What Are Low-Fat Biscuits?

Gregory Hanson

Low-fat biscuits are made using recipes that call for smaller amounts of fatty ingredients and that typically make use of healthier fats in place of less healthy fats. Typical biscuits prepared in the American style are made with some mixture of butter, buttermilk, and lard or vegetable shortening. Recipes to produce low-fat biscuits attempt to preserve the rich flavor of these biscuits but change the mix of fats involved in the baking process. In some areas of the world, especially the British Isles, low-fat biscuits are a variety of sweetened baked good that are often consumed with tea. Both American and British varieties of these low-fat foods are often produced by home bakers, and some commercial versions of each exist as well.

A low fat biscuit with jam on it.
A low fat biscuit with jam on it.

American-style biscuits are normally made from a simple dough of flour, fat, salt, baking powder, and milk or water. Biscuit recipes typically call for a sizable amount of fat solids to be cut into the dough before liquids are added. This fat gives American biscuits a rich flavor and leaves them delicate and flaky. Biscuits can simply be made without the fat, and will still rise, but the flavor and texture of such baked goods will suffer.

A more common method for making low-fat biscuits preserves the character of the original but involves the use of healthier fats. Oils, such as olive or canola oil, can be used in place of some portion of the butter or lard called for in a biscuit recipe. While this process does not technically decrease the overall level of fat in a batch of biscuits, it does reduce the level of unhealthy fat and replaces those unhealthy saturated fats with much healthier unsaturated fats, which are better for the body.

Another approach to making low-fat biscuits involves the use of substitute ingredients which preserve the characteristics of the finished biscuits but achieve them by using different sorts of food chemistry. Cottage cheese and yogurt can both be used in place of a good deal of the butter in a typical biscuit recipe. These dairy products do still provide some fat and also preserve the soft and moist character of the finished biscuits.

Many cooks choose to locate and make use of low-fat biscuits recipes that are readily available. Cooks in a hurry have other options as well. Chilled dough for low-fat biscuits is often available commercially, and many manufacturers produce mixes designed specifically to be used in baking low-fat biscuits. Low-fat versions of British cookie-type biscuits are also readily available.

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