Cooking biscuits outdoors in a cast iron dutch oven may seem like a challenge, but it’s actually fairly easy. If you’re doing it in your backyard, it’s even easier, since you can put the biscuit dough together in your kitchen and haul the cut biscuits outside to cook.
If you want to make them outside, that’s easy enough with a plastic folding table doubling as your cutting board.
Something about cooking biscuits outside in a dutch oven makes me feel like I’ve stepped back in time. Maybe it was seeing Gus McCrae cooking biscuits in a dutch oven at the beginning of Lonesome Dove (the best mini-series ever made). I don’t know.
The cast iron dutch oven being the Official Texas State Cooking Implement somehow makes your biscuits taste even better.
How to Make Cast-Iron Dutch Oven Biscuits
The key to making good biscuits is to keep the butter that you work into the flour from melting before you cut out your biscuits.
To make this easy, I recommend using a pastry cutter. It’ll keep you from heating the butter up too much with your body heat when you work it into the flour.
Using the pastry cutter, just work the butter into the flour until it takes on a pebbly texture. You don’t want to work it until it’s smooth. You want little pieces of the butter to melt into the biscuit while it cooks. This helps create a flaky texture by leaving small air pockets in the biscuit.
Keep in mind that when you add the buttermilk that you still aren’t overworking the dough, you want to stir it just enough so that everything is moistened. You don’t want a smooth dough.
Make some sawmill gravy to go with your biscuits.
Once you’ve got the buttermilk stirred in, dump your dough out on a lightly floured surface. I take a plastic folding table with me when I go camping. Cleaned off, this makes an excellent surface for rolling out dough.
Once your dough is on your table, just quickly mash it together into a ball. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Again, don’t overwork it, and try not to handle it with your hands too much so that you don’t heat it up.
Roll it out into a 3/4 inch thick circle and cut out your biscuits with your biscuit cutter. Once you’ve cut out all you can, bunch the dough back up, roll it back out and cut more.
When cutting your biscuits, just push the cutter straight down. Don’t twist and turn it. That’ll pinch the sides down.
Drop your biscuits in your dutch oven with a little space in between, and you’re all set.
Remember, about every four or five minutes while you’re cooking, turn the dutch oven a quarter turn, then turn the lid a quarter turn. This helps prevent hot spots from the charcoal.
Cast-Iron Dutch Oven Biscuits
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter - cold, plus 2 tbsp. for greasing your dutch oven
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter - melted, for buttering the tops of the biscuits
- Grease your dutch oven with butter or lard.
- Set dutch oven to bake at 425 degrees. (about 23 charcoal briquettes on top and 7 underneath)
- Whisk your flour and salt together. (It's always best to whisk dry ingredients to ensure that everything is evenly distributed.)
- Blend your butter into the flour/salt with a pastry cutter or mixing spoon until the mixture is crumbly.
- Add the buttermilk, stirring until everything is moistened, but not overworked.
- Turn flour out onto a lightly floured work surface (the surface of a plastic folding table works well).
- Roll your dough out to about 3/4 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter to cut out your biscuits.
- Place the biscuits in your dutch where they are barely touching or there is a little space in between, but not smashed together.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown on top, rotating your dutch oven a quarter-turn every few minutes, then do the same with the lid.
- When done, brush immediately with melted butter.