat by lining the inside of a muffin tin with flattened biscuit dough, filling them with canned or homemade apple pie filling, and covering them with a streusel topping.

If you prefer savory pastry treats, you can tweak this recipe for a four-ingredient green bean casserole by swapping frozen puff pastry for canned biscuits. Line muffin tins with the dough, fill them with a mixture of green beans and cream of mushroom soup, and top them with crispy fried onions halfway through baking. This recipe makes a quick and easy appetizer to wow your guests. It can even be served for breakfast.

Turn Them Into Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls
Cinnamon rolls - Nredmond/Getty Images

Cinnamon rolls might be a ubiquitous treat, but they can be intimidating to make from scratch. Even if you're an expert baker, creating yeast bread is difficult to fit into a busy schedule, even though there is no comparison to that freshly baked smell and taste. To avoid a trip to the store to purchase an inevitably stale batch of cinnamon rolls that are either too sugary or not sugary enough, why not have the best of both worlds by making cinnamon rolls in your own kitchen with canned biscuits?

The process is simple. Cut the biscuits into quarters, coat them in cinnamon and sugar, and pile them into a casserole dish. Once they've finished baking, cover the bread in powdered sugar icing. This won't produce the perfect swirls of classic cinnamon rolls, but it will taste pretty darn close. If you have a little extra time and patience, you can roll out each biscuit, coat it in the cinnamon mixture, and roll it into a spiral before putting it in the dish. This will create a cinnamon roll pull-apart loaf with perfectly formed swirls and all the flavor that store-bought cinnamon rolls are missing.

Add Citrus

Biscuits covered in lemon curd
Biscuits covered in lemon curd - Christine Mckimm/Getty Images

Upgrades don't have to be transformational. They don't have to completely change the nature of the recipe or approximate an entirely different one. All they need to do is elevate the existing elements of a dish, highlight exactly what makes it so special, and add a hint of flavor. For this purpose, citrus is one of the most popular options. With little effort, it can make a slightly bland, dense recipe light and summery with a bright flavor and a sweet, unmistakable aroma.

Of the many types of citrus you can use, lemon will never disappoint. Grate a tablespoon of lemon zest, and sprinkle it over your biscuits before baking them. Adding an egg wash first and mixing the zest with sugar will help it stick. Another option is to make a lemon glaze out of powdered sugar and lemon juice (like the one in our recipe for lemon glazed loaf cake) and add it after the biscuits have baked and cooled. A third option is to whip up some lemon curd while the biscuits are in the oven and slather it on when you serve them. There are no wrong answers here. Whichever option you choose is bound to be a success.

Stuff Them

Mini beef pies
Mini beef pies - niindo/Shutterstock

If you love empanadas, calzones, and samosas, you're going to love stuffed biscuits. Instead of having to make your own pastry dough and endure all the frustrations that process inevitably brings, you can focus on the fun part: making your favorite fillings. Stuffed biscuits can be whatever you want them to be. If you have a sweet tooth, you can make flaky pockets with cherry pie filling. If you like savory pastries, you can make mini pot pies, beef pies, or breakfast parcels filled with ham, eggs, and cheese.

The process depends on the type of filling you're using. If your filling has a lot of liquid, you'll need to prevent leaking. Roll the biscuit dough a quarter of an inch thick, line a muffin tin with the dough, fill each cup with filling, and pinch the edges closed. If you're using a filling with less moisture, such as fully cooked scrambled eggs and ham, all you have to do is cut each unbaked biscuit in half, fill it, and then seal it closed as you would an empanada.

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